The fear of losing the ability to travel was a major obstacle for me.
It was one of a few things that made me truly debate whether to have kids.
In my internet travels I felt bombarded by articles and discussions on forums about the horrors of travelling with kids. In fact, the terrible family with screaming kid dominates the narrative on family travel, doesn’t it? People don’t want to travel beside families, and families are afraid to travel.
What I did not understand at the time, is that you do NOT have to listen to narratives that do not fit your own. For every narrative that doesn’t fit with your life, you can find 20 others that do.
Yes your baby might cry on the plane. But you know what? Your baby probably would have cried at home that night, too, except you get to be in a different country the next morning! And for every person who dislikes a baby, there are at least five people who LOVE babies (including flight attendants) who would love to hold them for a bit. Most of the world’s population have a family, or have been around babies… so ignore those vocal naysayers.
In 2013 and 2015 I hopped on 8 hour international flights with my 6 month old, to go see extended family in the UK. I missed them desparately. As a new mother I needed some love, too.
I found those voices as I prepared for my first international flight, solo.
I bit the bullet and booked the flight. Only 5 minutes later I felt panicky and thought “aaaah what am I doing?!”
The flight was fine. I was treated like a rockstar. Early boarding, 1st class treatment, TONS of baby cuddles and holding from the flight attendants while I ate, and the sound of the plane lulled both babies to sleep. Logistical stresses like getting on and off a train were non-existent. For every train I got off of, there were 3 people waiting to help me lift the stroller down.
The trip was one I will never, ever forget. Beyond disconnecting from the daily routine back home, I was able to fully immerse myself in being present with my daughter as we discovered new places together. So much time with a newborn whips by at the blink of an eye; I think it is because s often we are also distracted with the daily routines and must-dos of home life. On holiday, I sat and drank coffee in the garden of an old castle. Got on the wrong train with with both babies in southern England, and went to visit special places that my Mum and I visited when she was still alive. Each of those in itself is an immersive experience that bought me back to the present.
Looking back there was some kind of magical bonding on that trip. Just as newborn baby photos are beautiful to look back on, the memories of our trip fill me with the same sense of happiness. Even though in the moment there were certainly meltdowns and diaper changes.
We adults love travel because it infuses us with the exact same sense of wonderment our children experience every day. Our brains and senses are revitalized as we explore new places.
I’ve been to England a thousand times but to go with a baby gave those same forest trails a new magic to them.
In so many ways, as a newborn mum, I was seeing things for the first time, with a fresh set of eyes.
Returning from an international trip also gave me a newfound confidence in my ability to take my daughter on micro-adventures and domestic trips. I am much more comfortable with “would you mind helping me” also.
Travel provides a three fold reward. The anticipation, the experience itself, and the fond memories that last a lifetime.