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Where to Travel with a Baby

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. [...]

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.

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Wade from www.VagabondJourney.com
Western New York, January 14, 2009
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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.

Indian street scene

Where to travel - India?

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.
Hong Kong at night

Asia?

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.

Petra Hendele Adara Shepard

Where does she want to travel?

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.

Read more of the traveling with baby series
[seriesposts order=ASC name=”travel baby” ]

Filed under: Travel Lifestyle, Travel Preparation, Travel With Family

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3413 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support Wade Shepard’s writing on this blog (please help):

Wade Shepard is currently in: Prague, Czech Republic

11 comments… add one

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  • Caitlin January 15, 2010, 10:48 am

    Hi Wade,

    Do you still have access to a car? Why not road trip it through Mexico down to El Salvador? I dunno if you’ve spent much time in Mexico but I get the impression that most Americans and Canadians overlook it. Just a thought.

    ps i have been silent, still diligently following your blog 🙂

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 18, 2010, 1:45 pm

      Hello Caitlin,

      Good to hear from you again! I think we may go over to Mexico soon. I don’t know about driving though. Are you still in Guatemala?

      Maybe we will see you soon!

      Wade

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  • hotspringfreak January 15, 2010, 11:55 am

    The Dominican Republic is often very cheap through Cancun, a discount hub of course like Miami. I’d check cheap promo flights to Cancun then off to the RD to Puerto Plata, myself.

    For Colombia – Spirit airlines – maybe joining their $9 flight club if the tarjetas are there. In Colombia, Aires Airlines is real cheap.

    Classe Luxo autobus from Guatemala City overnight to El Salvador are $60
    (dedicated “stewardess” downstairs – only 8 big sleeper seats and 1st class like an airline). I can provide details once I get back to Panajachel tonight or ala manana – I am in Xela enroute from “I can recommend for a family” San Cristobal de las Cases in Chiapas. In fact Xelaju’s a favorite of mine, including the best Hotsprings in Guatemala, Fuentes Georginas and all modern family and blogger amenities.

    – Chris Smith

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 18, 2010, 1:27 pm

      Chris,

      You are living the good life! Stewardess on airplane buses while riding across countries haha. It is looking like the Dominican Republic will be the first place out of the USA we go as a family . . . and we are going precisely because of reason you stated: it is a decent budget airline hub.

      Thanks for the advice!

      Walk Slow,

      Wade

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  • soultravelers3 January 15, 2010, 12:02 pm

    Yes, indeeed, a baby changes everything! That track will continue from now on!

    If you do long term breastfeeding, you can save yourself a lot of stress as it’s an easy way to keep your child healthier ( and pass on NATURAL immunity from the mother, which is the best kind).

    Don’t forget vaccines themselves have risks, so read diligently about them (we have a list of good books on our site & Mothering Magazine Forum is full of great info).

    We’ve been traveling as a family since our child was 2 weeks old & traveling the world on an open ended world tour since she was 5 (she’s now 9) to places like rural Morocco and Turkey and she has never had ANY vaccines. Babies are easiest to travel with as you just need a sling & a breast. Family bed keeps things easy. Think like a native…all the “stuff” is not needed.

    Look closely because they give sooo many senseless vaccines today that actually harm the immune system & are filled with toxins.

    Here’s a good article by a doc that is very useful:

    http://www.mothering.com/health/far-off-adventures

    Happy travels!

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 18, 2010, 1:25 pm

      Hello Soultravelers3,

      Thank you for the good advice and the link. It is good to hear of the road ahead — especially in reference to vaccines and child health care. Your words are held on a pedestal here at Vagabondjourney.com.

      Thanks,

      Wade

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  • maui mike January 15, 2010, 4:59 pm

    Don’t worry about where you go. You’ve been doing this long enough to know that what matters is what you do when you’re there, not where you’re going. I meet plenty of people who go to places that sound really interesting only to end up bored because they don’t really do anything noteworthy once there. Its like they put all their effort into picking and arriving at the destination and then run out of inspiration and energy once arrived. I’m certain you’ll enjoy yourself wherever you end up. That said mexico and central america are perfect destinations for a first time traveler, and Petra is a first time traveler. Friendly, cheap, colorful, and plenty of activities to keep you busy from horseback riding to surfing, swimming, hiking and bicycling. Have fun and don’t sweat the small stuff.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 18, 2010, 12:24 pm

      Good advice, Maui Mike,

      The destination is often impertinent, true, but there is a driving force of inertia that drives you towards a certain region at a certain time. I suppose the game is matching these drives to meet your circumstances. But everywhere could be made good. Good advice.

      Thanks,

      Wade

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  • el gringo perdido January 17, 2010, 3:24 pm

    Chris, Tica bus does the route between guate city and san salvador for $15 one way. Their buses are comfortable and reliable. The $60 buses are really for tourists with money to waste. If you really want to save money take el pollero to the border walk across and then catch another chicken bus. That’s what I do.

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  • Caitlin January 18, 2010, 10:12 pm

    Nope… I am in Mexico now. Hahahaha. Left Guatemala a week ago.

    I’m in Mexico City, taking a teaching English course for the next month, and then hopefully I’ll get a job somewhere in Mexico. I’d be happy to meet your and your family if you are in my neck of the woods!

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 20, 2010, 4:04 pm

      Caitlin,

      Good! Maybe we will meet up!

      Wade

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