7 tips for parents traveling with kids: baby, toddler and while pregnant!
Updated: Oct 16
I recently went on a mommy daughter trip that was also a baby moon! I was about 15 weeks pregnant, in the beginning of the second trimester. I was traveling as a solo parent on this trip, with my 10 month old, together with my friend and her 18 month old daughter. I am so glad we did it! But it definitely came with a number of challenges so I hope you find this post helpful when considering traveling with young kids and/or while expecting.
I chose Asia for this special mommy daughters trip because Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia were top of my travel destination list (for a long time). I had traveled recently in North America and Europe so I wanted to have our mother daughter trip somewhere else. Plus, my friend was already planning her trip there with her daughter too and invited us along! For those reasons and more (which I'll explain below), it felt like the perfect combination to make it happen. Despite both expected and unexpected challenges, we really made the most of it all. A trip of a lifetime with my 2 babies.
I’ve been asked countless times, “but how did you do it?!” So here’s a little mama travel insight from our experience. This is how I kept it stress free (as much as possible) and minimalistic. It was all so doable!
7 tips from our toddler baby + pregnant travel experience
No need for all the equipment - keep everything minimal
I skipped the stroller and car seat and any other baby containers and kept it simple. Plan ahead with the country's regulations (many rental options available when needed) and try to use transportation that does not require car seats such as trains, buses, ferries, walking and flights. Since I was expecting and halfway through the trip started to pop, feeling the weight in the front, I carried her on my back in the baby carrier almost everywhere we went! I had a very small shoulder bag that held my essentials: water bottle, money + cards, lip balm, hotel room key, diaper and wipes. I also packed extremely light with our combined luggage fitting into a carry on - read these ideas on how to do that!
Now or never
Our children have 2 years of being lap babies on flights and the infant fair normally costs 10% of the flight internationally and free domestically within the USA. Take advantage! (Keep in mind that some airlines such as Qatar charged us about 20% and another airline Scoot charged almost 50%, but this is much less common). A 50lb/23kg bag is typically included in the infant fair on long international flights. Based on your family planning and availability, take the window of time to do a special one on one trip with each child if possible! Because we are having our babies close in age (16 months apart) and due to my work schedule, I knew this was my only opportunity to do a special mama baby trip with my firstborn.
This is also one of the best times to have young children explore the world as it open ups pathways in their brains and physical experiences that will benefit them in countless ways. The memories you can make with your child in this time is absolutely priceless. I've heard it said something like... "Saying it's not worth traveling while young because they won't remember is like never reading a child a book because they might not remember." I knew this would be the only chance for this trip with my firstborn so I took “now or never” literally and made it happen!
The best time to travel during pregnancy
Beginning of second trimester. I travelled internationally while pregnant with our firstborn at this time too and found that it’s once the nausea and extreme fatigue of first trimester is over and in a short window of time where there is more energy before feeling the heaviness that pregnancy brings on soon after. Most ideal: weeks 15-25.
Child / Adult energy, compatibility and mindset -
start young and have the baby follow the adults, not the other way around.
This is like 3 things in 1 and applies to all things parenthood, but it has especially helped us when it comes to world travel. Our daughter has been a calm and content baby and toddler, fully feeding off our energy. Part of this we think is due to the way that we have always fit her into what we are already doing and very seldom do we change routines around only for her, from day 1. But of course if you have had a different parenting style or if this has not worked in your experience for whatever reasons, you will have to adjust the activities, plans and everything accordingly.
This style that our daughter has been used to, definitely helped make it manageable. Still, traveling with babies, toddlers, and while pregnant is a huge undertaking and challenge. It will take mind over matter. I put my mind to it, all in, stayed positive and mentally strong when I could, and therefore made happen. It is critical to be very aware of our mindsets as the adult. The few times that I started to give up and allow myself to get stressed (especially with unforeseen circumstances like sickness, lack of sleep and other factors around us) was when I noticed my daughter to also become irritable, fussy or cry. We have to know ourselves and our limits, "will this cause me to feel overwhelmed?" which will then play out in our child's energy.
In my experience so far, 3 months, 6 months, 10 months, and 13 months have all been amazing times to travel with a baby. Even with also being pregnant at the 10 and 13 months trips! The earlier, the easier. Earlier because as a breastfeeding mom of one, I needed very little preparation and planning, there were plenty of naps with downtime and we were able to get her used to it right away. (But very tiring of course!) At all these ages, I have been able to have her follow my plans and don't have to work around her nap schedule and play activities because we find ways for her needs to be met within the adult plans. To reiterate, this is a personal experience based on a number of factors like parenting style and mindset, babies who are hyper active, used to a specific routine, easily overstimulated, health issues or struggle in other ways may be worth making sure it is a good time to travel, putting boundaries in place and to not overdo it based on parent and baby needs.
Where to go
I would not recommend choosing Asia in August of a baby/toddler and baby moon trip as your first pick, but I still loved it. It comes with a number of considerations.
Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand Baby Travel Cons:
The heat often felt unbearable, hard to stay hydrated.
Constant need for AC and going between extreme temperatures every hour is a lot on a child (and adult) and especially if you happen to get a contagious sinus infection like we did!
Most places do not have baby high chairs and only a few places might have changing rooms.
It usually is very rainy at this time too but we were extremely lucky with weather and never had any rain!
Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand Baby Travel Pros:
Asian countries are known to be baby and kid friendly. (Ranked from most to least helpful and understanding: Bali, Vietnam and then Thailand in my experience.)
It is very budget friendly for all things activities and food.
Accommodation can be comfortable and spacious, luxury with fair pricing.
No strict regulations on car seats making things flexible and adjusting to plans with various modes of transportation easy.
Airports have high quality parents rooms, great for nursing and diaper changing.
With these in mind, I would consider your priorities, preferences and time of year to travel. In August, I would more highly recommend Europe or places that are also kid friendly but have more access to things which will make travel easier and take into consideration the weather. But with that said, there were a lot of conveniences of traveling in Asia that made it simple and feasible.
How long to go? Be sure to work up to it.
We went on this trip and other international trips each for about 3 weeks at a time. That has been the sweet spot for me, but everyone has to find their own and work up to it depending on past travel experience and readiness. I would say about 2 weeks is a good amount if you are on your own or have limited help. If you have more help with you, and/or a home base with the essentials, up to a month plus is very doable.
If possible, don't do your first big international trip without shorter trips before. Start with a long weekend nearby or 1 week trip for your first time and then work up from there! If you are on the move living out of a suitcase the whole trip, do what is manageable for you. 3 weeks was a perfect amount for me to feel that we really made the most of it. It was also manageable for us because of already being well experienced with international travel both with and without a baby.
Savor it all
It goes without saying and possibly said too often, but I'll repeat it because it's true: enjoy every single moment. Even the tiring or overheated times, soak it in together knowing that you will never get that moment back, ever. Embrace every part of it and don't let your mind and various factors bring down your energy. Negativity can literally ruin a whole trip and it is only up to us as the leader in a traveling with kids to keep up the positivity and make every moment fun, even when its not! Our babies, no matter the age, will feed off of our energy. If anything is off with your child, check yourself. Check the energy around you and make adjustments. Find a way to enjoy every single moment, the good the bad, the ugly; the blissful, curious, pure innocence and love.