What Is A Good Age To Travel With Your Child?

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?

baby's first flight, travel with a newborn, flying with a newborn,

Travel With A 2.5 Month Old...

toddler on a plane, toddler sleeping on a plane, flying with a toddler

Travel With A 2.5 Year Old...

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.

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7 Responses to What Is A Good Age To Travel With Your Child?

  1. Jen at #

    Your last two lines are perfect…I totally agree! We took our kids everywhere right from the get go, on planes, trains, and cars. We fully utilized our maternity leave like you suggested! It helped that we didn’t have much of a routine I think because both of our kids go with the flow very easily…my son took his first steps in Roman ruins in Trier!

  2. Corinne at #

    Thanks Jen!

    LOVE that about your son! Family legend suggests that my first unassisted steps were on a plane. Guess the travel bug gets planted early!

  3. Victoria at #

    I was like you with my first baby, terrified of going anywhere. Now my third child is three years old I’m much more relaxed, so relaxed in fact that we’re planning a round the world trip! I’d agree that tiny babies are the easiest to travel with, much easier than toddlers, but sometimes it just seems like too much of a challenge to leave home with a baby.

  4. Sarah V. at #

    I totally agree that travelling with a baby is easier than a toddler. But even though it’s more challenging, travelling with a toddler has its advantages. They are so much more aware of the world around them, and they seem to understand that they’re someplace new and different. The best feeling in the world is watching my daughter’s face when she sees something new for the first time!

  5. I agree that children of all ages benefit from traveling. Even if a baby or toddler can’t remember taking a trip, they live the experiences of the trip as they pass.

    I’m glad I started traveling with both my kids when they were just babies too. Some kids who aren’t accustomed to travel don’t like the disruption to their schedules while away but my four-year-old daughter loves to travel and cries when it’s time to go back home.

    Great ending line…so true!

  6. Glennia at #

    I agree that you can travel with kids at any age, and the earlier, the better. For us, the most difficult time was around 15-30 months, because our son was a total wiggle worm. One hellish flight to Costa Rica at 18 months was enough to have me swear off travel for a year or until he could carry his own bag. Every child is different, though, so you have to judge by your child’s disposition, ability to adapt to new environments, and level of comfort with strangers.

    • Corinne at #

      Our toughest flight was definitely the one where she was 20mos.