Where to travel with a baby —
“Some places are more risky than others, and I don’t want to go to a risky place,” my wife spoke.
Traveling with a baby is going to be a different endeavor. Chaya usually shrugs at the prospect of danger, I have never heard her say such words before.
Her worries are justified. I am worried too. I have never traveled abroad with little Petra before. But more than worried, I am excited.
Our baby looked between her parents from one to the other, and let out a clueless laugh. She has no idea what is coming.
I was making suggestions on our next move — what country are we going to travel to next? — and was having major difficulties. I would name a country, and it would be shot down for not meeting some parameter of safety or health. I went across the globe:
How about Colombia? How about Indonesia? The Dominican Republic? China? Kyrgyzstan? Kazakhstan? Pakistan? Ethiopia? Chaya wants to go to El Salvador to see her family. We argue the greatest argument that I can ever imagine:
The argument of where in the world to go. The discussion of our next yearly migration cycle.
This will be our first jaunt out of the USA with our baby. The road is always the same, but our pace is now different. Our parameters have changed as well:
- Our accommodation strategy will be our biggest adjustment in travel strategy. We will travel in short hops, staying in places for 3 weeks at a time, often renting apartments for two or three months at a time. We need countries that offer cheap longer term accommodation. Dorm beds are no longer an option. Couchsurfing is too much of a strain on the nerves to even imagine doing with a child.
We need rooms, cheap rooms that we can rent by the month. $100 a month is the ideal price to pay.
- Transportation will follow the usual means — buses, trains, planes — but the jumps between portholes should ideally be kept under 5 hours: 1-3 hour rides are optimal. The prospect of riding on a crowded bus with a screaming infant for 10 hours is not appealing. This means we need countries with population centers at close intervals. Island countries would be good, or maybe Central America. The regular long bus journeys of South America should be kept to a minimum, if not avoided altogether.
- Health is now a bigger issue. For years, Chaya and I scarcely would even give a passing thought to getting travel vaccinations or taking malaria meds. We have become worn and jaded towards travel clinics and travel shots. If I need meds, I buy them in situ, in the country I travel in, for peanuts.
Now we have Petra — we are responsible for her life. We need to consider the benefits and drawbacks of vaccines with a keener perspective. Right now Petra is too young for most recommended travel vaccines, but this only means that we need to filter her environmental intake with a finer tooth comb.
Chaya worries about Petra’s health when traveling. I do too. She worries about giving her vaccines, she worries about what could happen if she doesn’t get the vaccines. She worries about worrying. She is a good mother, I could not have chosen any better.
We find ourselves caught in limbo, as Petra still does not have all of her general health vaccines. This means that she is going to need a round of shots when we are abroad — we need to choose our next country with their medical infrastructure in mind. Although it is my feeling that she could get her vaccines in just about any major city in the world, this sentiment is not shared by my wife. So medical care is taken into account when deciding where we will make this first jump to.
- Money is now a larger issue than ever. I must now fund three people with my meager income and earnings. The money that I made from doing archaeology this autumn and that which I make daily off of this website and selling t-shirts is good, but it is not enough to keep our boat afloat for long. I think that we can last out the year, but once this time is up I need to be making $50 a day off of VagabondJourney.com.
With this in mind, the money put towards flying should be kept to a minimum. We are looking at traveling to the Dominican Republic or Colombia — two destinations served by budget airlines. It would cost us $230 each to fly from Portland, ME to Bogota, and even less to go to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, or Central America.
To fly to Asia, we are looking at $1500 for two one way tickets. Indonesia was a good thought for a few moments, as Australia (work) is nearby, and I really want to go there and to Papua New Guinea. Though in the end, I think traveling out this next year in the Americas may be to our advantage. I would ideally like to set a $1500 cap on flights this year. The ideal is to spend as much time on the ground as possible, traveling slow.
The ideal is to make more money.
- Safety, or the illusion of it, has also been thrown back and forth dozens of times in this debate. I cringe at the phrase,”Is it safe there?” I wrote about it yesterday in frustration, Safe Travel Means No Fear Mongering. As far as I am concerned, nearly every place in the world can be equally safe if you adapt your behavior to meet your circumstances.
Chaya does not agree. Most people probably do not agree.
According to travel warnings, the entire planet is on fire. I know this because we have been reading them. Each proposition of a country to travel to is quickly shot down by a look at the Department of State warnings. It all says the same: “American citizens are strongly advised to use caution when traveling to . . .” And they only get worse from there.
- I want to go to countries I have not been to before.
It seems as if there is nowhere to travel that meets all of the above parameters, for the first time the world seems small to me, the distances that I have traveled seem vast. I throw a fit. The “where to travel” argument — the most glorious argument in the world — continues.
We decide to keep the plot the same. We are going to El Salvador. Though I have worked in the Dominican Republic and maybe Cuba en route. When we get to El Salvador we should get an apartment in a small village in the mountains, stay for the full length of our visa, and then roam again — south, probably.
I have been in the USA for the past six months. This has been my longest stay here since I began traveling internationally at 19. I am chomping like a horse at its bit to get going. Even though the traveling in the USA has been good, it is still my home country, it is still a place that I would rather see fading from view behind me.
My baby still smiles at her parents. I look at my wife. She looks at me. If finding a place on the map to aim our wanderings is our biggest concern, I must say that we are doing pretty well.
As always, we welcome all suggestions. Please comment below.
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