I Kept Traveling The World After I Had My Baby—Here Are My 5 Top Tips For Kid-Friendly Travel

It’s possible to have kids and still indulge your wanderlust as a family unit. Here’s how.

Growing up, I spent my childhood in a blue-collar town where international travel took a backseat to five-hour car rides to Grandma’s house. We did the occasional summertime camping trip and beach excursion, and once, we went to Disneyland. For us, a week in London was as far-fetched as a month on Mars.

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I was twenty years old before I stepped foot on an airplane and into the great unknown of world travel. On a lark, I took all the money I’d saved waiting tables, and pushed it in front of a travel agent who helped me book a ticket from Los Angeles to Paris, and a return trip out of Rome. I thought I was going to see great artwork, historic monuments, beautiful beaches, and hoped to have fun doing it. And I did. But even more significantly, that trip was my first taste of real freedom. I returned home with a new sense of confidence, and the realization that the world is full of possibilities. I’ve been addicted to travel ever since.

I spent a good part of the next fifteen years following my traveler’s heart to places like Europe, South Africa, Hawaii and the Caribbean. When I first met the man who would become my future husband, he had not been avid traveler. I told him, “If you’re with me, you’re going to travel.” He has graciously (and sometimes begrudgingly) conceded. We caught an unseasonably warm March week in Verona, spent quiet days in a favorite little beach town in Mexico, and got married on the beach in Costa Rica. Although those early years were lean, we grabbed every opportunity to travel.

And then we had a baby.

To say that having a baby makes you want to stay on lockdown at home is an understatement.

Home is safe. Home has everything you need for a baby. The wipes are warm and the extra breast milk is in the freezer. Baby has come to know her routine, at-home natural baby remedies are at the ready, and a babysitter is finally on speed dial. After having my son, it would have been easy to put my travel lust on the top shelf, to dream of dusting it off for two weeks each summer, or more fully in retirement.

But I am who I am: someone who loves to explore. And so, I’ve honed my travel skills to include a husband and a child.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the past five years about how to indulge in wanderlust as a family unit. I am mindful of budget, simplicity, and sanity without sacrificing the fun, and enrichment that travel bring. The wipes might be cold, but when you reach the beaches of Greece, no one will care.

Travel gear: it can be the difference between family travel that feels like a dream, or a straight-up nightmare. If you plan to travel more than once per year with your children, I suggest investing in some key items that will save you much unnecessary stress. Here’s my short-list:

Kinderpack makes a soft carrier for older toddlers and preschoolers—ideal for when they’ve grown out of their baby carrier, but aren’t yet able to manage walking the winding streets of Venice all day. When my son was two and three we used this to let him nap in transit while we explored museums and shops.

The GB Pockit Stroller folds up into a small square, fits in a nylon grocery bag, can be carried onto a plane and stored overhead. Done! This is the most genius travel stroller I’ve ever used, hands down (and I’ve gone through a few, since they can get pretty banged up when you check them at the gate). This little guy came in particularly handy on a trip to Disney World, when we had to get on and off hotel busses that didn’t allow strollers on board.

We always brought our car seat with us on airplanes. Not only to use at our destination, but our son slept better in the familiar embrace of his trusty seat. GogoBabyz Travelmate is a lightweight cart that allows you to push or pull your car seat right up to the gate. Your kiddo can even ride in it through the airport.

If you don’t need a car seat, but want a secure ride for your older toddler, the Kids Fly Safe CARES Harness is an FAA approved harness that slips over her plane seat. Your child must be between 22 and 44 pounds, and up to 40 inches tall, although Kids Fly Safe makes a version for taller kids with special needs.

For bigger kids who still need a booster, Mifold travel booster is as portable as it gets. You may have spied this company’s Indiegogo campaign, showing off their innovative and lightweight design. We’ve used it, and it delivers. Your child must be four years or older, and over forty pounds.

Use packing cubes like eBags to simplify your packing and cut down on too-many-suitcases.