Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Backpacking With A Baby

And I thought backpacking with a baby bump is cumbersome. Traveling with a newborn or infant is on a higher level of difficulty - well, more like on a different insane dimension... much challenging than the countless treks I did (no matter how long they lasted), or getting lost in translation, or hopping on dodgy buses and boats.

San Juan, La Union. Luna's first beach trip at two months old. Her longest ordinary bus ride then, two hours from Baguio to La Union via the dizzying Naguillian Road.

There were a few occasions that I was on the verge of crying whilst on a trip. You see, I was never fond of babies and children. A handful of my closest buds still couldn't quite grasp the thought of me raising one. The reason for which, is my lust for a carefree lifestyle.

It was the shock of our lives to find out that just after our honeymoon eighteen months ago, we already got a baby on the way. A made in China baby. Ideally, we wanted to have a child a year after being married. When things didn't go as planned, we didn't have any other choice but to accept our fate and alter our goals.

But our dream of becoming modern day nomads was never shelved. We welcomed our new little backpacking buddy with overflowing joy and pride, and started constructing itineraries that are suitable for her.

And we morphed into one of the most annoying types of travelers... The couple who cannot keep their baby quiet on the bus/plane/boat.

Thirteen days from now we'll be embarking on an epic trip that shall take us to different provinces around the Philippines and random countries across the globe. I firmly believe that this unconventional lifestyle will not only teach us about diverse cultures, it can also provide us New Age parenting ideas that will help us raise a child who's going to be aware of the ways of the world.

She has been constantly traveling since she was a month old. I am no pediatrician nor child care expert, but if you'd like to take your baby backpacking for the first time, here are a few tips:

Before the trip:

Luna's first overseas trip at seven months in Macau. She already had all her basic vaccine shots then.

1. Consult a pediatrician. Discuss with him/her your activities, and the country you're going to if you're heading overseas. It's also recommended that the baby had vaccine shots already, or at least some of them, before you go.

2. What to pack? There are a lot of factors to consider. You need to ask yourself: How long is the trip? What will be the weather? Will I be able to buy baby supplies there? And so on. Then you start estimating how much formula, bottles, clothes, nappies, and baby wipes you should bring.

If you're just traveling within your home country, you could buy more supplies as needed (brands that you're familiar with), easily during the trip. No need to bring a big bulk. Unless you're heading somewhere remote-ish.

If traveling overseas, that's when you should lug larger amounts of supplies if you don't want to experiment on unfamiliar brands. Choosing the right formula (milk powder) for the baby can be tricky.

A few of Luna's stuff we'll be bringing for our upcoming long trip. She took more than a fourth of my 30 kilo allowance. Grrr.

3. In the Philippines, medicine drops (for cold, cough, fever) for infants can be purchased over the counter. When our baby caught a cold in America, we couldn't find any quick remedy in the pharmacy. Ask your pedia if he/she could prescribe a few medicines that you could buy to bring overseas.

4. Research extensively about your destination. Although it's kick arse to be an explorer without fixed itineraries and maps, it would be irresponsible to be such when carrying a baby. Check the modes of transportation. They should be, of course safe for the little one. Also check the duration of each ride. You might not want to be on the bus for hours because you need to be up and alert all the time so you could hold on to your baby properly for drivers sometimes just suddenly step on the brakes or swerve.

On the road and up in the air:

Luna sleeping soundly in her infant car seat which we rented for cruising around California. Gave me good naps too, knowing that she's safer in it.

1. When traveling overseas, especially in the west, check the regulations on infant/child car seat. You might need to look into renting one.

2. On buses and cabs (in countries without the infant/child car seat regulation, you're not allowed to sit in front with the baby.

3. Most airlines charge for children 2 years old and below even if they don't get their own seats. If you feel like letting your baby just sit on your lap during flight is unsafe, you may opt to buy him/her a ticket and bring an infant car seat (if you own one) to strap on the airplane seat. Consult the airline company about this first.

An infant traveling overseas should have a passport.

If you brought a collapsible buggy, you could check it in at the gate before boarding. Fold it first before handing to them. Upon arrival, it can be picked up either by the door or at the baggage claim area.

