It can be scary taking your under-two-year-old baby on a trip. A day at home can easily fall to pieces with a missed nap, cranky feeding, or weird mood. Who knows what the road will hold?
More importantly, you might wonder if you can handle the stressors of baby + travel without throwing yourself on the floor and crying it out.
I’m sure you can do it — you’ve weathered worse situations and emerged with new stories and strength. Plus, there are some great benefits to traveling with your baby before he hits the two year old mark.
10 reasons to travel with your baby before two years old
- Free flight: most airlines allow your under-two-year-old baby to travel on your lap free of charge. Indulge on airfare and save on buying an expensive second ticket while you can. While the FAA recommends your baby travels in his own seat in his car seat, some airlines may let you use an empty seat next to you free of charge if the flight isn’t full. If the flight is full and you brought the car seat, the airlines will gate-check it for free. Be sure to travel with a copy of your baby’s birth certificate to prove your baby is under two years old.
- Still naps: avoid mid-afternoon crabbies for everyone in your family by scheduling in a recharge nap session. Not only does your baby get some much-needed sleep, but you can relax guilt-free at your hotel or rented apartment and simply enjoy the moment. Then you’ll be well-rested for great dinner adventures.
- No missed school: your baby is too young for preschool or first grade, so she isn’t enrolled in any school but the school of life. You don’t need to worry about making up missed homework or playing catch up after a trip. Traveling will give her a full curriculum of learning.
- Small enough to carry: baby’s little legs can only take him so far until mom or dad needs to give him a lift. When your baby is under two years old, he’s usually light enough to carry comfortably in a baby carrier, backpack or atop your shoulders. Unlike when he gets older… and heavier.
- Exposure to new cultures: want your baby to grow up into a well-rounded individual comfortable in new situations? Part of that can be exposure to new cultures, people, and languages from a young age. They’ll see different doesn’t equal bad.
- Malleable and flexible: typically, at this age, they’re willing to go along with your plans with a minimal amount of fuss. Once they get older, they’ll have their own ideas about what the trip should or shouldn’t include. But now, you’re still in charge of planning.
- Cute to forgive a multitude of sins: a wide grin from a chubby-cheeked little guy is enough to make anyone forget a poopy diaper, trail of vomit, or any other chaos. Plus, he’s a natural-born charmer at this age with an innate ability to make friends with everyone.
- Non-toys are the best: ever given a baby a toy, only to have them play with the box or wrapping paper? That ability is super helpful while traveling when a vast quantity of toys aren’t readily available. Entertain your baby with plastic cups, sand, sticks or even chasing pidgins.
- Under six months old? If you’re still breastfeeding, you may be able to forgo baby foods. Forget the bottles, formula, little plastic spoons and just make sure mom is on the trip.
- Curiosity: now is your chance to see the world afresh through a child’s eyes. Spy a morning sunrise, watch birds dive-bombing for fresh fish, or inspect bugs on a summer sidewalk. The world is new and ripe for exploration. When was the last time you felt that exhilarating feeling?
Laura Lopuch is a copywriter and incurable traveler. She blogs at Waiting To Be Read where she helps you find your next great book to read because life’s too short to read crummy books.