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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Flying with a Baby: An Exercise in Futility

There are literally 8 million posts about this online. I counted. All of them will tell you a bunch of stuff about how amazingly smooth it went because they had this, that, or the other thing. They might even tell you some things they would do differently. I’m here to tell you, none of it matters. Your kid is going to do whatever the fuck they want to do despite all your greatest intentions and packing wizardness.

Our flight to Crete was 9.5hrs overnight. Most posts I had read (because I read pretty much all 8 million of them) said heading to Europe is easiest on an overnight because the baby will fall asleep for most of it. HAHAHAHAHA those fucking bitches lied to me.

We tend to travel light, and that was my intention for this trip too, BUT I wasn’t willing to be unprepared for our first flight, especially since other passengers would be trying to sleep. I brought a cheap bag I was okay with leaving in Crete if necessary, I brought his snuggly blanket, headphones designed for kids (safe decibel level), hours of his favourite shows on the laptop and my phone, and a crap load of toys (old and new) that didn’t make too much noise, so that we didn’t annoy the shit out of our fellow passengers. I had his favourite bath toys to signal to him it was his normal bath time (yes, you read that ridiculous statement correctly) I had PJs to change him into after he had played with those toys, I had the sleep sheep and his other stuffies from his crib, I had formula, puffs, goldfish. I even had an express pediatric pharmacy in my bag.

flying with a baby
Yup. That looks about right.

We upgraded our seats to business class so that we would have more legroom and the chairs would lean back further. Most sites will say to pick seats on the ends of the row, with an empty seat between and you can usually get that seat to yourself at no cost… I wasn’t willing to risk sitting next to someone I didn’t know with an active 9 month old. We picked the bulkhead seats for the chance we could use the bassinet, (which at the time of booking they didn’t say anything about him being too big/old for it) and so that he wouldn’t be pulling on the headrests of the people in front of us. It would have been hell.

Well, more hellish than it already was.

He slept for 1.5 hours of a 9.5 hour, overnight flight.


Instead of sleeping he screamed, tried to play on the ground (which the flight attendants wouldn’t let him do), and ate all but one serving of formula, while simultaneously breastfeeding almost every hour. He played with every single toy for about 30 seconds, then he would toss it on the floor and start climbing and yelling again (he is loud, in general).

The flight attendants would come by and look at us with this look; it was a specific mix of wonderment, pity, and amusement. Then they would ask if we’d like another alcoholic beverage or coffee. They didn’t even offer water, they just knew.

flying with a baby
I must say we look pretty good for what we just went through.

By the time we got to our layover in Zurich, Tyler and I were done. Callahan was done. We were all wondering what the hell we had been thinking. And then our stroller didn’t arrive at the gate. Thankfully I came overly prepared, and had our baby carrier (we love this carrier, as it fits us both comfortably. It is available for purchase on Amazon, but I purchased it directly from Lillebaby on a Black Friday sale for $100 CAD) in the diaper bag.

The good thing about Zurich, is that they have a family room in each terminal. There are toys, microwaves, couches, change tables, breastfeeding/sleep rooms, and most importantly, other kids and space. Callahan went nuts, he was everywhere and he was happy. He licked almost every surface and then at about an hour he started to crash. I stuffed him in the carrier where he slept for about 2 hours. When we tried to take him out to wake him he stayed asleep. Face down, frat boy level of unconsciousness.

flying with a baby
Couldn’t have slept like that on the flight huh??

Our next flight was 2.5 hours and when they announced the passenger count, there were 7 infants on board. Which was a huge relief, he wouldn’t be the only one crying this time. The lady sitting next to us was super sweet and Callahan loved her. He was good for about an hour and a half and then we got him to sleep (with some screaming of course) and even managed to sneak in about a 20 minute nap ourselves before starting the descent.

Looking back on this circus of a travel day, there are some things I would do differently.

  1. I would bring enough formula to feed an army.
  2. I would not book the bulkhead seats (or the last row, or anywhere people/flight staff tend to congregate). He would be just about asleep and then people would come in/out of the bathroom or the flight attendants would start a service and basically yell, waking him. He’s just too easily distracted and disturbed for that level of activity.
  3. When possible I would split that flight up, or extend the layover for an overnight in a hotel.
  4. I would try to limit the amount of contact his mouth has to airport/plane surfaces. A jetlagged sick baby is not cool, and even less so once you catch it too.
  5. I would not travel with a baby that can move.I think he was too old/too young. He could crawl, but not walk. He wanted to move, but had to stay in our arms. And he still hadn’t mastered any coping mechanisms for sleeping at this point.

Each age has different pros/cons for traveling, but between his desire to move when he wasn’t allowed, and starting to teeth again right before the flight, it was not ideal.

So to summarize, traveling with a baby is hard. Don’t stress about making it easier, and have zero expectations. We don’t negotiate with terrorists for a reason, because they’re fucking nuts and its futile.

(also, don’t say terrorists, on a plane or in the airport).

I wish you many blessings of a sweet angel baby on your travels (I hear those are real, albeit rare).


*Update* You can read about the first half of our trip here and the second half here

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