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Traveling with a baby to
Europe may seem insane, but it is actually one of the best things you can do
for you and your family. Not only is it cheaper, but you can start to build
behavioral patterns that will last a lifetime. From eating and sleeping to
opening up your baby's eyes to the wonders of travel, Europe is an easy place
to start when you want to show your child the world.
Not convinced? Here are 10 reasons to apply for a baby passport, book the tickets and go.
1. Cheaper airfare
Airlines do not require you to buy a ticketed seat for any child up to their 2nd birthday. (Literally, the day they turn 2.) If you
leave on a trip before the baby turns 2 but return on or after his 2nd birthday, you have to buy a one-way ticket home for him.
Domestic flights tend to be completely free, though the child does need a ticket, so include them when you are booking your flight. International flights required that you pay a percentage of your ticket price (generally
10 percent), if he or she will be flying in your lap. But that is mere pennies compared
to a full-ticket price.
A baby, especially a baby who isn't mobile yet, is so much
easier to travel with than a toddler and older kids. Babies can nap on the go,
can be held on your lap during flights and don't need all that much (especially if you're breastfeeding). You also don't
need to limit where you eat out, because your baby's meal doesn't depend on
3. Pre-picky eating phase
My sons are picky about the strangest food. For instance, my
oldest loves miso soup and sushi, but hates pizza and chicken noodle soup. This
is because, early in his life, we traveled to Japan a few times, where he nibbled
on salmon roe, yakitori, udon and miso soup. His little brother loves pizza, because one of his solid food experiences was gnawing on the crush of my pizza
when we were traveling through Italy. Both my boys are picky eaters now that
they are a bit older, but their palates have experienced so much more than their
peers, which makes them just a tad more open to trying new things. Sometimes.
4. Sleep anywhere
When you travel with your baby, they will quickly learn to
sleep just about anywhere. New hotel? No problem. Sleep in the stroller or baby
carrier? Bring it on, Mom. Yes, all children have an adjustment period and suffer from jet
lag, but the more you travel across time zones, the more you learn
about how your child reacts, so you can help him or her through it.
It is not unusual to see kids running around restaurant patios in Europe.
Passports for kids last 5 years. Both of my boys had their
passports within their first few months of life. My boys love looking back on
their first passports and all of the places they have been.
6. Grandmas of the Continent can't wait to meet you
Every grandmother in Italy and Spain is just waiting to
touch your baby's head or cheek to bless them. Be warned though, those same
grandmothers will tell you if your baby is too cold, too warm, shouldn't be
walking yet, needs to walk more, etc. This is the fun of travel though. These
women want to meet you and your baby. They are excited you are there. You and your baby may even feel more welcome in Europe than you do in your own hometown, since, in the U.S., we put a lot of restrictions on where children can and cannot be.
7. Most cultures outside
of America love kids
It is not unusual to see kids running around restaurant
patios in Europe. Parents slowly sip their wine with friends as all of the kids
play soccer, running back to shovel in their food before going back to play.
Parents, especially in Italy, know that if they want to have a leisurely,
multicourse meal, they can't keep their kids at the table the entire time. Why
not let them play with their friends in the piazza for a bit? Everyone keeps an
eye on the kids, and everyone has a great time.
You know that kid that always kicks your seat? Here's how to keep yours from being one of them: Travel with your baby.
8. Pick up languages
Did you know that it is easier for a child to pick up a second (or third?) language before the age of 2? Their little brain is still connecting all of the dots, so even a few weeks of second-language exposure has a huge impact on their quickly growing minds. Exposing your
child to the sounds of a new language and the accent of native speakers can help your child, if you are trying to raise them bilingual—or just get them
used to new words and sounds.
9. Family will always be
When you travel with your baby, you are showing him or her
that they matter. You want them with you as you enjoy the things you love. You
want to show them the creatures found in the forest of Croatia and the stain
glass windows of Paris. The fact that you are just bringing your baby along has
a huge impact on their self-esteem and shows you value them as part of your
family. Also, it reminds you that this is a priority, that you're excited to share this part of your life with your child and, most importantly, that it's totally doable.
You know that kid that always kicks your seat? Here's how to keep yours from being one of them: Travel with your baby. From the very start you can teach your child
that it hurts when they kick the seat in front of them. You can also instill
the idea that they need to be quiet when walking down hotel hallways and in churches
as you check out the statues, dome and stained glass. The sooner your child
learns that this is the correct way to behave, the easier it will be when they
Traveling with your baby and toddler is an investment in continued a future family travel.