Travelling South America with a baby – Would you do it?

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This is a guest post from Kylah from Intrepid Monkeys

Travelling through South America with our baby boy we encounter the affectionate terms “qué lindo” and “qué hermoso” (‘how cute / beautiful’) almost daily.

Ollie was six months old when we packed everything up in Karratha, Western Australia and set off on our nine month adventure as a family taking time out from the rat race.

On separate occasions, Alec and I have both previously been to South America and loved it. We always planned to return together one day.

Travelling South America With a Baby

Termas Geometricas Chile
Termas Geometricas Chile

Inspired by a New Zealand Herald article online about a couple taking their baby to South America, we set out planning our return (with a baby this time) prior to even starting our little family.

We purchased a lot of baby travel kit including a KindaKot, Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix and a Quinny Zapp stroller – all lifesavers on our journey so far. All we needed next was the baby, fingers crossed it wouldn’t be too much of a handful.

Ollie was born and fortunately for us was not a difficult baby, relatively speaking. Six months later we had Christmas in Adelaide, New Years in Rotorua, NZ and then an 11 hour overnight flight to Santiago, Chile on the 21st Jan 2013.

Memories of Santiago immediately flooded back. Español dancing across the air, smog, unruly traffic and speeding cars, street dogs and car alarms mixed with that very european feel of alfresco dining and beautiful parks lining the city.

What we love most about South America though is the sense of community. Travelling with a baby has meant we have experienced this even more so on our current trip.

Icalma, Chile - Meeting a Local Mapuche Family
Icalma, Chile – Meeting a Local Mapuche Family

During our first week in Santiago, a woman weighing the veggies in the supermarket told us we need to cut Ollie’s toenails. Feeling a little inadequate as parents, we were later reassured by our expat friend that the woman would have meant it in a caring way rather than judging us.

Then there was a woman on the bus who taught Ollie a lovely song (in Spanish) about his hands, used to distract little children from touching anything on public transport.

Everywhere we go we have been the attraction as much as the people of Chile and Argentina have been to us, carrying our blonde-haired baby.

Preparation and Routine Have Been Our Saviour

travel in South America with a baby
I’m as high as the mountain

Sticking to a routine as much as possible for Ollie and being flexible with our travel plans have definitely made for a better travel experience. We’ve made the most of his sleep times to cover longer distances in the car and tried to plan bus trips or flights around sleep or meal times to keep Ollie occupied.

At times we felt like zombies during our first couple of months in South America, and not because we were out partying all night long like the rest of the Latinos!

Before leaving home Ollie was able to self settle though and we started feeding him solids around 4 ½ months, both of which helped immensely when it came to being on the road.

At times there have been challenges.

Ollie got a fever (> 39.5oC) about three weeks after we arrived in Chile. Fortunately, we were staying in the lovely Hostel Cepa Noble and Cristina, the owner and manager, looked after us like she was our own mother.

Without her, our first encounter with a Chilean doctor would have been far more stressful than it was being asked in broken Spanglish to strip our hysterical baby naked and hold him down on the bed for an examination.

Ollie was up to date with his immunisations prior to leaving Australia. That and an appointment with the travel doctor before leaving meant we felt confident taking him to Chile, Argentina, Peru and Ecuador (avoiding the jungle).

The medical care in private clinics (we have been told to avoid public hospitals) in both Chile and Argentina have been great. Very clean and professional.

One of the first things we do at each destination, after finding a decent sized supermarket, is to work out where the nearest and best medical facilities are.

Fortunately, we have only had to visit the doctor in an emergency that one time. The farmacias in Chile and Argentina have been excellent too and can always be relied on to find formula if we can’t find a big enough supermarket.

We Often Take Time Out and Rely on Support Networks

Puco n Chile Volca n Villarrica Climb
Yay! Mummy and Daddy time

Babies pick up on your energy.

Staying in touch with my ‘mothers group’ back home and making connections with expats on our journey have been super important to put our minds at ease whenever Ollie has gone through a new or difficult ‘phase’.

