Corinne McDermott started her website for travelling families, Have Baby Will Travel, out of her own frustrated attempts to find travel info for parents with babies and toddlers while planning a trip with her young daughter.
The site is for parents of infants, toddlers and small children. Though McDermott calls it a “work in progress,” it includes a wealth of tips—everything from how to sterilize bottles in a hotel room to where to rent a stroller in the Italian Riviera—plus articles by Corinne and guest writers and trip reports from around the world, sent by real moms and dads.
A former television producer, Corinne now manages HaveBabyWillTravel.com from her home in Toronto. She also works as a freelance writer and is developing a series of destination-based family-travel websites with business partners.
What are some of your favourite baby- or toddler-friendly destinations in Canada?
I feel so fortunate to have grown up and live in the wonderful city of Toronto, with so many outdoor and indoor and free (for now) things for families to do. Lately we’ve been sticking close to home, and experiencing our city as a tourist might, and that’s given me a whole new appreciation of this great town.
I’m also pretty impressed with the walkability and the ease of public transport in Vancouver. I think Vancouver would be a great city to visit with kids.
What has been one of your most memorable family travel moments?
On our first family vacation, we went to Cuba. As we were strolling around Havana, a fellow jackhammering the sidewalk saw us, put his jackhammer down, and came over to coochie-coo my daughter’s chin and make her laugh. Seeing how much children and families are embraced there and in the other Latin cultures we’ve visited makes me realize how much I want to adopt that way of thinking into my daily life at home.
What gear do think more parents should have?
A good stroller—one that is easy to push and to fold and that baby is comfortable in—is worth the investment. I don’t believe you need to have a special stroller for travel, but if you’re in the market for a stroller and hope to continue travelling once the baby comes, choose a model that is lighter in weight and/or has a lower profile. And when you’re travelling with a baby, a stroller is no longer just a stroller: it’s a high chair, a bed, a “baby jail” and a luggage cart.
If you also invest in a quality, lightweight baby carrier, you’re set.
What’s one of the mistakes new parents make when travelling with a baby?
Planning too much and overscheduling your time. One outing per day is usually plenty, and don’t begrudge the baby’s naps—they give you a chance to unwind as well and can provide some structure and routine to your days.
How can parents help their infants keep calm on the plane?
Sucking during take-off and landing is important to help with ear pressure and pain, but other than that, a parent must think like a Boy Scout and be prepared! Make sure your carry-on luggage is stocked with snacks, distractions and toys—a busy and engaged baby is typically a quiet and contented one. A sleeping baby is the best-case scenario, so booking flights when your child is likely to sleep can sometimes work in your favour.
Do you have any great tips for dining out with baby or toddlers?
Go out when your baby or toddler is hungry and ready to eat, and start offering snacks and finger food as soon as you sit down. Ideally you’ve chosen a restaurant that is accustomed to serving families and will get your food to the table as soon as possible. If you’re not certain the eatery of your choice offers high chairs, bring along a small, lightweight stroller to use as a high chair.
Are there any important things to know about air travel with babies or toddlers in Canada versus the US, such as airline policies or TSA vs CATSA policies?
One of the bonuses of traveling within Canada, or to a destination other then the US, is not having to take off your shoes when going through security. They’ve reduced the TSA restrictions somewhat now—kids 12 and younger no longer have to remove their footwear when going through security, but the entire process seems much more stringent when comparing American to Canadian systems.
What is the hardest part of travelling with infants or young children?
Remembering All THAT STUFF. Until you find your groove, you may feel slightly overwhelmed by it. A good idea for your first trip with baby is to create an itemized list of all your luggage and keep it in your wallet. This way you know exactly how many bags you’ll be keeping track of while in transit.
Why travel with your infant or young children at all? What are the benefits?
Truthfully, I don’t think it matters that very young children won’t remember their travels, because their parents will never forget them. I believe that new experiences and exposure to new cultures helps shape children into becoming open-minded and tolerant adults. At least that’s what I hope for mine.