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Babybreak and time abroad

Elis

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  • Added on: July 24th, 2005
It recently occured to me that:
1. when/if I have a child I will have 30 months of leave from work and will receive some money (though not full salary) from the state insurance here for that time period
2. My partner works for the university so does have recurring opportunities to spend a month, a semester or more abroad
3. Babies are born and can successfully go, fill their diapers, eat and cry in any country on earth

So... has anybody ever spent time with a 6 month old abroad before? I thought it might make sense to wait a few months, but a six month old should be okay to travel. And then, why not spent some time in another country. People go hiking with babies, they go on day trips when they are at home too.
It seems like a good way of combining time I'd be off work anyhow with some extended time abroad. In other words, I wouldn't have to convince my boss to give me an extended leave since I'd have it anyway.

So if any of you have been lived abroad with infants or very small children, I would be very grateful you could share your experiences with me.

jv

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  • Added on: July 25th, 2005
Do it, Elis, do it! The world needs more traveling families. Your idea sounds great. I envy the 30-month paid leave and job guarantee.

In terms of your specific question, how about some clarification: Are you talking about living in one place or doing a RTW trip? Also, where would you likely go – developing countries or more modern countries? I think a lot depends on the specifics of what exactly you’ll be doing. Certain countries raise the issue of disease and immunizations, for example. And doing a RTW is probably harder than settling down in one place (which, in my opinion, should be no trouble at all).

My wife and I have a six-month-old right now, and while we haven’t lived abroad, we have made plenty of shorter trips. My wife is currently visiting family in Europe with our son (I couldn’t go because I’ve got American vacations, but that’s another story ...). It’s a three-week trip, and from what I’ve heard, everything is going well. Jet lag was an issue. It disrupted his sleeping pattern, and even after overcoming jet lag, he’s still waking up more than usual at night. But that wouldn't matter if you're going to live abroad.

Generally, though, I tend to think that the whole focus on "stability" is overblown. We’ve taken him on weekend trips where he’s slept better than at home. And during the day, he’s usually great – he loves having new things to look at (a born traveler, I think). Then again, the personality of each baby is different ...

Bottom line: Some people will probably tell you you’re crazy. There seems to be a general societal attitude that your life as you know it must end when you have children. Not true! Be obstinate in opposing this kind of BS. You can do whatever you want. You might have to make adjustments, travel slower, and do things a little differently. But anything is possible.

Piecar

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  • Added on: March 1st, 2010
Travelling families are great.

I remembered this thread as I am in Antiguea staying at the Umma Gumma.

Rock on Thread Repeaters.

jv

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  • Added on: March 2nd, 2010
Whoa! Blast from the past, Piecar.

My update: Two kids and living abroad.

So what about Elis?

rhythm_blues

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  • Added on: March 2nd, 2010
When our son was a baby and I was still on maternity leave, we took a trip to the Netherlands to visit family. It went really smoothly. He had the security of being able to cuddle with his parents and grandparents, sleep, and breastfeed, and that's pretty much all he needed. We had a home base, so he could nap at home, but he was light enough that it was easy to carry him if he fell asleep while we were out.

So I say go for it, with a few cautions. As someone else noted, it would be easier to have a home base than to be on the road a lot. It would be good to avoid countries with malaria - or diseases that your baby may not be vaccinated against yet.

I also wondered what would happen if you line up a faculty exchange before your baby is born, and then either you or the baby have health issues that might prevent you from traveling right away - but then I re-read your post and saw that you're thinking of doing this when the child is 6 months old, and you have 30 months of leave. (Aah, what a civilized country you must live in!) Probably not an issue then.

KathrynD

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  • Added on: March 3rd, 2010
I found it was easy to travel with an infant. After all, your body carries their food needs.

I took my son to visit family all over the US as an infant and it worked great. It becomes tougher when kids get to be on solid (or rather just mushy messy) food. Then you are carrying all sorts of stuff. Taking my son to Hawaii, was an adventure when he was 10 months. I felt like I was packing way too much stuff. Still worth it, but lots more hassle.