4. Aisle seats may be more convenient for you so you could easily head to the toilet anytime (without awkwardly excusing yourself often) or stand to walk around and lullaby your baby to sleep.

Speaking of toilet, there's a nappy changing table for infants available inside an airplane's rest room. Bring a blanket to lay your baby on so it would be more comfy for him/her. Do not forget to strap the baby before changing.

Left: Baby holder inside a rest room cubicle in Narita International Airport. Right: Reading these instructions is a must!

5. An airline's cabin crew should hand you the baby's life vest before take off. Ask for one if they've forgotten (it happened to us). Peruse the manual for the instructions on how to use it.

6. Like everyone else, the baby needs to be hydrated during flight.

7. If you're on a ferry/boat, ask if there's an available life vest for the little one. If there's none, which is most likely, come prepared. Bring an inflatable floater.

When you get there:

With Sagada locals during a celebration in a dap-ay. Hiked without using a baby sling or carrier. Whew! And yes, we went to Sagada by GL bus from Baguio. Luna passed the highest point of the Philippines' highway system.

1. Once you've reached your destination, it's wise to check the location of pedia clinics in case you would need a visit. Don't forget to bring your baby's record book.

2. A baby sling or carrier will definitely make your wandering easier. Unfortunately, not for me and hubby. Luna never liked the constricting feel of it. Nor did she like riding the stroller. So I carry her most of the time. My empowering thought: A woman I saw in Sri Lanka who got on a train and carried her child for two hours while standing.

3. Instead of bringing a big baby shoulder bag, use a backpack instead. It will let your hands move freely. It also won't give you further shoulder/back pain.

4. Choose accommodations wisely. Your chosen one shouldn't be known for bed bugs. Also, if you cannot afford a hotel room, pick a guesthouse/hostel that have actual cemented walls. Not makeshift, thin dividers. You wouldn't want other guests to come knocking on your door in the middle of the night to tell you to shush the baby.

This mat with an attached mosquito net protected Luna from mosquitoes and sand blown by sea breeze. Bought for about P300, or $7.

5. Cheap accommodations also do not provide a baby cot or crib. Be prepared to sleep with the baby (if you're not a co-sleeper). Bring mosquito nets, by the way, especially when traveling in tropical countries.

6. Take heaps and heaps of photos!

Backpacking with a baby may seem like self-punishment. Truth is, now that I'm getting the hang of it... It's the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. And I'm totally not alone! Check out my fellow backpacking Pinay mums Eileen of Possibly Pinay, Kim of Indie Escape and Audrey of Byaheng Barok.

To all the women who are of the same species, throw your hands up at me!

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77 comments:

Markyramone said...
July 5, 2011 at 10:09 AM

I volunteer to be Luna's nanny on your next trip. Cutest passport pic.

Eileen said...
July 5, 2011 at 10:28 AM

I feel you.. I really feel you!!! I remembered packing for our short trip to HK and then I was so happy to know that I only filled up half the bag. And then it hit me... I needed her toys.. I needed her crayons.. I needed her meds... I needed this and that!

I'm soooo inggit bec I never got the chance to travel with her when she was smaller.

And appear on the backpack!!!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 10:34 AM

Haha! Oks sana Marky, kaso baka hindi ko ma-afford kung all expense paid kaw ;p

lifeisacelebration said...
July 5, 2011 at 10:37 AM

I like that mosquito net+mat thingy for myself. ha ha ha ha. Nice one, blogger mom!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Sooo useful Tita Lili! May Australian na nakakita nyan sa beach, tinanong nya kung may adult size! Lol.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Eileen, that is alright. You get to travel with your little one naman na now :) I actually can't wait for Luna to be able to pull her own stroller bag!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Eileen, that is alright. You get to travel with your little one naman na now :) I actually can't wait for Luna to be able to pull her own stroller bag!

Gabe Mitra said...
July 5, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Kamuka mo talaga si Luna ate, mas cute nga lang siya =)

Aleah said...
July 5, 2011 at 11:28 AM

Cutie cutie talaga ni Luna! This is a very helpful post for other nomadic mommies out there, Gay. Can't say it's helping me, but who knows, I may go back to this later to get some tips hehe

PS Erase Luna's Passport number!

