Many people ask the question, “Is it possible to travel with a baby?” Yes. Almost anything is possible if you put your mind to it. The real question is, “Will I enjoy traveling with a baby?” My hope is that by listing some of the challenges my wife, Stasha, and I have faced, you’ll have a better idea of how to answer that question for yourself.
Before I get into these challenges, I want to start by saying what any parent would say after having their first child: It has been an amazing experience that we wouldn’t change for anything in the world. Having said that, traveling would be a lot easier without Carter, our nine-month-old son.
Challenges of Travel Nursing with a Baby
Upgrading our cargo capacity
My wife and I had become very efficient when it came to packing our vehicle with everything we needed. Our little Ford Escape had a rooftop bag and a rear cargo carrier, and both were packed full of our belongings. The interior was packed so full we barely had enough room for our two small dogs.
After our son was born, we quickly realized an upgrade was needed. We traded our Escape in for a Chevy Traverse, increasing our interior space significantly. But that wasn’t enough. We eventually had to buy a 6 x 10 enclosed trailer. Think about all of the toys, bassinet, crib, baby clothes, high chair, stroller … the list just goes on and on. We didn’t have much of a choice but to buy the trailer.
Upgrading our apartment size
Our upgrades didn’t end with a new vehicle and trailer. Our first apartment with Carter was a single bedroom and it quickly became too small. Our next assignment we paid the extra $300/month for a furnished two-bedroom apartment.
Even with two bedrooms it is still challenging with all of the toys and our dedicated computer desk for my work. Our plan going forward is to leave the second bedroom unfurnished, trading the extra bed for more space for toys and other items.
Downsizing our Adventures
While Stasha and I still enjoy adventures on each assignment, they are definitely not the same adventures as we had before. Mountain biking trips and remote hikes have been replaced by walks with the stroller and trips to the park. Without family or friends to help watch Carter, we really have no choice but to include him in all of our activities.
Being Away from Family
This is a hard one. Your first baby is exciting not only for you and your significant other, but also for your entire family. Stasha and I have tried to work our way back home so that our family can spend at least one assignment near our son and vice versa but it hasn’t worked out so well. To make matters worse, Carter’s first Christmas was 3,000 miles away from our family.
Sometimes that’s the way the chips fall and you have to be prepared for that. You can say you’ll stay close to family but sometimes assignments take you wherever the wind blows. You also have to ask yourself if it even makes sense to travel if you’re only going to look for assignments near family.
How long can you travel with a baby?
The challenges above only skim the surface of what to think about when traveling with a baby. It’s hard to imagine what it will truly be like until you’re living it. Think about all of the activities you do with your baby throughout the day and try to imagine how traveling might affect them. Ever try walking two dogs while pushing a stroller? How about driving 36 hours across the country and having to deal with diapers, bottles, a cranky baby and two antsy dogs?
Stasha and I are willing do all of this because we LOVE travel nursing. It is the best decision we’ve made in our 10 years of marriage. The only question for us is how long we’ll be able to continue traveling with Carter. Sometimes a house with a fenced-in yard near family can sound very appealing. But then we get to our next assignment and experience that wonderful feeling of being in a strange, new place and all it has to offer. How long will we travel with Carter? I guess only time will tell.
Are you currently traveling with a baby or considering it but have questions? Please feel free to comment with your experiences or questions below.