Traveling with baby during parental leave – Adventure Australia
Franzi and her friend have been proud parents since October 2017. For their parental leave, they have made a very special adventure: Australia. Yes, the two have traveled with Baby since the little man was four months old. Is this crazy or the best idea you can have? What about traveling with a baby through Western Australia, especially when everything is new and the sleep-wake cycle is constantly changing? Which places are not only beautiful, but are also particularly good to travel with a baby? I was curious and asked Franzi if she would unpack for PASSENGER X times. She said yes and now tells you what her highlights in Western Australia were and how it worked with traveling with baby.
Guest contribution by Franziska Dost
Yes, traveling with a baby is different than traveling without a baby
And the classic backpacker tour or the adventure hike through the jungles of the Amazon are probably only for the very courageous. But why should the first time in three, combined with a terrific trip not become a very special family experience? We tried it and went on a four month tour with our four month old son Camper Van to the coast of Australia. The first four weeks we spent in Western Australia. Here I had five personal highlights, which are also feasible with baby.
That’s why we travel with baby through Australia
With us there was the first destination and then our baby cheated in the plans. Without further ado, we adapted our next adventure so that it could be done with our little one. Australia was on our list – luckily, because with its western ones standards and his near-European character, I was not worried that I would not be able to provide my baby with any reason here at any point. It gave me the necessary security to get involved in the mind games with a thick belly, to book flights before birth and to work out routes.
This is how traveling with baby works
So much beforehand betrayed: my key to a successful trip is: flexibility. For the youngest from the fifth to the ninth month of life a lot is on the program: The first to come teeth (our baby greeted us right in the first week with it), start-up, growth spurts, vaccinations, leaps in motor development, there is much to do. The more flexible we remained, the more relaxed we were able to meet all topics and the joy of traveling was maintained.
The benefits of a camper van
We rented a camper van for our trip. That was the perfect choice for us. The “home” always with us we could face all adventures. No constant check-in and check-out, any equipment always ready, flexible in the route planning and almost unbounded in time – the benefits of this I became aware only during our tour, but the list is endless. Was the little awake when shopping in the supermarket and was hungry, I just went quickly to the parking lot – nursing and changing place were always available. When the heat at Hamelin Bay became too tiring for our baby, we just got into it Camper Van first prepared our lunch. There was tortellini with green pesto. Therefore, we did not have to cancel our trip, but could just continue in the afternoon. While our son did not sleep as long as we hoped, we cooked our coffee right in the middle of Wallachia. With the Camper Van, this is no problem. That made a lot easier.
Traveling with baby: the first long-haul flight
But back to the beginning. The first hurdle ahead was the long haul flight. Australia is not exactly around the corner and so it all started with a long journey including transfers. My friend was already panicking weeks ago. I thought it was better with the motto “shut your eyes and eyes”, this day is one of them and would somehow pass by. In hindsight, I can say it was half as bad. The first relief flowed through me already at the baggage claim. The guy at the counter told us that 27 babies would be on this flight. Internally I made small leaps in the air. So somebody would always yell and it would hardly be noticeable if our baby joined us.
Photo of Nils Nedel
The start was really exhausting
Our son was awake throughout the check-in and a nap long overdue. However, the little ones have to sit on their lap during takeoff and landing. Our baby slept during the day only in the stretcher. It took a while until we could bring him to sleep, and meanwhile the mood of our offspring sank. After this phase, things got a lot better. We made close friendships during the flights stewardesses, who gave us the opportunity to walk up and down in their fields. I got even one or the other chocolate bar out of line. Of the airlines, there is always a small toy that provides distraction first. Overall, the flights were not that difficult. My friend and I took turns and ours Baby slept most of the time.
In the pharmacy, there are tranquilizers on plant basis, which I had in case of emergency. We did not need them. I can recommend, one of the Seating with cots to reserve in the first row. Although our son did not sleep in it, we had a lot more leg room here and at least one storage space for all the baby stuff. The toilets in the aircraft also have a changing area. That’s very close, but somehow feasible. All in all, the flights were half as wild.
