We did it! Our first family trip was a success! We have made it home in one piece, had a great time, learned a lot, and came back relatively unscathed. Traveling with a baby is a whole different ball game. I have travelled all over the place, and never before have I had to pay attention to so many different things. Holy shnikeys. I’ve hit the major leagues kids, and you know what? It really wasn’t as bad as everyone says. Honestly I expected it to be way harder than it was. Don’t get me wrong, there were definite bumps in the road, but nothing that a little mind renewing and strong-willed pushing through couldn’t solve.
The last two weeks have actually been two trips that were back to back with a road trip in the middle. Woah. We definitely threw Bella into the deep end, and God bless her, she swam! Not literally, she’s a baby ha! Every part of her life was tested and stretched. She has grown so much as a person in the last two weeks. There were times when it was hard, especially during the first half of the trip. Yet it got easier as time went on.
Our first week of the trip was spent in Roswell, GA. My husband had some business meetings and we decided to make a trip of it. I had never been before. It is such a quaint town, and the trip as a whole ended up be very productive. However it went way different from what I thought it would. For starters, I was told to expect that Bella would want to nurse more. So that’s what I expected. She didn’t. She did a nursing strike… for 5 days!! Anyone who’s gone through one knows how stressful they are. A nursing strike on a trip is like a normal one but 4 times as stressful.
Furthermore, The hotel also gave us a pack ‘n play instead of a crib, because apparently those are the same thing (note the sarcasm). Wouldn’t have been a big deal, except Bella hates sleeping in them. I don’t think they’re very comfortable for her. On top of that I had a bout of PPD try to poke its head up again. Honestly, I wasn’t taking my supplements, wasn’t sleeping well because Bella wasn’t sleeping well (the hotel was ridiculously loud), randomly had nightmares 2 nights (I haven’t had a nightmare in years), and was pretty stressed about the whole nursing strike. Perfect storm.
In the midst of all this though, we prevailed. You know what? We had fun too. We saw some friends and family, explored the area, had great food and met great people. All of us learned so much about so much during this part of the trip. All of us were stretched and became better for it. We were troopers, and despite all of the hardness we had a great time! Honestly, even in the midst of the chaos I was so proud of my daughter. This was the furthest from home she’s ever been. She didn’t quite understand what was going on, and she handled it like a pro.
Carillon Beach, Florida
The second week of our vacation was so, so, so, so, so much better. We drove from Roswell to Carillon Beach, which is about 5 1/2 hours. Will and I were both nervous about this. Bella hates the car seat, but she did great! She cried for 15 minutes (this is a record folks), took 2 naps, and played for 2 hours. It was better than we were hoping for. So proud of my little girl!
Anyway everything about this part of the trip was so much better. We all found our groove. We joined the rest of our family, which was nice to get a break every now and again. Best of all, we were at the beach! I have craved the beach since I moved to Arizona last year, and haven’t had a chance to make it out. Having lived in Southern California my whole life prior to the move, it was really weird to not have the beach 20 minutes away.
Bella’s nursing strike broke. We got an actual crib, and put her bed sheets and bumpers on it, to make it feel more like home, so she started sleeping better. Can I get a hallelujah!? We went to the beach every day. Turns out Bella is her mama’s girl and loves seashells. Will and I also took Bella swimming for the first time. She had a blast! On top of that she started pulling herself up to a standing position, and turned 8 months old. Big second week! Great food was eaten, good company was enjoyed, laughs were had, and we had a wonderful vacation.
It’s funny how different the first two parts of our trip were. But both were good. There was goodness and stretching in both, Georgia stretched more than Florida, but such is life. If you’re a first time parent about to go on a first trip, just know you’re going to learn a lot, like a lot a lot. You’re going to be stretched and you’re going to grow as a family. There may be some hard but there will definitely be good in it as well. Just focus on the good and you’ll be golden. So what are the things we learned?
35 Things We Learned on Our First Trip as Parents
- Half of TSA will be way nicer to you than ever before, the other half will be way more irritable (I don’t know I guess some people don’t like babies… weird).
- You can take on your breast milk and put it in bottles. It doesn’t have to abide by the 3 oz rule. They will, however, test it.
- If you are having your baby sit on your lap you need to bring their birth certificate to the ticket counter so they can verify that your child is in fact under 2 years old.
- You can keep your child in your baby carrier when going through security, but if they are in the car seat or stroller they have to come out.
- If you are carrying your child TSA will test your hands for heaven only knows what kind of residue, by wiping something on your hands.
- With small children you’ll go through the family line in security and go through the old-fashioned metal detectors.
- TSA is really good about trying not to touch the baby.
- If the plane isn’t full, try to keep the middle seat to yourselves that way the baby has more room to stretch their legs.
- Make sure the baby has something to suck on when the plane is taking off and landing. The pressure can be hard on their ears otherwise.
- Pack extra stuff for the baby in the carry on, just in case luggage gets lost.
- Give yourselves some extra time to get through ticketing and security, it’s a process, especially during the first time.
- In the event of an emergency there is an extra oxygen mask and life jacket in each row. Put yours on first, then the baby’s.
- Try and get nonstop flights.
- You can rent car seats. I recommend securing one before traveling when choosing the rental car. Sometimes they run out.
- Chances are you’re going to have to clean the car before returning it (babies are messy).
- During long trips plan extra time for stops. Even babies have to stretch their legs.
- Bring some bottles and/or food so you don’t have to stop and eat during every meal (unless you want to).
At the Hotel
- Most hotels have cribs that you can use.
- Make sure and ask if their crib is an actual crib (sometimes they say crib, but give playpens).
- Bring a crib sheet and bumpers from home. This will help the baby feel more comfortable with their new surroundings as this is familiar. Also hotels can use harsh bleaches on their sheets to make sure they are extra clean.
- Read the hotel reviews. If people are complaining that the walls are thin, believe them.
- If you can get a suite, it’s great to give the baby some extra peace and quiet when they nap.
- Give them a bath the first night. It’ll help them relax.
- Use anything with lavender to help the rest and sleep.
- Most hotels have a washer and dryer that you can use. Bring quarters.
- Don’t bring your full pumped breast milk supply. Most hotels don’t have freezers, and it definitely can go bad. Bring 3-4 bottles worth, and then pump throughout. If you don’t want to do that you can always get a container and use dry ice.
- We tried to get at least one of Bella’s naps in the hotel so that she could have one really good sleep.
- Traveling can stress babies. They may want to nurse more than normal. They also may do a nursing strike. Bella did both.
- Bring more diapers and wipes than you think you need.
- Having a new toy or two keeps them occupied during the more boring parts of traveling, i.e. flying and driving.
- Have a plan, but be flexible. Things can change at the drop of a hat.
- Plan an extra day. That way if the baby needs a break you don’t have to jam a bunch of stuff in at the end of your vacation.
- Have enough supplies for an overnight stay, if you get stuck somewhere.
- Take all of your supplements.
- Chances are your little one will be pretty exhausted when you get home. Lots of naps during the next couple of days!
That’s all I got for you. Even with the bumps in the road, Will and I are so impressed by how Bella handled this trip that we are already planning more. Bella was born into a weird season in our lives where we didn’t travel a lot. Prior to her birth we usually went somewhere once a month, at least. However things are changing and it’s nice to know that she is going to be quite the traveler alongside her parents! What are some things that you’ve learned when traveling with children?