Tips for making the most of your parental leave
10. Travel while baby is young.
This is a controversial one that will leave lots of parents saying, ‘That’s great for you, but we could never have done that with our child.’ That may be true, but many parents are also not game to try. Your baby might not even know if they will travel well until you let them give it a go! The point is, many people do make it work. My wife and I both went travelling overseas for 3 months with our 7 month old baby, using a combination of 8 weeks concurrent unpaid leave and annual leave. Over the 3 months, we visited family in the USA and went travelling both through the USA and onto Italy. Throughout his first year, we also went on numerous trips interstate and flew to Singapore for a work trip. We are not delusional- we are extremely lucky that our son has let us do this and realise that not all babies would respond so well! But I also think that he has learned to adapt to such regular travel by simply being exposed to the experience.
Travelling with a baby also enabled us to experience interactions with people in foreign cultures that we would never have encountered had we been travelling by ourselves. Particularly in Italy (the Sardinians just loved blonde haired, blue eyed babies!), people would literally stop us while walking to exclaim ‘Bambino, Bellissimo’ everywhere we went. We have gained so many memories, all while sharing the simple joy of watching our baby experience new food, cultures and continue learning and developing everywhere we went.
One thing that helped us to travel with a baby was to still keep a regular routine everywhere we went. We found that our baby would adjust to different time zones faster than we did (usually within 5 days) and returned to his same sleep routine as soon as he adjusted. In reality, this meant that we had a lot of down time where we weren’t able to sight see. We also timed long distance driving to coincide with nap times as much as possible to try to cover as much distance while our baby slept. We found that as long as out baby was well fed and received enough sleep each day, he was very accommodating to seeing the world!