Traveling while Breastfeeding vs Formula

There are probably about a billion posts on this, but I figured, why not add mine to the mix? Traveling can be stressful without a baby. Add baby to the mix and boom, more stress. More crap, more sweat, more benefits? Ha, that’s a stretch. But there is a lot of great experiences. One of the most hotly debated experiences of motherhood is: breastfeeding vs formula.

We did a couple mini roadtrips while I was exclusively breastfeeding and they were pretty okay; could have done with less crying to be honest, but what can you do? Literally everything, we tried everything. Anyways, our trip to Crete started with me breastfeeding and mixing in some formula, and ending with him exlusively on formula.

The benefits are obvious for breastfeeding exclusively and traveling:

  1. Less stuff to haul around
  2. Less stuff to clean and sterilze
  3. No need for boiled/bottled water
  4. Antibodies for baby if you pick up something on the journey
traveling while breastfeeding vs formula
There are worse places to breastfeed

I wasn’t stressed out either way, if he wanted to keep breastfeeding that was fine, but I was ready to be done as long as he was. Luckily for us, he took to the forumla right away, and he didn’t have any stomach problems from it, no apparent allergies etc.. Given the time change and fatigue, my boobs packed it in mid trip. I could have forced it, but as I didn’t care, I let them do what they wanted. Plus it was like 40 degrees and I wasn’t interested in having him on my body like that all the time. Can you say sweat city!?

The benefits for traveling with formula were actually pretty good (for me).

  1. I could actually relax on the holiday! Dad could take over some feeds!
  2. He could eat in his stroller, on the couch, or highchair instead of being attached to me in the heat.
  3. I didn’t have to whip my boobs out in unfamiliar places. (Greece is very family friendly, and I doubt I would have encountered any issues if I was breastfeeding in public, but it was just nice to not have to)
  4. I could stop worrying about the sunscreen I was applying to the area and baby’s exposure to it.
  5. Could stop worrying about alcohol completely. (I was never “worried” but now it was a non issue)
  6. If you are driving, you don’t have to stop to breastfeed, you can just pop a bottle in their mouth.
traveling while breastfeeding vs formula
Dad taking a shift as the feedbag

Prior to this trip I had kind of hoped to be able to breastfeed all the way through, just for the lighter bags. In the end I’m really happy with the way it turned out. If I’m traveling while breastfeeding in the future, and it would depend on the baby’s age; I will definitely bring a bottle and a small pack of formula, just in case the milk bags can’t keep up. I would rather enjoy my vacation and give my baby formula, then stress out and start pumping like mad to get things going again.

traveling while breastfeeding vs formula
finally taking some ownership in his own meals

Obviously this is a personal choice and it depends on how mom is feeling and on the baby. For me, breastfeeding wasn’t easy right off the bat, and we had to work hard at it. Eventually we found our groove and we made it to the 9 month mark before adding in formula and switching over.

Once I stopped breastfeeding I felt like a weight had been lifted. I could get help with the feeds and my body started to feel like my own again; the aches and pains associated with postpartum started to slowly fade. And cuddling with him while he eats from his bottle is now my favourite time; especially right before naps and bed. Prior feeds at these times were a chore for me because it was like I was already doing it constantly (given his short attention span and laziness towards eating). Now that I can share the workload throughout the day (or he feeds himself) I can fully enjoy those quiet moments just the two of us.

This isn’t a pro breastfeeding or pro formula post, but a personal experience post. Basically, if you think you can’t travel because you’re using formula or because you’re breastfeeding, stop worrying about it! There will always be a million reasons to not do something (or to do it) but just do what feels right for you. The important thing to remember is that the baby is well fed, regardless of the source, and that Mom is healthy and happy with her decision. Everyone else can fuck off.

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First Camping Trip with Baby

We took our nearly 11 month old camping. Ya. I’m sure some of Camping Trip with Babyyou are scoffing at us right now. How could they think that would be fun after traveling with him to Crete? Well, to be honest, we didn’t think it would be fun. We thought of it more as a right of passage. It seems like all our friends and relatives have a story about the first time they took their baby camping. None of those stories sound like overly pleasant experiences, but everyone looks back on them with the haze of nostalgia and it seems nice. So ya, we went on a camping trip with baby.

I distinctly remember a conversation with a friend that went something like this:

“We took her camping when she was 1, because you have too.”

“You don’t have to do anything.”

And yet, here we are having gone camping with our baby… didn’t even listen to my own advice!

Camping Trip with BabyTyler had 10 days off, so after we got back from the Okanagan, we showered, slept in our beds for one night and headed 5 minutes down the road to Cultus Lake. Some precautions were taken to try and make this trip as smooth as possible.

  1. We booked only 2 nights – Why book more when the first night could be hell and you just want to come home?
  2. We booked 5 minutes away from home – same theory as #1, what if you want to bail out after an hour? Also, what if you forget something ?(formula, for example)
  3. We reserved a site close (but not too close) to bathrooms with running water and showers, just in case Callahan needed a real rinse.
  4. We were sleeping in Ron Burgundy– I haven’t slept in a tent since I hiked the Inca Trail in 2010, and I’m okay with that.
  5. I precooked and prepared everything, (but the bacon and eggs). Nothing needed to be warmed up unless we wanted to be fancy.
  6. We went and got a pack’n’play, there will be no co-sleeping on what is barely considered a full-size bed in the back of the van.
  7. We waited to leave the house and check into our site until after Callahan had his last nap of the day.
Camping Trip with Baby
whatever keeps you from eating rocks

Callahan spent every single minute he was free trying to eat rocks. Not just pebbles though, the biggest, sharpest ones he could find. He was also experiencing real shoes while walking for the first time, so things were a little wobbly. We had brought some of his favourite toys, which got so dusty and dirty that a few of them have now been deemed “outside toys”. To be honest, Callahan was almost deemed an “outside toy”. He was fucking filthy. I didn’t even bother changing his clothes the second day (or third morning). What was the point? He was just going to get those all dusty too.

camping trip with baby

I packed a crib sheet for the pack’n’play for naps and bedtime. When he was awake, we had the sheet off and the pack’n’play out on the site with us. Thinking this would be a good way to contain him, with all his toys, and he’d still be part of the group… WRONG. Every second he was in there he was letting out battle cries and chucking his toys overboard, while trying to climb out. This is why it has taken us this long to buy one of these things. He’ll sleep in them no problem, but there is a zero percent chance he’ll chill in there and play.

camping trip with babyOverall, the first day went by without a hitch. Callahan took a little longer to fall asleep than he would at home, but not by much and then slept until 7am!! We were so relieved! He went down for his morning nap with no problems (yay again!!).