Nicely said...
July 5, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Ang cute ni Luna. Ang haba ng lashes! Youngest traveler I've ever known!

byaheng barok said...
July 5, 2011 at 11:37 AM

whew! hirap, right? but i bet you, it'll be harder when you leave your kid behind.

sure, kids change the way we travel... but really, it would never stop us from travelling!

cheers to more travels, mom! :)

C A R L A said...
July 5, 2011 at 12:06 PM

you're an inspiration, gay. hope to do ala "pinaytraveljunkie" after my second month of pregnancy :)

tina said...
July 5, 2011 at 1:10 PM

super cutie ni Luna! And I am really thankful to those who invented the disposable bottles :D

♥ joei said...
July 5, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Cute! But you're right. Hirap to travel with a baby. And so much stuff to bring. Hehe.

Definitely, Maybe

Kate said...
July 5, 2011 at 2:10 PM

what a beautiful baby :) Loved looking at the pics!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 2:55 PM

Gabe, eskyusmee! Carbon copy kaya?!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 2:59 PM

Aleah, hahaha! Ibang photo na-upload ko. This one's got the top one deleted. Will change later :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Nicem thanks! Hope her eyelash stays long 'til she get older.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Audrey, you are sooo right! It's WAYYY harder to leave the baby behind :(

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Carlaaa!!! OMG! Did not know, congrats!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Tina, I have not used disposable bottles :( Would have saved me from the hassle of cleaning all the time!

Trip@dora said...
July 5, 2011 at 4:53 PM

ang cute cute talaga ni luna! :) galing! bilib ako sa'yo gay :)

lakwatsera de primera said...
July 5, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Taking down notes already, nn the way to there :)

IndieEscape said...
July 5, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Thanks for the shoutout, Gay! Travelling with the little one is indeed more complicated but it's definitely more memorable! I, too, have my fair share or mid-flight meltdowns and hiking boo-boos! hehe

http://www.indieescape.com

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 5:45 PM

Claire, hihi! Luna's waiting for a playmate, mate ;p

Chyng said...
July 5, 2011 at 7:21 PM

the most traveled baby!
and you're one awesome mom!

kill3rfill3r said...
July 5, 2011 at 7:31 PM

Cute naman ni Luna. Ang ayoko lang sa kids kapag out of the country..iyak ng iyak kapag malapit na mag-land ung plane.:p

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 7:37 PM

Thanks Chyng! Ikaw na Luna ang sikat!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 5, 2011 at 8:13 PM

kill3rfill3r, sakit kasi ears nila dahil sa pressure and they dunno how to deal with it :(

Ramona Andresa said...
July 5, 2011 at 8:49 PM

first off, your baby is sooooo pretty! and she's lucky to have a mom like you. It's so inspiring to know that having a baby has not deterred you from traveling and the tips you've laid out on the post are really helpful (though I don't have kids yet!)

dong ho said...
July 5, 2011 at 11:16 PM

A made in China baby. Ideally, we wanted to have a child a year after being married. >>> hahaha... nice line. Luna is made in China.

kakatuwa nga ang backapcking buddy ng dalawang nomads. still looking forward to meeting little Luna.

Catherine said...
July 5, 2011 at 11:42 PM

im quite far from getting to this stage pero naiisip ko na talaga dati pa kung pano ba mag travel with a child in tow. thanks for the insight. more travels to you and your fam! keep safe and always be happy! :D

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 6, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Thanks Ramona! I've really put so much heart into this post because I'd like to encourage more mums to travel with babies, not leave them behind :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 6, 2011 at 6:02 AM

Yeah Dong, lahat na ay made in China ngayon... pati baby ;p Hope she meets you someday too!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 6, 2011 at 6:06 AM

Catherine, hope you get to use the tips someday!

Grace said...
July 6, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Gay! Awesome insight into how it's like to travel with a baby. This is something that I think about from time to time because I know if the future when I decide to have the hubby and 2.5 kids that travel will still be part of our lifestyle.