We landed in Perth on the 9th of February and stayed there for the first week in an apartment. That was just fine. After 22 hours from airport to airport, we did not feel like picking up a camper van, heading to the campsite and settling in there. We used the first week to arrive first. After all, we had three first, the seven hours Time difference handle. Our baby was able to do this the best and although he already had a pronounced day and night rhythm at this time. I had been afraid that the nights would be daylight for me, but the time change was quite unspectacular. The already mentioned first little tooth brought our little ones out of the ordinary concept.
The coolest road trips through Australia in a travel guide *:
It took a little longer, however, until we three had found a good rhythm with each other. Perth is like a too big village. Many shops and attractions close between 16 and 18 o’clock (except the large supermarkets). Several times we were standing in front of closed doors because we were half an hour late because we had completely lost the morning. It took a couple of days to get a little better.
The first days were mainly for doing things on it
We got SIM cards, rummaged through the supermarkets for the first time, especially the baby shelf, and our baby needed the second one vaccination, which our pediatrician in Berlin could no longer do due to illness. In Australia, this is done by any general practitioner (GP) and the vaccination system is very similar to ours. So everything is not an issue. But after a week, we wondered if we were actually on vacation, because after relaxation that did not feel so far. In the second week things got better. The most important To Dos were ticked off. We picked up our camper van and settled on Coogee Beach for the first time campsite low.
Coogee Beach, photo by Josh Spiers
Of course, here followed one or the other purchase to make it really comfortable in the camper van. But waking up in the morning on the white sandy beach with turquoise-blue sea increased our holiday factor tremendously. From this we ventured on our first trips. Our trip started …
Kingspark – when it gets dark, the skyline of Perth starts to light up
The Kings Park in Perth is a huge green area, which is so clean spruced up that it is almost uncomfortable to walk along there. Nowhere have we seen even a cigarette butt lying around. Benches, signs, streams, paths and meadows, really everything was in immaculate condition. There are many hiking trails that offer something for every taste. Some coastal flair can be refueled on the water routes, for the curious, there is all sorts of information about the flora of Australia and who prefer chillig depends on a large green meadow, will also come at his expense. If you are a little bit better at timing than we are, you can see the view from a beautiful one glass bridge on Perth and the Swan River, but this closes at 17 o’clock. Strollers and baby equipment can also be found everywhere and at quiet corners for undisturbed breastfeeding and wrapping is not lacking. The camper van we could conveniently park in the large parking lot in front of the door. An entrance fee is not required. Café and snack bar offer the opportunity for quick meals in between, if quite expensive. So here’s everything it takes to have a nice day in the middle of the big city.
It will be especially nice here in the evening. When it gets dark and the night falls, you can watch how the Tackle the lights of the city and the skyline of Perth starts to shine. Then the main promenade on the water fills with significantly more people looking for a cozy spot to watch the spectacle. The camera always at the stop, I tried almost every minute to capture the changing image. The atmosphere changes within an hour from a busy daily routine to a tranquil night scene. The rush hour traffic is in full swing, the evening time is preferably spent with family and friends outside. The shops are already closed, but people enjoy some holiday feeling on the beaches, on the water and in the parks. You can literally feel how the city comes to rest. Whether in the day or in the evening, the Kingspark is definitely a highlight.
Perth, photo by Franziska Dost
Hamelin Bay – in touch with the stingrays
Our first drive took us to the approximately 270 kilometers distant Margaret River region. An Australian couple had recommended this to us. Over time, it emerged for us that Routes with about 300 kilometers were well feasible. Everything beyond that quickly became a bit exhausting and stressful with the little one. The Margaret River Region is known for its wine (sadly I was out there as a lactating mother), its cheesemaking (my friend was happy) and its chocolate factory (now my eyes started to glow too). It is a really nice area, which is definitely worth a visit.