After lunch, we went for a walk, settling on the Seven Camping Trip with BabySisters Trail. We had forgotten our water bottles and decided we didn’t want to do anything too strenuous. Once we were done the loop, we walked about 300m up the horse trail before turning around. We had been stung by stinging nettle. We googled what the dock leaf looked like (thank you cell service!! my memory had faded since childhood) and found some to rub the sting away. Thankfully Callahan didn’t get any stinging nettle spots.

When we returned, he struggled with his afternoon nap, and had a complete meltdown at bedtime. Seeing as he had started teething again over the weekend, I gave him some advil and hoped that would help him settle easier.

He cried until he vomited, and then promptly fell asleep.

We learned some valuable lessons the first night (even though it went well) that we implemented the second night:

  1. You cannot get in and out of the van quietly if all the doors are closed properly. This meant that we had to remember to leave the back door open a crack so we could crawl into bed.
  2. If you close all the doors when you are putting him down, you are locked in until someone can save you. This also applies to middle of the night pees; the door should be closed properly in case a bear comes poking around, but there is no way out in a bladder emergency.
  3. The campsite needs to be “bare” when you go to bed. Which meant we had to shove all the food and food prep stuff in the front seat BEFORE Callahan went down. We kept one small cooler bag out with our evening snacks and beverages in it. It was small enough for us to slide under the bed when we crawled in for the night.

Despite our efforts, he woke up at 3am and wanted to play. We offered him a bottle which he crushed in record time; he then managed to fall back asleep until 6am.

Unfortunately, Tyler could not fall back asleep after the late night wake up; it meant he bailed out of the bed early (more room for me!!) Camping Trip with Babyand had most of the site packed up and breakfast ready to go for when we woke up. I scarfed down my breakfast and then we started loading up the van. We probably would have left earlier, but the van doesn’t really follow the “quiet time” hours when you start it up.

We got home in 5 minutes, unloaded everything, started the laundry, gave Callahan some grub, and had him napping by 8am. Tyler and I followed shortly after.

Camping Trip with Baby
That’s a big ass tree!

All in all, I’d call this camping trip with baby a success. We were riding high after the first night went so well; it was only reasonable to be knocked back down a peg the second night. We’ve already been discussing how the van could be made more accommodating for future family camping trips (bigger bed for mom & dad), but have yet to make any more plans of this nature.

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Packing for a Beach Vacation with a Baby

Packing for a beach vacation should be easy right? Well, unless you need to bring 14 different swimsuits and a mankini in every colour. Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, 3 different pairs of sandals, suncreen for the face and the body… etc.. you get the picture.

Now, add in the baby’s stuff. Onesies, shorts, pants, jacket, hats, sunglasses they won’t wear, swimsuits, swim diapers, reusable swim diapers, baby sized towels, baby toys for the beach, shade tent, baby sunscreen, stroller, etc.

Let’s pare things back shall we? The more stuff you bring, the more stress you have. You’re probably thinking, what about my diaper bag? I have everything I could possibly need and more in there! I can’t pare it back for vacation, there are so many unknowns!

You’re right. And wrong.

First, scale back YOUR crap to what you know you’ll wear. By that I mean, what items will you wear more than once? What items will you be okay wearing more than twice? Hint- swimsuits should be one of those items.

For 17 days in Crete, this is what we packed:

Clothing

Mom– 2 swimsuits, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 dress, 2 light long sleeved shirts, 2 tank tops, 1 pair of jeans. 5 underwear, 3 socks, 2 nursing bras. 1 pair of flip flops and 1 pair of sneakers with orthodics in them, 1 hat, 1 UV protection swim shirt, 1 beach towel, 1 light windbreaker.

For the plane I had 1 pair of leggings, 1 nursing tank top, 1 pair of socks.

Dad– packed essentially the same as I did; however his last minute packing style meant he brought things he didn’t end up wearing and didn’t bring more of things he needed. Live and learn.

Baby– 2 UV Swimsuits, 2 bucket hats (1 with UV protection), 3 rompers, 3 tank tops, 2 tshirts, 1 hoodie, 1 pair of pants, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of sandals, 1 baby towel, 1 pair of short sleeved/leg pjs, 1 pair of long sleeved/leg pjs, 1 reusable swim diaper.

For the plane he had one onesie and 1 pair of socks. (there was an extra tshirt brought on the plane for all of us, just in case of a poopocalypse or projectile vomiting).

I think we packed pretty well when it came to clothes. I could have used one more shirt, and could have gotten away with only 1 nursing bra. As for the baby’s stuff, everything got used except the sandals, since he wasn’t walking yet.

Baby Gear
I am not sponsored by any of these products/companies. We purchased these ourselves or received them as gifts from relatives. However, the links provided below are Amazon.ca affiliate listings and will provide me a small commission if you choose to purchase an item from the link provided.

I’m going to come out and say it right off the bat; we brought too many toys. We weren’t sure how he’d be on the flight, and the toys failed us, if you’ll recall. Anyways, the toys I don’t regret bringing are his two favourite car seat toys. Those were flawless. As well as his crib stuffies (sleep sheep travel size and a little fuzzy chicken). I also packed his favourite blanket for bed, his favourite fleecy stroller blanket for the plane, and a giant muslin stroller blanket for use on the beach/stroller.