I do have some questions: in terms of being more adventurous on the road is it more limited now with the child because you think of her safety first? Also do other travelers around you react or act differently because you have a child? And how does Luna taking all the traveling in?

Ed said...
July 6, 2011 at 12:06 PM

"3. Instead of bringing a big baby shoulder bag, use a backpack instead. It will let your hands move freely. It also won't give you further shoulder/back pain." -- akala ko lalagay mo si Luna sa backpack. wahahahaha

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 6, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Hi Grace! Yes, with regard to activities, we do have limited options. We can't do much long hikes anymore, we can't stay out late and party, we try to skip destinations that require boat rides, etc. But we're fine with that right now. Someday, when she's old enough to walk herself, we'd be back to normal.

And as for other travelers' reactions... well, if they're from the west, they seem to be mrore used to it. It's around the Philippines that I get the "oh no you didn't!" reactions ;p

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 6, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Ed, pwede rin! Hahaha! Kaso baka ayaw nya. Carrier nga di nya feel, what more kung sa loob ng bag. Lol.

Renevic said...
July 6, 2011 at 12:39 PM

So cute.. :) pwede na 'Little Pinay Travel Junkie' :D

Lizzie said...
July 6, 2011 at 12:40 PM

May relatives po ba kayo sa Palawan? Mitra side? Or sa Manila?

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 6, 2011 at 12:44 PM

'Little Pinay Travel Junkie' - Love it Renevic!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Hey Lizzie, I think Ramon Mitra's my grandpa's distant cousin :)

Lizzie said...
July 6, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Oh. I see. I'm close to one of the Mitra Families here in Manila and I keep hearing Sen. Mitra. I just thought that you might be related to the Mitras I know. Hehe.

Ron Leyba said...
July 6, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Thanks for the tips. Might be useful for me and my wifey any time soon!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 6, 2011 at 2:35 PM

Cool Ron, then we can compare notes. Hihi.

Rizalenio said...
July 6, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Luna is so cute.

Very very informative entry. Hope parents will read this para di lang sa mallsss (madaming s? Hahaha. Ang dami kasi nating mallssss e...) nila dinadala ang mga babies nila. :)

*flying kisses to Luna.*

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 6, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Haha! Agree, Lito. We just have so much mallsss in the Philippines. Sarap rin kasi sa loob ng mall, malamig! Hahaha!

MommaFinally said...
July 6, 2011 at 7:34 PM

Wow this is truly a very informative post...now I won't hesitate traveling with my little one na seeing that Luna has been to so many places at such a young age.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 6, 2011 at 7:58 PM

Awesome! Cannot wait to see posts/photos of you traveling with Sean!

Ding | Explored! said...
July 6, 2011 at 9:12 PM

I tell you, bigger kids are more difficult to handle during trips.

Wow! Your tips are amazing! If I have a grandson or grand daughter in the future (hopefully not very soon!), I plan to bring him/her to places, and will keep your tips in mind.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 6, 2011 at 9:26 PM

I gotta brace for that then, Ding. Hope you do get to use the tips sometime in the not-so-near future.

Pinoy Adventurista said...
July 6, 2011 at 10:32 PM

"And we morphed into one of the most annoying types of travelers... The couple who cannot keep their baby quiet on the bus/plane/boat."

wahhhhh! very familiar scene... hirap nyan pag sa plane where everybody seems to be sleeping, ang mommy ang nahihirapan kung paano aaliwin ang baby para di umiyak... hehehe! :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 7, 2011 at 6:23 AM

Haha! Yeah Mervz. Fortunately for us, Luna never seemed to have problems with landing. She just gets bored the whole flight when not asleep.

Ron Leyba said...
July 7, 2011 at 9:05 AM

LOL di ako maka reply sa reply mo sa comment ko idol hehe. Sana may comment threading dito para astig.

Anyway, this is really useful for our very first ever trip, hopefully very soon!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 7, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Haha! Really Ron? Oh yeah, because it's the default commenting thing of Blogger. Let me know about your trip with the little one!

