Anyway, I was thinking about HP before bed, as one does, and started contemplating modes of travel in the wizarding world. I came up with:
- Flying Animals
- Trains (long distance)
- Knight Bus
There is a point to all of this, and that point is a question:
How do wizarding families get around when they have infants and toddlers traveling with them?
All of these modes of travel seem well and good for children of a certain age, but for young children, many of these modes seem impractical and downright dangerous.
Brooms: I can't imagine a broom is safe or practical for young children. We see in PS that many children, including pure-bloods, aren't allowed to touch a broom before Hogwarts. There are exceptions of course (like with Draco Malfoy) but I am guessing for really young children, even if you let them on baby brooms (like we see with Harry and that picture of him & Lily when he was a baby) they aren't using real brooms for actual travel. Given the make and design of a broom, riding with a child in your arms or one who you cannot reliably count on to hold/grip the handle, this seems overall impractical.
Flying Animals: The Weasleys (and I would imagine most families) likely don't have a flying animal, and during the daytime with all the Muggle areas around, that's not really practical either.
Apparating: They aren't old enough to Apparate, and while there is side-along
A. It doesn't sound like the kind of experience you want to subject a child to, and
B. In Chapter 17 of HBP: "Dum--er--someone took [Harry]. Side-Along-Apparition, you know."
"Whoa!" whispered Seamus, and he, Dean, and Neville put their heads a little closer to hear what Apparition felt like. For the rest of the day, Harry was besieged with requests from the other sixth years to describe the sensation of Apparition. We know Ron & Neville grew up in pure-blood wizarding families, and presumably many of the other sixth years did as well, which leads me to believe it's not a common practice to side-along underage wizards, especially not young kids.
Floo: This *might* work, assuming the place you're going has a Floo, but given the emphasis on pronunciation, and how bad younger children often are at clearly speaking, it seems risky to let children go on their own. Do we know if you can side-along Floo? Like, if I hold a baby and Floo, will the baby come too? Is there a point (age/weight etc) where side-along Floo would no longer work?
Cars: We see a few instances of "magical" automobiles--Sirius's bike, Arthur's car, and the Ministry cars--but are these popular in Wizarding families? In Chapter 3 of CoS, Molly says "Imagine a wizard buying a rusty old car and telling his wife all he wanted to do with it was take it apart to see how it worked, while really he was enchanting it to make it fly." which makes me believe that the car wasn't ever intended for them to actually use. They do use the Ministry cars (when they get special permission for escorting Harry), but my instinct is that, while the Ministry probably has cars to blend in with Muggles, most wizarding families likely don't have any form of vehicular transport.
Trains: This seems to really only apply to long-distances. I don't see any issue traveling with young children here, but I'm more interested in everyday type travel.
Portkeys: I know Portkeys are created for travel, and that they are helpful for mass travel over long distances. They can be used for fewer travelers over short distances as well. What I don't know is how difficult the charm is, or if there is any kind of regulation on it. The Pottermore entry leads me to believe anybody can create them, but then there is mention at the end of "the suggestion of arranging Portkeys for the transportation of annoying relatives has saved many a wizarding family Christmas.", and the "arranging" word choice makes me think that perhaps there is more too it. Though I very well could be readin too much into things, and they were just referring to the unpleasant experience of Portkey travel. But even if it's easy to create one, traveling by Portkey is very uncomfortable and "can lead to nausea, giddiness and worse." The Pottermore entry also specifically recommends that pregnant women not travel via this method. Which makes me think that, again, traveling with small children via Portkey would not be ideal or perhaps even safe.
Knight Bus: This one seems like maybe the most likely? I couldn't find any mention about the Knight bus from Ron in PoA that would indicate a familiarly or unfamiliarity with having used that form of transportation before. It does seem like traveling with young children on such a bumpy ride would be challenging, but not necessarily harmful. I never got the impression that the Knight bus was that important and popular among all wizards, but it's not like that would have necessarily come up in Harry's journey and it is used numerous time sin the book...
So. How do families with small children get around? Possibly via Floo, but I mentioned my reservations with that method, and what happens if they want to go somewhere without a Floo?!? Is the Knight Bus really what most people use?!?
Any thoughts? Suggestions? Did I miss something totally obvious that I will be embarrassed over later? Come talk to meee!