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 night, 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.
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.
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 we 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 did 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.