Our Journey Part 2: Deciding To Go Nomadic With A Baby In Tow

Image by Jessie Reeder

Our nomadic, location independent life is likely to be very different this time round – a lifestyle of permanent travel is not something that many people think is possible with a child, yet alone a young baby.

And while having a young baby and no more than 5 hours sleep a night makes things which previously seemed simple to us, seem quite a bit harder – we’re learning as we go along that they actually don’t always have to be any more difficult, unless you let them.

We’ve been very conscious – and still are – that everything we do will depend upon how Mali reacts and adapts and if we feel at any point that our lifestyle is detrimental to her in any way, we’ll make any changes necessary. But with that said, for now, we’re still nomadic!

So what things have we had to consider when travelling with a young baby? Well for starters there are the following…

Where to go:

Safety – obviously we’re not about to go trekking in the jungles of Borneo with a 4 month old and we wanted to head to a place which we knew would be relatively safe & stable politically.

Familiarity – for our first destination, we again wanted to head somewhere we’d already been and knew to minimise (a) the amount of prior research we’d need to do for accommodation etc. and (b) because it’s easier the first trip away to go somewhere you know so you’re not also having to contend with getting used to a whole new place (something we’d always previously found more stressful and time consuming than we allowed for).

Health/medical facilities – this is an obvious one and we know that where we’re headed are excellent medical facilities, of an international standard (cheap too)

Baby development & milestones (e.g. food available when weaning etc.): when we’re in Thailand, we’ll start to wean Mali which means we’ll need to consider the availability of the food we want to start weaning her on (organic, if possible). While we know exactly what food & equipment is available in the UK, we have no idea at the moment what’s available in Thailand so will consider taking a few things with us just in case.

Preparations:

Health & vaccinations: typically for us, we’ve gone a slightly unconventional route and chosen our own schedule for Mali’s vaccinations rather than go with the NHS-prescribed schedule. Whichever route you go, the timing and scheduling of these is something you’ll need to consider before booking any flights. Always remember to give your baby enough time to recover should they have any adverse reactions.

Routines & familiarity: we’ve been quite conscious of introducing things into Mali’s life which we know we can continue when we’re on the road – which will give her a sense of familiarity and hopefully, security. This includes getting her into a pretty strict bedtime routine – not necessarily sticking to set times but set activities which give her signals that it’s bedtime (most parenting manuals will advise you do this anyway!).

So far it’s worked out brilliantly for us – we’ve stayed in 3 different places since leaving our house and her bed time routine has been barely disrupted and she’s continued to settle herself to sleep every night, like the angel she is! We’ve also brought a couple of familiar toys/playmats which she plays with at around the same time each day (i.e. straight after getting up) – so again keeping her in a similar routine with familiar things around her.

Travel Practicalities

Flight times & time zones: Flying with a young baby was one of my biggest worries. I hate flying at the best of times (yes, I know the irony in that!) but doing so with a young, unpredictable baby in tow seems such a hurdle to overcome.

We chose our flight times carefully to coincide with her usual routine. For the first flight to Dubai (3 hours ahead of the UK), we decided to fly around lunch time. This coincided with her usual nap time – and we decided that if she slept the whole way, when we arrived at midnight, she could stay up for a couple of hours at the most and then probably be tired again and go to bed at night time – meaning as little disruption as possible to her routine and giving her a good chance to adjust to the time zone change.

We also felt it would be easier on us – than flying through the night, with her sleeping all the way and us not, then arriving in time for her to wake up and play all day and us be completely knackered. I’ll let you know how it all went in a future post.

Airlines & facilities: Flying on the cheap-y airlines just feels so much harder with a baby – and when you take into account all the additional charges they levy on checked baggage etc., going with a “decent” airline just makes so much more sense. We’ve flown Emirates many times before and they’re an excellent airline – especially for coping with babies. We’ve heard good things about the cabin crew’s helpfulness and their facilities are typically excellent.

Coping with babies on flights: Prior to flying with Mali for the first time, I had visions of her screaming throughout the whole 6 hour flight us fraught and stressed, and everyone around us silently hating us!

Most people had assured us that flying with a baby who can’t yet walk or crawl is infinitely easier than flying with a toddler who wants to run around all the time – and I would have to agree. Most babies will sleep throughout a flight – the sound and motion is soothing – and even when they’re awake, there’s usually so much going on and os many faces to look at, that it’s easy to keep them amused. A few tips for successful air travel include:

  • Feed your baby on the way up & down to minimise ear troubles
  • Feed your baby more frequently throughout the flight since they’ll dehydrate more quickly
  • Make sure they’re wrapped up warmly in layers since planes get very cold

We’re now fully-fledged location independent parents back on the road, so I’ll let you know how it’s gone so far in the next post in this series…

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