there are a lot of posts out there about how to travel with your baby, and with good reason – when you get on a plane or take road trip with a baby, you need all the tips you can get. but there are parents who travel, whether for work or for fun, without their baby. this post is for you.
Mister Man and i recently took a trip to st. john in the virgin islands, all by our little lonesome selves (if you follow me on instagram, you can see those tidbits that i haven’t posted about yet). we have a special place in our hearts for st. john, it’s where we took our honeymoon, and we plan on going back as often as we can. this trip was planned before we even got pregnant with amelia, and the timing just worked out that she would be old enough to leave with our parents. you see, for us, it’s not really a vacation if you bring a baby along. for one, they can’t remember anything about the trip, so them being there doesn’t do a whole lot for them. and two, when you bring a baby on vacation (at least for us), you just move the normal routine to a different location with less amenities than you have at home. that just isn’t relaxing for us (and we have brought her with us on a family vacation already so i’m not just saying this as an assumption).
so we went on a vacation without our little joy. and it was wonderful.
i missed her, of course i missed her. i couldn’t wait to get home to her at the end of that week. but i didn’t cry because i couldn’t stand to be away from her. i didn’t call our parents every hour, or even every day. i didn’t really even worry about her. instead, i soaked in the alone time with my husband. i enjoyed being on my own schedule for six whole days. i gave thanks for our parents, who i trust my daughter with absolutely.
for Mister Man and me, time together makes us better parents. our marriage comes before our parenting, because if we aren’t good at being husband and wife, then we won’t be good at being mom and dad. this vacation couldn’t have come at a better time. we came back feeling refreshed and ready to be even better parents to amelia than when we left, because we felt stronger as a couple.
all that being said, here are the things that helped us on our first vacation without our baby:
1) pumping on a schedule: if you’re still breastfeeding your baby, and you want to continue when you get back/not be incredibly uncomfortable on vacation, bring your pump. and make it a point to stay on as much of a schedule as possible. once you’re at your destination, it’s usually not too hard. you can pump during breaks from the beach, or in the car en route to your next tourist spot. the hardest part is finding places to pump when in transit. some airports have fabulous pumping rooms (MSP has a lactation room fit for beyonce), while some…don’t (MIA needs to do some work on their family restrooms). find a family restroom or an empty gate or terminal in a pinch.
2) bring the right accessories: when you pump, you’re going to have milk. and hopefully you can bring that milk back with you. you’re going to need plastic bags, a cooler bag, and some ice. if you have plastic bags, you can carry empty ones with you and ask for ice from restaurants or the flight attendants when you’re away from your hotel or in transit. a cooler bag comes in handy as a carry-on when you’re bringing the milk back with you. just put the milk in with bags of ice, extra bags and your pump parts, and you’re set for the trip home. i had no issue getting my milk through security, and no one should, at least if you’re flying through the u.s.
3) write out baby’s schedule: this is for your own peace of mind. i know that my parents and my in-laws know amelia’s schedule. and to be honest, if they fudged it a bit, i wouldn’t mind at all. but knowing that i had shared all the necessary information made me feel so much better. so write it all down. the nap quirks, food suggestions, all of it. it will help.
4) leave a medical directive: leave a note stating that you give permission to whoever your baby’s caretakers are to make necessary medical decisions for your baby on your behalf. include your baby’s insurance information in the note, but leave the insurance card as well. include the information for your pediatrician and their office too. this way, if your caretaker has to take the little one to the doctor, or call the nurse line, or God forbid bring them to the hospital, they can make any calls they need to make on your behalf before getting a hold of you/you arrive home.
5) sleep in: this is probably the most important tip i have. if you go on vacation without your baby, SLEEP IN. for lots of people, i’m sure this is a given, but if you’re anything life us, you need a little push. we are the type of couple who enjoy getting up and enjoying coffee on the terrace on vacation, and getting an early-ish start on the day. we forced ourselves to take it slow and easy this time, and i’m so happy we did. getting full nights of sleep has never felt so amazing, because i could still get up at my own pace. and that my friends, is what heaven is.
i highly recommend some substantial time away as a couple when you’re newish parents. whether that’s within the first year or the first 18 months, do it sooner than later. your baby won’t hate you for leaving, and your marriage will thank you. date night can only get you so far, so get away for some quality time and some quality sleep. as always, i’m happy to answer any questions anyone has on traveling without your babe (or anything else!), so email me at hooleywithaz at gmail dot com.