Micamyx|Senyorita said...
July 7, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Ang cute ni Luna! I'm sure she'll appreciate this post once mabasa niya paglaki niya :) Lucky girl! :D

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 7, 2011 at 5:28 PM

Hope so Mica, cause we're doing this not just for us... but more so for her :)

Tripper10 said...
July 8, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Grabe.. Idol ka Ma'am...
Babalikan ko tong Post mo kapag may baby nako.. hahahaha...
Salamat po sa tips.. :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 8, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Haha! No prob! Will wait for that time to come and follow your adventures too!

josh said...
July 15, 2011 at 10:18 PM

mas madami na agad siyang napuntahan kaysa sa akin :) idol ko kayo maam! :D

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 16, 2011 at 5:21 AM

Hahaha! Di naman siguro Josh, mas marami pa rin sayo :)

Malditang "Kura"cha said...
July 16, 2011 at 1:39 PM

wow! kudos to all mommy backpackers. I still can't imagine myself bringing a baby on one of my trips. Knowing my mom, she won't be allowing me. hahah! I'm sure papayagan akong maglakwatcha nun kahit saan pero with a baby?!?!?! Imposible. hahaha!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 16, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Hahaha! It actually amazes me that my mom lets me bring my daughter anywhere we go. I think after taking her overseas, her views have changed a bit.

joan / the backpack chronicles said...
August 20, 2011 at 5:49 AM

super cute ni luna!!! wah nainggit naman ako kay luna mas madami pa sya napuntahan sakin.. hahaha.. little pinay travel junkie nga like renevic said!! bagay ang titulo sa kanya.. hahaha

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
August 20, 2011 at 8:07 AM

Haha! Yeah Joan, she's totally a lil miss Pinay travel junkie!

beyondsunsets said...
September 4, 2011 at 11:53 AM

travelling with kids is awesome :)

we bring our 5-year old daughter everywhere we go!

start then young as they say.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
September 4, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Awesome! It's more difficult to leave the little one behind:)

joniphilippines said...
November 4, 2011 at 6:44 AM

some say "made from China" has inferior quality, well your daughter is an exemption, looks like a future "Lara Croft" ~ "Luna Croft"

ang ganda po ng blog nyo, I started on this article kasi "a father of 3 boys"

okay po, God bless sa mga lakad

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
November 4, 2011 at 7:11 AM

Oh hi there Joni! Hahaha! I like "Luna Croft".

Cheers to us backpacking parents :)

Anonymous said...
November 26, 2011 at 3:20 AM

Have you tried requesting for a bassinet seat for an infant under 2yo without a seat? It's usually located on the bulkhead area. This is foc but I'm not too sure if budget carriers charge an extra.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
November 26, 2011 at 8:01 AM

For some reason, the bassinet seat's always booked out when we inquire about it :(

Anonymous said...
January 3, 2012 at 10:19 AM

hi, found your blog while surfing if ok nba e travel yung 4month old baby going 5 months na in a luxury bus from Manila to Baguio? the thing is isang gabi lng kmi dun...we will be living ng Friday ng gabi and going back dn agad ng Sunday afternoon.

Yung concern ko is yung ear pressure,kakayanin na kya ni baby?

thanks muchhh :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
January 3, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Hi there! You baby will definitely be able to handle it. We took our baby to Baguio when she was a month old. Babies are also allowed to fly during that age, so it shouldn't be a problem.

Ear pressure might hurt your baby though, so don't be surprised if she's suddenly grumpy during the ascent. Bring a pacifier :) Happy trip!

Stella Sandoval said...
August 7, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Hallo! Just stumbled onto your blog. Your Sagada pic is super cute. Made me remember my own Sagada trip years ago. I miss Yogurt House. Hehe.

And hey, you have such a beautiful baby. ^_^

pinaytraveljunkie.com said...
August 8, 2013 at 1:40 AM

I super miss Yogurt House!

"you have such a beautiful baby" - Thank youuu! :)

Issa said...
May 13, 2014 at 1:25 AM

“This mat with an attached mosquito net protected Luna..”

Hi, Gay.. grabe, girl scout talaga!haha.. I want to be this protective and adventurous when I'm given a child.


Thanks for showing the way. hehe.. I'm sure if I post a pic like this one, you'd say: "Been there, done that."


Thanks for the vicarious experience. ;)

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