“5 pairs of pants, 8 little onezi t-shirts, a cold weather hat, a sun hat that fits her right now, a sun hat that is too big for her now but she will grow into, 4 pairs of one piece pajamas, at least 2 jackets or sweaters, maybe I will take a third one, 2 long sleeve shirts, and maybe 3 little dresses. And socks, as many socks as we can find. A big flannel blanket, and maybe a cotton blanket, I would like to bring a quilt but I don’t think we will be able to, a poncho to lay down on the beach. 3 or 4 toys.”
“Does that sound good to you Wade the daddy? not Wade the vagabond?”
I was thus given the status of Petra’s travel gear.
“It sounds good to Wade who doesn’t like doing laundry,” I replied to my wife in jest.
That’s a lot of clothes. But at least Petra is small and wears small clothes that can be tightly packed into a bag, I relieve myself. I also know that she will be outgrowing many of these outfits in a matter of weeks, and we will be tossing them by the wayside as we travel on.
But the list did not end there. We then added an umbrella, a hang cranked food processor, a bag of rice porridge, diapers, butt wipes, a blow up bathtub, a changing mat, medicines, baby sun block, alcohol pads, baby Tylenol, baby vitamins, a first aid kit specially made for babies, a butt thermometer, baby shampoo, emergency packets of formula, emergency electrolyte powder, baby insect repellent, an Ergo baby carrier, and a whole bunch of other necessities.
I could not complain, as I know that many of these supplies are particular to babies, and particular items are often difficult to come by and more expensive to purchase when traveling outside of the first world — we are crazy about our babies — fringe. In my country we think about silly things like the potential hazards of dye used in liquid Tylenol and if the insect repellent that we are spraying on our kid is completely poisonous or only semi-poisonous. I am not sure how much other people think about this.
In fact, I am next to clueless how people of other cultures raise their kids. This is something that I now intend to learn during this new phase of my travels. But from the view from the outside I would say that it is probably done without 50% of the above items — though it is also done within a solid home, usually with access to medical care. Few people travel full time with their babies, and I am not from other cultures — we wanted to be prepared in regards to traveling abroad with Petra for the first time.
I did not wince when my wife would throw another piece of baby travel gear into our bags. I actually smiled as I looked at the pile of supplies that would somehow need to be stuffed into a single backpack, for I knew that I do not want to go running through the streets of some foreign city at 2 AM looking for non-toxic, dye free baby medicine.
Our gear transporting system consists of one standard size trekking backpack, my small Kelty bag, a diaper bag, and a water resistant messenger bag for our electronic gear.
I wear Chaya’s big backpack with the baby gear on my back, I wear the messenger bag on my front. Chaya wears my Kelty on her back and Petra in the Ergo on her front. One of us carries the diaper bag in a free hand.
We are mobile, we move well, our load is not too heavy for walking a half dozen miles if we had to, everything fits in public transport without hassle, and we feel comfortable with what we have.
My friend Andy Hobotraveler.com once wrote, “The more gear I carry with me, the cheaper travel will be.”
We took this as our motto when collecting our baby travel gear. Chaya and I can pick up the items that we need fir ourselves easily abroad, but I am not sure how easy it will be to find a hand cranked food grinder in the Dominican Republic — maybe they are everywhere and cheap? Maybe not.
Even battened down with a load of baby supplies, I would have to say that our total volume of gear is about half that of the average female backpacker in Europe.
We are doing alright.