I have just spent six days of internet-free time on a motu off the island of Maupiti, French Polynesia, not venturing more than 500 metres away from our bungalow the entire time. Our bungalow was a bit rustic, and apart from sleeping we spent the entire week outside in the sand, playing in the shade, venturing out in the kayak and letting Maya splash around in a basin of sea water. Discovering the world through her eyes – from the bits of coral she picked up at every opportunity to the maze of palm trees and plants just begging for a game of hide and seek – brought me new energy and an abundance of joy.
The week also gave me ample time to reflect on our journey through the South Pacific so far and, after a rough week just prior, to focus on just how amazing it is to be travelling with our now almost 13-month-old.
Here’s what I discovered is just so amazing about travelling with a baby:
1. It helps you loosen up as a parent. Majorly. You quickly learn to let go of things needing to be done a certain way and accept that it can be hard to plan with any amount of certainty.
2. It boosts your creativity. Improvisation is key on a journey as a family when you can’t always find the food you are accustomed to, you have to create toys out of objects around you, you can’t rely on a consistent place to put baby down for a nap, and can’t find the baby products you use at home (among many other things!). Overcoming these obstacles with creativity is incredibly fulfilling. Truly!
3. You get quality time as a family. Without a doubt, travel provides more time together then you’d ever have otherwise. Confined to sharing the same space all the time and moving around as a unit, your baby will have more of you and your attention than you could ever muster up at home. Granted, this isn’t always a good thing, but it’s great for the period of time while you are travelling. It is also easily solved by splitting up for portions of the day to give each parent a break (and the other quality one-on-one time with the wee one).
4. You get to know your child in new ways. Never again will you wonder how baby would cope sleeping in different places; riding in an airplane, bus, taxi or boat; meeting people in other cultures; eating different foods; finding toys in nature; and more. Your little one will constantly surprise you and make you ooze with pride as a parent.
5. It helps you see the smaller things in life. The world of a baby is micro-sized, and as we get older our focus gets bigger and broader. Spending time with a baby in new environments helps you notice things you never would have otherwise. This makes the travel experience much richer, especially for you as the adult.
6. You get to spread baby joy everywhere. I have had wonderful encounters with locals and tourists on my travels before, but it was nothing like travelling with a baby. We get instant smiles from people all over the place, helpful hands, and wonderful interactions – all thanks to the little baby bouncing in our arms along the way. Between her smiles, giggles and endless babble, Maya is like a magnet for attention, connecting us to people and places in new ways.
There you have it! I’m sure there are more, but I’ll leave that up to you to help me extend my list.