At age 2, it was pretty easy to take the kid to French Polynesia and Easter Island but he was still in diapers and we had delayed suitcases. One whole suitcase of diapers, baby bottles, etc lost for 5 days. All our clothes lost. Only had the carry-on. Kid weaned himself off bottles because he hated the French style. Finding diapers the first morn was interesting -- headed to a Tahitian park to find a mom to ask in French. Worked well enough, "Ou est un magazin qui vend ca?"

The only rule we had was that my husband insisted on not traveling to any disease-filled country before our son reached 5. That was a bit limiting but we managed to get around the US, Canada, French Polynesia, Australia and Europe. I think that was fair enough.

Jeanie99

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  • Added on: May 10th, 2010
I recon it all depends on which countries you want to travel in. In the West you'll not have any problem anything you need to purchase for your childs wellfare will be available. The infrastuctures are in place for travelling so no problem.
Now India, Nepa, Africa and many of the poorer countries it could be a challenge. You need to take into account the Malarie countries, I personnelly wouldn't go to any country with Malarie it's not worth taking the risk with a baby.
Travelling and moving on every few days can be hard going for adults so it may be easier for you if you have more than a couple of weeks in each place. Consider all the countries and cities/towns you'd love to visit and fit it round that shouldn't be a problem.
Best of Luck with the wee one and keep safe.
Jean

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  • Added on: May 15th, 2010
In Christchurch there was a French family staying at the YHA - mum, dad, and two children - 4 years old and the baby was about 10 months. They were backpacking around NZ and were staying a at least a week in each place.
I echo the above posters re malaria countries. At 6 months would a baby have had all their innoculations?
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seraphim

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  • Added on: May 15th, 2010
For those who commented about the malaria risk, does that decrease with age? I mean, I know it's a much bigger risk under 5, but as my boyfriend is from Africa, we're obviously not going to wait 5 years to go there. So does it make any difference if you take a baby that's, say, 3 months old (i.e. during maternity leave, and when we wouldn't have to carry extra food) or wait until s/he's a year? Or does the risk basically stay the same any time before they're 5?
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Whistler

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  • Added on: May 15th, 2010
seraphim wrote:For those who commented about the malaria risk, does that decrease with age? I mean, I know it's a much bigger risk under 5, but as my boyfriend is from Africa, we're obviously not going to wait 5 years to go there. So does it make any difference if you take a baby that's, say, 3 months old (i.e. during maternity leave, and when we wouldn't have to carry extra food) or wait until s/he's a year? Or does the risk basically stay the same any time before they're 5?


That, I think is a question for a medical professional. Of all malarial deaths, 91% were in Africa and 85% were in children under 5.

Being 3 months or 12 months is still under 5 years. I guess it comes down to what is more important and what one's priorities are.
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KathrynD

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  • Added on: May 18th, 2010
I think that one of the issues with malaria and children under 5 is that the drugs are not approved/recomended? for young children. My husband made me promise not to take our son to any malarial countries until age 5. I imagine that's a bit trickier if granny and gramps live in Africa. Obviously, people do grow up in Africa and survive til adulthood, after all your husband did. On the otherhand one's child is the most precious thing in the world so there's always that fear when one is a parent. I guess to sum it all up, I would ask a doctor what they think.

seraphim

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  • Added on: May 18th, 2010
I wouldn't take young children to malarial areas just for fun either I think, but in our situation I don't think it's an option to not have my mother-in-law meet her first grandchild for 5 years. And of course I would consult a doctor first, but would be rather silly to do that before the child is even conceived ;)

And you're right, babies are born and grow up in Africa all the time, but the child mortality rate under five is 1 in 10 in Burkina (compared to 1 in 1000 in Belgium), so that's quite scary.

Afaik, it's not because drugs are not approved, but because they are simply far less effective that children under 5 and pregnant women are at such great risk.
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Elis

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  • Added on: May 30th, 2010
I think you can avoid the malaria danger pretty well if you go in the dry season, but of course I wouldn't take the risk without checking with experts first. I think in some malarial areas the problems are also other illnesses like yellow fever or worms in the fresh water, etc.

On to the update: Haven't done it yet (the baby). And this is a serious blast from the past :D . But I do currently have a year off for continuing education and I'm using the summer to travel. So I guess I fullfilled half of my original idea. The boyfriend and I are heading from Vienna to Hanoi over land and then I'm gonna continue through Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia on my own for a while. All in all I'll probably get to 2.5 months of travel this summer.



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