A friend had a question regarding a good age to travel with your child. They brought their 2.5-month-old on a 9hr road trip and feared the experience threw their baby out of whack and their routine out the window. Since babies grow and develop so rapidly in their first year, is there an ideal time to travel?
I think the answer is yes, and no…
From my personal experience, I can say without hesitation that a younger, exclusively breastfeeding baby is the easiest age to travel with. They aren’t mobile, they aren’t on a real routine that could cause stress if strayed from, they’re easily distracted, they sleep when they need to (as hard as that is to believe at times!), and momma is all they need to eat. The issue for me with my daughter, was that I wouldn’t have been easy to travel with. A walk around the block was a big ordeal for me, and our first trip when she was 11mos. only took place after months (literally) of research on how I could manage everything and still actually enjoy our trip! If you’re a calmer first-time mother than I was, take advantage of your maternity leave and hit the road!
As babies get older, they certainly become more fun to be around, but traveling with them requires more work. If baby is bottle-fed, you need to organize bottles and formula and how you will wash or sterilize them. If baby’s on solids, you need to bring cereal and jars with you or figure out where to purchase them at your destination. If baby’s a busy bee (crawling or walking) you need to prepare to distract them and keep them busy during your journey. All of this is totally doable, you just need to have realistic expectations of your baby AND yourself, so you’re not expecting to enjoy lazing at the beach all day or meandering through museums like the travels of yesteryear.
No matter the age of your baby, it does help to stick to their routine as closely as possible while you’re away. Travel days are usually write-offs, but a little effort goes a long way towards falling into what we call a “travel routine”. Once you’re home you may be in for a bit of a rocky patch as you switch from vacation to real-life mode. Stick to your routine and within a few days you all should be back on track. Our longest post-vacation “hangover” lasted 10 days. The past couple of trips we didn’t have any.
With every trip we take with our daughter, we are so glad we started early. She enjoys travel and is a real sport, even during delays and early starts. We’ve started our son off early, and he’s proving himself to be a natural on the road as well. Some families wait until they think their child will be easy to travel with before they start traveling. I just think of all the fun adventures they’ve missed out on already.