I’ve mentioned time and again how much Denise and I advocate the idea of parents traveling with their babies. We’ve done it several times, and if you want a more experiential account of what it’s like, you should read about our trip to Australia and watch our epic 22-hour journey to the United States.
What I want to do now is give you seven reasons why we insist on traveling with our baby as much as we can, and why we think you should too.
REASON 1: YOU WILL MISS YOUR BABY
My first reason is the most selfish one. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that being away from my daughter for an extended period of time is something I don’t enjoy. Sure, an occasional break is good for the sake of productivity and sanity, but I enjoy her company too much to always leave her at home. I want to travel, and I want my whole family to be with me when I do. ’Nuff said.
REASON 2: TICKETS ARE (STILL) CHEAP
Did you know that you could be paying just 10% of a regular plane ticket’s price to bring a whole human with you? For domestic flights, they don’t even charge a cent and you still get added baggage allowance. We flew with Hope from Seattle to Oregon, bringing one more bag for her, at no extra cost. The party is over when your baby reaches two years old. Until then, she’s literally just a footnote on your itinerary.
REASON 3: EXPOSURE TO NEW STIMULI MAY ACCELERATE LEARNING
They say you learn more by walking a mile than by reading a scroll that’s one mile long. I honestly doubt that’s true, but maybe it is if you’re a baby who can’t read and is experiencing the world for the first time.
Just when your child gets used to all the old sights, sounds, and smells of home, she has to adapt to a new normal. Babies’ brains are sponges that absorb new stimuli all day, building superhighways of neural networks. Traveling is a constant barrage of stimuli: when even adults find themselves concentrating more as they parse new faces, new words, and new ways of doing things.
To maximize her cognitive development, make sure you actively give her feedback about the things she’s experiencing, like pointing out pigeons on the sidewalk.
REASON 4: IT'S GOOD FOR HER GUT
New research shows that our gut flora affect our health to a greater degree than previously thought. While you should always be mindful of possible health risks, and you should always follow your baby’s vaccination schedule, a few germs here and there will actually be good for her. The idea is to start from a more sanitized newborn-friendly environment (which is of course, still populated with a good number of beneficial microbes) and gradually introduce her to whatever is normal for you in terms of hygiene and diet (which is of course, hopefully not disgusting).
REASON 5: IT BUILDS CHARACTER. YOUR CHARACTER.
When we’re out and about, the three of us are basically a traveling circus: a messy, unwieldy caricature of the human condition on display for all to see. It’s the greatest show on earth! Watch as we calmly pick up each tiny quinoa dinosaur after she shakes them all out on the airport carpet, because littering is bad and quinoa dinosaurs are expensive. Be amazed as we act unfazed, like gangstas that just popped some nines into some fools, as our daughter screams and wails in the plane to the dismay of our neighbors. You will gasp as we politely ask to cut in line (all of the lines, mind you) and use our daughter as an excuse, giving them our best “you know how it is” face. And for our final act at the supermarket, we will pay for the three packs of yogurt that our daughter mistakenly opened as she was playing with them, and we will eat them with gusto because sayang. Ladies and Gentlemen, we will grin and bear all these things because we have to, and because no one else will. That’s just how it is.
As parents, these crazy experiences are uniquely yours. Get some thicker skin, grow some hair on your chest, and relish them.
REASON 6: ANYONE WHO SAYS "DON'T BOTHER, SHE WON'T REMEMBER" IS SECRETLY LORD VOLDEMORT
To paraphrase another article I read on the subject: if you think that, then why do you bother giving your baby girl any hugs or kisses? If she won’t remember, why show her affection at all? Some memories stick sooner and to a greater degree than others, and you want to make sure that they’re the good kind.
While Denise and I believe that each of us is predisposed to certain patterns of behavior, parenting plays a huge part in programming the kind of human she will turn out to be, and it begins on day one. It’s a big, confusing world out there and you want to be intentional and consistent with your parenting.
REASON 7: WELL-TRAVELED BABIES GROW UP TO BE WELL-TRAVELED ADULTS
If you agree with the previous point, then you can get onboard the idea that by regularly traveling with your baby you are setting her up to be a curious, capable, and adaptable adult who is used to seeing and cooperating with people of different colors and creeds. I believe that traveling is a good way to tease out important questions that are normally swept under the rug, and the sooner your kids ask those questions the better. On a more pragmatic note, immigration officers will also give your child less of a hassle in the future after seeing that she’s been traveling since she was a baby. Give your child the gifts of being woke and of less scrutiny at the border, and get some stamps on her passport.
As you can see, traveling with your baby isn’t just doable, it’s also a really good idea. Hopefully, these seven reasons have settled some lingering doubts for those who are still on the fence. Or maybe some of you are just trying to get a better idea of what to expect.
If you want some hacks and tips to make traveling as a family a little bit easier, check back for a future post! Better yet, sign up for my newsletter so you'll be the first to know when it comes. Just scroll down and enter your email in the box below.