1 baby, 2 parents, 365 days, 30+ countries, 50+ cities, 60+ flights, and 100,000+ miles; this is how we spent our first year as a family of 3. While most new parents are winging it, we went a step further and literally parented on the fly, often mid-flight, and between time zones. Shockingly we did this all under (mostly) sober conditions and by our own free will. The baby on the other hand had little to no choice in the matter, because we said so.
Babies are to parents what old friends are to celebrities, they bring us crashing back down to reality and keep us oh so humble. We may wake up as The Worldwide Webers in a gorgeous Greek villa but within minutes we are transported back to our real job as the baby’s full-time pooper-scooper. We’ve experienced the highs of being in the sky while taking the baby on a helicopter ride and the lows of being at the bottom of a baby jetlag barrel. We’ve learned that babies don’t have inside voices and in fact get louder when in quiet museum spaces. And that without fail the day you forget the backup outfit or baby bag will be the day of the poopocalypse, who says a baby has no sense of humor?
After thousands of miles, hundreds of diapers and dozens of airports we’ve boiled down our top lessons learned for surviving (and dare I say enjoying) traveling with a baby:
- Nobody gives a shit – except the baby, she generously gives plenty of shit so don’t be embarrassed and just change them anywhere
- You can milk anything with nipples – you name it, you can nurse on it, all in the name of preventing the baby hanger tide from rolling in
- If I could turn back time – newsflash you can’t, so give yourself extra time during travel days to avoid meltdowns and missed flights
- Everyday I’m hustlin – the baby makes you a VIP, so skip the airport queues and use priority family lines and first class check-in counters
- Do like Full House and “Cut it out” – minimize gear, minimize clothes, minimize everything to avoid schlepping like a sherpa
- Snacks, like O’Doyle, rule – there’s almost no problem a snack can’t solve, so take advice from the candy and bring em Big & Plenty
- Baby teleportation is real – plan all travel with the goal of them falling asleep in one place and waking up in another Stark Trek style
- Like Fight Club, travel days have no rules – ripping up magazines, nursing for hours, endless tech time, do whatever it takes
- Is it too late now to say sorry – leave the snapping to the bracelets and apologize often for tense travel moments with your partner
- Cleopatra had it right – being carried is just better and poses way less of a headache while traveling so ditch the stroller and babywear
- Babies are terrible roommates – finagle a room upgrade or go college style and sleep them in the bathroom, anything to get them farther away
- Journey to the center of the earth – avoid the need for car seats by staying at central hotels and walking to everything you want to see
- A is for App, B is for Baby Monitor, C is for See ya later – combine baby monitor apps and great hotel restaurants for baby-free dinners
- Guiding light – use great local guides so you can focus on the baby and the sights and they can handle the logistics and itinerary
- Don’t sweat it – unless you’re breastfeeding and then you can’t help but sweat, but otherwise let the small annoyances of travel days go
Parenting and traveling aren’t that dissimilar. They’re both full of anxiety, joy, adventure, discomfort, questionable decisions and a generally funky smell. Is that chocolate, poop, dirt, or other? Oh dear lord what if it’s “other”?! The real magic happens when you combine the two, which can either lead to a heart attack or unforgettable moments (ideally not both). And if you takeaway nothing from this article besides the next three points I’ll have considered my work done:
- It’s you two against the baby; they’re the new roommate you gossip about. Don’t let her turn you against each other. That’s what they want!
- With enough diapers and snacks you can get just about anywhere
- It’s so totally worth it
With many miles behind us and more memories ahead we can’t believe everyone survived year one (to be fair there were some close calls there) and look forward to more countries and continents in year two of parenting on the fly!