My real tip, however, is an hour away. The Hamelin Bay is already an absolute highlight. Bright white sandy beach and turquoise waters offer a beautiful sight. A real highlight, however, are the stingray, who frolic here in the bay. Hoping to grab a leftover bite from passing fishing boats, they patiently wait near the beach and interact with people on a voluntary basis. If you stand in the ankle-deep water and splash with your hand on the water surface, they come directly to you and swim over your feet. Even a short pinging is allowed. They feel pretty slippery, just like fish. Somewhat queasy when contacting me, because it is still wild animals and their tail is poisonous. Around me there were a lot more fearless visitors.
Stingrays in the Hamelin Bay, photo Franziska Dost
I was thrilled with how relaxed we could enjoy this experience. Because you share the event with about 20 other people, of crowds, queues or even entrance fees but missing any trace. The animals are neither fenced, nor otherwise restricted in their free space. Nevertheless, everything is clean and well maintained here. That would certainly be different in Europe. As mentioned, at lunchtime, when it got really hot, we just retired to the camper van. In the afternoon we were able to continue exploring the beach and stingrays.
A small flaw with baby was there for us here: while one was holding the baby in his arms and the other was trying desperately to stroke a stingray, we were missing a third person to take a decent picture of both. Well, there are some misses and snapshots and some shaky videos that keep the memory alive. Hamelin Bay is definitely a must see in Western Australia.
Top Tree Walk in the Valley of the Giants – over the trees
Our route then led us slowly along the coast to the west. Right on the way is the Walepole National Park. Here we have stayed at a beautiful bay, which is connected by a small channel seven kilometers away with the open sea. We felt more like being at a big lake and the atmosphere was so peaceful and calm that deep relaxation immediately spread. With luck you can dolphins and stingrays as well as quite a few pelicans Watch the water on the shore. Every angler gets his heart pounded, he finds plenty of opportunities for a good catch here.
But if you just want to relax a bit and do without a direct beach feeling, you can make yourself comfortable here for a few days. About 20 minutes away by car, Valley often has the Giants a Top Tree Walk, a tour of the area treetops. Up to 40 meters up and then between the treetops along. When looking through the gate underfoot vertigo is out of place and it should be better also free of heights, because the construction quite a bit rocking. The whole area looks brand new and is well maintained and clean, as is everything in Western Australia. Another plus is that this even with the stroller is drivable. Unfortunately, it does not work without an entrance fee and with 20 AUD (around 13,50 €) per adult for a 40 minute tour it is not super cheap. It was worth it for us anyway. Crowds and queues did not exist here either. It was very pleasant and sometimes we felt like traveling alone. We were always able to go as slow as we wanted, shoot photos in peace and enjoy the view extensively. To admire the tall tree giants brought us closer to nature. Here it is time to pause to notice the wonders of the earth and let the fresh air flow through the entire body. Back on the ground there is an Ancient Tree Walk with ancient trees of immense diameter. If you need some grounding, you will find it here.
Top Tree Walk, photo Franziska Dost
Esperance – beaches and bays like in a picture book
Except for Perth, there are no comparable cities in Western Australia. The last major city off the border with South Australia is Esperance with approximately 15,000 inhabitants. But Esperance has it all and is my favorite place to be. The city itself is cute and explored quite quickly. There is a large harbor where huge container ships are loaded. Cruise ships doubled in the meantime felt the crowd of the city. After a few hours, the tourists will be collected and normalcy returns. The beach promenade Esperance is beautiful and long. Spacious parks, a miniature village and several playgrounds give children here a variety employment opportunities. From Esperance you have the possibility to make some excursions to the surrounding beaches and coves. And right here, my breath caught.
I have not seen anything so beautiful before.
Kilometer-long, snow-white sandy beach that is so fine that it feels like powder under your feet and does not even get really hot. There is crystal clear turquoise blue water, which provides the appropriate refreshment. In one or the other bay, the picture is complemented by spectacular rock formations. Nature shows here what she can do to perfection. And to top it off, the beaches are virtually deserted, though they are well noted in Australia’s travel guides. Breastfeeding your own baby on the deserted beach at sunset is a moment that every newlywed mother should treat herself to. Balm for the soul. My personal favorites among these numerous beaches are Twighlight Cove, Hellfire Bay and Eleven Mile Beach. At Lucky Bay one sometimes meets jumping around kangaroos. Unfortunately, we did not have the luck. The parking and access to the beaches are as always well maintained. Almost all beaches are accessible without 4×4 vehicle and thus with the camper van. Surprisingly I found that there is not a single cafe or hotel on the beach. But that probably helps to keep the beaches so clean and empty. Anyone traveling in Western Australia should not miss Esperance.
