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:
Less stuff to haul around
Less stuff to clean and sterilze
No need for boiled/bottled water
Antibodies for baby if you pick up something on the journey
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).
I could actually relax on the holiday! Dad could take over some feeds!
He could eat in his stroller, on the couch, or highchair instead of being attached to me in the heat.
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)
I could stop worrying about the sunscreen I was applying to the area and baby’s exposure to it.
Could stop worrying about alcohol completely. (I was never “worried” but now it was a non issue)
If you are driving, you don’t have to stop to breastfeed, you can just pop a bottle in their mouth.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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 (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.
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 reduced 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.
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 stroller 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!!
This sunscreen stick is awesome! Callahan loved it! I would use it on his face, 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 one 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 legs, 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.
We received this as a gift, and its awesome. Especially on this trip. It has space 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.
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 and 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?
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.
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 your 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 to 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.
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.
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.
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 crowded. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, hot 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
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!