My partner and I were lucky enough to take our 5 month old son Noah on a 14 day first family trip to San Francisco, Maui and Waikiki in April / May of this year – the Maui portion of our trip was a reward from my employer for my performance in 2016.
Before we went I was very nervous about everything to do with the break – packing volumes / the right stuff, the flights, the pram, how Noah would be in a different environment, sleep for all of us, would we spend a lot of time just in the airbnb’s and hotels or would we actually see the places we were visiting ? and finally – breastfeeding !!
In hindsight I should have had a lot more belief in myself and our family unit that everything would be just fine and we would have a wonderful and nourishing experience.
Here are our 7 First Family Trip Anxiety Versus Reality Moments!
First Family Trip Anxiety #1 – Packing Volumes / The Right Stuff.
We ended up taking as much as we would for a normal 14 day break as a couple. The only additional bulky items were the pram / travel cot (even this was a small travel tent). I achieved this entirely by my reduction in clothes /shoes / toiletries !!
As it was a hot holiday we took a few vests / singlets for Noah.
My biggest learn was: more nappies – they were $1 each in the USA and fewer swimming nappies as they were actually more easily available than I had been led to believe.
I packed a week before we went and kept revisiting it and removing items that I felt would be surplus – my hairdryer, fewer knickers as I could handwash, getting down to one pair of sandals you get the drift !
First Family Trip Anxiety #2– The Flights
Take zip lock bags and plenty of them !!
We were recommended to take zip lock bags by other parents in the Kidboco community, double the nappies you think you’ll need and 3 changes of clothes… My partner thought I was nuts for mandating this in the on flight bag – but Noah did 3 outfit busting poo’s before we had even boarded and the zip lock bags meant that we could contain the smell, outfit changes meant we had a happy baby and well, we got through all the nappies…
We took calpol with us in our hand luggage, but didn’t need to use it – feeding on the way up and way down meant no ear popping, no pain and happy baby.
The airline were fantastic and we got the bassinet on all flights. They also gave us an entire row on one of the long legs so he could lay across them and we could take an extra piece of hand luggage – we took his usual change bag inc the zip locks / outfits / toys.
We had downloaded loads of cartoons but Noah was happy playing with us, his small toys (we packed about 5 toys in his change bag) and napping throughout so didn’t need them – I suspect when he’s older they will be more useful.
First Family Trip Anxiety #3 – The Pram
The bugaboo bee is a dream – as it’s a ‘one piece’ it didn’t need to be checked in, didn’t cost any extra money and could be taken to the gate so we didn’t need a sling or any additional paraphernalia. Hurrah!
We decided before we went not to take the car seat and to use public transport throughout our trip, however some of the providers we used for transfers were able to offer car seats so we used these where available. This was best for our needs, but due to the flexibility of the bee we would have been fine taking the seat as well.
First Family Trip Anxiety #4 – How Noah would be in a Different Environment.
Complete and utter non-issue! He was in heaven!!
So much to look at, so many people doting on him and 24/7 access to Mummy and Daddy who could give him full attention and stimulation away from usual pressures of work and life / house admin.
He was so happy and bonny throughout the entire trip! He really did get so much out of it, including his first tastes of pineapple and watermelon and his first swims !
The heat wasn’t an issue. I did bring plenty of sunblock, for some reason unknown to my partner I didn’t trust sunblock I did not buy with my own fair hands in trusty UK Boots ! So we had enough to last for about 6 months of travel.
My breastmilk adapted to give Noah plenty of hydration. I always carry a sarong even in the UK as find them so useful for everything. In the end, we used this for temporary tents in the pram and the sun cocoons were a perfect play den for all of us at the hotel.
First Family Trip Anxiety #5 – Sleep for All of Us.
Again, this was a real non-issue when we got there. Noah had slept well on the flights and followed our lead for sleeping times when we were away so slipped very easily into the new time zones.
The travel cot (Koo-di Pop Up Travel Bubble) was fantastic, it was lightweight and took up no room in our luggage. It also had a mozzy net so there was no worries there for us.
