Travel without fear

Before I had a child, I didn’t realize what a privilege it was to travel freely as an adult — without the need to care for another human.

With kids, travel changes: You need a diaper bag filled with extra clothes for poopsplosions and you need to be ready to nurse or provide formula and/or snacks. 

Instead of being the airline passenger giving the screeching kid across the aisle a heavy side-eye, you’re the one desperately trying to quiet a tiny, unpredictable, strong-willed infant surrounded by stink eyes.

In this magazine — our annual Travel Issue — you’ll find all kinds of perspectives on why traveling with kids is worth it, even when it feels impossible to leave the house.

As Jen Wittes, our Bump, Birth and Baby writer says in her column, we all just need to chill out about bringing babies out and about — yes, even on airplanes, yes, even at restaurants. 

She says: “Remember that trend of ‘sorry my baby exists’ treat bags on flights a few years back? Cute idea, but completely off that the mother of an INFANT even had the notion to do this! Babies are citizens! They have no motive to harm and exist only to learn, love and explore. We should let them get out of the house and live a little, because you can be sure that in two years we’ll be scoffing when they’re zombie-poking at Mom’s iPhone.”

Amen, sister! 

She goes on to describe her years living in Italy: “The other adults didn’t moan and groan over sitting next to a baby, but rather fawned over the baby, passed her around. Offers to burp or bounce a baby — so the parents could finish eating — were common. The result of this European baby acceptance, as I saw it, were happier babies. Less crying. Less screaming, spitting, fussing. And I know why. Babies are intensely tuned in to their parents. An anxious, tense, unwanted parent-with-child on a crowded flight will transfer those feelings to the baby, who reacts by crying out.”

I think I was one of those mothers whose child cried more because Mama was stressed.

Once — because, trust me, our son was a Black Belt Shrieker — I brought a bag of ear plugs onto a flight for my fellow passengers, just in case. But we never needed to pass them out.

Perhaps my time might have been better spent letting go of my fear and relaxing into — dare I say surrendering to — my amazing new role of parent, come what may!

If the folks around me didn’t get it, let them scoff and stare.

Simply staying home because you have kids might sound easier, but if you like to travel, staying cooped up won’t sustain you or keep you connected.

Now get out there!