I love to travel.
Not just love it, fully LOVE IT!*
I daydream about the trip, figure out what to do in the area, plan out my packing list like a military strategy, and wake up the morning of the trip with a sloshy stomach of anticipation.
It doesn’t really matter whether it is a family cruise, road trip to the beach, or a work conference, I fully enjoy leaving town to mix up my days. I especially enjoy staying in a snazzy hotel somewhere for a full change of scenery and have gotten my packing list streamlined down to a reusable excel spreadsheet.
Which is all well and good, but what do you do when you add a baby to the mix?
I have a wonderful opportunity to go to a week-long conference for work. It will not only be a super educational workshop that will benefit the work side of my brain, it is also in Chicago… a place I’ve never visited. And I freaking love going to new places!
However, I have a 5 month old baby. I guess I could leave him home with my husband, but I have a feeling that my sweetie’s head might implode if he had to work 12 hour days, take care of the baby every night and then do it over again with no help. So, I decided to bring Jack with me.
No, I’m not going to stick him in my Baby Bjorn during the daily presentations and scribble notes over his head. I’m bringing one of the awesomest friends in all the land, Lindsay, to hang out with Jack while I’m in class. Then, once my presentations are done each day we can go out and have fun – exploring the city and finding fun places to eat.
I’m actually totally looking forward to the trip, since it’s kind of like a mini girl’s vacation. And last time we did that we had such an amazing time we ended up coming home with an unplanned tattoo and piercings. Oopsie.
But as much as I’m looking forward to the trip, I’m also a little bit intimidated because I’ve never traveled with a baby. This will be our first overnight trip away from home AND our first plane ride. Jack is typically a pretty awesome baby, but I have to assume that at some point he’s going to freak out and I’m just waiting for that day.
I’m pretty comfortable grabbing Jack up and going out the door for a full day of stuff, so I’m trying really hard to keep it in my mind that it shouldn’t be too much harder than that. Right? Or am I totally insane?
Anyways, here are my initial thoughts on how I’m going to do this and keep my sanity at the same time:
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
My diaper bag is usually pretty well stocked, but I’m going to make sure to have a couple extra onesies, diapers/wipes, and bottles ready to go in case I need to be quick-draw-Joules and whip them out at a moment’s notice. We’re going to be checking the stroller and car seat at the gate, so I got one of those car seat bags to keep it clean while it’s under the plane. I’ve requested a crib for the hotel room and plan to confirm that again the day before we arrive.
Be THAT girl
I’m flying Southwest, so we will be seated by rows based on our boarding group. I know that families with children are typically able to board first and we plan to use that to our advantage. If the flight isn’t full, Lindsay and I are going to spread out on the window and end seat of a row leaving one seat in between us. When other passengers see me with Jack on my lap in the end seat, they’ll just keep on walking. NOBODY wants to sit near a baby on a plane! Hmmm…maybe I can time his morning bottle so that he’s really grumpy when the plane is loading up…
Let’s be Low Maintenance
I plan on changing Jack’s diaper right before we board the plane. Since it’s only a 2 hour flight, he should be fine for the duration without any awkward mini bathroom changing sessions. Of course, if a random blowout occurs, all bets are off.
Figure Out How Much to Pack
I’m going to try really hard to just have one large suitcase for me and Jack to share. With wrestling a baby, stroller/car seat, carry on diaper bag, and more through the airport, having more than one bag might put me over the edge. However, just the amount of diapers, wipes and formula needed are kind of freaking me out. I’m planning to call the hotel and find out how far the nearest Rite Aid/Walgreens/Whatever store is so that I can just pick up a pack of diapers and wipes while I’m there. It’s only 5 days, so I’m trying to keep it as streamlined as possible!
Bring Important Stuff
I know I have to bring Jack’s birth certificate in order for him to fly. I also will be bringing his favorite giraffe pacifier, bottles, dish detergent, a couple clip-on baby toys and his Baby Bjorn. Oh, and extra outfits for him too. But is there something else I’m forgetting?
My Secret Weapon
Whenever I start to get freaked out thinking of what could go wrong on the trip, I remember that Lindsay will be there! When I describe her as awesome, I fully mean it. Not only is she a great friend to me, she also makes my life easier by anticipating ways to help out before I even think of them. So if I wander away without my bright orange suitcase by my side because I’m too focused on how to find the shuttle bus while also looking for a Starbucks because I need a caffeine fix and oooh is that something shiny? I know that Lindsay has my back!
So I’m feeling mostly excited for the trip and a little bit unprepared too, but I think we’ll survive it. Do you have any tips or suggestions that will help our very first trip go smoothly?
Also, if you’ve been to Chicago, do you have any recommendations of fun stuff to do in the Magnificent Mile area? I mean, it’s called the MAGNIFICENT mile, so it must be pretty awesome, right?
Let me know your thoughts by commenting here, on my facebook page or tweet me at @JoulesDellinger.
*Imagine me staring at you with crazy eyes while forcibly saying LOVE IT. That’s kind of how it sounds in my head.