We are not rookies when it comes to travel. Anna has visited 5 countries in as many years. There is always something to learn, though. Here are the things that have been brewing in my brain about this trip (kids are 6 years old and 9 months):
Buy a seat for baby on the airplane. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, they can sit on your lap for free. But do you really want to spend five or more hours holding a baby? While trying to eat dinner? Or what to do when you have to go to the bathroom and your spouse is busy with the other kid? I wish we had bought a seat for Lily. It would have still been a hard flight over (she cut her first tooth on that airplane and there was a lot of crying. By both of us), but I think it would have been a tiny bit less hard if I could have had the option of setting her down.
Related to the above, bring the baby’s carseat. We requested a seat with our rental car. It sucked. The first one they gave us was broken. The second technically worked but I did not feel super great about it. It added extra time when we got to the rental place, trying to get a decent seat and install it correctly. Anna’s seat was ok but I think that there is a greater of acceptability when it comes to big kid seats/boosters than when it comes to baby carseats.
Bring (or rent, a notion that only belatedly occurred to me) a damn stroller. Because as much as I love to baby wear, two weeks of only being able to carry and not push a baby around–a nearly twenty pound baby–is a lot. Adam won’t (can’t, he insists?) wear her so it was all me, all the time. And with the screwed up sleep I got, I have become fall-down exhausted.
Bring more underwear. Pack all your underwear. Make your kid pack all of theirs. Then go buy some more and pack that. Slightly dirty-ish shorts and shirts can be ok to wear in a pinch but not so much with the dirty drawers.
Obvious, but I guess I needed a reminder because I sure screwed this one up, Check The Drawers When You Checkout of The Hotel. We left a drawerful of Anna’s clothes on the Big Island when we went to Maui. That sucked.
Take care of health issues before you leave home. I left Santa Barbara feeling like just maybe I was coming down with a sinus infection and by golly I was right. It took me a couple of days to get some medication called and and sorted out, though. I really should have made visiting the doctor at home a priority but I was “too busy packing.” Don’t be me. That was stupid.
Bring lots of clothes for baby. Lots and lots. I paid an embarrassing amount of money to get baby clothes washed at the hotel because they didn’t offer washing facilities when I assumed they would and, news flash!, babies are messy. Pee, poop, spit up, food, sand, dirt. Messy messy messy. Should have brought more clothes.
Believe the weather report.Why I have such a hard time doing this is beyond me. I looked up the weather report, saw forecast for hot days and muggy warm rain, and then mostly packed for Santa Barbara weather (temperate). I ended up buying an overpriced and not very good umbrella and my sweaters all languished in my suitcase, taking up room that could have been used for More Underwear.
Adjust expectations. I spent the first several days feeling sorry for myself. This was partly because of the sinus infection (which did/does truly suck so poor me) but partly because I somehow thought that this vacation would be a vacation. No. No no no no. Silly me. “Vacations” with children are having to do all the same stuff as at home (diapers and naptime and crying and clothing changes) but without the comforts of home. Plus sleep disruption. Whee! I felt really resentful until I was able to wrap my head around this and just look forward to being a few more years into this parenting game and try to enjoy those few, fleeting Actual Good Moments (baby splashing in pool happily, Anna excitedly telling me about seeing a sea turtle, Adam and I locking eyes as we toasted each other with our Mai Tais, wearily and yet happily accepting that this is our beautiful and crazy little life right now).
I don’t know if it gets easier. It will get….different. Someday, I am told, I will miss them being little.
It hasn’t all been horrid and hard but there have been horrible and hard moments. I’m glad we came and I will also be glad to be back home, where the trash cans are all already tucked out of exploring baby reach and Anna can get an actual full night’s sleep and I can have access to More Underwear.
It’s almost over, Hawaiian Vacation 2013.