Babywearing and Traveling

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and vacation with your little one. When at home, you have your full range of baby gear at your disposal. But how do you decide what you REALLY need when you’re traveling? A question you might have is “Is it possible to swing a couple week trip away using only baby carriers and without bringing the stroller along?” Especially for a vacation where you will be moving from place to place and possibly using crowded public transportation to do so, it’s certainly tempting to entertain the possibility of not packing a stroller. But would it be too hard on your body to do all that wearing? And would it be somehow bad for your baby to rely solely on wearing while on vacation?

I can confidently say “Yes! It’s completely possible and doable to go on vacation and take only carriers!” Of course there will be many factors involved in figuring out what’s right for you and your family for a given trip. If your daily life at home already involves babywearing and you don’t have pre-existing medical conditions that may be exacerbated by extended wearing, then traveling stroller-free with carriers is definitely worth considering. To give you a sense for how you could make it work for you if you do decide that bringing only carriers is the way you want to go, I’ll take you through how we managed it on our recent two-week trip to Italy. Our trip involved a combination of moving between cities frequently via public transportation and also stretches of staying in the same place. Our baby was just shy of one year old at the time of our trip.

Our travel carrier stash

On this trip we brought one ring sling, one base size wrap, and two soft structured carriers (a Tula for me and an Ergo for my husband). The SSC’s were the real workhorses of our trip. My husband and I used them every day for getting around. We mainly did front carries, but I also carried my LO on my back. We also both chose to wear our SSC’s through airport security because SSC’s have no metal parts to set off the alarms. I used the ring sling on the plane since it was quick and easy to put on, and super simple to nurse in. It was also convenient to have him already in the carrier after nursing so that I could easily reposition him to the tummy to tummy position and have my hands free while he was napping. Once we were settled in a town for a couple of days, I used a woven wrap instead of my SSC during the day. I chose to carry LO in Front Cross Carry because it is an extremely convenient poppable carry and also very easy to adjust to nurse in on the go.   The wrap was also useful for back carries (especially for inducing wrap naps if necessary to help LO re-set to the new time zone).

Nursing at 35,000 feet in the ring sling.
Nursing at 35,000 feet in the ring sling.
Re-positioned LO to the tummy to tummy position after nursing for a nap.
Re-positioned LO to the tummy to tummy position after nursing for a nap.

Strategies for extended babywearing:

No getting around it – relying upon babywearing as your sole means for transporting your child, possibly for weeks on end – seems like a big plunge to take. However it may be closer to your daily life at home than you expect and there are also some steps you can take to make it more manageable.

  • If traveling with your partner or another adult, plan to alternate wearing babe throughout the day and across the trip. On days that involved more walking, my husband and I typically both had our carriers on and ready to go so that we could be ready to take over depending on how we each were feeling or what LO wanted. Only weeks before this trip did my husband get more involved in wearing our son and he enjoys it immensely now. You may need to do some prep work at home before the trip to make sure you both have carriers that you feel comfortable with and are prepared to use.
  • Lighten up the diaper bag to just the essentials – Leave what you don’t need constantly throughout the day back in the hotel room. If you are going out with your SO, have one of you carry the diaper bag while the other is wearing the baby. If you are traveling around by yourself, getting the diaper bag pared down is even more crucial.
  • Switch up carrying positions – While I usually started with LO on my front, sometimes it did help keep myself feeling comfortable to switch it up and wear him on my back or simply change to a different carrier.
  • Plan breaks from wearing throughout the day – Even though I love babywearing and am writing about wearing one’s baby on vacation, I would never say that children don’t need the opportunity to be out of the carrier and move around independently throughout the day. We made an effort to regularly locate parks, playgrounds, and children’s museums in addition to some of the more typical tourist fare.
Catching a nap on daddy while we toured around Salerno.
Catching a nap on daddy while we toured around Salerno.
Easy in and easy out with Front Cross Carry.
Easy in and easy out with Front Cross Carry.

Advantages

Babywearing on vacation comes with significant advantages. With LO in a carrier, I felt very connected to him. It was very easy to monitor his mood and interest level and try to engage and interact with him throughout the day. He never seemed to feel bored or left out – he was a full participant in our vacation, enjoying everything we were experiencing.

I was also able to be in tune with his needs around heat and sun exposure and to take appropriate action when necessary to make him more safe or comfortable. In addition to dressing him in light clothing that typically covered both his arms and legs and generally trying to stay out of direct sunlight where possible, I used baby mineral-based sunscreen, a hat with back flaps that protected his neck, a bottle of water to offer him sips from throughout the day, and a pocket hand fan. Being able to nurse in my carriers (especially the SSC) was wonderful for keeping him comfortable and happy while on the go.

Bottom Line

Wearing your baby is wonderful, and especially on vacation. Enjoy your holiday snuggles!

Nursing in the Tula while touring an ancient Roman villa.
Nursing in the Tula while touring an ancient Roman villa.
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