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Challenges We’ll Face While Traveling With Our Baby

Before our travel to Paris and Hamburg in October, and especially before our year abroad in 2017, we still have number of kinks to work out. Challenges if you will. This post is a list of some of those challenges and how we are thinking about them.

Travel Challenges:

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Lodging

We’ve pretty much decided to do a bunch of AirBnb. We might have to do hotels from time to time depending on what’s available in some of the smaller cities. For Paris and Hamburg this fall we’ve already reserved our rooms. In Paris we’ll be within 10 min walking distance of the Eiffel Tower, and in Hamburg we have supposedly quiet apartment all to ourselves right downtown, close to beautiful scenery like city hall and the warehouse district.

AirBnb is usually cheaper than hotels, plus you get a lot more of the local flavor. Another benefit is that you can get a whole home to yourself, giving you more space and even a kitchen to save some money on food. The disadvantage of AirBnb is that even after reading reviews you don’t always know what your going to get.

Check out some of our previous stays at AirBnbs (Savannah, St. Augustine, Asheville).

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Transportation

Our first instinct was to buy a pass on the famous Eurail, but a little comparison shopping led us to believe that it would be too expensive for the amount of rail travel we needed to do. The best deal was for 3 months of continuous travel for $1,227 per person. We only planned on taking a train a couple times per month max, so the math just didn’t work out. Instead we’ll buy single trip tickets.

In bigger cities we plan to rely on public transportation and taxis. When we visit smaller cities or rural areas we will probably have to rent a car. I’m still looking into the license requirements for this. Dannie has spent plenty of time living in cities, using public transit and the like. I grew up in small towns and I’ve only been in a taxi about 5 times in my entire life. Maybe transportation is a bigger challenge for me than it is for her.

Visas and Other Travel Documents

I’ve made sure that all of the countries we’re visiting this year and next require no visa for short stays. You can read about how we’re solving the Schengen short stay problem, which caught us off guard at first. As for passports, we’re all set. I checked the passports we used for our 2013 China Trip, and they are both good for several years and have plenty of pages left. Even Lisa has a passport now.

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Travel Insurance

We’ve decided that we definitely need travel insurance. The general consensus on travel blogs is that if something goes wrong and you don’t have it, you’re pretty much screwed. If we’re going to travel for a whole year, the odds of something going wrong are not quite as slim as we’d like them to be. Overall I feel like our trip is going to be pretty safe, but hey, stuff happens.

We mostly want health coverage in case of injury or sickness, but most travel insurance also covers evacuations and other emergencies. Some travel insurance also covers theft and damage of personal property, but luckily our photography gear is already covered by our insurance we get with our membership to the Professional Photographers of America. I checked and made sure that it would still apply overseas.

Food

As we’ve mentioned before, we’re all vegetarians. This makes things a little more challenging since we don’t really know yet what a lot of local cuisine will be like, meat wise. I suspect we’ll face challenges in countries like Morocco, but big European cities will probably be a little easier.

One part of our plan is to rent AirBnbs with kitchens so that we can do a little grocery shopping and cook our own food. We’ve heard that restaurants in Europe are terribly expensive anyway, so this will probably save us a little dough (no pun intended).

Baby Transportation

How do we keep Lisa safe on a plane? How about in a taxi? How about walking down the street? There are plenty of challenges here. We recently put up a review of the Orbit Baby Stroller and Car Seat we bought last week, which answers a few of those questions. We also have an Ergobaby chest carrier that makes it easy to carry our baby around in places that are less accessible to strollers.

Baby Sleep

As we mentioned earlier, we’re planning on staying in a lot of AirBnbs. While many high end hotels make cribs available for travelers with babies, most AirBnb hosts don’t have them on hand. Since cosleeping isn’t considered safe and Dannie won’t let me put Lisa to bed in the tub (kidding… or am I), we had to figure out what we realistically can bring with us. We have a pack ‘n play, but it really feels too bulky to bring with us, even folded up. Instead, we’ve recently purchased a KidCo Peapod Plus. Once Lisa turns one year old she can try sleeping in it. In the meantime, she does like to crawl in there and play around. We’ll start her sleeping in it about a month and a half before the start of our Paris Trip so she has time to get used to it.

Paying Our Way

There aren’t a lot of jobs that you can take on the road. We’re lucky that as photographers we can operate pretty much anywhere. While we’re traveling we’ll be trying to book gigs with locals, fellow travelers and commercial clients, although the logistics of booking while traveling present other challenges. We can also make money selling stock photos and even prints. We’ll still have to spend some of our own money along the way, but it will sure help.

We could also charge people to bask in our daughter’s radiant cuteness: “Step right up folks and see the worlds most adorable traveling baby! Two bits a gander!”

Staying in Touch

It’s unlikely that Dannie and I will be separated very much while we’re in Europe. Wherever one of us goes, the other usually follows. Unless it involves heights or water, in which case it’s all me. However we do have loved ones that we’ll be leaving behind, and we’re going to miss them while we’re away. We’re working out how our parents can each come visit us for a little while if they feel like a vacation, but the real challenges are in day to day communications. We’re thinking about signing up for Project Fi by Google. It has reasonable rates and coverage all over the world. Also, I’ve always wanted to be part of a “Project.” Once we’ve had a chance to try it out I’ll let you know how we like it.

We’re also hoping that if Lisa video chats with her grandparents, she’ll still remember them when she gets home. It’s a big, exciting world out there, but we don’t want her to forget what’s really important.

More to Come

I’ll be updating this list as we either find solutions for problems or discover new obstacles to overcome, so check back frequently to see how it’s going. Also, if there’s a problem on here you know a solution for, or if I came up with a solution that you don’t think will work, please comment below.

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