I love traveling as much as I love Jiu Jitsu. Combining both, I carry what many people know as a BJJ lifestyle. I travel the world, sometimes to work as BJJ referee, sometimes to compete. Other times to attend training camps or teach seminars and sometimes just for fun, to know new places, to meet new people, to discover the world.
But in 2010 something happened that changed my life forever and divided it into Before and After. I got pregnant and had my first daughter. The time BC (Before Children) were I was alone and free and could travel every time and everywhere with a good budget just to be spent by myself are gone. RIP.
Now, almost 9 years later, I am a proud mum of three daughters. As today (August 2018) they are 8, 4 and 0 (3 months old). And do you think I have changed my lifestyle? No. I haven’t.
Why should I? I love my kids above everything else in the world, but why no say it? I love myself too and i love my life. We just got one life to live, to be happy. And I didn’t see the reason (which apparently many parents do see) why I should change my lifeststyle just because I became a mum.
Parents have the duty to care for their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and emotional needs in an enviroment that is safe. To provide them with the right moral and values, to provide their education, teaching them to be useful, self-supporting, respectful. To encourage their success.
I don’t see where there is a incompatibility here with a BJJ Lifestyle.
That being said, it is easier said than done. Having kids make travelling if not complicated, at least “different”, waz different. And much more expensive. So I had to adapt to the new “travel conditions”.
Depending on the age of the kid, there are different things to be considered. This first list of tips I am going to give you is for parents travelling with children up to 2 years old (another article will followed about traveling with older children)
Many parents, specially new ones, are scared of travelling with babies. However, I believe that children in the newborn to age 2 range are the easiest to travel with in many respects. Children this age are portable, you can take them everywhere and keep them happy as long as you create a comfortable environment for them. Even keeping a routine (sacred word in the parenting world) is relatively easy at this stage since their routine is based on feeding, sleeping and playing times, things that you can do from nearly anywhere.
So here my first list of 6 tipps for travelling with infants.
1. Just do it
The idea of traveling with babies/infants might be overwhelming, even scaring for some of you. Don’t let the fear stop you. Like nearly everything in life, it is all about practice, and until you get to be a pro, the most important thing to remember is: you both will survive and you and your baby will reach your destination and have a happy time.
2. Take it slow
You might be used to rushing off the airplane or through the station to catch your train. I still remember with a laugh (now) when I almost missed my plane to the Caribbean for a Globetrotters Camp because I decided to make the pedicure in Amsterdam airport to kill the extra hours I had between planes. I caught the flight in the last minute before gate closed thanks to my best sprint ever (sprint on flipflops to avoid ruining my fresh nails lack :-D) But those days BC are over.
With an infant, sit back, let everyone rush around you and just go with the flow.
3. Don’t overpack and pack wisely
Remember that almost everything can be bought abroad. It might not be the same brand or it might be more expensive, but you will manage.
Also, neither you nor your infant need an outfit per day. Leave that to Victoria Beckham. And don’t forget, there are also laundry/washing centers in almost every city in the world. In the worst case scenary, you may have to wash some clothes in the hotel sink. Not the end of the world either. But believe me, carrying a baby through airports/stations is already a lot of work. Minimize your and baby’s luggage. If you are travelling alone, I would take only a backpack and a nappy bag.
4. Baby carriage + baby wrap carrier
I never traveled without these both items. Baby are sweet to cuddle and carry but after a while, they are also heavy. They also need a good surface to sleep on since they spend many hours sleeping. You don’t want to carry him/her all the time, not even with a wrap carrier or any other kind of carrier. So you need to take your baby carriage. If you have a flight with stop-overs, consider asking the flight company (at check-in) to deliver your carriage at the plane door in every stop-over. If you have to stay for several hours in an airport, it is better to have it with you. If the stop-over is just for less than an hour, I would suggest to check it in to the final destination.
And why a baby carrier then? well, sometimes you want to visit old medieval castles, museum with endless staircases or arqueological sites. Or just go for a walk in the forest. It is completly impossible to use a baby carriage in those places. In that case, I use the baby wrap carrier.
On this note, I am a true fan of the wrap carrier vs. Front/Backpack Baby carriers. My reasons: 1. they are easier and lighter to pack than a normal carrier. Just need to fold them and it takes almost no place in your luggage. 2. you can fold them and use it also as a blanket to cover the baby if it is cold (and again safe space from the luggage) and 3. there are different styles to tie them, depending on the infant’s age, size, if they are awake or sleeping and some other factors. This makes them much more flexible and confortable for the babies.
It takes some practice to learn how to tie them, but nothing that a good YouTube instruccional can’t solve. Beside that, you are a Jiu Jitsu woman, so it just about learning a new technique 😉
5. Packing baby food
Most of the airports will allow baby milk and baby food to be carried through security in containers over 100 ml. SAFE MONEY TIP!!: Water is considered as “baby food”, so you can carry a big bottle of water and if they ask you, you just say “it is for the baby”. Even when the baby is breastfeeding and it doesn’t need to drink water, you will need it (nursing makes very thirsty). And buying water in the airport or in the plane is very expensive!
6. Keep calm
if your baby chooses the worst possible time to turn into a screaming beast from another world, take a deep breath and try to calm down.
Check the usual reasons and respond accordingly: Is your baby hungry, wet or dirty, cold or warm, bored?
If everything else fails, NEVER EVER let a few dirty looks bother you. I can assure you, most people sympathize with the parents of a crying infant. After all, everyone was a baby once, many of them have even been in a similar situation at some point in their past.
In the worst case that they result to be some of the few insensitive unfriendly small-minded people you may meet in the world, well, I would like to suggest you to choke them out but to be politically correct, I suggest you to just keep calm and ignore them. They will get over. If they are really too annoying, I may say to them a couple of words, loud enough for them to shame themselves in from of the rest of passangers.
EXTRA TIP for New Mums: Takeoffs and landings are high time for crying, because babies’ ears are more sensitive to pressure changes. As soon as the pilot announces you’re about to descend or to take off, offer baby a bottle, breast, or pacifier to relieve ear pressure. (It is the equivalent to chewing gum or yawning for adults)