I brought 1 full tin of formula, 2 9oz bottles, 1 teething toy, about 6 disposable swim diapers, just in case, and a full sleeve of 72 diapers (which we still had to buy a small pack of near the end of the trip).

If you don’t own the next few items, look into them!

The My Little Seat : A universal highchair.

This thing is the BOMB! Honestly, almost every restaurant had a highchair, but Callahan was just a smidge too small, and this could be adjusted to accommodate his size. It fit on every chair we tried packing for a beach vacation with a baby(traditional, modern, armless, you name it!) And we could use it at the hotels to contain him (I mean feed him, obviously). It has its own carrying sack, it folds up nice and small, you can just ram it into any empty nook. This thing was nice and light, we eventually didn’t bother with a diaper bag, and would toss this, the change pad, and a bottle into the basket of the stroller and call it a day.

We currently use it on the patio so that we don’t have to haul our perch chair back and forth.

Jolly Jumper SolarSafe Net

This took a try or two before Callahan was okay with it. The trick was to put it on when he was ready for a nap, it would block the sun, and it also packing for a beach vacation with a babyreduced the amount of stimulation he was getting. He could see through this, but I think it distorted things enough that it allowed him to calm down. Plus it creates shade, still breathes, keeps the bugs away, and you guessed it, no sun burns. Did he look a little ridiculous? Yes. We called it the pope-mobile when it was on, but it kept him comfortable and allowed him to sleep!! It also kept nosy strangers from bothering him while he was trying to fall asleep. (It can also be used over a pack’n’play)

It comes with a self storage bag, and it folds up light and small, we had this in the stroller basket at all times.

Tommee Tippee Silicone Bib

I have two of these and use them at home all the time. I brought one packing for a beach vacation with a babywith me, and it worked great. Easy to rinse, no laundry, better for the environment. A+

Inglesina Swift Umbrella Stoller

We heard various opinions on bringing strollers… bring the big one, more room in the basket, easier on the cobblestones, car seat adaptability, etc. All valid points. We opted to bring the umbrella stroller. We wanted something small and light, easy to pack up if we were in an area a strollerpacking for a beach vacation with a baby would be too cumbersome. It had been gifted to us second hand by a family member (so the link is to a newer model that looks a bit different, but same idea). This was a good call on our part, as our tiny Fiat Panda would not have fit our big stroller. Like AT. ALL. Callahan also liked sitting upright and facing out to see the world. When we hit stairs (which was often) one of us would go in front and lift from the foot rest, and carry the stroller down like it was nothing.

Since being home, I have only used our big jogging stroller once. Callahan was still a smidge small for this stroller at the time, but he wasn’t able to escape. Frankly, it weighs so much less than the jogging stroller, fits more places easier, you get the drift. Just make sure your umbrella stroller has a shade and a basket!!

Aveeno Baby Sunscreen Stick

This sunscreen stick is awesome! Callahan loved it! I would use it on his packing for a beach vacation with a babyface, and he’d just sit there and relax, like a face massage! I would also use it on the bottoms of his feet. We also had a tube of the liquid form of this for quick application to his arms and legs. The link is to Amazon for this, but its outrageously expensive. I just buy it at Shoppers Drug Mart for $14.

We would also highly recommend a UV swimsuit for your baby. I bought onepacking for a beach vacation with a baby from walmart for $12 that was adorable. I got it a size bigger so the arms and legs would cover more, but the body still fit. It even had a hood! This made the sunscreen application game so much faster, and it helped him stay warm so he could stay in the water longer. We brought 2 with us, the other one was from Superstore and had shorter sleeves and packing for a beach vacation with a babylegs, and no hood. But we bought a matching hat with UV protection and he was good to go. Sorry I don’t have a link for these guys.

On a side note, I bought a long sleeve/longer length UV shirt for myself while I was pregnant, and I love it. It helps me stay cool, and keeps the burns away. Also covers that food baby. I got mine online from Coolibar.

Skip Hop Changing Station

We received this as a gift, and its awesome. Especially on this trip. It has packing for a beach vacation with a babyspace for a few diapers and wipes, and then we just tossed it in the stroller basket and we were ready to change him anytime, anyplace.

Lillebaby Airflow Complete 6-in-1 Baby Carrier

packing for a beach vacation with a baby
finally sleeping during our layover

We did a couple test runs of baby carriers over the winter, having trouble finding something that was comfortable for both of us to wear proved rather tricky. Thankfully there is a Facebook Group V2V Lending Library, that organizes the rental of baby carriers and slings for a week at a time. You can get pointers from other baby wearers in the Vancouver Baby Wearing group (or many like it for your area). Some helpful people suggested we try the Lillebaby. We tested out the Lillebaby and it was a win! I waited for a Black Friday sale, and scored this baby for $130 CAD.

We had this in our carry-on for the flight there, given the 4 hour layover. But we packed it away for the flight home, as we would have the stroller packing for a beach vacation with a babyand it was an overnight, so not too much waiting around. Otherwise we only used it one other time on the trip, when we went hiking. If you are on the fence about packing a carrier, I would bring it just in case. At least for any layovers where they lose your stroller (like us!). The rest of the trip it was just too hot to wear him! And this carrier is one of the more breathable ones! I can imagine using it way more if we had two children. But still, we highly recommend this carrier!

That’s it! Those are the things I will never travel without. Do you have any recommendations for packing for a beach vacation with a baby?

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Lessons from Our First Trip with Baby

If you’ve read our previous posts, you’ll know that our trip to Crete had some ups and downs. Our flight to Crete can be read here and is best summed up as, tired. Our first few days on the island, were disappointing (you can read about them here), and can be summed up as, tired. Our middle few days were great (you can read about them here), and can be summed up as, tired… I think you get the picture…

Traveling with a baby is tiring.

We have always liked to think of ourselves as low maintenance, no expectation, go with the flow travelers; so we thought that same attitude would help us cope with traveling with a baby. WRONG. I mean, sort of. We were on the right path, but we just weren’t low maintenance/flowy/expectation-less enough. Does that make sense?

