Before having a child, my wife and I had always prided ourselves on being travelers and not tourists. We liked out-of-the-way places; my research often took us to absurd locations like the Democratic Republic of Congo near rebel-held territory or old Khmer Rouge bases on the Thai-Cambodian border. We hated anything that smelled of a prepaid vacation package and we generally avoided hotels, preferring guesthouses or staying in locals’ apartments.
Yet as soon as the baby arrived, our concept of an ideal vacation underwent a complete inversion.
In Britain, there are way more resources devoted to children than in the United States. This is a generalization, of course, but in my experience it’s very apparent that for the Scots, family always comes first. This is reflected not just in a general attitude of the Scots toward work as a necessary but nonessential part of life (“Work stays at work,” they will tell you), but also on a legislative level, as can be seen in the incredibly generous (and mandatory) maternity and paternity leave laws (52 weeks in Britain).
There is also an infrastructural commitment to children in public places. At the Edinburgh airport, you can find three large soft-play areas in the terminals, ample highchairs and dedicated lines for families. You can preorder baby milk, which will be delivered to you at your departure gate. There’s even an entire cushy room devoted solely to nursing mothers. Set up a boombox with a little MC Hammer and bring sufficient string cheese and you and your baby could have a pretty nice layover in there.
Compare this with our experience in the United States. In the Newark airport, there is no such room. After much searching, we discovered there was approximately one highchair for all of Terminal C. We had to drag it across the airport like a family of transient Bedouins. You want a lucrative business opportunity? Rent out highchairs in food courts across America.