This is it. Our first, real family vacation. We’ve flown across the country for sun and sea and I’m so excited.
I’ve never traveled with a baby so I polled experienced friends for tips. There are so many! Bring your own car seat, curb check, wear plane-friendly clothes for babe and breastfeeding-you, where to sit, when to board, buy diapers when you get there and for the love of GOD get an aisle seat.
Thank goodness for good friends because all of these tips were employed. But, there’s more to being prepared than the logistics, isn’t there? A couple days into vacation and I’m realizing it now.
I’m seeing that from now on, vacations will be different.
There are plenty of resources on how to logistically travel with baby, so here are some thoughts on how to be emotionally ready for your first family trip:
- The plane ride is no longer down time. Remember when you’d board, the headache of checking in and security behind you, and exhale. Ahhh. Earphones in. Book out. One Stella, pleaseandthanks. Not anymore. Your sole focus is on hushing the baby so as not to disturb other passengers having the aforementioned moment of Zen. The seat has never felt smaller, the stuff never stuffier. You can’t feed him yet because you want to feed him during takeoff. So, you make the noises and do the cooing and then finally, takeoff. He eats. He sleeps. Two Stellas please. Relax for now. Then he wakes up. Back to the noises, cooing and overfeeding.
- You will forget something. The sooner you accept this, the better. Map out the closest grocery store to your destination so that when you realize you left the formula, wet wipes, etc. on the kitchen counter, you know where to go.
- Your schedule is not your own. I don’t know why this surprised me – my schedule hasn’t been my own for five months – but for some reason I assumed that we’d go on vacation and Forrest would be up for whatever, whenever. I was wrong. Much like at home, your baby is a baby. He eats, naps, gets fussy, poops at inconvenient times. And he’s doing it all in a strange environment, three hours earlier than normal. So don’t expect this to be a vacation from parenting. On the contrary, you’ll take a few steps back while he adjusts to the newness, which stinks. I think I actually looked at Forrest and said, “But, we’re on vacation!”
- Something will go wrong. My husband and I pride ourselves on our ability to wing it. We rarely make reservations. We never pack as much as we should. We’re predictably late. But, it always works out because, hey, it’s just us and we’re winging it! Not so fast, Footloose and Fancy Free. You have a baby now. So, this time, we prepared. We got TSA pre-check, we categorized Forrest’s outfits, we triple checked the airplane bag, we ordered diapers to be delivered to our destination. We nailed it! Or so we thought. In all my worrying that Forrest would catch something on the plane, I never imagined I would. I spent our first 36 hours of vacation sick as a dog, unable to eat or move, much less play in the pool. Thank you to my wonderful family, who stepped up to parent in my sickly absence.
- You’ll be a new kind of happy. It may not be the vacation of days gone by, when every hour was happy hour and you had not one obligation, but it will be a new kind of happy. You’ll see your child play with his grandparents, everyone unhinged with laughter. You’ll see how joyful your partner is lathering your baby with sunscreen. Your babe will see things like the ocean for the very first time, and he may not remember that moment, but you will never forget it. You’ll nap when the baby naps and wake up with the crunch of a towel under your cheek and baby drool on your chest and be a little sweaty and a lot blissful.
You’ll be more grateful than ever that you get to travel at all, because now you get to share it with this brand new person, and he’s soaking up every last drop.
On that note, I’m taking my Pedialite back to the beach. For those logistical tips on traveling with baby, here are a few of my favorite resources:
Safe adventures, everyone!
If you could pack up and leave tomorrow with your child, where would you go?