Lesson 1: You WILL be tired and there is nothing you can do about it, unless you have help with you.

In the past, we would regularly show up in a city, having done enough research to find our accommodations. Then, we would just walk aimlessly. There was rarely any one site, we HAD to see. We ate when we were hungry, we waited in lines if we felt like it, we napped and watched TV if that’s what suited us. On this trip we rented a car, and booked our accommodations in advance. We researched what we wanted to see and came up with a general itinerary. There was Plan A, and Plans B-Z.
We were going to walk aimlessly, and we were going to chase beaches. Surely, a 9 month old would love that?!

Yes, he did in fact love this. But he also loved napping, or not napping, depending on what suited him. We were so tired, because we started off jet-lagged, without any sleep (seriously read this post and you’ll understand), and it took several days for him to adjust. We meanwhile, drank 14L of coffee every day. He woke up early and multiple times a Our First Trip with Babynight, meaning we were constantly in the negative sleep bank. When we headed out to a site/beach we always left early so that his first nap was in the car. What that meant, was while he was sleeping peacefully, we were on high alert for crazy drivers, single lane roads, herds of goats, and cliff faces. We’d arrive at our destination, just in time for him to wake up! Now, he’s ready to go full speed, and we’re even more tired. We’d chase him around the beach, or walk with him in the stroller, and then drive home in time for his second nap… repeat cycle….

We actually managed to accomplish a lot more on this trip, day-to-day, than we had expected, because of this method. We were tired, but we managed to do everything we had set out to do. I heard from multiple people, who have all corroborated the same story- travel somewhere easy (same time zone etc.) and travel with extended family. Bring Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles, other kids etc. basically anyone who you can pass your kid off to once a day (or more) and get a break, whatever that break may look like for you.

Lesson 2: No Age is the Right age, but the right age is probably not your kid’s age.

We also suspect, that the trip might have been easier if he had been a little bit older or younger. We don’t know which is better, but ideally, your baby is not mobile yet, but is definitely sleep trained (or at least has sleep coping mechanisms). Or your baby is no longer a baby… Would this have helped? Yes, no sand eating, no worrying about falling, maybe they have all their teeth already, or simply you can reason with them? HA YA RIGHT!

Lesson 3: Don’t pack anything you haven’t tested out at home first, and then pack over and over and over and over again.

Our First Trip with Baby
Pack light for your small car & sanity!

I love packing bags for trips. It’s like a puzzle that can make or break your trip! High Stakes people!! I read 8 million different blog posts about what to pack; handy gadgets, crap you don’t/do need. Honestly, I don’t know why people bother traveling if they are going to haul that much shit around. We always pack as little as possible. I like to open my bag and not be bothered by 17 different decisions, when I could be out exploring. So I research everything in advance (what will the weather be like, does it swing hot/cold morning to night, does the hotel have AC, what customs, if any do I need to respect with my attire, how much walking will we be doing, will we have fancy nights out etc.) I think this is all fairly normal research, Tyler thinks I’m insane.

We were entitled to 2 carry-ons, plus a diaper bag and a purse, and we were only going to bring two roller suitcases as checked bags, plus the stroller; and that’s what we did. On the way home, we even donated some stuff so that we could abandon our cheap diaper bag, and have less stuff to carry. We opted not to bring our car seat which was genius; and used an umbrella stroller for its lightweight/smallness. We made sure everything could do double/triple duty. We brought sink-sized laundry detergent. This was still a lot of stuff for us, but in the end. Everything got used multiple times, if not daily.

Lesson 4: Don’t stay too long or too short, its anyone’s guess what the right amount would be.

On previous trips to Europe, we would always save up our vacation time and go for 5 weeks. To us, this made the flight and jet-lag worth it. This time around, we knew we couldn’t afford it, and that we would be tired. (See first lesson). So we planned for 17 days including travel. This seemed reasonable, we guessed we’d manage about 10 days without anyone being jet-lagged. Which was about right, but again, oh so tired. This is a tricky one to get right I think (unlike the rest of our traveling lessons haha)
you need to know what you’re capable of solo, as a couple, and then take into consideration HEAVILY what you think you can reasonably manage with a baby. We have since said that ideally, we would have stayed 3 weeks to a month, stayed in one or two locations rather than traveling around, and invited friends/family to come with us. Two weeks was fine (too much) with the two of us, because of the jet-lag.

Our First Trip with Baby

Lesson 5: Drink every day, but don’t be hungover.

This one speaks for itself….

 

 

Lesson 6: Seek shade, wear SPF 50, reapply, and cover up.

If you’re going somewhere sunny and hot, don’t be careless. A burnt baby is not going to be pleasant, since a burnt adult isn’t pleasant. Thankfully Our First Trip with Babywe didn’t run into this issue because I am a sun protection psycho.

Lesson 6a: There is no such thing as a base tan/burn. Any tan/burn is skin damage. Straight up.

Lesson 7: Make sure you’re eating, not just the baby.

You know what’s stressful? Traveling. You know what makes things worse? Hunger. Make sure that you have food for baby; but make sure you take the time to stop and get food for yourselves. When shit hits the fan, which it will at some point, you don’t want to be hangry and dealing with a baby. When we ran out of formula we had about a 2 hour trip in front of us, with one serving of food for the baby left. We stopped at a restaurant before starting our hunt, fed him his last serving of formula, and ate a bunch of food ourselves. He fell asleep in the car with a full belly, and we managed to keep our cool until more formula was secured. All because we had eaten sufficiently. Can you imagine how easily this could have spiraled out of control?

Lesson 8: Don’t get the shits, drink drink drink that potable water.

Don’t get diarrhea. Seriously, just don’t. At the very least don’t get it bad. Just make sure you are drinking lots of water, if the water needs to be boiled, boil it or buy bottled. We probably drink more water on vacation than we do at home, because we don’t want to get dehydrated and ruin our trip. Plus sometimes you eat new foods and it upsets the system… cue the need for more water. We made sure that we each had a 1L bottle of water whenever we left the hotel, and that we had 2L of boiled or bottled water for Callahan’s bottles.

