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Two weeks after my son Wilder got his two-month shots, my husband and I were on a plane with him to Portugal. Given that we were avid travelers before, we were eager to hit the road after a few months of staying put. So, we spent a week visiting sites like the Chapel of Bones in Evora, the Castle of the Moors in Sintra, and Time Out Market in Lisbon all with our little one in tow.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking: but your baby won’t remember any of it! Yes, we heard that from a lot of people (and know it’s true). But, although he won’t remember the details of our itinerary, we got that critical bonding time with him away from the distractions back home. Plus, we returned more confident parents.
And it turns out we aren’t the only ones who think it’s important to travel with your baby.
Chloe Melas and her husband Brian Mazza ventured with their 10-month-old son Leo to the Amalfi Coast and Athens, Greece for that similar bonding time. “We were in a situation where we were together 24/7 and sharing a room,” said Melas. “We both work full time, and by the end of our ten-day trip, we noticed a drastic change in Leo’s development. He was saying more words and was even beginning to really walk. We felt like we grew closer.”
It was about exposure for Juliet Izon, who took her daughter Avvie on about two dozen flights before she was two. “Avvie learned how to sleep in new beds, adjust to time zone differences, and eat different types of food,” said Izon of her trips to places such as St. Lucia, Lake Louise, Italy, and France. “And also, it's true what everyone will tell you: traveling with an infant is actually way easier than an older child!”
Yes, it turns out many people agreed babies make excellent jet-setters. “Babies are so easy to travel with,” said Kirsty Lewis who took her son Hugo to Dubai at 10 weeks old. “All they do is feed and sleep; it’s a dream.”
Now, everyone will admit these trips don’t come without their stressful moments. We had to cut our afternoon of sightseeing short due to a cranky newborn, for example, and Melas had to clean baby throw-up in a cab with limited supplies. But, the long-term benefits outweigh any short-term negatives.
“Although it was extremely tiring at times and I didn’t get to see all the sunsets or drink as much wine, the memories are truly for me and my husband,” said Melas. “I used to love the stories my parents would tell me about the trips they took me on when I was a baby. I couldn’t remember myself, but they made for some pretty incredible bedtime stories.”
Lewis, whose husband is a pilot, feels her son became “a trooper” because of their travels. “He dealt with jet lag, hot taxis, winding roads, bumpy boat rides, hard cribs, long flights, new smells, and different foods really well,” she said.
What’s amazing to Izon is the parts of the trips her daughter remembers. “After we got back from a gorgeous scenic drive around Ireland, she kept asking to go back to the Shannon airport,” she said. “Now that she’s almost three, I’m excited to see what else she remembers.”
Whether the babies “mature,” as Melas called it, or become more adaptable because of traveling, ultimately, it’s the first step toward helping children become global citizens. And what’s more important than raising kids who are more open to different people and cultures?