Friday, October 13, 2017

Primadonna Mama: Our First Family Trip

Often times we travel to decompress and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Unfortunately, many of our "vacations" end up being even more stressful, as we endure uncomfortable flights, poorly planned iteneraries, and spend our vacation time feeling sluggish and irritated.

As a teacher I'm a BIG "planner", so I have always tried to plan most aspects of our travels to avoid the frustrations that can come with lack of preparation. This has been an easy task when planning for family trips that have never involved little ones, and getaways with my husband. I'd never planned a trip that involved a child, let alone an infant. So when my husband suggested we take a mini vacation to Atlanta last fall; I was excited and nervous about how our little one, (who would be making nine months old the day our flight departed), would handle the trip. Here are a few things I did, or wish that I had done.
Our Son Roman on his first flight. 


Packing:
In the airport rocking my cheetah sneakers.
Somehow, traveling with open shoes seems like a good idea when you have to slide them off for TSA check, but after a short hour in the plane seat you come to realize that you have made a terrible mistake. In an attempt to combine comfort, and style, I started packing for our trip by planning my wardrobe around a cute pair of cheetah print Keds. I figured they would be easy to slip on and off for TSA, comfortable for sightseeing, would blend easily with a number of outfts, and could go from day to night.


We scored a good deal on airline tickets by flying Spirit and deciding not to check any bags. Checked baggage equals extra fees so I found a suitcase that met the measurment requirements for Spirit's free "personal item" and purchased one for both me and my husband. I used packing cubes to organize our outfits for each day. We did not pack any shoes, and only brought the one pair of shoes we wore on our feet to the airport (i.e. my cheetah print keds.) I also puchased two TSA approved toiletry bags to pack our toiletries and things to clean my skin for the trip. I also packed a travel makeup kit with the essentials making sure to include a neutral eyeshadow and lipstick that could be worn with all of my outifits.


Roman's diaper bag also traveled free, so I used a few boxes of plastic storage bags from dollar tree (with the sliders) to efficiently organize his clothing. Each storage bag contained his clothing for the day; two outfits, two bibs, and two burp cloths. I packed one storage bag with all of his pj's for the duration of the trip, and I folded his washcloths and towels for bathtime as flat as possible and put them in a storage bag as well. I used a sandwich bag to pack sample sized baby items for Roman's toiletries. I included his prescriptions/medicine, and a travel sized febreeze and tide laudry detergent with them . We purchased the squeezable baby food pouches for when we were out and about and we poured an entire weeks worth baby formula into a freezer bag. This made it easier to fit into our diaper bag, and allowed us to store other items on top.

All of this preplanning worked out wonderfully. It was easy for us to locate and access everything we needed.


On the plane:

Trying to sleep is impossible; the draft from the A/C keeps you awake, the blankets they provide are not thick enough, or the air is stuffy and warm, and almost difficult to breathe in.. It’s a lesson learned, but it’s a tough one - and it will probably keep you up for the entire flight. To avoid these irrirations, try dressing in layers to be prepared for whatever the temperature of the airplane might be. Take a scarf with you as well, and use it as an extra blanket in case it gets too chilly up there. Try wearing comfy leggings, packing a cozy cardigan in your carry on, or bringing a supportive neck pillow if you plan to take a nap. Lifehacker.com has a great guide to assemble your own travel emergency kit as well, so have a look.

We were so afraid that Roman would be in pain from the pressure in his ears, we failed to think about him being excited by all the new sights and things to fiddle with. We spent much of the flight trying to stop him from slamming the tray table in front of us up and then slamming it back down. We had dressed him in layers, and had any food, or medicine he might need handy, but it was a major fail on our parts to assume he would be sleeping or sitting in our laps peacefully. We should have brought a small toy to keep him occupied. Of course it's difficult to find a small quiet toy that will keep a nine month old amused for a long period of time; but we should have had something.














Convenience
We booked a room at the CNN Center, hoping that staying in walking distance to most of the attractions we planned on attending would allow us to easiy return to our room in the middle of the day if necessary. We did not rent a car, but instead decided the Marta would be sufficient to get us where we needed to go.


If it were just my husband and I, this plan would have been flawless, but having to push a stroller, a diaper bag and two suitcases from the airport, to the MARTA, and then to the hotel is exhausting. We were quite drained when we arrived at the hotel. We had to repeat this process on the return trip when flying out of Atlanta.  When traveling with a little one, it's much easier to have your own form of transportation. Most airlines allow you to check a carseat for free. We will definetly be taking advantage of this in the future.  Convenience is worth the cost when traveling with an infant.

Sidenote: Spirit allowed Roman's stroller to fly free as well. We purchased a light weight foldable stroller that worked great for this trip!



I also decided to purchase a cute little backpack to wear instead of a purse to hold snacks, water, and any extras I might need for the baby.  I didn't use any sort of organization system like I used when packing our suitcases, and though the backpack idea was a solid one, I found myself rummaging through my bag searching for items throughout the day.


Look at how stuffed my bag was on our trip to the Aquarium!

In the future I will make sure my day bag is as organized as my suitcase. Wallets like the ones from  ibricraft.com would have been a good idea to keep attraction tickets, room keys, credit/debit cards from getting lost in the abyss of my bag.



Activities & Outings.
I purchased an Atlanta City Pass for my husband and I because I thought it would be the cheapest way for us to experience a lot of activities during our short stay.  Once again, if it had been just he and I, then I don't think it would have been a big deal, but I learned when traveling with an infant, there needs to be plenty of breaks and time to rest. Lucky for us, Roman is pretty agreeable and he took stroller naps whenever he got tired. Mommy and Daddy on the other hand could have used a nap from lugging around baby stuff all day and going from one attraction to the next.  I definetly miscalculated the amount of energy it takes to experience a new place with a little one in tow. In the future, I will make sure to leave some down time for relaxing and recharging when planning our future trips.

 I'm looking forward to taking the lessons I learned on our first family trip to plan an even better trip for Roman's 2nd birthday in 2018!




Thanks for reading!


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