Lesson 9: Clear up space on your phone & leave the big camera at home.

This next lesson will only be pertinent to a few people… You know that ginormous semi-pro/pro camera you bought before the baby? Ya, don’t bother bringing it. A baby means you have more stuff than normal, or that you’re carrying the baby, or baby wearing the baby… see where I’m going with this? I used to bring my camera with my most versatile lens (and I Our First Trip with Babydid on this trip too) and take 200 pictures per day. This trip? I took 200 total on my camera. I also had a waterproof camera that I took about 20 pictures on. Do you know how many I took on my phone? About 2500. And then there are the pictures Tyler took on his phone. I even did direct comparisons of  my phone and my DSLR, honestly I can’t tell the difference between the two. There are a few situations where my phone was actually able to get a better picture. It seems like a great idea, you want to get some AMAZING shots of your child in foreign lands (and feel like your old self again), but honestly it’s a bitch to haul around. Your phone is always in your pocket anyways. Buy a waterproof case for your phone if you feel the need to bring it in the water, but for sure, make sure you have a protective case because you’ll drop that bitch at least once a day in the juggle struggle of baby vs camera.

I think that sums up our lessons from this trip, I’m sure there are others, but just remember above all else; it doesn’t matter how disastrous it seems to be going, take a deep breath, let things go, and know that as long as you all make it home alive and mostly intact, you will not regret going.

Our First Trip with Baby

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2 Weeks in Crete with a Baby: Week 2

In the previous post, I discussed a little bit about Crete, and spending 2 weeks in Crete with a baby, focusing on our first 9 days on the island.

Day 1: Travel Vancouver to Heraklion

Day 2-7: Agios Nikolaos

Day 7-9: Rethymnon

Day 9-11: Loutro
Day 11-15: Kissamos
Day 15: Travel, Overnight in Zurich
Day 16: Travel Zurich to Vancouver
Here are the last 8 days:

Day 9-11: Sifis Hotel, Loutro

To get to Loutro, we traveled south across the island to Chora Sfakion, through some decent mountain passes. There were fallen rocks, goats, and amazing views. From behind we could look out and see Chania and the Mediterranean. Once through the pass, it opened up to a mountainside of switchbacks and the Libyan Sea. This was another great drive on our trip, and although this portion of our trip ended up being a bit of a let down, the drive was great.

2 weeks in crete with a baby
Loutro

So this is where the trip got… interesting? Loutro is a tiny fishing village on the Libyan Sea. It is only accessible by trekking or boat. It is absolutely picturesque, with architecture much like the Small Cyclades or what you imagine when you think of Greece. However, I would not recommend making this an overnight stay, unless you are trekking the southern coast, there is not much to do here, and it is not authentic Crete anymore. This is a tourist trap. There are hotels and restaurants and little souvenir shops and that’s it.

As I understand, the beaches east and west of Loutro are spectacular. They require a level of hiking that I wasn’t willing to do with a baby; in 35C weather, with no cloud cover, or shade along the way. You can take a scheduled boat over to these beaches from Loutro, but they only do one round trip per day, and again… baby.

This would be a good time to note, that if you are traveling with people that need things, formula for example (or anything from a pharmacy) make sure you bring extra.

The hotel was lovely, with a balcony overlooking the harbour and all the restaurants. However it was loud, as all those restaurants are right outside 2 weeks in crete with a babyyour window. This was the one time on the trip, where we did not get a baby cot (playpen). But I had planned each hotel reservation to have a double bed and a single bed, on the chance this happened. If that was the case, I would co-sleep in the double with Callahan and Tyler would get the single.

While in Loutro, we decided we didn’t want to go to sleep at the same time as Callahan. We wanted to sit out on our balcony and have some wine. To get around not having a crib and not wanting to go to bed early, we opted to put the single mattress on the floor. We put the blankets and pillows around it so he wouldn’t land on the tile. This was okay until around midnight, when I wake up to Callahan sleep crawling over to my side of the bed. This was hella creepy. I brought him into the bed with me, and Tyler hit the floor mattress.

About an hour or two later (you know, when Callahan has finally fallen into a deep sleep) Tyler jumps up and starts whipping the blankets around like a maniac. Immediately irritated and confused, I whisper-demand an explanation. “Something big crawled on me”. DEAR GOD. We never found it (yay?) and Tyler quickly put the mattress back on the frame, going back to sleep after thoroughly shaking out those blankets.

The next day, we intended to hang out on the beach and take it easy. That was until we realized that Callahan was drinking his formula way faster than we had projected. Suddenly, we’re sitting on a beach (me denying/procrastinating because he’s finally fallen asleep on me at the beach and I just want to savor this moment!) and we realize we have to2 weeks in crete with a baby leave.

I send Tyler on the hunt for formula, none of the little convenience stores have any, the hotel owner calls the next town over to get some sent on the last ferry.. no go. Its a holiday weekend, and everything is closed. We have 1 hour to pack our stuff and get down to the ferry (a fishing boat) to get back to our car, to drive an hour and a half to the big city, Chania, to find a 24hr pharmacy. I felt like such an ass. What kind of mother doesn’t bring enough formula?! The kind that stopped breastfeeding 2 days ago and has no concept of how much her boobs were actually producing for her kid. OOPS.

2 weeks in crete with a baby
Morning in Chania Old Town

Anyways, we made it to Chania, and got a hotel there for the night. Paradise Apartments, I am certain there is somewhere better to stay, but it adds to our story. This place was looked like something out of Krustyville; if Krustyville was producing shitty 70’s pornos. It was something else, but, they had a baby cot, and a bed, and that’s all we needed. It also provided us the opportunity to spend a morning in Chania, which allowed us to free up a day later on for other things.

Day 11-15: Olive Tree Apartments, Kaliviani, Kissamos

This place was awesome. The apartment was clean, we had a kitchen again (2 burners), we had a BBQ we could use, a pool, and it was quiet. We were out in the countryside, literally in a field of olive trees with a pen of goats and chickens right next door, and we had a view of the sea. Callahan loved the extra space to run around, and we loved that the bedroom was upstairs, meaning once he was in bed, we weren’t disturbing him by staying up. We would 100% come back to this area of the island, it was by far the best part of our trip.

