Traveling with the family shouldn’t be a scary or stressful endeavour. And traveling with an infant shouldn’t be any different. Read on for some great tips and destination ideas for traveling with a baby… from a very intrepid Mum.
I well remember the months of being pregnant and constantly being told that I couldn’t eat this, drink that, lift those heavy objects or generally do what I wanted to do. And even things I was technically allowed to do were often too difficult due to time, or physical restrictions.
So, it was with great relief when baby was born and I finally felt free to do some of the things I’d been hankering for – not least, get out my passport and my backpack and travel overseas again.
As a rather naïve first time Mum (I’d even forgotten to pack clothes for my new born son so we could leave the hospital after the birth!) I was perhaps not the most well equipped person to be taking precious cargo into the unknown. But, as it turned out, the lack of worry and planning worked in my favour. It meant I got to travel to areas that, if I’d thought about too much, I probably would have been too nervous to go to.
Now, 15 years on, I’ve got the preparation and planning thing down to a fine art – it’s just that now, rather than having to think about bottles for the baby, I have to discuss with my teenagers why their devices are staying at home!
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years…
11 top tips for traveling with a baby – from an intrepid Mum
Preparation and packing tips for baby
- You’ll probably want to stick pretty close to home for the first few months after your baby’s born. Between feedings and diaper changes, a new baby requires almost nonstop attention.
- In addition, the risk of a newborn catching something while traveling is quite high as their immune system is not well developed.
- Once they hit that 3 month mark though, as long as they’re healthy overall, there is nothing stopping you whisking them away to those exotic destinations on your bucket list.
- Firstly, make sure your baby has had the relevant vaccinations needed for the destination and, of course, good travel insurance is a must!
- I found that carrying your baby in a front or back pack was the easiest way to transport them. Strollers are cumbersome and often difficult to pack down quickly when you want to pop on a bus, into a tuk tuk, etc. and having them close to you is easier when negotiating busy pavements and market places.
- The main rule to packing is not to take half the stuff you think you might need as you almost certainly won’t!
- Babies really don’t need much apart from food, a clean nappy and sleep. If you’re breast feeding then the food part is sorted. If you’re bottle feeding, baby formula can be found easily all over the world and usually using New Zealand milk powder! Nappies are also easy to find, as are baby wipes, powder and Vaseline. And one thing you can be guaranteed, babies will sleep anywhere when they’re really tired, so nothing special is needed to help with that.
Passport ins and outs for children under 16
Every child under the age of 16 must have their own passport if they’re travelling from New Zealand. Even new born babies are subject to this requirement. The form isn’t difficult to fill out, but you’ll want to allow enough time to get the passport photo done.
There are clear guidelines stating that the baby’s eyes must be open and they must be facing the camera with nothing obstructing their face – not so easy to do when newborns spend so much time either sleeping, crying or putting their fists in their mouths! You may need to make several trips to get a successful shot, so plan ahead. You can find out more about passports at passports.govt.nz.
Ideal destinations for traveling with a baby
Sri Lanka remains one of our favourite destinations to travel as a family. The country features landscapes, nature, beaches, history and culture all within a relatively small area, eliminating the necessity for long journeys, which makes it suitable for even the youngest of families.
Cambodia is renowned for its ancient history, as on display at the amazing Angkor Wat, and notorious for its more recent past under the regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. It’s gaining recognition for its superb beaches on the south coast. Once again, it’s a relatively small country, with an excellent public transport system so internal travel is quick, cheap and simple.
Malaysian Borneo – home to amazing wildlife, stunning scenery, indigenous tribes and tranquil islands, surrounded by clear seas teeming with life – this is a slice of paradise on earth that really has it all! Although much bigger than either Sri Lanka or Cambodia, internal flights are inexpensive and easy. This makes it a great destination for those who want to get a little bit more off the beaten track.
I’ve found that travelling with children not only changes people’s perspective about us as travellers, but also changes the way we see the place we’re visiting. Babies, especially, bridge both language and socio-economic divides and bring a sense of understanding, innocence and acceptance.
So shake off those fears, look forward to having your freedom back and start planning for that overseas adventure when your baby arrives.
For even more tips for traveling with a baby, and traveling with the family, check out our great Travel tips section.