With Memorial Day approaching and as your Summer social calendar starts to fill up, you might be wondering how you're going to handle those short weekend getaways with your new baby in tow. There is plenty of advice out there for traveling with a baby: Gate check your car seat! Buy diapers at your destination! Use a travel stroller! But what about for those quick getaways? Do you really need all the stuff you use at home on a two-day excursion?
While we've been traveling with our baby since he was born (trips to see the grandparents, etc.), my husband, Pat, and I recently went on our first weekend getaway with our 9-month-old, Gabriel, and while it was such a new experience — vacationing as a family of three — there were definitely a few key learnings and takeaways.
1. Pick a local destination
While it's tempting to go off the grid or escape to a resort beach somewhere, I knew for our first trip, we needed to go somewhere within a two-hour range and with a nearby Target. Living near New York City, we're lucky that there are so many great towns a driving distance away. We opted for New Hope, PA, for its quaint small-town vibe, walkability, and baby- and adult-friendly activities. It's all about balance!
2. Plan ahead, but don't overbook yourselves
We had a general guideline for how our weekend was going to go, but we wanted to leave ourselves open in case plans changed. For example, we knew we wanted to get to the Bucks County Children's Museum at some point, so we waited until the heat was unbearable in the middle of the afternoon to sneak inside for a nice 45-minute break in the AC. All in all, know where you want to go, but don't commit to anything beforehand, because nothing is worse than having to wake a sleeping baby to make a reservation.
3. Be a strategic packer
I am a notorious over- or underpacker. I can't seem to get the perfect ratio of outfits to days right, and it's only intensified now that I have a baby and need to strategize diapers and formula. We somehow managed to fit everything we needed in three bags (an amazing feat for me!). For Gabriel, we packed two extra outfits, just in case. Same went for pajamas. We left the baby bath at home and just used a towel at the bottom of the tub to provide his little booty with some traction. (This worked great, BTW.) As for toys, we brought a few of his teething go-tos, but since his favorite activity is learning to crawl, we just let him loose in the hotel room, and he had a blast!
4. Coordinate with your hotel
We stayed at a local place called The Golden Plough Inn and we thought for sure there was no shot a tiny inn would have a crib available, but we asked in advance, and they had something set up for us upon arrival. It was a lovely luxury to not have to worry about setup or breakdown. If you're staying at an Airbnb or a boutique hotel, it never hurts to ask if they have a Pack 'n' Play or crib available for you to use.
5. Don't sweat the packing mishaps
Shockingly, I did pack enough diapers. Unfortunately, we ran out of formula about halfway through. But it's nothing that one quick trip to CVS couldn't fix! We often forget that in most cases, wherever we're going will have the same modern conveniences of home, and it's not the end of the world if you forget something.
6. A stroller is great, but a carrier is key
As a city family, our stroller is the equivalent to the suburban-mom minivan, but when we wanted to visit the nearby Strawberry Festival with entertainment, vendors, and food trucks, we knew the little wheels on our travel stroller weren't going to cut it in the muddy field. I had grabbed my Wildbird sling last minute, and thank goodness I did, because Gabriel lived in that thing all day! He took naps, road the carousel, and even ate lunch all while snuggled nice and close. This was one "better safe than sorry" item I'm so glad I packed.
7. Have a home base
For us, our home base was our hotel room, since it was walking distance from the festival, restaurants, and shops. We could go back there to change a dirty diaper, have a quick nap, or even heat up a bottle. But it could also be your car if you're out and about (or your stroller if you're like me!). It's important to have it stocked and ready to go with extra diapers, snacks, maybe a fan if you're in the Summer heat, bandages, wipes — all the usual parent things.
I would say our weekend away was a success, and a good practice run for all the weekend trips we have on the docket for this Summer. And in case you're interested, here's an itemized list of everything I packed for baby:
Weekend-Away Packing List For a Baby
- 4 outfits
- 1 sweater
- 3 pajamas
- Sleep suit
- 2 pacifiers
- Portable sound machine (for the car ride there and nighttime)
- 1 sun hat
- Socks (no shoes since he's 9 months)
- 2 bottles
- Bottle dish soap
- Baby bath wash
- 2 teething toys
- Wildbird Ring Sling
- 1 box teething crackers
- 25 diapers (for two-and-a-half days)
- Diaper ointment
- Diaper wipes
- Portable formula dispenser
- Bottled water for bottles
- YoYo BabyZen Stroller