After soon six months of traveling around the world with our daughter, we have learned a few tricks how to keep her happy, calm and safe. Throughout this trip a lot of people have told us that they would never dare to bring their babies with them on holiday. It is true that traveling with a baby is more challenging than it was pre-baby. But if you give them lots of love, and remember to put your baby’s needs first, you will end up having an amazing trip.
When we started our journey Elsa was seven months old. She was both nursing and had started eating small portions of processed food. During the trip she stopped nursing and now she eats almost the same as us (minus the chili). We started with 2,5 months in U.S. and then went to China, Vietnam and Thailand. Our focus in this guide is on traveling in Asia, since that is more of a challenge.
1. Can it fit in a tuc tuc?
If you plan to stay in more than one place during your trip, you will do yourself a big favor by not bringing all the baby equipment and toys from home. Keep in mind that you should be able to fit all your luggage in a taxi, boat or sometimes even a tuc tuc.
2. The bare necessities
Except from baby clothes, pacifiers, bottles and other obvious stuff, here are a couple of things that we have found useful on our trip:
• A Baby Carrier – we love our Ergo.
• An Umbrella Stroller – make sure it can recline completely, we use Chicco Liteway.
• A Portable Baby Chair – a great invention that you can mount to any chair.
• A Baby Watcher – so you can relax at the beach while your baby is napping.
• Mosquito Net – some places already have mosquito nets, but if they don’t you’ll be happy that you brought your own. We had one big net that we put over our bed, and a small net that we put over Elsa’s stroller.
• Instant porridge – you can find it in all supermarkets in Asia, but it’s hard to find the unsweetened kind that we use.
3. Just in case
Make sure that you know where to call if your baby get sick. If it’s not an emergency, a good trick is to bring your baby’s pediatrician’s number or email. It feels easier asking questions and not having to worry about language misunderstandings. We created a small natural travel pharmacy that helped us many times through our trip.
• Viburcol – oral solution from Heel (Flu, Colds, Fevers, Minor Infections, Colic)
• Ferrum phosphoricum pearls (Flu, infections)
• Probiotic drops from Biogaia (boost digestive and immune systems)
• Traumeel cream from Heel (pain relief and skin problems, bites, rash etc.)
• Resque cream from Bach flower remedies (skin problems, wounds, bites, rash etc.)
• Herbal spray from Spenglersan (pain relief, immune boosting)
• Citronella oil spray (non-toxic mosqiuto remedie from Asia). We spray Elsa’s clothes in the evening before she wears it, if there are many mosquito.
• Mini first aid kit
• Relief of fever suspension drops
• Oral rehydration salts
ON THE PLANE
4. Have a bottle ready
If you don’t nurse, always have a bottle with formula (or whatever they drink) ready already when entering the plane. They should drink during take-offs and landings to help prevent ear pain.
5. New toys on the plane
You know how it always takes at least 30 minutes of waiting in the plane before take-off. These minutes can be quite challenging for parents, since babies normally don’t like to sit still with the seat belt on. We always bring tiny new toys, that we don’t show her until we are on the plane. They usually keep her occupied and sitting still during that time.
6. Don’t run out of snacks
Bring lots of snacks (fruit, hard boiled eggs, instant porridge, fruit smoothies from Ella’s Kitchen or similar, rice crackers, avocado, carrots, sprouts etc.). Giving them a snack is always a good trick to prevent that they suddenly start screaming of hunger. We learned this after sitting in a traffic jam with a hungry Elsa. Nowadays we never leave home without snacks in our bag.
7. Be picky about your place
When you have a baby you will spend a lot of extra time in your hotel room, house or bungalow. Make sure that you choose a place where you will feel comfortable. If you are on a beach vacation it might be worth finding a beach front location. That way you can have a swim and relax in the sun, while the baby is sleeping.
8. Keep them close
If you move around a lot your baby might feel a little unsafe. Always show them around when you arrive to a new place. And, if they have trouble sleeping, let them sleep in your bed. That way they will always feel safe, no matter where in the world you are.
9. Skip the menu
Even in the most remote places in Asia we found children’s menus in the restaurants, but since we don’t give Elsa any sugar, meat, pasta or white bread, we never found anything decent on them. Our best advice is to talk to the waiter or the chef (if they speak english) and explain what your baby likes. They can almost always fix something yummy, even if it is not on the menu.
10. Eat early … or late
Bringing a baby to a restaurant doesn’t have to mean trouble. Just do it on their terms. Even though it might feel a little awkward having dinner around 5-6 pm, in an half empty restaurant, that is usually your best chance of having a no cry dinner. You don’t have to wait for the food, plus there are lots of space to play on.
If you do however prefer to eat late. Give your baby something to eat at home, then put her in the stroller with a bottle and hopefully she’ll sleep while you can enjoy a quiet and romantic dinner.
11. Try the local luxuries
If your baby eats solid food, let her try fresh coconut, dragon fruit, pomelo, lychee, both as fruit and as juices. That stuff is so much better than baby crackers, bottled juices and bread.
12. Take turns
Vacation is about relaxation, and since small babies need a lot of attention, it’s not always easy to find the time to read a book or just slumber away. We took turns on taking care of Elsa so that the other one could have an hour of total relaxation.
13. Leave your rules at home
Things are different when you travel, you run into new challenges that you haven’t faced before. Best way to handle it is trying to be open and adjustive to whatever happens. That way you can save a lot arguing and worrying. Normally we try to keep Elsa from putting stuff in her mouth, but after her first day at the beach we realized that it was impossible to stop her from “eating” the sand. And after about a week of sand eating, she finally realized that it didn’t taste very good.
14. The sweetest babysitters in the world
We almost forgot to mention the thing that is most striking when you travel in Asia. They love kids! They seriously LOVE kids! Specially in Thailand. We have never experienced anything like it before. An old man stopped his car in the middle of the road just to run out, pinch Elsa’s cheek and take a photo of her. At restaurants you often find at least five waiters volunteering to take your baby on a long tour in the kitchen, while you can enjoy your food peacefully.
15. Just do it!
Don’t be afraid of what kind of problems you could run in to. Traveling is an amazing experience, and you never end up regretting it. So what are you waiting for, start saving up, and book that trip.
If you have any more questions about traveling with a baby, feel free to ask them in a comment. We will try to answer them as soon as we can.