We spent the first day driving around after check-in, exploring the little towns and ended up stumbling upon Falassarna Beach. It was ridiculously beautiful. A literal paradise. Up to that point, I had never been anywhere as beautiful. We decided to get our stuff and come back that afternoon after lunch and naps; it was only 15 minutes from our hotel. The sand was soft, although hot as hell, and the water was refreshing and clean. The view of the beach from above, the view of the water from the beach, and the view of the land from the water were all equally amazing.

 

2 weeks in crete with a baby
Falassarna Beach

The next day we headed to Elafonisi Beach on the south side of the island. We did the coastal drive and it was something else. The water and views were gorgeous, but the little derelict villages on the sides of mountains were insane. Many parts of the road were only wide enough for one vehicle; but thanks to Callahan’s early morning wake up calls, we didn’t encounter very many vehicles. Elafonisi is famous for its pink sand, and it also happens to be one of the few national parks.

We arrived nice and early, and were pleased to see the beach not very 2 weeks in crete with a babycrowded. The water was cool, but again, super shallow, and there was a tinge of pink to the sand. The view was awesome, but what was most spectacular were the amateur Russian models doing iPhone photoshoots on the beach… that was truly, something to behold.

Our drive back was interrupted by a herd of goats on the road, with a couple of them ramming heads, even though we didn’t stick around, we know who won; it was the guy with the ball sack nearly the size of his own torso. Not exaggerating. We were highly impressed. The drive itself took about an hour and half each way, and I would definitely recommend doing it for the drive alone.

2 weeks in crete with a baby
Almost there!! Balos Bay

The third day, we headed to Balos Bay. It’s about 30 minutes on a dirt road, followed by a 30 minute hike down to the bay. Again we headed out nice and early, we hit the dirt road and the first toll booth for the park within 5 minutes of our hotel. The drive wasn’t bad, I head read horror stories about the condition of the road, and that you needed 4×4. You only need to drive like a reasonable human and you’ll be fine, low and slow.

I used our baby carrier to wear Callahan as we made the descent to the bay, and man-alive, that view was stunning. This beach wins, hands down. The water was a bit on the chilly side, but not bad, and it was SO clear and blue! Also, the sand was pink! Way pinker than Elafonisi. We started our hike back out when we noticed the clouds rolling in and the cruise ship coming in with a boatload of tourists. We made it back up as a flood of tourists arrived, and made it back to our hotel before the rain started.

2 weeks in crete with a baby
Our first glimpse of Balos Bay.

It was around 1pm by the time we got back to the hotel, so we had most of the day still. We looked up the address for some wineries and hit the road. We stopped first at Pnevmatikakis Winery for what was the most bush league tour we’ve ever been on, followed by a self-serve wine tasting. It was hilarious, and they had a decent view and a few decent wines.

2 weeks in crete with a baby
Anoskeli

Onto the next place a little further away, but totally worth it, Anoskeli Winery and Olive Mill. Here we were the only ones in the tasting room, which was modern and cozy. The host/owner was wonderful and the adoration her and Callahan had for each other was adorable. This has to be one of the best wine tastings we’ve ever been on. Paired with local cheeses, produce, and meats; we were able to sample 2 white, a rose, and a red, along with their olive oil. It was delicious. We brought home a couple reds and a white, as well as some olive oil that we are as protective of, as Gollum was of the ring. This place was up in the hills, it was quiet, with almost nothing around it but trees, olive groves, and rows of grapes. This was by far the best all around day on our trip.

2 weeks in crete with a baby
Walking around Kissamos

The last day we spent the morning walking around Kissamos; it’s a fairly small town, with an adorable little city centre. There isn’t a whole lot to do, and the water was fairly choppy that day, so we weren’t getting in the sea. We headed back to our place after lunch, stopping to get some more chicken, and BBQ’d (using Olive Tree branches/bark as tinder). We took turns swimming in the pool with Callahan, it was a perfectly relaxed day for the end of the trip.

For dinner we walked to Mama’s Dinner, a restaurant in Kaliviani and about a 5 minute walk away. We had noticed the play area they had outside, and since it was called Mama’s we thought it was family friendly (everywhere is family friendly in Crete); but this was fancy food, fancy wine, fancy servers…. and it was delicious. With some expert level coaxing by Tyler, we were able to get Callahan to sleep before our appetizer arrived. He slept soundly in the stroller while we enjoyed our meals, including dessert, and Tyler downed a bottle of red to himself, “He’s asleep and dammit if I’m not going to enjoy myself”. This was probably the best modern take on Greek food we have ever had.

Day 15: Heraklion to Zurich, overnight in Zurich at The Hilton Zurich

We checked out of our hotel and started the drive back to Heraklion. Our flight was at 8:10 pm so we planned to stop for the afternoon somewhere along the way and hang out. We decided to stop at Bali, and set up shop on the beach. This place was freaking adorable. It reminded me of the Amalfi Coast. Walking on the sand was like walking on the surface of the sun; which posed some problems for Callahan. After the third or fourth time trying to chase another little boy (who was not impressed) and stopping to cry in the hot sand and be rescued, he figured out his own toys in the shade were good enough.

The water here was super calm, almost no waves, and had a sandy bottom. The restaurant on the this beach, and our choice for lunch, was not very good. Probably the worst food we had on the trip (that includes airplane food), clearly they get by just on their location. We donated Callahan’s beach toys to another child, and left our towels (which we had bought the last time we were in Crete) hanging on a pathway for the next visitor that’s missing a towel.

2 weeks in crete with a baby
Bali Beach

After a few hours here, we made the rest of the journey to Heraklion. We had about an hour to spare before needing to be at the airport, so we made our way to this souvenir shop we had visited the last time we were there. The owner, Gogo, was this hilarious Greek woman, who told us we had to come back once we had a baby. Our first trip in, we were looking for a baby gift for our friends, and she thought I was pregnant, which I had to explain was just a food baby from all the bread.

