I am now a firm believer in traveling WITH your kids. I only have one kid right now, so I may kick myself when number two comes along. Until then, my advice is to keep exploring and keep exposing your little ones to all the wonders the world has to offer. Travel with baby and you can still enjoy your own life on your own terms.
When I was pregnant (and for Ava’s entire first year of life), my husband and I had four days a month off together. Sometimes I could get out of work a little early on a Friday, so we could make a 36-48 hour getaway somewhere fun, just the two of us. Right before I found out I was pregnant, we spent the weekend in Houston with friends celebrating the marriage of a sorority sister. Just two weeks later we spent a long weekend in NYC enjoying Christmastime where it really does feel magical the whole season long. We traveled to Detroit to see the Red Wings play at Joe Louis Arena before they had a new home. (I’m a long-time Detroit fan, so it was fitting that this was baby’s first sporting event to attend.) While my husband skied with his best friend, I spent some quality time with my also very pregnant friend in Breckenridge enjoying the town and a spa. My birthday was celebrated in Chicago catching up with old friends and seeing Hamilton. We hiked in Sedona. We spent Easter on Amelia Island and a month later we went to our 4th Kentucky Derby with family and friends. We won the Trifecta in the Derby that year essentially making the whole trip free. Then we were well into the third trimester, and I needed to sit at home with my feet propped up and cool off in the pool as often as possible.
Ruidoso, New Mexico
After baby girl’s arrival I only had 7 weeks of maternity leave, so we didn’t have a lot of time or energy to travel with our newborn. But at two months, we tested out airplane rides by spending a weekend in Ruidoso, New Mexico with my parents. They had a second home on a golf course there, so it meant traveling “light” considering we were traveling with a baby. Unfortunately, I don’t think going from near sea level to above 7,000 feet in altitude was ideal for our young baby’s ears and she was pretty fussy most of the weekend. (But we are trying a mountain trip again soon!)
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Just a couple weeks after our trip to New Mexico, we took our first road trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas. It’s about 4.5 hours away and we had our own car for the trip. This was great because it meant less to bring back and forth and we could leave a lot of things in the car. This was our first trial of using an AirBnB as a family. Now, it’s the way we PREFER to travel. Extra rooms, extra space, most household items readily available, and many even have pack and plays too. We walked downtown and visited many of the “baths”, we hiked a little through Hot Springs National Park, and Ava picked out her own stuffed animal for the first time. “Wolfie” made his way home with us and started a tradition of collecting stuffed animals for her from the places she visits. We used our baby carrier for the hike and Ava slept soundly. It was much easier than using the stroller!
While I love traveling with our little girl, not every trip has been such a delight. For instance, when we flew the one hour trip home for Thanksgiving, she cried a little before take off, slept the entire flight, and then was crying when we landed. Most of you moms know that ascent and descent are the worst for babies, and our little girl was no different. Yet, some absolute bitch thought otherwise. While I was changing my daughter’s diaper in the airport bathroom, she proceeded to ask me “What’s wrong with your baby?” My jaw hit the floor and I was speechless. I turned around to see every other woman in the restroom with the same expression. Every come back I had was lost at the time, but they certainly would have been filled with four-letter words if I had found them. And this was all on THANKSGIVING DAY. Grrr. I was livid, and honestly, it still makes my blood boil. So, Moms, if you run into this bitch or anyone like her, inform her that your baby can sense evil and you’d appreciate if she’d rightfully F$%* off. Then move on your merry little way and enjoy your day.
When Ava was 6 months old, we took our first trip without baby. We left her with her grandparents for 5 nights and flew to Whistler to hit the slopes. I highly recommend at least one trip a year without the kids. It was good for our marriage, and it was nice to feel like adults again and not be worried about someone else’s bedtime. However, we missed her terribly, and it took a lot of wine to get me on the flight to leave.
Texas Hill Country
Later that winter, we took a second road trip to Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa. It rained the entire time (it tends to do this on a lot of our trips), so it was a very laid back weekend sipping on cocktails and wine and playing card games. The setup of our room was outstanding for traveling with baby and we still want to go back when the weather is better to enjoy some time hiking the grounds.
Like I said, not all trips are amazing. For my birthday (and my best friend’s who’s is the day after mine), we opted for a long weekend in Seattle. I was post-call and this would be Ava’s longest flight to date. Recipe for disaster. Of the 4.5 hours in the air, I think she was quiet for about 30 minutes. She was upset no matter what food I gave her, no matter how many times I changed her diaper, no matter what toys I we had, and no matter how many times I walked her down the aisle. Holy hell is all I can say. But by this point, we had ditched some of our travel items like our usual jogger stroller for an easy to carry umbrella stroller. We again used AirBnB and bought most of the what we needed when we arrived. Once we settled into Seattle, we enjoyed some great food, the Space Needle, walking along the harbor, Pikes Place Market, good wine, and great company. AND, the ride home was just fine. She slept at least half of it and was pleasant otherwise. This was when I learned just how much a baby senses stress…do not stress out…baby only stresses out more. Also, this was the one trip we expected rain and got none. Zero.
30A Florida’s Gulf Coast
For a long weekend away, we flew down to 30A. We stayed in a great condo in Santa Rosa Beach. The condo and beach were great, but we were a little too far from Seaside, where all the action really is. If we go back when Ava is older, we will definitely plan to stay in Rosemary Beach or Seaside. We enjoyed some shopping, driving along the coast, dipping Ava’s toes in the ocean for the first time, and our ONE day of sun. Like I said, our vacations bring rain. This was the last time we packed a stroller, because we never used it, and the first time we used baby equipment rental services.We rented a Pack-n-Play that was set up in our condo before our arrival–and we’ve stuck with this plan ever since.
We skipped the Kentucky Derby for the first time since we got married because that crowd seems like a nightmare with a 9 month old in tow. So instead, we threw our on Kentucky Derby party. We will make it back soon though. The Derby is a bucket list item that dangerously turns into a yearly tradition.
Since Ava turned 1, we’ve taken longer trips with her which I have mentioned in other posts like Disneyland, Bavaria/Oktoberfest, and Boston/Cape Cod. We will soon spend more time in west Texas with family and take our yearly ski trip this winter, and I’m certain we will have a few other trips before she’s two. Where are some of your favorite places to take your babies?