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I am full of what the Portuguese people call “saudades” right now. Saudades, a term deemed to describe the indescribable: A feeling of nostalgia, melancholy, a feeling of far-away-ness.
The way it is, pictures like these won’t become reality quite so soon again, as it still was the case earlier this year, in January 2020, at the south-westernmost point of Portugal. Thinking it family culture, as travellers, we naturally took our son Liam on a one-month road trip across Southern Portugal and Spain. Now, only three months later, half the world is in “lockdown”, and by any luck, we can hopefully explore closer to home again over the upcoming summer months.
Yet still, let me share some final anecdotes from this trip here, focusing on what it is really like to travel with a small baby for one month. (Travelling, not holidaying. There’s that difference!).
Travelling with baby: Hop on board, and take a look behind the scenes of how it really felt like for us.
Travelling with a small child can be totally draining and wonderfully elating. What it definitely is, is a far cry from the beautified ads you sometimes see, the “mum-and-dad-and-child-run-happily-across-the-beach” pictures. Er. Not really. As before they can run, they ask to be carried, and sometimes whine about that, too. But a baby child that does not move on his own yet is easy to handle on a trip. Is it?!
Let’s face it (Part I): How much luggage did we really need/carry?
- A stroller. The type that easily folds in on itself, and is allowed on planes (we could also easily stow it in trains and buses we took)
- Two large backpacks for us adults
- A small backpack to share between us
- An additional travel bag that we hooked on the troller, containing his to-go diapers, spoons, baby food, some toys, etc.
… that we just love travelling with handy backpacks, and don’t know any different. Despite what you might think, backpacks – no matter how big – make moving around really easy, especially when it comes to also pushing a stroller (new!). The stroller, too, became a natural place of storage, and as little as it first seemed, it could hold quite a few things besides baby …
Let’s face it (Part II): How did we care for Liam while on the road?
A good part of the answer to this question lies in the fact that I was still breastfeeding at the time. However, we did also provide four little baby meals each and every day: For breakfast and dinner, we just needed hot water to pour into his baby porridge and semolina – too easy really. To heat up his veggie or fruit stew (in Portugal and Spain, you can buy baby food either at the supermarket or the pharmacy) we often simply had to point, or use my Spanish / Portuguese to communicate and have his food heated at either a restaurant, a café, a hotel bar, a breakfast room, a rest stop on the highway, etc. People go out of their way to help you with baby, and in countries such as Portugal or Spain, this is especially true. We love thinking back of the many sweet encounters baby Liam prompted, making our trip extra memorable for sure.
Let’s face it (Part III): Where (and how) does baby sleep while on the go?
Baby’s sleep. There is hardly anything young parents talk about as much as their offspring’s sleep patterns. Also when travelling. Fact is: We seem to have a very relaxed baby, who falls asleep easily and everywhere we are. That is my answer to the eternal question: How can you travel with baby that needs his daily (and nightly) rhythm?! Well, it was never an issue. We were relaxed, and so was baby Liam. Unless he was teething, but that would have made nights more complicated just about anywhere. But overall, we had no problems in having him sleep, either in his baby sling, in the stroller, on the bus, in the car, on the train, on the plane or in one of the different baby beds we were provided with at our accommodation. Our little sleeping star!
Our conclusion: Do make that trip with your baby, in case you haven’t yet. You won’t regret it.
Time flies (something ALL parents always say – and it is true!). Already now, Liam is just shy of one year, no longer “baby-like” as in the photos here, but more agile by the day. We have made a photo journal of our trip, and leaf through it often, thinking how blessed we are to have been able to travel with him in this way.
Of course, parts of it were exhausting. Some nights, some moving around, some more breaks we might have needed. And after four weeks, it was good to return home again, too (twice as intense, returning home as parents with baby). We did use the weeks following the trip to relax from it all, as good as possible. We would do it all over again in the blink of an eye.
If you are keen on reading even more about our travel adventures through Portugal and Spain, I can recommend you the following travel stories – my entire digital travel journal of our trip:
- Lisbon. In winter. With baby. Travel tips & photos that will have you pack your bags!
- Travel Tip Portugal: Why Évora is worth the visit from Lisbon.
- Algarve in winter: Travel tips for visiting Loulé, Tavira & Sagres (with baby).
- Seville during winter. With food tour & baby. Wonderful!
- Andalusia travel highlights during winter: Marbella, Ronda, Granada & Córdoba. With baby.
- Madrid with baby, day trip to El Escorial & Toma Café.