This past weekend, we took B on her very first trip! As I mentioned before, this broke my self-imposed rule of not traveling before she could drag her own suitcase through the airport. But, Original Bridget had her doctoral hooding ceremony in Boston and that seemed like a pretty special occasion that we couldn’t miss.
Prior to our trip, my biggest worries were that B would not be able to sleep in an unfamiliar place and that we would be “those parents” on the plane. You know, the ones that you give the death stare to because their baby is having a meltdown that cannot be stopped. Luckily, both of these fears turned out to be totally unfounded.
B was awesome on our short flight to Boston. We were able to distract her with a bottle (which is also said to keep baby’s ears from popping during take-off and landing) and a few of her favorite toys and books.
On Friday, we had a carb-laden breakfast at a cute little cafe by our hotel and took a leisurely stroll through Boston Common and the Public Gardens.
Getting ready to head out for the day!
She was pretty mad that we didn’t share our pastries
Make way for ducklings…and for B!
She was so excited to be outside that day.
Then, it was off to Bridget’s hooding ceremony. My BFF put in a lot of hard work during the last few years as a PhD student in the Clinical Psychology program at Boston University, and I was happy that we could be there to celebrate her accomplishments. B did get a little whiny during the ceremony, so we actually watched Bridget receive her hood on the monitors outside the auditorium. But, it was exciting nonetheless and I was in good company as there were many other moms, dads and grandparents bouncing babies around in the hallway.
Current and (hopefully) future PhDs!
On Saturday, we met up with Bridget and her family for a lunch at Quincy Market and a trip to the aquarium. We thought that B would enjoy the opportunity to see the real-life versions of her favorite creatures from the “Under the Sea” themed Baby Einstein collection. She was actually pretty into it! We spent a lot of time peering into the Giant Ocean Tank that stretches from floor to ceiling in the center of the building.
A delicious lobster roll lunch
She was chatting away to the fish
B was a champion on our Sunday morning flight home, too…until the last ten minutes or so. Then, see got pretty vocal, due to a combination of a delayed naptime and an extremely dirty diaper. I was so glad to get off the plane, but not thrilled to find out that some of the bathrooms in Philadelphia International Airport do not come equipped with baby changing stations. I’ll spare you further details of this last leg of our journey. Needless to say, we were all glad to head home after that.
Of course, one trip doesn’t make me a baby travel expert. But, I thought I would share a few things that I took away from this experience. Maybe this will be helpful to you in case you are planning a getaway with your little ones this summer:
- Order baby items in advance and have them shipped to your final destination.
Packing light kind of goes out the window when you are bringing a baby along. Most baby gear items are huge and awkward to carry and then you have to pack extra of everything—baby food/formula, clothes, etc.—to account for travel delays and messes.
In the end, we had one bag for her clothes, diapers and wipes, our umbrella stroller, a huge diaper bag (Chester surprised me with this for Mother’s Day, after I wished out loud for a bag that could hold a camera and baby stuff. He’s the best at buying presents) and a smaller filled with toys/books for the plane. Oh, yea, then, Chester and I had a bag with all of our clothes.
To save some room in our luggage and to keep Chester’s back from completely giving out, I ordered baby food and formula from Amazon and had it shipped to our hotel a few days before our trip. This way, we would not have to worry about these items exploding all over our clothes in transit and we would not have to cut into our vacation time by running errands to pick up these things once we got to Boston.
- Bring the baby carrier.
It is a lot easier to navigate airport security, crowded subways and busy streets while wearing the baby. Being close to you can calm them down in unfamiliar surroundings and they can still get in a nap or two during excursions.
We have the Ergo, which seemed comfortable for B and was easy on my back. Plus, it was quite a workout! I was feeling every muscle in my body—in a good way—by the end of the first day. I might cancel my gym membership and wear a 20 pound sack of flour strapped to me at all times instead.
We used B’s stroller exactly once during the trip. We put her in it for a ride on the T, and she promptly freaked out. Back into the Ergo she went, and the stroller became a cart around the aforementioned gigantic diaper bag. If I knew that would happen, I would have left the stroller at home.
- Pack your patience.
Unfamiliar surroundings and people and disruption to routines can be a bit stressful for a baby. Be prepared for everything, from a little bit of extra fussiness at bedtime to full-on meltdowns. Sometimes in public.
Yes, it can be embarrassing. But, the golden rule of parenting (at least according to me) is to just do the best you can. Babies just do crazy things sometimes and most of them would act the same way in a stressful situation.
The nice thing about our trip was that we spent much of it with close friends, so they didn’t think our baby was an annoying little brat (at least I don’t think they did!). But, you might also find that complete strangers are more understanding than we give them credit for. When B got upset on our flight home, a sweet lady came up to us as we got off the plane, told us that B was beautiful and that we were lucky she had such strong vocal cords. Now that’s a positive spin if I’ve ever heard one.
So, find a quiet place, calm your baby down and move on. Everyone will get over it. Enjoy the happy moments and don’t get bogged down by the challenging ones.
- Be prepared to travel differently.
When Chester and I traveled alone, we used to pack as much as possible into each day. We might leave the hotel at 8 a.m. and not come back until 10 p.m. Unless you want a really cranky baby on your hands by noon, this is probably not the way to go.
Don’t overschedule your days. Stay on top of the baby’s needs for food, diaper changes and sleep and build time in for these things. Everyone will be happier.
You might end up doing nothing more than strolling through a park all day and eating takeout at the hotel for dinner while the baby is sleeping. But, those might end up being some of your favorite days ever.
- Don’t make things harder on yourself than they need to be.
I think this list makes it clear that traveling with a baby presents some challenges, but there are plenty of shortcuts you can take to minimize them. Baby food in pouches travels well and is easy to dispense on-the-go. And, you can buy disposable, pre-sterilized bottles so that you don’t have to do dishes while you are trying to get some relaxation in.
Transportation is another thing to consider when traveling with a baby and all of their gear. On this trip, we decided not to bring our car seat and use public transportation. Yes, Boston has a pretty reliable, reasonably priced public transportation system that gets you just about anywhere you need to go. But, as we were hauling our portable Babies R’ Us on the bus from the airport, we quickly realized that taking a cab would have been a lot easier.
Of course then, we would have had to haul around yet another item. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, as they say. But, my point is, this might be the time to splurge on things that make your life easier.
The bottom line is this: traveling with a baby is really not that bad. So, get out there!
It was so nice to change of scenery and a few days of quality time together as a family. Now that Chester and I have one trip with B under our belts, I feel a lot more confident that all of us can handle being on the road together. In fact, we have already started planning another short trip for the fall and can’t wait for more adventures together.