So here we are, we said we’d be back! As we walked in she looked at us, and you could see the recognition and confusion. We told her about our last trip, and then she remembered everything and fell into a nonstop flurry of English/Greek words about love and destiny. She loved Callahan, and he loved her. While we were in there, this giant black dog walked in, lay down at Gogo’s feet, and rolled onto his back. This was not her dog. We’re pretty sure he was just there for the air conditioning. It was a great little visit, and I’m still not certain I know what she said, as she is a tornado of words, expressive arm movements, and excitement.

It felt really neat to be able to get around Heraklion and know where we were going; something we have only experienced abroad once before, while in Amsterdam. I felt like I had earned a badge from the travel scouts or something.

2 weeks in crete with a baby
this was it.

We got to Heraklion airport, and despite abandoning the towels and a bunch of stuff at the hotel, our bags were overweight by 9kgs. They asked if we wanted to fix it, and both of us replied instantly “NO!” Those things were expertly pack by moi, I knew there was no way we could make it lighter, and it had allowed us only two carry-ons. We had packed one carry-on as an overnight bag for the three of us, and one was the diaper bag.

We sent our checked bags directly to Vancouver so we didn’t have to deal with them anymore. I stand by the overweight bags as a good decision (mostly bottles of wine and olive oil haha) rather than having more bags. We only had 2 rolling bags (checked), 2 regular school sized backpacks (carry-on) and the stroller (gate check). One person could push the stroller, and the other could pull the luggage.

Heraklion airport is a shit show, it has no A/C, the speaker system for announcements wasn’t audible, and there were like 4 million people there. While dealing with some ticketing issues and our overweight bags, Callahan decided now would be a good time to start yelling out syllables, attempting to talk to us and everyone around him, especially any young, 2 weeks in crete with a babyhot chicks. I’m sure Tyler was so embarrassed by this. He was reckless in his abandonment of social norms, it looked like we had a Tasmanian devil strapped into our stroller.

Thankfully he wasn’t crying, he was just nuts. It was like someone gave him a dose of ephedrine, happy, yelling, and laughing like a Batman villain. Most of our flight was spent trying to keep him contained. The other passengers thought this was hilarious, which amped him up more; until he started to crash and decided he needed to scream at the top of his lungs until he finally fell asleep. Other than the fuckwit in front of us, who kept looking back at me with disdain (he received only my most top-notch “you wanna take this to the aisle? because I’ll fucking go you” death stare each time he looked back), no one else seemed to mind. And honestly is was only 5 minutes, so suck a hot one you crotchety old cock.

We arrived in Zurich at 11:30 pm, hopped on the shuttle to the airport, and tried to go to sleep. We had a crib and thankfully, we didn’t have to be up early, so we were able to give Callahan a proper bath.

Day 16: Zurich to Vancouver

2 weeks in crete with a baby
The village next to our hotel, Kloten, Switzerland

We had a fantastic continental breakfast, then took Callahan for a walk around the area; we were 5 minutes from the airport, yet our hotel backed onto some fields and a little village. This was exactly what you imagine Zurich to look like, one side of the hotel was a bustling city and airport, the other side was quintessential Switzerland. It was really nice to be able to get out and get some fresh air before the flight. Callahan was able to get a quick nap before we left for the airport, and then we were off.

Our flight home was a much different experience than on the way to Crete. It was a daytime flight, so there was no stressing about others trying to sleep. He did scream as usual before finally falling asleep, but then he slept for 4 hours straight. This sleep was a pain, in the fact that the second I tried to sit, he started to squirm. Prior to falling asleep he put on a show of laugh-screaming at everyone, playing peek-a-boo, and trying to make a break for it every chance he got.

I would say the best part of the flight home, was when our seatmates sat down next to us. The lady had a book about baby names, and a baby magazine. She watched us from the corner of her eye in absolute amazement as Callahan put on a clinic in non-stop movement. We did share some of our tricks with her, as she watched what worked and didn’t work. But you could see the fear in her eyes. Good luck lady!

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2 weeks in Crete with a Baby: Week 1

We spent 17 days in Crete this spring. If you are thinking of taking a trip to Greece, we highly recommend the island of Crete. This was our second trip to Greece, the first trip we spent 4 days in Crete and the rest island hopping the small cyclades with G Adventures. Unlike the more famous islands in Greece, Crete has a lot of Venetian and African influence making it much more interesting to look at and walk through. The drives are stunning, with mountain passes that allow you to see right back towards the sea, and it has an absolute crapload of things you can do.

Although many guidebooks will say that it can take forever to drive anywhere on the island, the new National Highway really speeds things up. I do suspect that many of those guides are probably comparing to driving around small ass countries, for all you Canadian folk reading this, Crete is 8,350 square kms vs Vancouver Island’s 31,285 square kms. So, its all relative. That being said, you will likely get stopped by some goats meandering across the road if you decide to head outside of the more major cities.

From May to September there is a charter flight with Edelweiss Airlines (a partner of SWISS Airlines) from Vancouver to Zurich, with multiple connections for further travel. We left May 25 and returned June 10. Our flight to Zurich was maybe half full, the flight to Heraklion was rammed, and our flights home were full.

This time of year was perfect, as the weather was around 30-35C (although our first 3 days were stormy and cold, we were told it was a rare occurrence). It also happens to be just the beginning of tourist season, so its not too busy, and because its early summer, the plant life is still green and flowering, rather than dried out and brown.

Here’s what our trip looked like this time around:

Day 1: Travel Vancouver to Heraklion

Day 2-7: Agios Nikolaos

Day 7-9: Rethymnon

Day 9-11: Loutro
Day 11-15: Kissamos
Day 15: Travel, Overnight in Zurich
Day 16: Travel Zurich to Vancouver
Here are the first 9 days. (I am not paid to endorse any of these companies)

Day 1 : Vancouver – Zurich – Heraklion

Our flight left at 4:30 pm, arriving in Zurich at 11:25 am. We had a 4 hour layover in Zurich, and arrived in Heraklion at 8:10 pm.