We used it in both the airbnb’s on the floor – it was hot in the night, but he was cool and the sarong acted as a blanket for him there. We could also use it in the day time for a self-contained play area for him – so it has been useful for us here in London in the garden.
I am not a fan of buying sole use items as space is such a premium, so I would really recommend the Koo-di as a travel cot and easily movable play pen at home / garden / park.
In Maui we had a mad super-super-super kingsize bed, so Noah slept in with us and self-served his feeds at night so I was really, really rested for the first time since he was born !
First Family Trip Anxiety #6 – Would We Actually See any of the Places We Were Going Too ?
Travelling with Noah was of course a totally different experience – but then so is going to the supermarket and B&Q – everything and nothing has changed all at the same time.
When we holiday we are not massively interested in ticking off sights, which I think helped us get a lot out of the trip – we missed the mountains in Maui which to some would be a big deal, but we ate great food and were peaceful and together and enjoyed the beach, pool and views.
We didn’t go to the Golden Gate in San Fran – but I don’t think we would have – we looked at all the colour in Mission and pottered around Haight Ashbury and ate a lot of tacos which would have been our ideal holiday pre-Noah anyway.
We’d get up slowly and enjoy not being on a London morning clock, no chores to do (the odd wash here and there – which meant less luggage ! and some self-catering for brekkie at the airbnb’s was about it for 2 weeks !) then hatch a plan – which mostly involved walks and pottering and food – we did 13 miles in San Fran one day !
We were able to go out and have dinners together as a couple in the evening as Noah would fall asleep for the night in his pram at his usual time and then transfer him to the cot when we got back to the airbnb with little fuss.
First Family Trip Anxiety #6.5 – Would We Actually See any of the Places We Were Going Too ?
In Maui we were at a resort so we chose to make this our R&R time – enjoying the benefits of being at a large and luxurious resort to do yoga, go horseriding around Maui and deep sea fishing. One of us would go on an excursion whilst the other looked after Noah – perfect!
I managed to get a couple of hours alone with a book by the pool each day which was really special and my partner was very insistent that I take this time away from them to recharge – and for this I am so grateful.
Again, he would fall asleep with a feed in his pram and so we could dine out in the evenings – we didn’t watch any of the pre-downloaded box sets !
First Family Trip anxiety #6 – Breastfeeding !
Noah had been fed breastmilk exclusively up until our trip (from the breast or expressed – I’ve expressed pretty much every day since my milk came in as I feel they are my ‘me time’ vouchers and it’s also really nice for his Dad to get to feed him as well and be able to take him out for the day without me ☺
I felt really lucky on the trip to be in this situation as it meant we didn’t need to pack in the same way that you would need to if you were bottle feeding – it was a lot lighter. Feeding Noah wasn’t an issue as long as I was there, but, then, how could I get some time away on my own if I was feeding him?!?
We took the breast pump (electric tommy tippee), milk bags and miltons sterilising tablets – and as in our day-to-day life, it was fantastic. I could confidently leave Noah with his Dad while I did my own thing as well as have some evening time out.
First Family Trip Anxiety – Final Thoughts!
The trip was a lot easier than I was expecting it to be, but I’m not sure what I was really expecting – hell on toast! ! – but our life in London isn’t hell – so why would it be in paradise with 2 parents v 1 child!
There are people and families the world over doing just what we were doing – drinking coffee, getting buses and eating cake – and in warmer climes the pace of life is generally slower and people kinder…
If anything our trip gave me the confidence and inspiration to take Noah away to more destinations and also that I could also go away just us 2 and it would be fine – which I have done a couple of times with great success since and we are planning at the very least another trip to Israel in September and Thailand for Christmas… ☺
Meet Kate, today’s guest author!
-To follow Kate’s parenting journey and learn about life in London, you can follow her on Instagram @lovelylittlelondonlife At the moment, Kate has a big move and renovation project coming soon. Visit her page and see more about her hobbies and interests: being a mama, craft – mostly sewing, card making, crochet and knitting, bit of gardening and baking and sometimes dressing up smart and going to the office !