Why We Travel With Our Baby
A retired couple from Montreal sitting next to me in the van from Sanur to Denpasar (read about Campbell’s jet-setting here) seemed astonished by the way we were travelling with Campbell, and even travelling at all. They remarked that they didn’t travel with their kids until the youngest was around seven years old. Honestly, I can partially understand. It’s not relaxing traveling with a baby, never mind the gear required. And when you finally get to your destination the baby’s schedule dictates the itinerary in most respects. Especially since Campbell won’t remember these experiences, I’m sure many people wonder why we travel with him.
I can share that, without a doubt, it’s easier to travel with little babies when they’re tiny and don’t know how to roll over or sit up. In my opinion, here will never be a better time to fly with your baby (if you don’t factor in the frequent breastfeeding, spitting up, diaper changes, outfit changes and logistic of transporting everything on the plane then keeping it reasonably clean). And I write this knowing that we have a very easy-going and even-keeled baby; it’s still tough.
I can tell you, thought, that to see that Thai stamp in Campbell’s passport and squishing my little babe’s toes into the Koh Samui sand was indescribable. Traveling with family and their darling baby was a whole other level of love. One day I will tell Campbell that his friendship with cousin Theo was cemented in a resort in Thailand, under the whir of a fan, as the Mamas laughed and drank beer (probably too early in the day).
I can confirm that having our baby and living in Hong Kong away from family is tough. I was giddy as we landed in Vancouver and watched Campbell gulp in his first breaths of fresh Canadian air. I was contented as we bundled up and went for so many walks. There was nothing sweeter than introducing him to hoards of admirers; it was such a joy. It was also so bittersweet knowing we couldn’t do it more often. One day he’ll ask why he started his life in Hong Kong, so far away from family, and I will tell him his roots will always be in Canada.
I can share that, without a doubt, seeing Campbell zoom by me on a scooter along a street in Hua Hin was both the most scary and amazing moment. Seeing Braden’s joy (and extreme care) taking our baby on that ride, will stick with me for a long time. One day I will tell Campbell that his love for adventure was borne in that moment.
I can tell you that going back to work and leaving a 3 month old baby at home has been tough but also empowering for me and my career. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to travel for work, doing a job that I love, and balance all that with being a new Mama. Bringing Campbell and Braden along with me to Australia while I worked was an amazing privilege. One day I’ll be able to tell Campbell all about what this work/life balance means to me.
I can confirm that even despite this Campbell having a meltdown shortly after the photo below taken, I’m so glad we pushed him past his bedtime just a bit so we could all experience this evening together on Gili T. One day I’ll tell him about how, just after sunset, I rode my bicycle back to the hotel with him in the carrier, his head against my heart, and that he stopped crying as soon as I started to sing to him.
I will tell him a thousand things about why we travel. About how we love it – have always loved it – and made the decision that having a baby wasn’t going to change that. I will tell him that it was hectic, tiring, and sometimes stressful. That parts of it were always a challenge. And then I will tell him that travel continues to take us out of our comfort zone (I can’t believe living in Hong Kong is now part of our comfort zone!), and created situations for us to feel exhilarated, aware and surprised. And that we loved it all.
My hope is, one day, these experiences and early memories will impact him. He won’t be shaped by car rides and trips to Costco, or swings at the park and living room play dates, (which sometimes makes me a bit sad). Instead his brain will be mapped by watching butterflies circling palm trees, bumpy bike rides to see horses on the beach at sunset, echos of bustling streets noisy with a mix of languages, and the looks of admiration he receives from strangers everywhere exclaiming, “big eyed boy!” May those big eyes continue to take on this big wide world and, one day, start building connections back to these memories ingrained in his little heart. And may his heart always leads him to his own life of adventure.