A couple of years ago my wife and I were traveling on the beautiful Dalmatian Coast. On one afternoon while we were there I decided to take a short hike up into the mountains that soar in height around the Montenegrin city of Kotor. It was a warm day and the trail up the mountain was steep and dusty.
Around one bend I encountered a young couple with two children. One of their children was a near-newborn strapped to the chest of the father in an infant wrap. The older child, a young boy, meandered along between his two athletic parents.
I was surprised to find this mommy and daddy with two young children on such an arduous trail. As they passed, I remember looking back a second time and marvelling to myself, “WOW, there go two young parents with their children in tow who are embracing the fullness of life…and getting an amazing view of the Adriatic Sea while they are at it.”
This couple had discovered one of life’s little secrets, which is traveling with young children can be a challenge, but it’s hardly impossible.
1. PREPARE FOR AN ADVENTURE OF THE BEST KIND
Though it may be counter-intuitive, young babies and older children travel better than most people think. The prevailing opinion of the culture goes a bit like this: when babies come, crazy adventures must end. Nothing is farther from the truth. Yes, it must be a different kind of crazy, but fun and adventures with children add to the fabled “spice of life”. My advice to young family is this; “when kids come, the best thing you can do is put them in your back pocket and “keep on trekking”!
2. THEY’RE SURPRISINGLY NOT BOTHERED ABOUT NOISE
Turns out, young babies are particularly good travellers. The roar of the car engine and the sounds of the road bring comfort and solace to a young infant. Even turbulence on airplanes, that still causes my heart to flutter, are taken in stride for young children. Sometimes it’s nice to be too young to worry about things.
3. NO VACATION WITHOUT VACCINATIONS
Begin travels with children after they have received their first series of vaccinations. In the United States and other parts of the developed world, this is around 2 months of age. Private car travel can begin even earlier, but parents should use caution when stopping in public places along their journey. For families traveling by air, it’s also important to remember that airports and airplanes cluster people together in tight spaces thus placing young, unvaccinated children in harm’s way. This is another reason why early vaccinations are important.
4. INSPECT FOR LOCAL ILLNESSES
I also recommend against traveling with young children during flu epidemics or other acute illnesses in a community. This requires that parents monitor health reports in their locality and in the locality, they plan to visit. Generally, winter is the season most challenging to travel, both to adults and children, due to the levels of acute infectious diseases that circulate during these months.
5. LESS IS MORE
One last piece of advice regarding travel with children is this: parents should avoid trying to visit too many sites on one trip. Resist the temptation to “do it all”. Travel to where you want to go, find a place to set up house and use that spot as your base. Day trips are fine, but skipping from hotel to hotel and city to city is a recipe for frustration. Don’t make this mistake.
But young parents who have enjoyed travel before the arrival of their children should take heart. It’s a big world and taking your children with you during your adventures not only enriches and refreshes you, it has the same effect on your children.