"Guide: Traveling with Toddlers and Babies"
The myth that as soon as there are children you can only go on self-drive holidays on the farm or on the Baltic Sea has always worried me. When I set out on our adventure with the 10-month-old Levi on our Trans-Siberian Railway adventure, I heard the same comments over and over - “irresponsible” or “you can't expect a baby to do that” it said; in the best case just “brave”. But I didn't want to believe any of this - and the fact is, I was right. The topic of long-distance travel is far from dead with having children - you just have to rethink and approach the matter differently.
Since Levi and Jari were born, I haven't stopped traveling to exotic corners of the world and discovering them together. What I've stopped doing is wanting to get from A to B super fast, or letting the little things bother me. Our travels as a family are just as instructive for me as they are for my sons, which is why I have summarized my most important “lessons learned” for you here.
Traveling with toddlers - Here are my insider tips:
Traveling with small children: Choosing a travel destination
One of the main reasons why long-distance travel with small children is stigmatized as irresponsible is the possible inadequate health care at the destination. And yes, for a moment I thought I was a horrible bad mother when Levi and I rushed to a Siberian hospital that looked more like a shabby warehouse. Although everything went well and I still don't want to assume the very worst in advance, it is of course important to weigh the risks in the destination country.
Is there malaria there? What is the standard of the hospitals? How quickly can help be there? All important questions that can help you choose your travel destination. Did you know that there is no trace of malaria in Arusha National Park in Tanzania because the area is too high for the mosquitoes? And Bangkok has some of the most modern hospitals in the world. Very often, wonderfully child-friendly destinations are hidden behind loud prejudices.
Traveling with small children: the long-haul flight
It would be nice if all of our exotic dream destinations could be reached in the few hours of flight time that exactly coincide with the sleeping times of the little ones. In the end, however, long-haul flights are usually more strenuous for the parents than for the children. Here are my top tips:
Book a night flight
insist on an aisle seat
Carry instead of a stroller
Pack your own food and snacks in case you cannot put the child down and therefore cannot fold down the table during mealtimes
Pack toys for amusement
do not respond to annoyed comments from other passengers
A convincing argument to fly far with small children is that, firstly, the tickets are much cheaper for the little ones, and secondly, travel is also possible outside of the school holidays - either at the ideal travel time, or off-season at the best prices.
Traveling with small children: At the travel destination
Fortunately, toddlers only need a caregiver to feel comfortable. When mom and dad are happy, the child is happy too. This means that the long-distance journey with the child is relaxed as long as the parents can relax. Book a nice, child-friendly hotel that invites you to relax. Steer clear of stressful schedules and spend a few days in the same place. Allow enough time for rest breaks and keep regular meals. Don't rush into new adventures every day, but take time to digest and sometimes do nothing. I learned that in Siberia - the beauty of doing nothing.
The best thing about traveling with my children, however, is, in addition to gaining one's own perspective, also perceiving the new places through the eyes and the changes in my sons. In addition, the little ones often perform social miracles - children are loved everywhere, and making contact with the host culture is a lot easier when the little ones go ahead.
Traveling with small children and babies may sound like a great risk at first, and who would want to put down a tiring organizational marathon before it even starts? The truth is, it's very simple, and the difference isn't that big.