Travel Safety with a Baby

To start, this is NOT an article about how travel is 100% safe, and the naysayers are just crazy, because nothing is 100% safe.

I will tell you, though, the three legitimate safety concerns you should consider before traveling abroad with a baby.

I read Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) while I was pregnant.

I was really anxious I was going to be a really anxious mom.

As it turns out, I love being a mom—and I’m very laid back about it. I found it too exhausting to worry all day every day.

After all, there are babies all over the world, and they live happily just like any American baby.

Ryder has been to six countries so far. Nothing bad has happened yet (hopefully it’s not bad karma to say that.)

If you’re thinking about traveling with a baby and are worried about the dangers, I guess I would say this:

Don’t be naïve. But don’t be fearful, either.

Be aware of the following issues when traveling with your baby:

Healthcare

Healthcare isn’t at the same standard everywhere you go. If you’re in the bush in the Peruvian Amazon and your baby caught malaria, well, you’d be in trouble.

But if you’re in the capital city of Lima, you’d be all right. Entire countries don’t need to be eliminated just because some parts of the country are third world. You can get somewhat adequate care even in the capital city of a country like Ethiopia—(we know someone who had emergency head surgery there.)

However, if you are going to be out back in some small poor village in the middle of nowhere, that’s an added risk. You can choose whether or not you want to take that risk, but it would be naïve not to acknowledge it.

At the same time, in a country like the United States, healthcare is a different kind of risk. No baby will get turned away, but if you can’t afford health insurance, and you incur a hospital visit, you can go bankrupt over the costs. Healthcare elsewhere around the world is a fraction of the cost, even without insurance.

If you breastfeed your baby, you don’t have to worry about food poisoning. Babies are very easy in that regard.

Also, we move often enough that of course Ry can’t have a regular pediatrician with regular appointments. We just visit random doctors along the way, and so far we’ve been very lucky: they’ve remarked how strong and robust he is. We got vaccinations in New Zealand—they were about $100—and we’ll go again for another round in Australia.

 

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At the doctor’s office in Papeete, Tahiti

Crime

Again, entire countries don’t need to be written off because they’re known for high crime rates. Take Mexico, for example. The problems in that wonderful country are very much on a city by city basis. But crime is more present there, than, say, Sweden, and not to acknowledge that or to say “bad things happen everywhere” is to not recognize that there is a statistically higher probability in some places than others.

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We never had a problem with our little baby doll in Mexico City

The United States has a disproportionate amount of crime for a developed country, but like most other countries, that crime is mostly in certain cities and at night and can be managed with a little common sense.

Unfortunately, this is more difficult when traveling. Precisely because you don’t know your way around, you can wander into a dangerous area without knowing. That’s how I got my iPhone stolen, by visiting the area Observatorio in Mexico City at dusk—anyone could have told me that was a no-no. Asking locals about where the less safe parts of town are can go a long way.

Transportation

The final frontier that you should be aware of when traveling with your child to faraway places is that traffic and road rules do not exist like they do in the States. Some countries will be safer (the ones with subways and trains) and others will be more daring (the ones with racing buses and no seat belts.) You can weigh the pros and cons. For us, we just hold our breaths and bite the bullet and go. Accidents truly can happen anywhere, depending as always on many different variables: the skill of the driver, the harshness of drunk driving laws, the quality of the roads, and so on. We only have a car seat for Ryder when we have our own vehicle. On buses or anything like that, he just rides in our arms, which is how most babies around the world travel.

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Ryder loved campervaning (in a car seat) around New Zealand

The States, with its almost complete lack of public transportation options, makes it a destination with a higher likelihood of a fatal accident than many places.

 

If you think too much about things that can go wrong you can get paralyzed. That’s as true at home as abroad. If something went wrong while traveling, of course I’d feel terrible and I would wonder, “What if…?” But remembering that no place or activity is 100% safe, we weigh the pros and cons, say a little prayer, then choose to do what we enjoy and makes us happy.

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 366 awesome articles for us.

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