One of the biggest questions I get as a new mum who is also a travel blogger is ‘how has travel changed since you had a baby?’. Well, it’s safe to say that things are, well, different! I definitely anticipated that having a baby would change things (it changes your whole world!) so it wasn’t a huge shock to us. At the same time though, it doesn’t stop me from reminiscing about our carefree and spontaneous travel days pre-kids! But although travel looks a fair bit different now, the memories we’ve created together as a family of three are so special that I wouldn’t change a thing. So, while every family is different, these are the main ways that travel has changed for us since having a baby.
How does travel change when you have a baby?
We travel less
When I was pregnant with Evie, I remember thinking that we’d still travel quite a lot once she came along. Sure, we’d have more stuff to pack but I’d simply strap her into the carrier and off we’d go! The reality, however, is that we’ve had one of the quietest years of travel in a LONG time. Although we’ve done a couple of international trips and a few smaller domestic trips, we’ve scaled back a lot.
Why? A few reasons. In Evie’s early months we had a few hiccups with her health and weight gain which made for an anxious time. Secondly, it really did take me a while to find my feet as a new mum (have I found them yet??) – it was just such a huge transition and adjustment. Home was our haven, our safety net. And thirdly, it’s been a really busy year work-wise for Ben which has meant that we just haven’t had time to plan trips. We’re in a good rhythm now so hope to lock in some more travel plans this year. Life isn’t any less crazy (#toddlerlife) but I think we’ve finally recovered from the shock of becoming first-time parents. It’s taken a while!
Comfort over cost
Let me tell you, when you’re travelling with a baby, convenience, space and comfort are everything. So, do yourself a favour and book that nice hotel or the big, serviced apartment. These little people (and all of their things) need space. Lots of it. When we’ve travelled with Evie, we’ve always booked accommodation with two bedrooms so she could sleep in a separate room like she’s used to at home. Also, it means that we can have our own space, which is important to us.
Before Evie, we were happy to stay in more basic accommodation. We didn’t need much because we would be out all day and get back late. Now, with her, we find we spend a lot more time at the hotel, returning for little breaks and naps. For this reason as well, staying in a convenient location is also really important.
There’s no denying that travelling with a small human is tiring so you want your accommodation to be comfortable and relaxing. Also, room service is everything when everyone is tired from a long day. Essentially, you just want to make everything as easy as possible!
Another big way that travel has changed for us since we had a baby is that our pace of travel is different now. Before kids, we’d cram in as much as we could each day, filling our days to the brim with sightseeing and experiences. I loved diving deep, trying to discover the soul of a city. I’d feel deep regret if we left without checking everything off my list. Now, travelling with a child, I’ve had to scale back my expectations. Days are now planned around snack and meal times, naps and bedtime. We might do one or two things in a day and take everything much more slowly.
The thing is, I’m more than okay with this. Firstly, it means that Evie is happier as she’s not overtired or overstimulated, which means she sleeps and eats better. Secondly, we actually have the chance to travel more meaningfully. Instead of seeing a lot of things quickly, we get to experience fewer things more deeply so it’s more rewarding and impactful.
Destination priorities have shifted
Prior to having a little one to care for, we’d been pretty adventurous with our travels. We’ve trekked the Himalayas, sailed down the Ganges in northern India, explored the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat and ate our way through southeast asia. We’ve had crazy adventures and those trips are up there with our most favourite memories. But would I take my baby to those places? No. Or not yet.
Because even though we’ve had some of the best fun in our lives on those trips, we’ve also seen the other side when things go wrong. I’ve been so sick that I had to be evacuated from a group tour in India. And even when we were fine and healthy, we’ve been in very remote locations that are nowhere near any decent medical care. When you just have yourselves to worry about, you don’t really get hung up on these kinds of things. But when you’ve got your child with you, you’ve always got the ‘what if’ in the back of your mind.
Our recent trip to Bali confirmed the worries I’d pushed aside. My daughter became so sick that we were very close to ending up in hospital. Luckily, she stabilized and we didn’t end up there but we could have, easily. It was awful and I feel a lot of guilt about putting her in that position. As a mother, it’s my job to protect her. Obviously, I know that you can get sick anywhere, but the risk is just so much higher in countries with poor sanitation. And babies can go downhill, very quickly.
Gone are the days of grabbing Ubers! Travelling with a baby means that we now have to consider car seats. We either need to hire a car with a car seat ourselves or book a private car and request that one be installed. We always drive ourselves to the airport now and park there too. It’s just easier that trying to coordinate a drop-off or pick-up that’s safe for her.
I’d love to know what you think about how travel changes when you have a baby! Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Keen to read more about what it’s like to travel with a small family? Read these next:
- How to Survive a Flight with a Toddler
- What to Pack When Travelling with a Baby: 28 Travel Essentials
- Tips for Planning a Weekend Away with a Baby
What are the main ways that travel has changed for you since you had a baby?