Traveling With a 9 Month Old: In the End
In the end, no matter how well you prepare for your trip things will go wrong. You can prepare for traveling with a baby only up to a certain point and then after that you eventually just have to accept whatever happens with open hands.
44 hours after leaving our home in Prague my husband and baby and I arrived in Hawaii a bit dirty and extremely exhausted. Our trip was difficult. We were prepared, but we still forgot things (like the power converters for our computer). We were prepared, but we still found we ran out of food on the flight and had to eat some airport food. We were prepared, but our son still got tried of all the toys we had and fussed for something new to do and space to crawl around. We were prepared, but we still didn't sleep much and got a bit jet lagged.
Like many other things about having a baby, traveling with a 9 month old is a lesson in letting go and accepting whatever happens. Nina Planck has this quote in Real Food for Mother and Baby (which I finally started reading this week):
“The best preparation for pregnancy, birth, and mothering – even better than real food – is an open mind. Perhaps your life and work are well planned, orderly. Perhaps you find that satisfying. (I did.) Let go. Having a baby is stupendously wonderful, but things may not go as planned. If you have no fixed expectations, nothing can surprise or disappoint you. The ideal stance is a kind of gentle wonder, now and again brimming over into radical amazement, as your story unfolds.”
I think this can also be applied well to traveling with a baby. Hold your expectations lightly. You can only control so much and after a point you just have to accept your reality, whatever that reality may be. My reality was 44 hours of traveling with a baby and the reality of it was that it was incredibly difficult and trying.
There were moments while traveling when I truly wondered if it was worth it. Maybe it would be better to just not travel at all for a while now that we have a baby. But, if we didn't travel with our baby we would miss out on spending time with so many of the people we love who are spread all over the world and we would miss out on introducing our child to new cultures and new experiences at a precious and fleetingly flexible time in his development. And when I really think about it, I don't want my life to revolve entirely around my child. I also don't really want to shy away from difficult things and just take the easy way.
So, just as we traveled when our son was 9 months, we'll be traveling with him when he's 10 months, and 12 months, and 18 months and 33 months and on and on his whole childhood and life. Some flights and trips will be hard, some may even be harder than this last one, but others will be easier and they will all be worth it.
Rejoicing in the journey- Bethany Stedman