Image: Getty | Words: Lucy Lucraft
If you’re reading this post, you might’ve been drawn in by the title, asking, with incredulity: “How could ANYONE not want to travel with their bundle of joy?!”
Or perhaps, and I’d wager this is more likely, you’re nodding along with distant, yet still raw, memories of taking a trip with your spawn.
I have something of a truth bomb to drop my friends. Travel with a baby is hard.
Okay, okay, I appreciate this is not exactly rocket science because, come on, travelling with anyone unpredictable, who regularly soils themselves and needs five times the amount of stuff the rest of us do doesn’t scream EASY.
But still, I never appreciated how tough I would find it. Let me qualify this with the fact that I’m a travel writer. I’ve lived in four countries and before I had a baby I went travelling for two and a half years. Non-stop.
I got caught up in the Thai coup of 2014, swum with sharks and made a home on a tiny Thai island with five cats and a pit bull puppy. So I guess I just thought I’d take it all in my stride. In fact, everyone else did too.
So nobody was more surprised than me when I realised I was a) rubbish at travelling with my kid, and b) did not want to do it ever again. In the first six months of my baby’s life I discovered the following:
- We can no longer travel carry-on only.
- Whether I take a buggy, wrap, sling or all of them, I’ll end up wishing I’d brought something different.
- A will have a better selection of clothes than me, and will often be far more appropriately dressed.
- Despite snobbily declaring I’d never go to Center Parcs, I now spend hours looking at how I can do just that.
I don’t want to put anyone off travel, and if you’re an avid traveller with a baby on board, you’ll no doubt be grimacing as you read this. Or perhaps you’ve already stopped reading out of disbelief.
But at the same time, I genuinely want to make sure (if you, my pregnant, travel-loving friend are still reading this), you go into things with your eyes open. Despite my caterwauling on the topic of family travel, I still want to do it.
What a contradiction I am. But, for me, independent travel is SO incredibly important that I can’t imagine a life where I miss out in favour of stolen trips away with friends, or work trips with colleagues… which, while great, are work.
So over Christmas I decided that I’m NOT going to give in to my fear. I’m not choosing the easy, albeit potentially unsatisfying life. I’m choosing travel. BUT, I’m choosing it with a big dollop of compromise.
Actually, it’s not that I hate travelling with my baby – it’s that I hate the way I used to travel with my baby.
If you feel the same, and need a bit of guidance on how to ‘do’ family travel without the drama, here are my tips:
- Take it slow: wherever the destination, take twice the time you usually do.
- Skip the city breaks, because there’s nothing less enjoyable than pounding the pavements with a baby in tow.
- Take the stuff. Yes, just deal with the fact that a little ‘stuff’ will probably help.
- Try something different: I’m embracing UK glamping and a beach break this year!
- Take stacks of snacks. I’m never without them for occasional bouts of hanger.
Et voila! Go forth and enjoy your travels!
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