Traveling with a baby is definitely different than traveling alone as adults. After a week long vacation to multiple destinations in California and many trials and tribulations, I learned several lessons about how to successfully travel with a six month old.
1. You’re perfectly designated schedule for home is going to go out the window. I had been working really hard with Aiden trying to get him on a nap and sleep schedule. Now we were far from there, but making great strides. He needs two naps each day and he does much better with them when they are in his crib versus napping on the fly. He sleeps longer and I know gets better rest (just like an adult). I knew that with this impending vacation, a schedule was going to be impossible. I looked myself in the mirror, took a deep breath and decided that I just had to be okay with it and go with the flow. We tried to get him to have two naps during the day, but they were compromised and more than half were on the fly. I had a tired, cranky baby, but we did the best we could. His sleep begets sleep, so the nights were also more difficult. He obviously wasn’t in his familiar crib, so that made things hard also. Babies don’t like change. Unfortunately, you do the best you can, but you just have to embrace it.
2. Not all flights are created equal. These two flights were the 3rd and 4th flights of Aiden’s life. The flight going to Burbank, CA was at 9:15 am. Thankfully it was no full and we had a row to ourselves and the rows in front and behind us were also empty. This is Aiden’s time to play generally. He naps sometime in the morning, but when he is stimulated in the least bit, that doesn’t happen. He ended up playing for the entire duration of this flight. It was alright, but we were more than ready to be done when we landed. He proceeded to pass out for the next 2 hours when we left the airport and drove to Ventura.
On the flight home from Sacramento, CA, it was a 6:30 pm flight. This flight was busier than the previous flight, but we still managed to have a row to ourselves. He took two naps earlier in the day and proceeded to sleep for about 1.5 hours of the 2 hour flight. Score! I was able to sit back and enjoy the flight. Moral of the story: When in doubt, red eye or later in the evening flights are probably best.
3. Car travel. We flew into Burbank, CA, stopped in Ventura for a couple of days and then drove up to Sacramento to see David’s family. We rented an economy car, which happened to be a Hyundai Accent. This car is great for good gas mileage and easy to manage, but not so great for babies, especially when they require an adult to sit in the back seat with them for longer drives. We started out on the road and within an hour, Aiden was howling. We stopped and realized that I was going to have to sit back there with him and repeat animal sounds for the duration of our drive. The back seat was incredibly narrow and no leg room when sitting next to a car seat. I switched with David with 2 hours of the 6 hours left, and by the time we got to Sacramento, we were both so stiff! It didn’t help David that ran a marathon the day prior! It’s probably best to get a little bigger car if you’re baby doesn’t enjoy riding by himself.
4. Hotels. We stayed in three different hotels along the way, which was also more difficult. We were in Ventura for 3 days and I felt that he was getting the hang of things when we switched it all up on him again and drove up north. With each hotel, there was a different crib for him too. The first hotel had a metal normal looking crib. The mattress was very flat and there was no cushion for him. He actually probably slept the best in this crib though. The second two hotels had pack n’ plays for him to sleep in. He just didn’t enjoy at all, so he pretty much slept in bed with David and I the majority of the trip. Again, you just gotta throw everything out the window that you’ve been doing and go with the flow. Instead of fighting him on this and making him be in there, we just decided we were all going to get more sleep if he slept in bed with us.
5. Don’t start new things right before a trip. Aiden turned 6 months the week we left for our vacation and thus, I wanted to start solids with him. We had tried a few times prior with baby led weaning principles and he was relatively uninterested. He did eat a few bites of banana the night before our trip, but for the most part, I waited to start pushing solids until we got home. Starting solids is another post’s topic, but I started making him purees and if we had to feed him solids on this trip, it would have been much more difficult. Even if we bought store-made baby food, it would have created a whole other set of issues! Feeding a baby is messy and not near as convenient as the boob. Now that we are home, eating solids are in full force as is getting the sleep situation under control!
6. Think about where you’re going. The first few days we went to Ventura and stayed on the beach. We envisioned Aiden and I sitting on a sheet that I had packed and him crawling around looking at the waves. Well first things first, nothing with a baby has happened the way I envisioned; it’s always massively different and the beach was no different. When we got there, the wind was a little strong and Aiden was kind of chilly. He was wearing swim shorts and a long sleeved beach shirt and a hat with his body lathered in sunscreen, so he got used to the wind real quick (he actually likes wind). I laid out the sheet and set him on it and within 5 seconds, he had crawled off of it and went to sand and his hands went directly into the mouth. Sand is really hard to get off of a baby! Thinking back, I can’t believe I envisioned it any other way actually. The water was much too cold for his little feet too. Needless to say, the beach was a short-lived experience!
Overall, we made this trip work. There were things we would do differently, but we we are here to tell the tale of the trip. We traveled a lot within our vacation. It would have been so much easier to just fly to one destination, stay there in one hotel and then fly home. We would have been able to get on a better schedule and not exhaust ourselves so much. Traveling from Ventura to Sacramento in the car and then staying in two hotels and going to David’s parent’s house everyday all day made things tough because each day was so varied.
When we got home Thursday night, we all three were just exhausted and all of us recovered for about 3 days. Thankfully, we came home with a weekend ahead of us, so we were able to recoup.
It was really nice to spend so much time with David in a place that he loves so much!