Two thousand miles from home with an infant: have I lost it?


By the time you read this, I will have departed and returned from a five-day trip to Cancun, Mexico, with my wife, son and in-laws. I don’t say this to create a sense of envy in you, faithful reader, but rather to share a few anxieties related to this trip.

Frankly, I have only one major trip-related anxiety: traveling abroad with my six-month-old baby boy. Granted, most of Cancun is more American than it is Mexican, but nevertheless, my wife and I are crossing international borders with a baby who has never had to pass a security check, much less fly in an airplane.

Had I planned ahead, I could have asked you for suggestions and tips you may have for how best to travel with infant and keep him safe and calm, as well as how best to manage my own sanity.

Even though it would be late for my own purposes, please feel free to share your stories of traveling with young children with me. I would love to hear them.

Back to my anxiety. I had planned on writing a column five months ago that detailed traveling with my son for the first time back to my hometown in northeastern Wisconsin. But, the trip was entirely without incident, and I had nothing worthwhile to share.

I am not naive enough to believe I will be as fortunate this time around. In a car, I am (mostly) in control. I steer the wheel. I determine the route. I determine when we stop.

On a commercial flight, tens of thousands of feet above civilization and wilderness, my life and my family’s life is in the hands of a nameless, faceless pilot. Statistics show that you are more likely to be killed in a car accident than a plane crash, but this column deals with the idea of control.

And, to craft a moral, I think parenting – successful parenting – is learning how to exert your will on your child while realizing having control over an infant is laughable.

They cry for no reason even if they’re fed, warm and rested. They can be as unpredictable as Minnesota winter, at least this year.

So, this is my dilemma as I embark south of the border.

The best I can hope for is my son sleeps for the duration of the flight and ignores potential infant alarms, such as take-off, landing, turbulence and the inevitable snoring passenger in front of us.

Once we arrive in Cancun, we’ll spend 99 percent of our trip at a resort, which is unfortunate given the plethora of excursion options in the Yucatan Peninsula. But, it’s hard to venture too far away with an infant who can’t sit up at this point without parental assistance. Relaxing by a pool for four days will have to suffice.

Writing this has made me question traveling so far away from home with such a young child. But, life has to go on, and even if my son does not remember the trip, my hope is that he enjoys himself thousands of miles from home. I hope I do, too.

This has been therapeutic for me, and thanks for listening (reading). I feel much better now.