Alec and I have even managed to get out on a few date nights thanks to people we have got to know or solid recommendations for babysitters from expats. This time has been gold. It doesn’t take long to blow out the cobwebs and recharge ready for more amazing adventures as a family unit again.

We take turns giving the other person time-out to themselves.

Very important when there is one introvert and two extroverts in our trio. Alec and I have been able to get out and do a couple of more adventurous non-baby-friendly activities like Climbing Volcan Villarrica which was a personal highlight for me!

Staying in apartments (found on airbnb.com or tripadvisor) most of the time means we have the flexibility of cooking at home and more space for Ollie to roam.

We have been fortunate to be able to stay longer in one location if we like it or want to take some more time out before moving on. Apartments also usually work out cheaper than staying in hotels. (check out more tips on how to save on accommodation)

We Totally Recommend Travelling With a Baby

Bariloche, Argentina Climbing Cerro Llao Llao
Bariloche, Argentina Climbing Cerro Llao Llao

So far we have been travelling for four months in Chile and Argentina which has been relatively similar to travelling with a baby in Australia or NZ.

Apart from different formulas, Huggies products are everywhere and much of the food is the same, although you do need to be vigilant to find products without sugar added.

Next up we head to Peru and Ecuador, stepping things up a notch. There we will need to be more wary of things like making sure Ollie doesn’t drink the bathwater.

It is hard at times, but so is raising a baby at home. I’m so grateful to be able to share the load and also the amazing milestones that Ollie has gone through in his first year of life with Alec as we travel through South America banking so many amazing experiences as memories.

Although Ollie may not remember (consciously) a lot of this trip, we are sure it will shape his personality and have a positive effect on his development.

Watching him play with the Mapuche kids we met in Iclama and being fascinated by the trompe, a traditional musical instrument, will always be a fond memory of us travelling in South America with our baby.

More posts about South America:

More Resources for South America:

  • Lonely Planet South America on a shoestring
  • South America (Insight Guides)

[ybox_title]AUTHOR BIO:[/ybox_title]

Kylah is an intrepid parent taking time out from the rat race to travel South America with her partner and baby boy. She is the reformed Type-A among the three, loves yoga, hiking, exploring new places and spending quality time with family. Published alongside bestselling authors from ‘The Secret’ in the ‘Adventures in Manifesting’ book series, Kylah is also currently dabbling in travel writing. Check out her blog Intrepid Monkeys and connect at Facebook,  Pinterest, and Twitter

34 thoughts on “Travelling South America with a baby – Would you do it?”

  1. Sounds like a very positive experience traveling with a baby for this couple. We tried with our first but he hated disruption to routine and it was 18 months before he slept through the night. Holy exhaustion. There’s no way I would have a happy face like this couple – so I do think it depends on the child.

    1. Hi Leigh, totally agree. I think the whole family (including bub) has to be up for travelling. We did a number of smaller trips before committing to this 9mth trip to test the waters 🙂

      Ollie only started sleeping through the night 2 & 1/2 mths into this trip so there were definitely trying times, hence the travelling like zombies post 😉 We were just fortunate that we had time on our side and driving ourselves meant we could catch up on sleep while the other person (and Ollie) slept in the car.

      1. Hi. Love your story!!! My husband and I leave friday (with 5 month old baby boy) to Chile. I just got off the phone with the airline agent (checking on last minute details) and he said my baby needs a passport… after I was told that a birth certificate will do, since both mom and dad were traveling together with baby. Is this true? I am freaking out!!! We leave THIS FRIDAY!!!

        1. Hi Paola, sorry for the delayed reply. I just came across your message.

          If you are travelling from Australia, yes your baby will need a passport. I’m not sure how long that has been the case, but it definitely applies now. I’m assuming you have already worked that out though and are hopefully enjoying Chile! 🙂

          1. Hi could u tell me about merida,colombia, is it safe to carry my 4 month old baby there n the atmosphere is it hard for her to breathe properly?what is the vaccines required for baby n my 7 yr old an 4yr old

    2. Hi Leigh,

      Yes, we know all about the sleep issue, Savannah our youngest was a terrible sleeper for a long time, but like Kylah says it’s hard whether you are on the road or at home. Guess where I’d rather be?? 🙂

  2. Fantastic article Kylah, sounds like you guys are having such a great time. 10 years ago we headed off for a year with our 3 kids who were then 9, 6 and 4. Definitely the experience of a lifetime. Kids are so versatile! They all have the travel bug big time!

