A couple of weeks ago, we took our very first family vacation with Theodora, and it was a success! Our travels took us down to Scottsdale, Arizona where we visited with aunts, uncles and cousins; some of which live there, and others who flew in from North Carolina and Texas. Those four days were packed and seemed to go by just as quickly as the trip snuck up on us, but it was all really enjoyable.
Here are a few photos of our time in Scottsdale. We were really fortunate in that my mom, dad and grandpa also made the trip down, so it was a big, fat, Greek family vacation of sorts – fun, eventful, and memorable! At the end of this post, I’ve also included a list and a few descriptions of what worked for us travelling with a little one.
The last time this crew of cousins assembled was three years ago, on the dance floor, at our wedding. So fun, and even more fun that we got to introduce them to Thea!
Our first family photo! Seriously, we’re really bad at finding someone to take a picture of all three of us, so we were really excited about this one!
Grandparents, and great-grandpa too!
Travel Planning with Baby
First trip meant a first real flight for Theodora, and so we knew a
bit lot of forethought was required. Here are a few things we considered in our planning and packing:
Fortunately, there are direct flights from Edmonton to Phoenix that just happened to align with our little one’s sleep times. While she was a little fussier on the way down (I think teething was partly to blame for this), the flight back departed Phoenix at 8:00 pm, and after a bit of being distracted and excited at the beginning of the flight, she slept the whole way home. Sweet dreams all around!
~ Take off and landing
Most of you with babies have probably already heard that to help alleviate some of the pressure on the ears, it’s a good idea to breast or bottle feed on take off and landing. In our case, this really helped, and specifically on the flight home, which was similar to her typical bed time routine, resulted in a cozy, three hour slumber.
~ Entertainment & Boredom Prevention
Lesson learned here – it’s a good idea to bring along a toy that is brand new and never-before-seen by your cute little bundle. Theodora is getting to the age, now, where some of her toys are becoming old news to her, especially when you have them on short rotations over the span of three hours! So, on a shopping trip to Nordstrom Rack, I picked up a toy cell phone that I hid until we were on the plane to come home. It was new and exciting for her, and kept her occupied until she fell asleep.
~ Gear: Feeding
Counter clockwise: 1. Medella Harmony Manual Breast Pump, 2. Annabel Karmel Food Masher & Bowl, 3. Boon Squirt Spoon
Theodora is on solids now, and when we’re at home, I use my Baby Bullet. It isn’t the most practical gadget to bring along on a trip, though, so a combination of other smaller, travel-friendly pieces and caving into buying certain baby foods got us through the four days. I found it very handy to have my manual breast pump (pictured above) as I like to mix her cereals and other foods with breast milk as opposed to water. If I couldn’t pump conveniently and privately, I just used bottled or tap water, and whenever possible, I boiled it. The bowl and masher has also proven it’s worth in our house. I often use it at home, and make sure to throw it in my baby bag when we’re heading out, too, as it’s easy, compact, and you can mash a variety of fruits and vegatables. Lastly, and possibly my favourite among all of these is the Boon Squirt Spoon. Minimal mess and pretty error proof, this has a permanent spot in my baby bag, and as long as I have it filled with iron-fortified cereal, Thea will always have a healthy snack on the ready. Pour in a bit of breast milk/formula or water, give it a stir or shake, and squirt. It’s that easy!
When it came to buying baby food, I was hesitant at first, but convenience and the need to provide a bit more variety for Thea won. We ended up buying a few of those squish packs and used them sparingly, but Thea seemed to enjoy them.
~ Gear: Clothing
The desert heat that Arizona is famous for was something I was a bit nervous about. We knew we wouldn’t be spending a whole lot of time outside, but I was also thinking about the drastic temperature change from outside to the air-conditioned indoors. In addition to the basics, I always made sure to have a light sweater in our bag for Thea. Four days didn’t require us to pack all that much, and if there was anything we forgot, it was a good excuse to go shopping!
~ Gear: Products
Similar to clothing, we knew that if there were any products we forgot, we could easily buy them from a grocery or local drug store. For those emergency types of items, however, it was reassuring to have a little “cosmetics bag” for Thea, which consisted of things like infant tylenol, nail trimmer (this one by Zoli is a God send!), thermometer, brush/comb, Vitamin D drops, and sunscreen.
Diapers were a perfect example of something you just stock up on once you arrive. We packed enough to last us (and then some) for the time we would be at the airport and the actual flying time, and then just made a trip to Target once we had settled into our hotel.
Since coming home, I have come across a couple of other resources that I will definitely refer to next time we take a trip. Caz shares 17 Tips for Flying With Kids over on her blog, and I really liked her idea of a bag of goodies – perfect for trips longer than a three hour flight! I have a feeling that packing will only become more challenging as Thea gets older and more particular with her outfits, so I will be looking to Joy’s tips on packing for a family trip. If Thea ends up loving clothes even half as much as I do, we’re in trouble…
I hope this was helpful, and if you have any tips or suggestions you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear them!