We’d been at the Melbourne airport for six hours already, waiting as patiently as possible as our departure time kept getting pushed back. Finally, at 10pm, the airline staff made the announcement that our 10- hour flight to Honolulu had been cancelled.
My husband and I are no stranger to travel challenges. We’ve been stranded in the Santiago de Chile Airport overnight due to an Earthquake, stuck in an off-grid hut in New Zealand because of a cyclone, and had our backpacks stolen with almost everything we packed while in Argentina. When you’ve travelled as much as us, you come to expect that one or two or three) things are gonna go haywire. But this delay was different. This time, we had our 6 month old son with us.
We started talking about kids long before we had one. And each time the conversation ended with, “let’s go on one more big trip before we start trying.”
We knew that having a baby would change everything, and we loved our carefree and spontaneous lifestyle. We didn’t know what travel would look like when two became three, but we did know we’d still go for it, even if the way we travelled, our destinations and our day to day activities would change.
We eventually got onto our flight that took us to Honolulu before jumping on another flight that took us to California. 24+ hours later we landed in my home state full of sunshine and family. After three years of COVID and closed borders, taking that first step onto home soil felt was incredibly emotional. Not to mention we were all pretty sleep deprived.
We spent nine weeks back in the USA, road tripping down the coast of California, climbing mountains in Washington, and lying on the beach in Hawaii. Travelling with a bub was filled with both sweet moments and challenging days. Our activities revolved around nap times and feeds, knowing that our sons happiness and connateness would result in our happiness as well. We weren’t able to make plans spontaneously or go off and do whatever we wanted, but it led to a more relaxed pace and ample quality time with family and friends. I learned a lot in those nine weeks, and though international travel (or hell, any kind of travel) with a bub has its challenges, I definitely think it’s worth it.
1. Be ok with doing less: Pre-baby, I was the type of traveler that would pack in all the things. #FOMOvibes. Post baby, I learned to shorten my “must-see” and “to-do” lists. Instead of trying to squeeze multiple things into one day, we would plan for one important experience. Anything else was icing on the cake. It took the pressure of us trying to be on a specific schedule (if you have a bub you know that a meltdown can happen at any moment) and left room for spontaneity if the day was going smoothly.
2. Be prepared + pack extra: I never purchased a diaper bag, and I wanted something chic but practical for our upcoming travels. Enter: River’s Backpack. As a mum and photographer, I needed a bag that was spacious enough to fit all of my stuff (laptop, cameras, wallet, journal, etc) and my son’s stuff (muslin wrap, extra diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, etc). This backpack was perfect as both a carry on and while we were out and about. It was really important to invest in a bag that allowed me to be hands free, as my son is often in my arms (honestly mothers need four arms - at least.) The craftsmanship is wonderful and it allowed me to pack everything I needed to feel prepared for any surprises that came along.
3. Ask for help: Whether it’s asking someone to open the door for you, help you with your bags at the airport, or direct you to a kid friendly restaurant - ask for what you need. More often than not, if someone saw us struggling they would automatically assist us. These people were usually well-natured, older adults who then proceeded to tell us about when they travelled with their kids. It’s like they knew this was our first big trip as parents, and they were inducting us into the club. Trust me when I say that most humans are kind and will go out of their way to be a help to your family.
4. Remember that it’s all temporary: This is really general parenting advice, but it definitely goes for travel as well. Bub is up at all hours of the night? Morning will come and coffee will help. Went to a nice lunch and bub is screaming? Ask for takeaway and try again tomorrow. Bub is feeling clingy and won’t let you leave their site? Put the carrier on and remember there will come a day they don’t or won’t want to be so close (sad, but true.) When things get hard, remember that this too shall pass. When things are going wonderful, remember that this too shall pass.