The thought of travelling with a baby can cause the blood pressure of an already stressed mother to rise. Babies are so hard to predict - when will they sleep? Or poop? Or cry with outrage for no apparent reason? Just taking one infant, or more kids if you have them, on public transit or out to the grocery store can feel like an adventure, one that can end in tears of joy or defeat. Little ones tend to thrive on the kind of routine that only seems possible when sticking close to home, which could mean that that farthest you'll travel in the first year is the distance it takes to drive while the baby is sleeping.
So how do those other parents do it? Why drives parents to take their newborns out across the country, or their unpredictable toddlers up a mountain? Whatever their motivations, parents have taken their young ones on incredible adventures, long before some of these young explorers have made their first step or taken that first selfie.
Here are some of the few parents with the bravery and know-how who have taken their children along on amazing and unbelievable travels. These are the unbelievably beautiful, and sometimes the unthinkably dangerous, places that you might have always wanted to see, but just don’t know how you’d manage it with your little one not even walking yet. Still, there have been babies in temples and on glaciers, and inspiring pictures that might just make you want to pack up and take off into the unknown with your little one in tow.
15 Cable Car in Malaysia
Karen Edwards and Shaun Bayes are two parents from Ireland who have set the pace for travelling with a baby. They decided that instead of hiding out at home they would spend Karen's maternity leave travelling the world with their new daughter Esmé. This lucky little girl has collected more passport stamps in her first year of life than most of us can hope to accumulate in a lifetime. Karen, who is a nurse in the UK, decided that while she had paid maternity leave from the National Health Service she would use this time to show Esmé the world. One of the first stops had Esme high in the sky on the Langkawi Cable Car, the steepest cable in the world, for an absolutely breathtaking view of Langkawi Island, Kedah, Malaysia.
14 Rainforest in Australia
Sometimes travelling with a baby comes out of necessity rather than curiosity. Kelly Burch found herself arranging passports and packing up her under-one-year-old daughter in order to travel to Brisbane, Australia to be with her husband when a family member had a medical emergency. Luckily for the family, the emergency was abated shortly after their arrival, which meant they could now enjoy a vacation without the stress. Baby Burch was able to spend time with her grandparents, as well as take a walk through some rainforest in the South Bank Parklands in Australia. They were also able to take in the sites along the Sunshine Coast, where the little girl was able to dip her toes into the Coral Sea. As for that long 14 - 17 hour flight from Boston? Kelly recommends booking a seat with a bassinet in the bulkhead, which let Baby Burch nap through the more boring parts of the flight.
13 Trekking in Peru
Climbing a mountain to visit an Incan Citadel with a toddler may not be your idea of a fun time, but for Anuela Anamaria and her family, it was a dream come true. Anuela, who is not a fan of prepackaged trips, researched and organized the entire trip herself, including multiple stops along the way to acclimatize to the high altitudes. Altitude sickness is bit tricky, as some people suffer and others don't, so to protect her daughter from the possibility of nausea, exhaustion, and other potentially life-threatening complications, the Anamaria family made stops at Bogota and Quito to get used to the high elevations, before making the trek to Machu Picchu which sits 2430m above sea level. Manuela's three-year-old was a champ on the trip, and had no problem posing for the camera in front of the 500-year-old ruins.
12 Buggy Ride in Cuba
While a week sitting on a beach in Cuba sounds absolutely divine, a month traveling the country with a toddler and a baby doesn't exactly evoke the same feelings. Yet, Ben and his family of four (including the two little ones, both under the age of three) made their way around a good portion of the island over the span of a month. Their stops included stays in Holguin, Trinidad, Camaquey, Cienfuegos, Havana, Las Tarrazas and Varadero. Despite the last week of the trip being a week-long stay at a resort in Varadero, Ben insists that was definitely not the highlight of their trip, nor the best way to experience Cuba. The family got the most out of staying in homes and small hotels for much of their travels, relying on the help of local families to find good eating spots and getting around in buses and taxis. Both his daughters loved the horse and buggy rides, as well as a day trip along Playa Ancon, a beautiful white sand beach area along the southern shore of central Cuba.
11 Wandering in South Africa
Some babies are born to travel, and that’s definitely the case for Alejandra’s son as they travel the world starting when he was just six-months-old. At 18 months, Alejandra took her son to South Africa’s Durban and Cape Town, and found these locales great spots to wander around. While Alejandra knows that most people view these South African towns as less than safe, she advises that proper planning and common sense help make these unique destinations as safe as any other city. Her son loved walking around Mini Town in Durban, and the family chooses to stay in local homes rented from owners on sites like AirBnB and Flipkey. This a great way to really soak up the local culture, but thorough research and local guide can really help if you’re unfamiliar with a travel destination.
10 Peace In the Middle East
Dubai is known for many things, including the tallest building in the world, and a mall so big that it has its own indoor ski hill. What this touristy town in the Middle East doesn’t presently top is most parents' where-to-take-my-infant list. Kelly Burch thought the same thing, and only found herself in Dubai with her four-month-old on route to meet her husband in Australia because of a family emergency. While most people enjoy the visually stunning city through adult-centered excursions, Burch’s bright-eyed daughter was thrilled taking in the sights, including the beautiful artwork of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Like most places in the world, Burch found that just about everyone loves a baby, and that despite feeling a little out of place, most people greeted her and her daughter with nothing but smiles.
9 Samba in Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is a place you go to get away from it all, to samba the nights away at Carnival, and take the mandatory pic in front of Christ the Redeemer. Most recently, Rio conjured images of our Olympic athletes battling it out in the South American heat, and concerned would-be parents over the very real pregnancy-related threats of the Zika virus. For well-seasoned traveller Alejandra, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, Brazil wer the perfect places to take in the sights and culture with her husband and toddler son. The little man loves exploring new cities, and one of Alejandra’s fondest memories was watching as some good-natured waiters played tag with the little boy in a Salvadorean restaurant. Alejandra recommends keeping your daily itinerary pretty loose to allow for this kind of impromptu fun.
