From Cuba and Vancouver to Barcelona and beyond, London-based Marisa of Jet Life Baby has traveled all over the world with her sweet copilots Andre and Havana. Her blog is a treasure trove of tips for travelling with kids, and she's one of our favorite family travel Instagrammers to follow, too! Keep reading to find out about some of Marisa's first trips as a mom, advice for packing with kids, and some of her top family travel tips!
Parennial Travel: What's the first big trip you took as a family, and how did it go?
Jet Life Baby: Our first trip with Havana was when she was 2 months old. She was born in October and we wanted to go home and spend time with the family for Christmas. The trip went really well and better than expected. She slept the entire time. Now that our girl is a toddler, looking back at all our trips I think the easiest ones were when she was between 2-8 months. It is always easier traveling to a city or country you know, as you know where you can shop and buy things if you need them. In addition, we went to visit family so we had that extra support with the baby. We currently live in London and have no family here so we hardly ever go out or travel without her, because then we would have to pay a lot of money on babysitters.
I think at that time the most challenging thing was to actually get her passport in time for our flight, hehehe. In London you normally have to call and book an appointment to get their birth certificate after you know the birth date. I actually called before she was born made up a date of birth so I was able to get an appointment 2 weeks after she was born so I was able to apply for her passport the week after just in time for our trip home at Christmas. :)
PT: Why do you think it's important to travel with your daughter?
JLB: I personally think if you were someone who loved to travel prior to having a baby, you shouldn't be afraid to continue to do what you love just because you had a baby and have a young family. My motto is, just because you had a baby doesn't mean you have to change who you are and completely change your lifestyle. You should be true to yourself and continue to do what you love and just bring them along for the journey.
I know many people who loved to travel and simply stopped once they had kids. I have also heard parents say they need to get all their travels behind them before they have kids, which I do not necessarily agree with either. But personally speaking, I think it is important for anyone to travel. I have lived in many countries since I was 4 so it is normal for me to live in a different city and country. I do miss the fact that I don't have friends who I have known since I was born, but have made a lot of close friends around the world along the way.
I think travelling helps you become a more well-rounded, open-minded and outgoing person. It makes you put things into perspective and appreciate life more. There is so much beauty in seeing other countries, cultures, discovering their foods and especially the people. It is too beautiful of an experience to miss out on. I have particularly fallen in love with Latin America, purely because I love how passionate and outgoing the people are.
PT: What are the biggest travel hacks you've picked up along the way specific to traveling with a baby?
JLB: I think the biggest travel hack might be: Do your research and be prepared! When I say prepared, it's making sure I have all the necessary products in case of an emergency (i.e. enough diapers, wipes, paracetamol, etc.) Since Havana was born, we have traveled a lot across the world and I have found it can be quite expensive if you don't have all the products you need. I have listed my suggestions and struggles in my destination specific blogs, but I have found for example it was hard to find baby foods and products in general in Brazil. In Lisbon and the Caribbean the diapers were so expensive I wish I had brought more. When I mean expensive in London you pay 4GBP for pack of 30 and in Lisbon it was 16EUR. I wrote a blog about Cuba and how I am glad we didn't take our baby with us, because it is very hard to find a supermarket and when you eat in restaurants you have to wait for quite some time as everything is freshly cooked. Not ideal if you do not have all the products you need with you and not ideal if you have a hungry baby and do not have enough food supplies.
I have written a few travel tips blogs and have provided my suggestions on what to bring, based on whether you are taking a long haul flight, flying somewhere warm, etc.
PT: What do you always pack when traveling with your daughter?
JLB: I think the number one thing I packed when traveling with Havana when she was a baby was a thermometer and paracetamol. She got fever quite a bit and I wouldn't want to have to search for a pharmacy or go to the hospital for paracetamol. Also until this date I can never leave the house without her dummy. I learned once the hard way, and never again. Now that she is two years old there are three things I always make sure I have with me: her dummy (Wubbanub), snacks (never leave the house without) and arnica pebbles. Arnica pebbles are homeopathic and work like magic if they bruise. Havana had a few incidents while traveling between the ages of 10-14 months were she would accidentally bang her head and get bumps on her forehead. A pharmacy in Germany recommended arnica pebbles or cream and brought down the boil within minutes. She was bumping her head a lot because she was trying to walk and hold on to things at that time.
PT: What are your favorite types of destinations when traveling with your family?
JLB: I think Barcelona is my favourite as I lived there and know the city inside and out. Therefore I feel I can enjoy it more as I know where to buy products or food whenever I need them. I also feel North America is an excellent country to travel to with kids as they are so baby friendly. It is so easy to find a store that sells anything you need and restaurants are so baby friendly as well and almost all venues have babychange tables.
PT: How do you balance your own interests with your daughter's when traveling?
JLB: We try to see and do what we as a couple want to do, but keep in mind Havana’s nap schedule. As Havana is still napping 1-2 hours a day we try to make sure we do the sightseeing in the morning and are back at the hotel or Airbnb for her nap time and then go out again after. However, if we are in a big city we cannot always do this and she will have to sleep in the pram. She has no problems sleeping in the pram but is more rested when sleeping in an actually bed like us adults really. Generally speaking she is a really happy baby if she has her sleep, so we simply try to accommodate that. It makes our trips more enjoyable as well. In addition, since Havana loves swimming, depending on where we are going I always try to find a place that has a pool or is close to the beach.
PT: What are some traditionally "not family-friendly" places you've taken your family and enjoyed?
JLB: There are pros and cons to many places, but if I have to compare all the places I would say that we really enjoyed Brazil. However, please note that it is not an easy place to travel to with a baby. During our Brazil trip, it was actually where I got the idea to start blogging with the intentions of helping and improving families’ experiences while traveling. Brazilians love babies, but it is hard to find baby foods (especially when weaning) and products in Brazil are generally very expensive because they are imported. It was difficult although I speak fluent Portuguese.
Looking back at it now I think it was because we were there while she was weaning and milk alone wouldn't suffice and the Brazilians like to eat a lot of fried foods and meat. So limited options for babies. We managed to have a great time, because I enquired with friends as to where to go eat, find baby foods, products, etc. We also went to local spots, recommended by Brazilians, which is always the best way to go. Brazil is a great place if you know people who can take care of you and show you around, and there is nothing better than seeing a place via the eyes of a local. Brazil is also not a place were you wander the streets to explore and discover. So please leave the spontaneity for your Europe or Asia trips.
PT: Do you prefer hotels or apartment rentals?
JLB: I like both. I have only had positive experiences with both, except for in Cuba. If traveling to Cuba, I wouldn't recommend staying at a hotel. Believe it or not, the Airbnbs are a lot nicer and cleaner in Havana.
If we stay at an Airbnb/apartment, I try to ask if they allow babies and/or have a baby friendly apartment before requesting to stay there. A few apartment rentals have cancelled in the past after I have told them that we have a toddler. Therefore I prefer to ask beforehand. A lot of Airbnbs recently have been really amazing and have been supplying cots, which is so helpful because we do not have to bring our own with us.