Our trip to Banff was nearly two weeks ago. It was an amazing time and holds so many dear memories for us.
Travelling with a baby is very different than travelling without one. Whereas before, Matt and I would simply decide to take off last minute, pack the morning of and leave at whatever time we were ready, travelling with a baby involves planning, very careful packing, and time management. I am not very talented at any of those 3 things by nature, but since I have become a Mum I do find I am improving considerably.
There were some things that really worked well, and there were a couple things that really didn’t. Now that some time has passed, and Thanksgiving is behind us, I have really had some time to reflect on what we did well and what we can improve upon. We are heading to Jamaica in February for a wedding and although I know flying with a baby and staying at a resort in a different country is entirely different from driving 5 hours across our province to stay in a hotel with a car at our disposal, but I still think valuable lessons can be learned. And regardless, Matt and I both love a good roadtrip so reflecting on our experience from this trip and applying it to the next one will be invaluable!
Some things I found that really contributed to the success of our trip included:
1. We planned to travel while she was napping – I think for all parents, this is pretty much a given. On the way to our destination, she slept about half of the time. On the way back, she slept nearly the whole time.
2. We were sure to return to the hotel for all naps – McKenna can fall asleep in her stroller/carrier/car seat no problem, but at the same time, I think that really sacrifices the quality of her sleep. Matt and I made an effort everyday to return to the hotel for her naps, and I think it really paid off. She was always rested and relaxed, and happy with whatever we were doing, so we didn’t deal with any meltdowns.
3. We stuck to her bedtime routine – give or take half an hour.
4. We bought her a new toy – for the drive home. When she did wake, I removed it from the packaging and gave it to her, and it kept her entertained for the entire hour that she was awake. Unfortunately, she ended up losing said toy as soon as we were home and took it out of the house. Oh well… it served its primary purpose.
5. We always had lots of snacks on hand – I always had a pouch in the diaper bag, for the times we went out to eat and there weren’t many kid-friendly options. Puffs are always good for keeping little hands busy, in the stroller or at the dinner table. Mum mums work wonders to keep her busy during car rides, as well as cut up fruit and cheese.
There were also some things we did that did not work so well. We learned from our mistakes and will be sure to not repeat them again. Some things NOT to do include:
1. Don’t flip the script – Our first night there, we asked the hotel to loan us a playpen and put McKenna to sleep in there. McKenna still sleeps with me at home, on a floor bed, so when she woke in the middle of the night in a strange dark place in a playpen no less, she lost it. And rightfully so – totally my fault. It took us nearly 2 hours to calm and relax her enough to fall asleep again – in bed next to us.
2. Be sure to plan ahead – When we headed to the Banff Gondola, we were not prepared. Although we had a packed to the max diaper bag, we did NOT bring a carrier with us. When we arrived at the top of the mountain we realized it was a 2 km hike to a tourist attraction that we both would have loved to see, but there were stairs involved and we decided it wasn’t worth the risk to have us taking turns carrying her in our arms. So unfortunately, we missed out on that little excursion.
I’m happy to say that the list of things we did well doubles the list of things we did not do so well. McKenna is a really easy going baby, and was such a content little traveller, that we really didn’t have many issues. But there is always something to be learned from every experience, and I definitely intend to take some lessons from this one, as I do every other adventure in motherhood.
To any parents reading this blog who have experience travelling with a little one on a PLANE, I would love to hear from you. I would be lying if I said the whole thing doesn’t stress me out a little bit, so I would LOVE any advice that you have to offer!