How to do Easy, Fun, Local Trips with Babies
As new parents, you are home more than you’ve ever been. And if you are anything like me, you’ll get stir crazy. I also am very used to traveling a couple times per month, so this whole “staying home” thing gets to me quicker than most.
I’ve found that in lieu of longer trips, which take a lot of mental and physical preparation, as well as the return adjustment period; easy, local trips are the way to go. You want to avoid planes, time changes and long car rides–especially if you have a baby that doesn’t love being in the car (ours does NOT).
Find a Nearby Destination
For us, that means locations that are 2 hours or less in driving distance from Santa Monica. Luckily, we have lots of great options. We can do the desert, the beach, the moutains and lots of unique places in between. This is a major reason why we moved to California!
So far for our local trips, we’ve taken Aurora to (not counting anything on a plane):
Venice (3 weeks)
Lake Arrowhead (2 months)
Idyllwild (5 months)
Huntington Beach (6 months)
Newport Beach (8.5 months)
Book an Upgraded Room
Okay, so you’ve found that perfect location but what do you now? Renting a hotel room works but realize that if you are going to share one room with your little one, you will need to have lights out at bedtime. This means, you also will either go to bed at 7pm or you will have to tiptoe around and hang out in the dark. Not the best option (though we’ve done that in Huntington and let’s just say, we ate room service in the bathroom… not awesome). If you are going with the hotel route, definitely upgrade your room so you can have a separate room with a door where your baby can sleep peacefully while you order room service in the other room.
Book a House
Usually more affordable option, and often more comfortable, is booking a house. Even if you book a tiny bungalow or a 1 bedroom, you’ll be able to let your baby nap in a separate room. This means that you can actually enjoy nap times and also, have a nice dinner, watch a movie and basically take advantage of all that sleeping time to relax with your partner. You also will have a kitchen, which is very helpful for baby food preparation and cooking in.
Get a Babysitter
Now I have never done this, but I imagine that if you feel comfortable with a hotel babysitter service or finding a local person to babysit, that is a great option for you to have a day or evening out. Personally, I would be a little hesitant to do this unless I brought someone with me to babysit. However, if it were a vetted person that was provided by the hotel, I would consider it. If this doesn’t feel comfortable to you, skip this tip and read below.
Go with the Baby’s Schedule
Like all travel now, it will revolve around your baby’s daily schedule. We are on the two nap a day schedule so for us, our day looked like this:
7am: Wake Up
7-10am: Breakfast for baby, cooking breakfast for parents, play time, coffee and hanging out
10am-11:30am: Nap time for baby/Parents could clean (yay!), relax, watch tv or one person could go out for a bit
11:30-2:30: Feed baby then out the door. We used this 3 hour window to explore and have lunch out. One day we walked around Balboa and Aurora got way too many presents at the toy store. The other day we took the ferry over to Balboa Park and checked out the silly rides, walked to the beach and found a playground and found a nice lunch spot.
230-4ish: Baby Naps somewhere in here. Parents relax or one person goes out.
4-6pm: Sunset stroll. We either put her in the stroller or baby carrier and took a nice walk around the neighborhood. Afterwards, we brought her back for play time, dinner, bath and bed. *Note: the stroll is better with wine.
7pm: Bedtime for baby. Dinner and fun time for parents!
Have a Stay Home Date
On our recent trip to Newport Beach, I knew that we were going to be spending a lot of time in our Airbnb. We were staying on Balboa Island, which is pretty quiet anyway, so we were looking forward to our nights in.
To make these nights a little more exciting, I decided that we should each take “charge” of a night. The person in charge had to come up with a theme, get the groceries ahead and cook the dinner. (Cleaning up is a bonus!) They must inform the other person of the theme and any “dress code.” Also, if games or movies are involved, be prepared!
My husband took the first night and went with a James Bond theme as he knows my obsession with Bond movies. We both dressed up, even though we were just in our rental home’s dining room, and drank shaken martinis and ate steaks. We washed it down with a Bond movie.
Night two was my night– I went with a tiki theme and made coconut shrimp, teriyaki pork and had a speciality rum drink. I brought some island decor and sourced local shrimp while down there. With the reggae on, we enjoyed a “tropical” evening, despite the fact that it was raining outside.
A little cheesy? Sure! But if you aren’t able to leave the house, you might as well mix it up and make the nights memorable and different from your usual nights in at home.
Try not to Bring a Lot
I say try, because I know that this is hard. It is harder to pack for a baby when you are driving because you are able to pack more! Here’s some advice after overpacking and being buried alive in the car a few too many times.
- Wash Clothes
- If you have rented a house, count on the washing machine to save you from bringing too much clothes. If not, I brought dreft packets for some sink washing.
- No tub
- Check out the sink and bathtub situations and if you can avoid bringing a bathtub, do it. Those things are huge.
- Bring a clip on high chair.
- Ours from Inglesina is the best.
- Limit toys.
- Your baby will be in a new place so that is very exciting already and there’s lots to explore. I have lost so so so many toys on trips.
- Bring outlet covers.
- You can’t babyproof a whole hotel room or house, but I did wish I had a few extra things like outlet covers, especially now that we have a very fast crawler.
- Bring pre-made baby food
- I didn’t want to be blending my own baby food there and didn’t know what sort of kitchen utensils they’d have, so I brought a freezer pack that had all my own baby food ready to go. I made a few ahead and put them in these small food containers.
- I also brought along my favorite freshly made purées from Yumi and these excellent fresh pouches from Once Upon a Farm. Both require refrigeration so be sure to get a good size freezer pack for the ride.
Trust me, these little local trips are worth it! They are good for your mental health, your relationship and it is good for your little one to see and do new things! I know Aurora was very excited the whole time and enjoyed all the “new” around her. The more you travel with them, the easier it gets for all of you!