April 2, 2012

Traveling With a Toddler

Filed under: Baby,General,travel — mmrobins @ 9:50 pm

Traveling with a toddler is both rewarding and challenging. Everyone asked us when we got back from Thailand how it was with a kid. I’m not sure what they’re looking for, maybe hoping I’ll tell them it’s easy and no different than traveling used to be. Well, it’s definitely harder and I can understand why some people would be reluctant to try it. For us it’s definitely worth the extra challenge, the main thing we found was that we had to take it slower.

First, some of the difficulties:

The hardest thing for me is that I was constantly watching Geneveve and didn’t get to have full attention on a lot of the things I was seeing and doing, whether that was admiring a temple or riding an elephant. A mobile toddler is something that requires constant supervision so they don’t walk into traffic, pet a dog that will bite or eat something they shouldn’t. There’s really not much way around this except to take turns so that you get the occasional focus break. Sometimes people would play with Geneveve or hold her, but that still doesn’t allow me to completely not pay attention since I don’t know the people.

Another difficulty, but not nearly as much as I expected, was long trips on planes, trains, boats, motos and buses. We found as long as Geneveve could move around a bit, she was happy. We were fortunate that our longest flight was mostly empty, so Geneveve could sleep spread out or stand up in the seat, but 14 hours really is too long for an issue free flight. The train was probably our favorite mode of transport just because Geneveve could walk up and down the aisles and say hi to people, and there was lots more room. Buses were hard because they were usually fairly crowded and there wasn’t a lot of room to move.

Sleep was another issue, but again, not nearly so much as expected. It was pretty rare for us to be in our room for Geneveve’s afternoon nap, and generally Kim would just wear her in her baby carrier and we’d continue whatever we were doing. Also, Geneveve had no problem adjusting to the time change on the way to Thailand, but on the way home we had quite a few days where she’d be up in the middle of the night.

Now for the benefits of travelling with a kid.

Having a baby gets you priority in all sorts of places. In airports they let us go through the faster lines just about every time, same for immigration. Hostel staff were constantly giving Geneveve fruits for snacks.

Along those same lines, having a baby forces you to be a lot more social with everyone. This is both good an bad, good because it’s a great ice breaker and means you learn a lot more about local culture, bad because sometimes it can be a bit tiring.

Having a baby along for the trip causes you to see a lot of things with fresh eyes. Stuff you might take for granted, like how amazing planes are or how exciting ocean wavers are, is hard to take for granted when someone else is squealing with glee over it.

Finally, traveling with Geneveve just gave me a lot of time to spend with her. Having weeks of time to be with her constantly in an amazing place resulted in terrific memories for me and some great bonding time.

I think like a lot of things, traveling may be more difficult with children, but if you enjoy it and think it’s important, it’s something that you can make happen. We often hear people using their kids as an excuse to not do things, and we try not to fall into that trap. Besides, we figure we better travel with her know while she’s under 2 and can still fly free.

1 Comment »

  1. Matt, you are a good writer. I enjoy your stuff.

    Comment by Marty — April 13, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

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