Esperance, photo by Franziska Dost
Nullarbor Plain – not in the outback, but nowhere
Between Western Australia and South Australia lies the Nullarbor Plain, a huge wide plain of nothingness. Absolutely nothing. Esperance is the last major city before. It is more than 2,000 kilometers to the city of Adelaide and even 1,400 kilometers to the next noteworthy town, Ceduna. In between, the towns trumped by human inactivity. Although all places are listed by name on the map, they actually do not deserve this name anymore. Sometimes there are 20 inhabitants, sometimes eleven, sometimes only eight. What to find in these places? A roadhouse and a gas station. The inhabitants are the operators and employees who work here. After all, there is also everywhere a campsite or rather, a few electricity boxes on a wide flat surface and a toilet house. Why for me the Nullarbor Plain still counts to my highlights?
With Baby we had decided to give up tours to the outback and away from civilization.
In case of cases, we always wanted to have the possibility of medical care. To get to South Australia, however, we had to cross the Nullarbor Plain. That there are absolutely nothing here over several hundred kilometers, we did not have so on the screen. And so a little bit of adventurous spirit seized us. For we had no choice but to leave civilization behind for a few days. All roadhouses have perfect network access and are usually equipped with a small shop and restaurant. So in the middle of nowhere the supply is still pretty good. The Nullarbor Roadhouse is actually quite famous and I read somewhere once (attention: not checked!) That AC / DC should have written their song “Highway to hell” on the track. In addition, you can here the longest street without a curve from Australia. 146 kilometers straight ahead, that’s something else. The road is partly so well developed that the “Flying Doctors” use it as a runway. Thus, even medical help was available in an emergency. The Nullarbor Plain brought us a bit of outback feeling without complete risk. And so we were able to enjoy the increasingly barren landscape, which allows one to allow the view to go on and on. At sunset, even a simple gas station in the middle of nowhere gets a rather charming character, which I definitely remember.
Anyone who considers starting a baby journey can only say: Do it!
Even if your baby will not remember it, it will be a fantastic experience for you as a family. And what could be better for a baby than having mom and dad around 24 hours a day? That’s the only thing the little ones really need in the beginning. Of course it can happen that your baby thwarts one or the other sightseeing plan. We gave ourselves some start-up time and quickly found out what worked well for us and what we wanted to keep. And after a night’s sleep, when the teeth break through, a walk on the beach at sunrise is a lot more powerful than walking through the slush of Berlin at -7 ° C. At least for me. Now I look at an infinite number of beautiful photos, think of many impressive places, some great experiences and, above all, an unforgettable time with my family.
It was possible rather than I had expected before. Do not take too much and stay flexible. But use the time that passes so fast …
Traveling during parental leave – Franzis Facts in the overview:
Period of travel: 8th February 2018 to 14th June 2018
Age of the child: 4-8 months
Itinerary: Start in Perth, then head east along the coast via Adelaide & Melbourne and then north via Sydney, Brisbane to Cairns
Duration of the flight: approx. 22 hours, 1x change (at least one way)
Cost of travel: Oha, if you let yourself go as well as we do and nothing waives about 35,000 €
Camper Van + flights were already around 18,000 euros
Benefits of traveling during parental leave:
To do the journey now, ie on parental leave, is good because the job is safe and both parents can take parental leave at the same time, the employer has little chance of thwarting the plans. Unlike sabbatical, you do not have to forego and save money beforehand. In addition, you also get the parental allowance during parental leave, even on the social insurance you hardly have to worry. And moreover, such a trip is unbelievably good for baby bonding and intense family time.
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