Traveling with a baby: about my trip to Machu Picchu with my 4-month-old

Guest post by Emily George
Emily and Jude! Photo by Daniel Payne.

I recently traveled to Machu Picchu with a few friends and my son, who was four months old at the time. Everyone thought I was crazy for taking him. I am not sure what they were afraid of… malaria? Too high. Water-borne illness? Breastfeeding. Ear pain on the flight? Exaggerated. Consistent nap time? Overrated. It was during this time that I realized that children are extremely adaptable. It is adults who are not.

I consider myself a well-traveled individual and feel that every year, I become more laid back and easy going while exploring new regions. However, it was on this trip as I traveled with my infant that I felt like I graduated to an entirely new level of flexibility and adaptability. It was a wonderful experience and I wanted to share a few things with those who would love to travel with children, but have not had the ambition to do so (yet!).

For starters, do not listen to people (family, books, American culture) who tell you that having children will and should slow you down or that it is too hard to travel with them. Again, children are adaptable. You can be, too. It’s okay if they skip a nap or two. It’s okay if they fall asleep in your arms on a long train ride or at a restaurant and not in a crib. It’s okay if strangers kiss them. It’s okay if they get a little sunburned. It’s okay if you have to wash out a poopie outfit in a makeshift sink and then put the dirty outfit and diaper back onto your child. It’s okay if they eat a little dirt. Sometimes these things can cause a problem, but those times are the exceptions and not the rule. For the most part, you can relax. They will be perfectly fine. They will be more than fine.

Secondly, put in invisible earplugs when people around you are trying to offer you unsolicited advice about how to soothe your child if they are crying. I’m not sure why, but a crying baby is the absolute worst thing to many people and they will begin saying the most outrageous things to you in effort to “help” you. And they are yelling these things to you over your screaming child as if you can hear them. As if this is a really good time to offer advice. And the advice itself is atrocious. These are the moments that you want to punch someone’s lights out. But, don’t let them break you. Just smile and nod and walk quickly away, even if they chase you. (Which happens.)

Finally, traveling with a baby is a community event. It brings out the “it takes a village” moments. I’ve always traveled solo, iPod on, nose in a book, not making conversation with the people sitting next to me. Those days are over. Jude was always inviting people to our party with his smiles and coos. And I needed it. Let people help you. It’s a beautiful thing. I was amazed by how many people, men and women, who would volunteer to hold Jude so I could use the restroom or stretch my legs. They carried him, they carried my bags, they held my beverage. Babies evoke so much sensitivity and pleasure. I never got any angry looks when he was fussy, either, just encouraging words, like, “You’re doing a good job. Hang in there. He’ll be fine. Don’t let it stress you out.” The entire experience made me feel at one with my fellow man.

In conclusion, don’t put your dreams of far-off places on hold because of your children. Integrate them into those dreams. I could have waited to see Machu Picchu until after Jude was older, when I could have left him with family, but it was such a joy to have him there. We created the most amazing memories. It was one of the best travel experiences I’ve had. I want his earliest memories to be of seeing people and places that are different than the way we live our daily lives. It’s good for him. It’s good for me. I believe one of the best things you can give your child is an adventurous life with exposure to various cultures. So, apply for that passport and make it happen.

Comments on Traveling with a baby: about my trip to Machu Picchu with my 4-month-old

  1. great post! I love reading things like this, its makes me so excited to do it with my (future) kids, would like to add another vote to a post about travelling with todds, thanks offbeat empire! keep doing what youre doing!

  2. Thank you for this. I am so sick of hearing about how crazy I am for planning a trip that involves my daughter. She will be 21 months when we travel to Europe for two weeks and everyone who knows about it keeps telling us that we are crazy. I want to experience these things with her, not in spite of her or without her.

  3. Thank you for this article. I am four months pregnant and have just begun telling folks my news. I am astounded at how much conservative and negative feedback I receive such as ‘ you won’t be able to travel/dine out/meet with friend/ go to the gym…now that you have a family” which seems ridiculous to me. Your story was so very inspiring.

  4. Hey! We’d love to go to Machu Picchu but have been hesitating about the cost of going and possibly not being able to do the type of trip we’d want with our (will be) 1 year old. What kind of trip did you do? Did you hike or take a bus to the top? I’d love to find out more, I’m trying to figure out if there are any inca trail trips for families.

    • I’ve also been tryng to figure out how to do this. Haven’t found any info on Inca Trail wih a baby. Please post if you fnd anything!

  5. Thank you so much for this! My baby was born in VA and we moved to Aruba when she was 7weeks old. I’ve been wanting to go to Machu Picchu, but thought I’d wait til baby was older. We still want to travel with her, but thought we had to keep things more low key. This has inspired me and changed my mind…
    Thanks again!
    PS. My neighbor’s name is Emily, and her son is Jude… That’s how I stumbled upon this 🙂

  6. I’m curious, did you hike the Inca Trail while you were there? We are considering Machu Pichu with our daughter who will be 10 months old when we go.

  7. Thanks for this post! So great to read! I’m an avid traveler and an adoptive-mommy-to-be. I have a work opportunity to go to Peru and would love to bring our baby along (if we have one by then!) I’m curious if Jude had to get any shots and if there were any other health concerns that you had to deal with.

  8. Hi, Great post. We have an 18 month girl and we love traveling with her. We are going to Machu Picchu next week and we are taking her with us. It is a bit challenging when traveling with infants but like you said, it gets the best out of people and everyone is trying to help you. We hope we have a great time in Peru and your post relieved any final concerns we had about taking her with us. Thank you

    • hello,
      did you find your answer. i am also planning machu picchu trip with infant. can you please share ypur expereince and some tips for infant, please? thanks in advance

  9. Love your blog!!!! We will be discovering beautiful Machu Pichu in October with our 8 month old baby girl. She has been travelling/hiking/backpacking all over the world and is the happiest baby on earth. She loves mountains and trees, fun and her dogs :-). She is 6 months old now and took off about 10 times (and landed about..10 times too :-), she took trains, ferries, dont even count the car rides….We were told we would slow down. We did not. As you said babies are very resilient and travel better than us. Thank you for being auch a great example!

  10. Hello,

    I would like to know more about the trip. I plan to fly to Lima and stay in Peru for 12 full days. I want to know how much is a trip with an infant to Machu Pichu? and climbing it? Did you go with a tour company or ?
    Just want to know cost of just the Machu Pichu trip alone? and then where else did you go in Peru that is infant friendly as a single parent going?


    • hello,
      did you find your answer. i am also planning machu picchu trip with infant. can you please share ypur expereince and some tips for infant, please? thanks in advance

  11. hello! i am from brazil and i am planning to do the same thing with my son. He will be 6 months old ate the time. i am a little concerned with the high sickness though. Do you think your baby did well? How many days did you wait on cusco so he was adapted with the high before going up machu pichu? i am so happy i found someone who did it!

    • hello,
      did you find your answer. i am also planning machu picchu trip with infant. can you please share ypur expereince and some tips for infant, please? thanks in advance

  12. thank you so so much for this words!… I was actually scared, we are visiting Machu Picchu and everyone was telling me a tons of shit. Thank god I read this.

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