We took advantage of the Memorial Day weekend to take our first vacation with our four-month-old daughter – if you can really call any extended trip with an infant a vacation. The logistics of traveling with a baby are challenging. First, there’s the difficulty in packing the extra luggage, the diaper bag, the milk cooler, the sleeping mat, and that’s traveling lightly. If you’re flying, do you bring the car seat for getting around once you arrive at your destination? So much to consider!
It helped that we were planning to stay with friends and family. Until now, I had always underappreciated the luxury of staying with good friends on vacation. Some friends lent us their old car seat; another met us at the airport with it. We stayed at a friend’s apartment and welcomed offers to babysit.
On our trip baby Sophie got to see the DC monuments, tour Virginia Tech’s campus, participate in the Komen Race for the Cure (breast cancer) benefit walk, and meet lots of Mom and Dad’s old college friends. Along the way, countless strangers in restaurants and airplanes got to hear her angelic crying. We experimented with new combinations of shushing, bouncing, playing and feeding to make the trip bearable for all.
We learned something about the infrastructure for young families. One tip: McDonald’s always has a changing table, thus cornering the market on road-tripping families with infants. And when taking public transportation, escalators and elevators are a must. We’ve also perfected the complex dance of negotiating baby and all the accoutrement through airport security.
It’s true that having a child will change your life. Vacations will never be the same. I’ve come to better appreciate the thoughtfulness that some businesses and public institutions give toward accessibility. Although traveling can be difficult, we’re up to the challenge. I will just need to be a better planner.