Now to compare my solo business trip to my family “vacation”….
My trip to Florida was complicated and hectic from the word “go”. To cut costs, we decided to drive 6 hours to Seattle instead of flying directly out of Kelowna. Zach travels pretty well in the car, but 6 hours is a bit long, especially when the 6 hour trip quickly turned to 9 hours after a couple of stops to stretch his legs (and rest our ears from the screaming) and the hour plus wait at the border.
Luckily he was tuckered out from the long day in the car and fell asleep like a champ. This is abnormal in a hotel room setting since he normally doesn’t sleep very well when he can see us. Sadly, most of the time we end up hiding in the hallway or in the bathroom until he settles down. I’m glad he went down well early since we had to wake the poor little guy up at 5am to catch our flight. Luckily he doesn’t really understand time yet, so we were chipper and had the room all lit up, so I don’t think he knew it was as early as it was.
Time to catch the shuttle…this was the sketchiest part of the trip. I suppose since it’s classified as a shuttle, there is no need for seat belts or carseats. Nothing like driving down the I-5 while the driver is speeding and changing lanes like a maniac while you’re holding your baby (with a death grip) on your lap. Alas, we survived.
Next challenge: Keeping Zach awake long enough to check in and get through security. He has a knack for falling asleep just in time for us to wake him up since he has to be carried through security.
What to bring?
I’ve never used so many bins going through security prior to this trip. Zach gets an entire bin to himself with sippy cups, baby food, tylenol, etc not to mention all the luggage he comes with: stroller, diaper bag, high chair, backpack carrier, etc.
To limit the amount of luggage we brought, we rented a few key items. For one, a carseat. The convenience definitely comes with a cost, but it was well worth it. For $70 we got a carseat for 10 days through the car rental agency. Saved us from hauling it to and from and through the various airports.
In addition, we also rented a crib from a local agency in Florida for $25/week. We were going to rent a high chair but found a collapsible unit that attaches to any chair and keeps your baby strapped in for $2 at a garage sale.
We normally use cloth diapers, but to make things easier on this trip, we used disposables. Sorry environment…but it was only for 10 days and we weren’t sure what sort of laundry access we’d have along the way. Plus, we were able to buy diapers upon arrival which saved tons of space in our already full suitcase.
After making it through security, we had just enough time to grab a snack before boarding. We were so concerned about making sure that Zach was well fed on the plane, that we forgot about ourselves. We should have grabbed more than just a snack…
To board or pre-board?
We made the mistake of pre-boarding our flight. I understand why they ask you to pre-board with a child. It allows them to go through the extra safety procedures and allows you to get settled. The overhead bins generally fill up quickly now that airlines charge for baggage so most people just carry their items on. The advantage of pre-boarding is that you have overhead space for all of your child’s stuff. That, in my opinion, is the only advantage.
The huge drawback of pre-boarding is that you are trapped on a plane for at least 30 extra minutes with a child that does not do well in confined areas. Zach gets on a plane and turns into a caged animal. He wants to roam free, much to the dismay of his fellow passengers. When they are under two they can travel for free, but they have to share your seat. As such, it was like holding a wet, wiggly noodle for 2, 3-hour flights. The one time I allowed him to roam free, he was into someone’s purse and went to put another passenger’s toe in his mouth. He’s fast crawling, but luckily in this case I was faster.
They tend to lump all of the kids on the plane together in the same section. This is both a good and a bad thing. Good if you are in another section of the plane. Bad if you get to look at all of the other kids around who are so calm and either sleep or watch a DVD for the entire flight while your kid bounces off the cabin walls.
After a quick layover (just enough time for Zach to fall asleep and have to be woken up to board), we endured the next 3-hour flight. It was much worse than the first as Zach was still tired from his quick catnap and wouldn’t sleep on the plane.
The arrival – let the vacation begin!
Upon arrival, we gathered our bags, fought with the carseat in the rental car (they are all so different and finicky to install), and headed to our hotel. It was time to enjoy our vacation now that we had finally arrived.
We rented a house for a week and having a home base was really nice. We tried to work our daily schedules to accommodate his naps and meals, but some of the time he had to eat on the run or nap in the stroller. We discovered the wonderful invention of squeezable pouch food that worked well on the go.
Child care while traveling?
We went out on two separate occasions for dinner kid-free. One night we hired a babysitter through a service offered at Disney World properties. The second time we hired a nanny recommended to us by ABC Baby Rentals. I definitely did my research to ensure that both companies were reputable, however I was still a tad nervous leaving my child in the care of a stranger. Luckily, both sitters were incredible, Zach loved them, and most importantly, he was still there when we got home. Was very nice to get out for the night but we sure payed a premium being in such a touristy location. I much prefer the rate that my neighbourhood babysitter charges!
It was a nice treat to be in the Florida sunshine as Canada was just starting to cool down in preparation for the long winter. Zach wasn’t a fan of the sunscreen or the hat we forced him to wear at all times. The ten days in the sunshine flew by swimming in the pool and ocean everyday, playing disc golf, going to Disney World and just “relaxing” (which is different than it used to be now that we have a hyper child).
Alas, it was time to make the long trek home. The trip was off to a rough start when we arrived to the airport and one of our suitcases was overweight by three pounds. We were very fortunate that Zach worked his magic, gave the lady a big smile and she let it go without a fee.
As the day went on, things got better. One of the airline attendants gave us a tip to book the aisle and the window seat when traveling with an infant. That way, they block off the whole row for you, leaving an empty seat between you, making more space for your child. Brilliant – I wish I had that tip on the trip there. By doing this, Zach even managed to nap on one flight on the way back:
Unfortunately, even with the extra seat, he didn’t nap on the 5-hour flight portion. This made for a very cranky, over tired child upon arrival into Seattle.
We had to catch the shuttle to our car, grab dinner, and hit the road back to Canada. Oh, and get lost along the way. Seven hours later, we arrived home and Zach was furious with us. It was the equivalent of 4am Florida time and he was exhausted and just wanted to be in his crib. He slept a bit but cried for the last hour of the drive. I felt so bad for him since he was so tired but couldn’t sleep. I was doubting my decision to cancel the hotel room and drive all the way home in one day, but we were all very happy to finally be home.
There you have it – a detailed trip of traveling with a child. Would you believe it if I told you that I much prefer traveling with Zach to traveling alone and leaving him at home?