I looked into the curious eyes of our Baby Noah, even after a long-haul flight to Japan. I realised that he is not exceptional. Like Noah, most children seem to thrive on exploring the world. As for the parents, well, that may be a different matter.
Noah was just 3 weeks old when I first took him on a plane.
I was scared to do this and questioned myself over and again but after a couple of minutes, I saw Noah was just fine. He was warm and content in our arms and shortly fell asleep for the short flight! That was my first taste of travelling with a baby.
When Noah was 3 months old we flew to Portugal, better from the Gold Coast to Sydney, to Singapore, to Dubai and finally we landed in Portugal after 39 hours in the air.
Again, we thought it was easy. Noah seemed just to carry on with his usual routine, however he did suffer on the first day in Portugal from jet lag!!
After Portugal we went to Germany then we came back to Australia where we have been travelling overland and lately we just went backpacking in Japan.
Noah is now almost 10 months with 35622 air miles (according to my grandfather who patiently loves to do all our flight statistics!) and definitely a happy traveller.
Backpacking in Japan was a real test. I always wanted to be able to travel the way we did before having Noah, so it was a great surprise to find out that we can do it – we just need a bit more organisation and the usual reduced sleep without any stops at bars… But as with all travel, the challenges became the adventure.
We crisscrossed Japan with Noah on our backs. Each day, we tried to keep a balance by doing something for Noah, something for ourselves, and still manage to meet my obligations as a travel writer.
Noah loved to be in his backpack where he could see everything from up high and still interact with everyone. He must have had his photograph taken a hundred times.
We have a laidback trip rhythm, which I think was the reason it was so easygoing. But we are also very curious people and we would make sure we left early in the morning and our curiosity would lead us home late at night.
We caught dozens of trains, subways and ferries… Noah loved watching the world trundle past our window; flirting with fellow passengers and sleeping on his backpack after a long chat with his dummy.
Pack It Light
We travel light. I mean light light!
For this trip to japan we had only one backpack (50 litres) for me, Paul and Noah, a daypack and Noah’s baby Carrier backpack. This included a number of cameras, laptop and all the things I needed for work!
Everyone wondered how we could fit everything in a backpack. Well my friend, I don’t see the point of carrying 33 outfits when you are on the road, we only pack the essential and make sure there’s space for some soap. In fact, 2/3 of our backpack was filled with Noah’s things, such as clothes, nappies for the first 2 days, his formula milk, sleeping bag, portable ‘high chair’.
Travelling with only one backpack, plus Noah on our backs means that both Paul and I always had our hands free to play with Noah or organise money, tickets, view maps, find toys, prepare for a nappy change…
Noah doesn’t travel with toys. Better, we travel only with his very very favourite toys which is one of my colour beaded necklace. We encourage him to play with everything we find during our trips. Cups, containers, drink bottles, sticks, you name it! There are so many new things that he can experience you don’t need much and he stays interested because there is always something new for him to play with.
If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that I like to keep a budget. I am all for thinking about a budget before travelling.
I prepared my accommodation beforehand this time. This saved me time during the trip and also the budget. I made sure we went to great restaurants that had been recommended from friends or locals then saved my money with buying at supermarkets.
If you are going to trek, snowboard or just starting to get a bit older (admit it, your knee isn’t what it was..), a small investment for insurance will save you big time. We recently had a run of specialist appointments overseas with our son and this could have been very expensive. What could ruin your not trips budget could be a cost of dinner…
I never bothered before to even check my plane seat, but now I make sure I preorder a seat with a bassinet. This gives Noah a chance to sleep well and also a bigger area to play and crawl when he is awake. Don’t expect to have a bassinet on every flight you go. In Australia, domestic short flights will not provide you with a bassinet and in long haul flights you should contact the Air Company and double check you will have a bassinet, especially close to school holidays or big tourist destinations.
Some families choose beach resorts with kids’ clubs but I would argue there are better ways to travel as a family and still achieve a stress-free restorative break. Here are some alternative ideas that we love:
With our Kathmandu Child Carrier hiking trips have proven to be great fun for everyone.
Babies can pop in a pouch and be carried around Tokyo (you will probably have less stamina than them). When they are walking, aim for one activity per day that makes you happy, and one activity per day that makes them happy.
Noah is used to road trips since he was 3 weeks old. In the beginning we would coincide the driving with nap times but Noah at almost 10 months enjoys seeing the road, babbling away with songs, a collection of small toys and key stops along the way for a stretch and fresh air.
This maybe our favourite and a great solution for families, as you can mix up your time with cities, hiking and beaches. There is no greater adventure then your own spirit for the unknown…