    1. Hi Kim, I think I remember you mentioning this trip you took at ProBlogger last year. I’m sure your kids are grateful for the opportunity. We are having an amazing time and Ollie seems to be loving it also!

  3. I’m a 20 American student living in Cuenca, Ecuador for my summer. If you’re in town and want somebody to show you around, I and my local friends would be willing to! My contact here is a 50-some year old woman who is absolutely the sweetest woman I’ve ever met. I love her. She or I would be willing to look after your child as well if you’d like to get around and see the sites solo! E-mail me if you’re passing through!

      1. Ha ha! Thanks Mathew.

        We’d love to met up if we make it to Cuenca. It’s always great to get tips from a ‘local’.

        We are doing some trip planning at the moment and there are just so many great things we want to do in Ecuador, it’s going to be hard to fit them all in!

        I will flick you an email when we have a rough plan mapped out 🙂

  4. Grainne O'Connell

    Fab article Kylah!
    So impressed with what you guys are doing – very inspirational 🙂
    xx

    1. Thanks Grainne, hope all is well back at home. I’m in desperate need of some yoga! Need to find somewhere in Cusco to get back into shape 🙂 x

  5. Very brave to start with South America, we went for the South Pacific instead. Isn’t it fun to be in countries that ooh and aah over your baby. It takes travel to a whole new level to do it with a kid. We love it! Thanks for the insight into travel with a baby in Chile and Argentina!

    1. There are definitely big pros to travelling in countries that love kids! I think Caz and Craig experienced a similar thing when they went to Thailand.

      Just last night we had the waitress take Ollie off our hands for about 15mins while we ate our meal in peace – it was great! Almost felt like date night 😉

  6. Kiera @easytravelmom

    I love this article. I have traveled with my 3 year old since she was born and although we have not left the US – we have gone far from home here. I think it’s all about what the child gets used to and try try again if you don’t succeed the first time! This article also makes me want to hop on a plane and go south with my toddler! Love that picture of him sitting on top of the rock on the mountain!

    1. Hi Kiera, you should do it!

      Travelling through South America is fantastic with kids. We are in Peru now and the people are just so lovely, and very accommodating with a little one. It’s slightly more challenging than Chile and Argentina with the water issue and more stray dogs around, but still awesome.

  7. Hi kylah, this article is fantastic. We are desperately wanting to take our ten month old to south America for a few months but I hadn’t found much information on how easy this is. My partner is adopted from Colombia but hasn’t been b.back since.We are a same sex couple can I ask if you’ve come across anyone similar and if it would be safe for us? Its really my only concern. Also we were thinking of starting in Peru, would you think we at best to start in Argentina? we’ve done a lot of travel in remote areas but never been to south America. I’m not a nervous traveller and would usually be up for anything but I guess I have some reservations with a baby tagging along. Thank you!

    1. Hi Cassandra, that’s great you are keen to head to Peru with your bub! The people in Peru love babies, so you’ll all enjoy the experience I’m sure 🙂

      We haven’t come across same sex couples travelling with a baby, so I can’t comment on this sorry. In general people are really friendly and helpful, but perhaps do some more research.

      Peru is a little more difficult travelling with a baby, but only because of the water issue. Ollie recently got sick from eating some fruit we washed, but didn’t peel (we think). Washing bottles also needs to be considered, unless you are breastfeeding which would make things so much easier! Argentina has it’s own difficulties like virtually no processed baby food, so you need accommodation where you can cook for bub. Unless you are doing a short trip and BYO. We are in Ecuador now and have found some organic baby food – score!

