Sometimes, an idea crosses my mind, but on its way across my mind, it gets stuck there…and has no choice but to grow and grow until it becomes a giant ball of worry. Last year, the idea that flitted, got stuck, and then grew until it had its own zip code was the worry that once Conor and I had a baby, we’d never be able to travel again. (This is part of the reason I dragged him across the country on our Southwestern and Southern California road trip…)
Like many of my worries that create a life of their own, this idea was unfounded. Boy, was I so very wrong. At two weeks old, Catalina took her first road trip across state lines. Since then, Conor, Catalina, and I have been able to trek across the country and abroad in cars, on planes, and in trains! When people see our pictures, or hear our stories, they inevitably ask “HOW do you travel with a baby?!”
Well, my first piece of advice is to drop all assumptions and expectations. If you think you will be able to make that normally 6 hour road trip in 6 hours – you can only be disappointed. If you think it is going to take all day, and be totally miserable – you are setting yourself up for failure. While traveling, I have learned to expect the unexpected. Traveling with a baby…there is no way to predict how it will go, so, wear a smile, forget your expectations, and pack your sense of humor!
My second piece of advice is to pay attention to what works. This may seem straight forward and obvious, but its so easy to get caught up in articles, books, and anecdotes that are supposed to teach you how to act with your baby. Believe me, I’ve definitely been consumed by “expert advice” that didn’t quite seem to work for Catalina and I. It is important to remember that your baby is a person, with her own little (or very very big) personality. Learn from your baby, learn from your mistakes, and don’t be afraid to try something different.
In her nine months of life, Catalina has been to twelve states and three foreign countries. We have traveled for weddings, graduations, and family get togethers. Catalina has learned how to sleep in her car seat, nap in her carrier, make friends with fellow travelers, and be entertained on a plane. More importantly, though, Conor and I have had the opportunity to learn and grow as we explore with Catalina, as well as be present to family and friends near and far.
My third piece of advice is to just go out and travel! Stop waiting for the perfect moment, it will never come. The perfect moment is now. I am not advocating buying an impulse plane ticket to South Africa…you can definitely start small and local. Just don’t let worry keep you from exploring. Your baby will never learn to be a good traveler if you don’t try it, and you will never learn how to travel with your baby if you don’t give it a shot.