I wish our first trip away from home was for leisure, but it was not. We had some work on the house that meant we had to stay away for two nights. As such, we booked two nights at the hotel about a mile away and prepared ourselves for traveling with children.
Before having a baby, Julie and I had a consistent packing list for trips. We each had our backpack (mostly for devices and toiletries) and would split a carry-on sized suitcase for our clothes.
When we packed for this trip, we carried:
- A backpack each
- A carry-on sized suitcase
- A backpack diaper bag
- A cooler
- A popup playpen tent
- The mattress for the playpen
- A hook-on high chair
- A nursing pillow
- Another bag of just miscellaneous stuff
Could we have done with less? Probably. If we had more constraints, we would have made do. Still, that’s plenty that we deemed useful.
In retrospect, we should have sought advice on traveling with children before going.
That’s still a good idea before our next trip.
Anyways, we just used our own judgment for all of the arrangements.
For the actual amenities, we picked a suite-style hotel. Since our daughter was too young to be vaccinated, we didn’t want to eat the free breakfast in a shared dining space, so we wanted our own dining area. Since we didn’t want to tiptoe around our daughter between her bedtime and ours, we got separate bedrooms, too.
We were worried about her sleeping in an unfamiliar area. Until now, she had only ever slept overnight at home. We also weren’t certain what the hotel crib situation was, so we brought our own playpen. In preparation, she took several practice naps in the playpen on the weekend before. The mattress is a very thin air mattress, but she wasn’t fazed during the practice naps. Fortunately, that worked just as well in the hotel.
I wish we had thought to practice baths. That was the tricky part.
How it went
We tried to keep our schedule as consistent as possible with our normal life. Of course, that meant my daughter’s bedtime was over an hour late on the first night.
All things considered, it went quite well. We improvised every moment throughout the evening, and after we put her to bed both evenings, we were quite tired.
Despite our attempt to make it feel normal, it must have been an eye-opening experience for my daughter. I can almost remember being a child myself surprised by the smallest things, like a different type of faucet or a sliding closet door.
I’m sure that was the first time she has seen a card-access door. The bathtub was also new. Since she handled most of it well, I guess curiosity mostly won out over fear.
On first take, I wish we didn’t have to take this trip: we would have been more comfortable at home for those two nights.
Having done it, however, it was a good way to try out how to travel. We were at a hotel out of necessity, so we weren’t expecting a dream vacation. As such, it was hard to be disappointed on missing out on a better experience.
And staying at a nearby hotel was a low stakes way to retain most comfortable parts with one major change. I went to work, and my daughter went to daycare as usual, so that was a good anchor point. Our commute was pretty similar, and we carried plenty of stuff.
So maybe this entire trip was just a practice run to break some of the anxiety of travel. I don’t recommend the work on the house, but I do recommend doing an overnighter.