traveling with kids, parenting, babies, planning

It’s finally dawning on me.  When I leave in three weeks, I will have a backpack, film and photography gear, a computer, two dogs and a baby.  A freaking baby.

I have no idea how this is going to turn out.

Our plan is to do a long road trip from Oregon, camping our way to San Francisco.  There may be an extended stay in Napa.  If not, I’m still drinking wine.

After that, we’re leaving the country, permanently.

It’s not that he’s a difficult baby.  In fact, I take his constitution as proof that God loves me and wants me to continue traveling.  He’s a happy baby.  The thing is, he’s three months old and he has started rolling over.  I know where this is going.  Soon he’ll be sitting up, then crawling and by the time we’re outside the US, he’ll be keen on licking sockets in hotels and swallowing foreign change.  By the time he’s walking, he’ll know how to freak out mom in three different languages.

It’s all part of the adventure.

The only thing that is calming me is The Plan.  I’m sharing it with you now, because I’m a sadist, and I think in some way, it’ll be funny/interesting to look back on this in a year.

No Baby Furniture: We’re cosleeping, holding the baby and using a sling instead of your traditional crib/swing/walker/highchair setup.  We knew that it would be impossible to travel as much as we do and bring all the stuff along, so we planned from the beginning to do without it.  To date, the baby doesn’t have a stick of furniture and every night he sleeps in our bed.

Breastfeeding (as long as possible): Worried about the water?  Breastfeed.  Crying baby on a plane?  Breastfeed.  Forgot to pack snacks?  Breastfeed.  Avoid getting sick?  Breastfeed.  Basically, The Boob is my answer to pretty much anything that goes wrong.  I’ll do it until he’s a toddler and hopefully it’ll be a source of comfort on those long travel days.

Babe in Arms: It’s basically attachment parenting: we don’t let him cry, wear him in a sling, and try to address his needs quickly.  While it’s a nice way to parent in it’s own right, hopefully it will also get him used to being calm and content when he’s with mom or dad.  My cousin was a high need’s baby who screamed for her first year of life, but all the holding and soothing resulted in a little girl who was very happy just to be on her mama’s lap.  I’m hoping it works for us, as he’ll be in lots of situations where being quiet will be expected (by others).

The thing is, I know how plans go… especially with kids.  But that’s the plan today as we set out to travel with a four-month-old.  In the next year we’ll visit at least 8 countries.  Or I’ll make it as far as Napa, quit and you guys can come visit me at my new vineyard.

Travelers, tell me, how would you approach long term travel with a little one?

Pic: Cole sleeping in his monkey outfit