You can read about this travel day here.

We had arranged for a car rental for the entirety of the trip from Auto Rentals Crete . They were the best price, included the most “extras” at no cost (including the baby seat), greeted us at the airport, and were very helpful and polite. I would definitely use them again.

After watching a few families hauling around a car seat or two (as well as

He LOVED this car seat!

their luggage) I’m so glad we opted to use the car seat provided. Yes, you don’t know the history of the car seat, and maybe it will be dirty, but I think it worked out in the end. I will put a caveat on this though, had we been somewhere more… wilder? I likely would have brought my own. Who knows.

We arranged for one night in Heraklion at Sofia Hotel which was close to the airport and easy to get to. Decent food in the restaurant, and a nice pool (that we didn’t use). The bedrooms were basic, but all we were doing was sleeping, so it didn’t matter. We had some dinner by the pool, which Callahan ruined by gagging on a piece of cucumber until he projectile vomited everywhere. Our sleep was decent considering the travel day, with Callahan sleeping until 3am, having a 1 hour playdate with us, and then going back to sleep. In the morning, Tyler brought me some breakfast which I enjoyed on the patio until Callahan had a shitsplosion that ruined a few toys, and smeared all over the floor.

Day 2-4: Daios Cove Luxury Resort and Villas, Agios Nikolaos.

We stayed here on our honeymoon on a screaming deal I got on Hotels.com. This place is absolutely beautiful and way too posh for us, but we knew if we ever got back to Crete we would come here again. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a deal quite as good as last time, but that didn’t stop us. We were disappointed in this portion of the trip as we were all so jetlagged (especially Callahan) and the weather was shit, that we just didn’t get to enjoy it properly. In a way it was good that the combination of less than perfect conditions brought this place down a peg or two for us. Otherwise we’d be dreaming of coming back over and over, when there are other places in the world to explore. That being said, I think we will come back when our children are older. Daios is beautiful, its well run, and the food is delicious. If it hadn’t been for regular 3am playdates, the thunderstorms, and Callahan screaming like a banshee through every lunch and dinner, we would have had a fantastic time as we did previously.

Daios Cove, Callahan experiencing sand and sea for the first time!

Day 4-7: Kavousanos Apartments, Istron

Our view at Kavousanos

This was about 7 minutes down the road from Daios Cove, and we loved the location. The views were great, there was a pool, we had all the amenities we needed, a quick walk into town, and multiple beautiful beaches. We had 2 bedrooms which meant that unlike our first 3 nights, Callahan would have his own room!! Their taverna had the best tzatziki that we have had in two trips to Greece. We started this stay by arriving to the gate closed and no one around. I scaled a fence looking for someone, which caught the attention of a lady driving by. She stopped to see what was going on, and was able to help us out, as she had previously worked there. Calling George, and finding out both his parents (the owners) were in Heraklion at the hospital and would be back later. She was able to open the gate and let us into our apartment. Small town charm at its finest.

150+ yr old olive mill

While we were here we headed to Vassilakis Estate to do a tour of their Olive mill processing centre, learn about the history of the olive oil mill, and of course, samples! Not all olive oils are equal people!! Everyone was really friendly and welcoming. Afterwards we started driving around the little villages in the area, up sides of mountains, blind corners, and goats, lots of goats. We really enjoyed this afternoon trip. There are many other olive mills you could visit on the island, I have nothing else to compare it to, but I would recommend it. This was definitely the most relaxed we were on the trip, as we were starting to come out of the jetlag fog but weren’t yet exhausted from the trip itself.

a 5 minute drive from our apartment & about 10 other people total
In Ag. Nik. taking care of business.

We also spent a morning exploring Agios Nikolaos (or Ag Nik as the Brits call it) which was when we started to feel like our previous traveling selves. Callahan fell asleep in the stroller and we were able to just wander. Of course our early starts meant many shops and places weren’t open yet, but that’s okay, it meant the crowds were small.

The first day here we walked into Istron and found a pizza place that served Italian style pizza (YUM) and we ended up getting stuck there for 2 hours (after we had already eaten) through a torrential downpour, thankfully they served wine and beer, so we survived and eventually had to call a cab to take us back to the hotel as it didn’t appear to be letting up.

Day 7-9: Ammos Hotel, Rethymnon

This hotel was right on the beach, and our view was great. The rooms had been recently updated and comfortable. It was like a 1 bedroom apartment minus the kitchen, including giant sectional couch. There was a nice pool area, although we didn’t use it, as the beach was right there. Rethymnon reminded me of Waikiki. Long sandy beaches, water you could walk out into for ages, relaxed waves, and plenty of restaurants and hotels right across the street from the beach. We actually enjoyed ourselves here, but I think two days was enough as it was VERY touristy.

Rethymnon, this was fantastic swimming water. warm, calm, and sandy.

The room had a true one bedroom and living room, this meant that we could close the bedroom door at night on Callahan (in the baby cot in the living room), but it also meant that we had to be ready for bed when he was, or somehow figure out how to tip toe past him get into the bathroom and back without waking him. The door was frosted which meant we had to pee in the dark or risk waking him. It wasn’t the worst set up on this trip, but wasn’t the best.

Exploring Rethymnon like a boss

Rethymnon has an old fortress (to be honest, I’m pretty sure most places in Crete have one) that we didn’t explore, but we did the walk around the outside walls on the water. It was a sweltering day, so we were inclined to stay near the water and feel the breeze. There are lots of old, twisty, beautiful streets to explore here as well. It was on this portion of the trip that Callahan learned how to flirt, HARD. Any female service employee, waitress, flight attendant, store clerk, basically any female… he’d squish up his face and make a cheesy smile at them, when they left he’d start yelling, clapping, laughing, flailing, whatever it took to get them back.

 

The last 8 days of our trip will be posted later this week. Stay tuned!

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