We just got back from our first trip with our infant. I waited to write this post until after the trip because I wanted to see how it turned out. In our pre-baby life, my husband and I were what you might call “ambitious” travelers. When we lived overseas, we traveled often. We were up early and went all day. Obviously, we knew our travel style would change once our son was born. We chose San Diego for our first travel attempt because it was relatively close, drivable, and the beach seemed like a good relaxing option.
Here are a few takeaways from our trip.
Babies Are Basically Hoarders
Even when I wasn’t traveling with a baby, I was never what you would call a “light packer.” However, packing for a baby took me to a whole new level of over-packing. It doesn’t matter if you are traveling for one night or one month; babies require a lot of stuff. Now I know there are people who pack light with children. I am even friends with some of them, but trust me when I tell you I am not one. I even bring too many things for our dogs when we travel with them. It’s just that I would rather have too much than not enough. I don’t want have to spend valuable vacation time looking for a Target or trying to do laundry somewhere. Never mind that we filled an entire luggage cart with our stuff, I was vindicated when my son blew out his pajamas, and we had an extra sleep sack and bassinet sheets. The key is to always have someone in the marriage that is a light packer. Thankfully, this is my husband and there is always extra room for my excess in his suitcase.
Getting There Is Half The Fun/Battle
As most parents know when traveling with small children, you must carefully orchestrate your stops to coincide with feeding times. There is not much beside the Mojave Desert for much of the drive between Las Vegas and San Diego, but thankfully the stars aligned and we were able to find stops when we needed them. I am almost exclusively pumping, so I bought a car adapter for my breast pump. I can’t say it was always pretty, but I managed to pump twice on both legs of the trip. Unlike nursing, it is much harder to be modest while pumping. I did my best to cover in the backseat but there are probably several truckers along the I-15 corridor who are scarred by what they saw as they passed.
That is unless, of course, they are really into the new mom bod. Then they got quite a thrill.
The icing on the cake to traveling with an infant is that after you finally manage to get to your destination, you have to spend an hour setting up a miniature version of your house. Oh, and feed your baby at least two more times.
The Beach Is Farther Than You Imagined
Except it really isn’t. When you made this same trip last year you remember remarking to your husband how convenient it was to walk out of your room and basically be on the beach. That was when you both grabbed a towel and some sunscreen and walked out the door. It feels much longer this time when you are carrying a cooler, chairs, towels, baby stuff, your Costco shelter, and, of course, your baby.
As it turns out, your baby will not actually help bring any of his stuff to the beach. He will, however, complain when you try to put a sun hat on him as he is being carried like a little biblical prince to his sand palace.
You will then spend a minimum of thirty minutes setting up said Costco shelter and then remember that you forgot something in the room. On the plus side, you can think about how time as you knew it has ceased to exist as you walk back to your room.
Enjoy The Little Things
My husband and I used to spend our trips cramming in as much as possible into the time allowed. We both like this style of traveling, and it worked well for us. We both knew this would not be realistic with an infant. We knew we would have to alter our travel style, and this ended up being a blessing in disguise. Instead of a walk on the beach being an item to check off on the to-do list, it became the only item on this list. I found myself being much more present: enjoying the walk, looking for sand dollars, drinking my coffee, and having precious time (and conversation) with my husband as he carried our son.
He’ll Thank Us One Day
I know my son won’t remember this trip, but we will treasure these memories in the years to come. As more than one person has told me about this stage of life: the days are long but the years are short.
Hopefully one day he will look back at the video of him putting his feet in the Pacific Ocean and laugh at how much he did not like it. While it is definitely more challenging to travel with a kid, I am glad we are starting early and know it will be worth it down the road. I still look forward to grown-up trips with just my husband because; after all, what else are grandparents for. However, just as much, I look forward to taking our son back to our favorite spots and seeing them through his eyes.
Even more, I look forward to making new memories all together.