      Also, I’d recommend connecting with people who live in Peru (or other places you plan to travel to) before arriving. We’ve found airbnb great for that, but you could also try couchsurfing or local blogs 🙂

      Send us an email if you have any other questions: [email protected]. Otherwise good luck and enjoy!

  8. Hi, could I get your e-mail? We are gonna be doing South America next year for my husbands work and would like to ask you a few questions. My son will be a year by then.

    Thank you
    Tina

    1. Hi Tina,

      Sorry for the slow reply. I haven’t been back on here in a while. I tried to put my email in a post higher up but I don’t think it worked. If you click on my name above this reply it will take you to our website which has all our contact info in the ‘contact us’ page.

      Can’t wait to hear about your plans! Kylah 🙂

      1. Hi my wife and I are planning something similar. We will be going around Europe between coming May and September with our baby boy who is currently six months. Then between say November and February we go to Chile and Argentina. Would it be possible to give us some highlights of your trip in Chile and Argentina. By the time we will be in South America he will be around 1 and a half years old…can’t wait to go :)…thanks for sharing your adventure

  9. Thank you for the blog! My partner and I are currently planning a South American Trip with our daughter who will be 15/16 Months when go. I was wondering about the baby products and if they are the same, such a great relief to know they are much the same .

    Tegan

  10. Aljosha Novakovic

    Nice post!

    Thankfully the staff at your hostel was able to recommend a good doctor. Just curious, what do you think you would have done if she wasn’t as helpful in the process? We have a website where expats and travelers can find certified english speaking doctors of all types:
    http://www.medkohealth.com

    Would love to hear your thoughts, would you use the platform if you knew about it?

    Beautiful pic of Bariloche by the way, definitely worthy enough to be Ollie’s profile picture on facebook!!

  11. Thank you SO much for this article! I am 25 years old and am getting married in May. My future husband and I are madly in love with traveling. I spent the last year traipsing around Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Ireland, Africa and China. I’ve always had two dreams- motherhood and traveling. It is so wonderful to see they can be merged together! My fiance’ is very nervous about traveling with a baby, I know it is something that could only enrich our lives. Thank you!

  12. Hi! I’m looking at traveling to Colombia when my little girl will be 10 months old… Who did you fly with & did you get a bassinet or was Ollie too big for it? Unsure of whether to bother getting a bassinet seat. We have the option of flying direct from Sydney with qantas or via Auckland with LAN Airlines

  13. Just wondering how your Ecuador portion went? Where did you go? We are expecting in July and planning on taking baby to Ecuador in January. I have been reading up on it and am a bit concerned with the risk of malaria and yellow fever. We are both experienced travellers and this will be our 4th trip to SA, but first time to Ecuador and with a baby.

  14. My wife Sylvia and I are pre planning a Sth America trip with a 6 and 4 year old. Probably at least 6 months.

    It is great reading your blog, and def inspires confidence that we can actually do this!!!

  15. Hi
    My husband and I are considering Argentina for a 1 month trip ith our baby in January (baby will be 9 months old at that point).
    Which areas of Argentina would you recommend? Is it safe?
    Have you seen anyone travelling in a camper-car?
    Thanks!
    Isabelle L

  16. Hi Kylah, wonderful article! we are planning to fly to Colombia with our 5 months old baby. It’s not going to be a big deal since my family is living there, we’re going to be almost at home, but I’m struggling to find information about the vaccines that our little should have before our trip, and our pediatrician didn’t know as well. Could you please help me with that? Did you little boy get the vaccines against tuberculosis and yellow fever? Huge thanks in advance!

  17. Hello Kylah, these are some awesome insights that you have shared and looks like you had a great time. My wife and I are planning to travel to South America from the US on a 2-3 week trip with a 9 month old girl and a 3.5 year old boy. We have not been to any part of South America thus far and are a little nervous about making it a pleasurable experience that is not too rushed for all of us. Any suggestions or recommendations on where we can potentially go for this period and how to go about making the stay and site seeing arrangements ? We do appreciate your thoughts :).

    Thanks,
    Bhuvy

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