We took our first family vacation this month. We flew to Florida and stayed in a condo for a week. I thought I would write a post about some of the trials and tribulations of travelling with a baby.
We rented a studio type condo with only a sliding divider (not noise proof) between the bedroom and the main living/kitchen area. This was probably the most stressful part of the trip. We felt very restricted after Alexandra went to sleep. It was so scary to move or talk in the condo since we didn't dare want to wake her! Luckily the weather was wonderful so we spent the evenings on the balcony. I would recommend trying to get a place with a real bedroom (or a hotel room that is a suite with a separate sleeping area).
I am super paranoid about sleep. So I took precautions before we left to ensure that Alexandra's sleep environment would be as close as possible to the same as at home while we were away.
I brought garbage bags and duct tape. Why you ask? To cover the windows since in my experience I have found that condos/hotels we rent don't often have great black out blinds and with Alexandra going to bed at 7pm, it is definitely not dark in Florida at that time. These worked out great and the room was dark.
We decided to bring Alexandra's travel crib (the one she was sleeping in in our room until we moved her to her big real crib). It folds up but is in no way light or small. We didn't want to pay the airline to bring the awkward item so my husband bought a giant luggage and we stuffed it in there. He didn't need much space for his stuff anyways ;) It was just easy to bring on the airplane this way. But definitely a pain in the butt that we had to do this. Next time we go somewhere we will ask/request a crib so we don't have to bring ours.
We also brought our white noise machine. No way was I leaving that thing behind!
In fact, I brought her noise machine and her swaddle in my carry on...i wasn't risking losing those in the luggage!
We also made good use of the bath tub. For her naps, that's where she slept! We swaddled her up, laid a thick blanket in the tub and in she went. She slept great in there and since the bathroom had a door we were free to make noise and do our thing in the main living area.
Traveling with so much stuff: The airlines were actually better than I anticipated. We got to bring our carseat and check it for free. We could bring our stroller right to the gate and check it there for free. And Alexandra got a luggage (on the Canadian airline we used...not true for US airlines where you have to pay for any checked bags!). I also got to bring on my carry-on, my purse and her diaper bag.
We were nervous about bringing our Uppababy stroller for fear of the airline ruining it in travel so we bought a $150 umbrella stroller to bring. In hindsight, not necessary since we could bring the strollers right to the gate they weren't getting tossed around with the other luggage. I think we would have been fine to bring our real stroller, and that would have been handy because the carseat can go on our Uppa but not the umbrella stroller.
Definitely, we had way too much luggage and it was a mega pain until we checked the bags and car seat. Not only did we have more bags/stuff but we also had a baby! Give yourself extra time to get organized and navigate your way through the airports with all this stuff!
-stroller, car seat, luggage
Sun: Stay out of it. Duh! We also bought a UV shield (like a net) to go over the stroller, it is breathable and blocks 100% of UV rays so you can take baby out in it. We didn't use this because Alexandra didn't co-operate and hated the umbrella stroller we had bought.
We also bought her a sun/swim suit that is like a wetsuit and a hat with a big front rim and a hangy thing at the back to cover her neck. This was great and allowed us to take her out for a swim without worrying about the sun. Also kept her warmer in the pool. I will use it for the indoor swim lessons I am going to do with her next month.
"They" say not to use sunscreen on infants under 6 months but we used it on her feet and arms when we went out just to be extra careful.
Naps: Slow down..and let them happen. I am such a go go person that I was hoping A would just nap on the go or at the beach or whatever. Not so much. We had to respect her nap schedule and go back to the condo for her first 2 naps of the day. Otherwise it was a shit-show! Crabby baby alert! We tried to get her to take her 3rd nap on the go, which was sometimes successful and sometimes not. I know other babies may be more flexible and go with the flow type babies, mine is not. She is a mess if she doesn't get her naps and then everything just sucks. She also doesn't just "fall asleep" when she gets tired. I have to swaddle her up and put her down.
Airplane: No problems . Except maybe being "those annoying people with the baby". I suggest nursing on the up and down. Alexandra slept most of the way.
Schedule: As I said above, don't plan to do too much. Everything just takes longer with a baby. And a baby's attention span is short (atleast mine is!) So she most likely won't want to go on a full day of outlet shopping...even if it is for stuff for her! Try to just enjoy being in the moment and do one thing a day.
Eat early/Eat late? This was one problem we had. Since A goes to bed around 7 and I have to nurse her before bed (she won't take a bottle and I am also a control freak and don't trust anyone else to swaddle her correctly....ya, i've got issues!) so even though my parents were there to give us a hand we had to be there at 7pm to put her down. So we could either go out to eat at 5pm and leave her with my parents and then get her at 7pm and then my parents would go out to eat. Or we could let my parents go eat early and then we could go after she was asleep.
Once the baby's asleep, unless you have help you are hostage to your condo/hotel. This made for a very different vacation than we are used to since exploring the night life used to be so fun! We spent most of our evening relaxing on the balcony.
I also have to say that Alexandra's sleeping sucked while we were away. She was in our room and woke up ALOT at night. I didn't let her cry or do any sleep training stuff while we were away. It was not worth it. I feared we'd have to start from scratch with sleep when we got back but we came back and she adapted right back to her big crib, in her own room and with much less night waking. Phew!
All in all...vacation was great, but different!
I miss my tan...but I loved watching A explore new things!