8 Swimming in Jamaica
Jamaica brings to mind beautiful beaches and spicy jerk chicken, and a rastafarian culture that promotes certain mellowing substances, but doesn't exactly scream baby vacation. Laura Siciliano-Rosen didn't pay that reputation no matter, and took her son and husband to travel to Port Antonio, a more remote area on the northeastern side of the caribbean island. The trip took them on winding roads and small hotels on the beach, but figuring out where to eat and having a safe place for her son to sleep sometime proved to be a challenge. But this well travelled family made it work, and visited some of the most gorgeous locales on the island, including swimming in the gorgeous Blue Lagoon and hiking in the Blue Mountains.
7 Car Games in Slovenia and Croatia
For Keryn, her self professed “dark side” led her to attempt a tour of eastern Europe with a baby and a toddler, no easy feat if you've ever tried to keep kids walking continuously, without darting away, for more than two minutes. Not to mention she squeezed three grownups and four young ones under four years of age into a car to drive from Italy to Slovenia and Croatia. Both countries are rich in history and idyllic scenic routes, both things kids care very little about. But the adults managed to cram in the culture while keeping active toddlers occupied with car games and LOTS of snacks. They even made their way over Lake Bled, which, while sounding kind of gory, is actually a picturesque body of water situated in the middle of the gorgeous Julian Alps, and houses a pilgrimage church on an island in the middle of the lake.
6 Oktoberfest in Germany
Want to take your baby or toddler to one of the most famous beer festivals in the world? Why not! Munich is a picturesque town in central Germany, with fantastic winter markets and even river surfing. It’s also the birthplace of Oktoberfest, and while an entire festival dedicated to beer doesn't sound like the ideal place to take your three-month-old, Steph Brentnall and her husband certainly made it work. Baby Tobias travelled in style attached to dad in the baby carrier, and the Brentnall family discovered one great perk to bring a baby to Oktoberfest - everyone moves out of the way for you! Travelling by train through the country also turned out to be a breeze for the family of three. They were automatically assigned a family room on Germany's Deutsche Bahn free of charge, meaning they had a little extra room and a door to their cabin, so that they could nap quietly on their way to their other german destinations.
5 Snorkelling in Bali
If you were to choose your next vacation with your baby in tow, chances are your first choice wouldn’t be an island in the Indian ocean while a nearby volcano was erupting. But Baby Esmé and her globetrotting family did just that, visiting the island province of Bali in Indonesia, right around the time that Mount Rinjani on the neighbouring island of Lombok was erupting. Bali was just one more stop on the worldwide tour that Karen Edwards and Shaun Bayes took with baby Esmé while both parents were on maternity leave in the UK. The family tried new foods in Ubud (the same beautiful locale that was the backdrop for the Bali scenes in the film version of Eat, Pray, Love) and even took some super-fast boat rides to go snorkelling and swimming.
4 Meeting Locals in Thailand
Jill and Chris take family excursions to whole other level, including one amazing trip with their family of seven into the mountains of Thailand. Both parents and all five of their children, including a baby and a daughter with cerebral palsy, spent four days with a local family in a bamboo hut, with all seven sleeping on a group of mattress on the floor. This family's approach to travel is all in and free range, as they lived, cooked and worked with the families they stayed with. Negotiating this travel was tricky, especially having a daughter with special needs, and planning for food and medical necessities beforehand was a must. Jill and Chris fully let their children become involved with the locals in the village, and their baby boy would often be off for hours with one of their hosts, carried and tied in a wrap around their hips, as they worked and went about their day.
3 Pagodas in Vietnam
Hoi An in Vietnam is a gorgeously preserved trading port town on the South China Sea, and a Unesco World Heritage site. It's also where baby Esmé travelled with parents Karen and Shaun when she was just barely a year old, making her one well travelled little lady. Esmé's parents were avid backpackers before she was born, and weren't about to stop once they had their daughter in 2014. Hoi An was one stop along their 10 month travelling tour, and the family of three spent time biking through the heritage city, and Esmé was happy to ride in mom's carrier as the family was on the move. They also visited the cities many temples and pagodas, taking time to snap pics of Esmé to create memories that will last a lifetime.
2 Chai Tasting in India
According to Jill and Chris, travelling parents extraordinaire, the first thing you should do when you get to India is teach your toddler how to like Chai. Along with plenty of dosas and other culinary treats, all five children in their family learned that one of the greatest thing about India is the food. The family of seven includes the five well-seasoned young travellers Sparky, Tintin, Meana-badeena, Snowy and Baby-boy, all under the age of eleven. Travelling with a toddler and daughter with cerebral palsy means no trip is a easy mission, but this family embraces every challenge as they regularly travel the world. In Kochi, Kerela, where they spent the bulk of their time, the kids learned how to throw nets like local fisherman, and made friends with lots of other local kids.
1 Hiking The Canadian Rockies
Amy and her husband didn't hesitate to take their two young children hiking up the Canadian Rockies, and the mountain scapes they saw won't soon be forgotten. The family travelled to Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper National Park, trading inside screen time for fresh air and hikes in the mountains. For their more adventurous excursions, the family travelled two hours by bus to visit the Columbia Icefields, where walking around can be dangerous, as some areas of the glacier are unstable, and a wrong step can land you in a deep crevice. But the walk was worth it to the family of four, who felt the sheer awe and beauty of standing on 400-year-old ice in the middle of those ancient mountains.