Our First Hotel Stay with a Baby – Here’s What We Learned
When my husband and I first got pregnant, one of the very first questions everyone had for us was ‘but how will you keep traveling with a baby?’. While we knew adding a little one to the mix when it came to our travels would bring some added complexities, we were more than up for the challenge! In fact, most of our friends with babies assured us that the first year is actually the best time to travel with your baby – they sleep all the time, they’re ultra-adaptable to new places (and new time zones) and they’re not mobile yet so they’re easy to get around with, and can’t get into too much trouble. However, there are some key things we kept in mind when it came to deciding when the right time is to start traveling with a baby (which you can read more about here). Every family is different, but, in our case, we decided that what would feel best is we’d stay home for the first couple of months to get the baby used to his new surroundings and learn what works for him and us when it comes to his routine! We also wanted to wait until he got his first round of immunizations to travel, which happens around 2 months. From there, it was game on! We took our first trip as a little staycation near home, about 45 minutes away from our home in Charleston on Kiawah Island at the Sanctuary at Kiawah. It was nerve-racking being in a hotel with him for the first time and alllll of the thoughts raced around my head (did we pack everything he’d need? Will he be able to sleep in this new room without his bassinet he’s used to? Will the hotel be baby-friendly enough for him? Will he scream in the lobby or be good when we check in?).
I’m happy to report that baby’s first hotel stay went SO well! It was so great to build our travel confidence as new parents, and we learned a lot about all the things we’d need (and what we didn’t need!). He was constantly intrigued by this new place, looking around, and truly enjoying it!!! As moms, you know intuitively how your baby is feeling. You can tell if they’re liking it or not! And I could tell Harrison was loving it (but don’t get me wrong, he loved when we came home, too, and you could tell he had this “that was fun but now I’m hoooooome” relaxation hit him). But he was sooo good in the hotel and in a completely new environment, I was so proud of him!
LESSONS LEARNED FROM OUR FIRST HOTEL STAY WITH A BABY
Bring extra pacifiers, extra diapers and extra wipes
You will always under-estimate how many you’ll need. And extra pacifiers are great any time you leave the room because one is inevitably going to end up on the floor or in the dirt.
Don’t forget your diaper bag when you leave your room
We did this a couple times and my husband had to run all the way back to the room when we realized we had a dirty diaper and nothing to change him into! We felt like rookies!
BTW: Here’s everything I keep in our diaper bag: Wipes, diapers, our portable noise machine, a portable fan to keep baby cool if we’re eating or strolling outside, an extra onesie, extra pacifiers, a portable changing pad (this is SO handy!), and a portable diaper bag dispenser (you’ll need this to wrap the dirty diaper in a bag!)
We loved bringing his beach cabana
This beach cabana has ended up being one of our most used baby items! We loved bringing it with us so we could set him up on a (shaded) beach chair easily. He loves it, and he always looks like he’s living the dream like a king.
Splurge on the nice room
When you’re traveling with a baby, you’re spending WAY more time in the room than on any other type of trip. So, if it’s a decision to splurge or not to splurge on a bigger room, or a nicer one, I’d say go for the splurge. I’d also recommend a ground-level room, and one near the facilities you’ll be using the most so it’s easy to get around and get back to the room when you need to.
Room service is great
Don’t over-plan your first trip with your baby! Remember that you are most definitely on THEIR schedule, and sometimes (most times) that can mean no schedule at all. Room service was great for us, and we didn’t go out to a meal during our staycation! We definitely could have, and would have if we were there longer, but we loved just being able to relax in our robes and enjoy dinner in the room.
Bring a nice bottle of wine to enjoy together!
This is a go-to JETSET tip for every trip, not just trips with your baby! But I love bringing a nice bottle of wine to enjoy in the hotel room (while watching sunset, or just relaxing with a room service dinner!). Usually hotel wine is like a 3X markup at least, so packing your own favorite bottle of wine is a great way to enjoy a nicer bottle of wine and save some $$. Plus it’s always nice and relaxing to enjoy some wine together in the room – especially if you have a baby with you!
Have tip money easily accessible
The last thing you want is having to fumble to get your tip money for the bellman or valet when you have a screaming baby in your hands. Make sure you have some 5’s and 1’s accessible when you’re checking in and out.
Don’t forget a portable sound machine
We use our portable sound machine all the time. It’s great to use for white noise while the baby is sleeping, or in the stroller when they’re taking a nap while you walk.
What you DON’T need
I got asked if we brought our Snoo bassinet with us and no we didn’t! That would be a lot to carry with us, (and I think we’d be judged a little at check in at the hotel, haha) but also I was excited to see how he did in a crib! It was nerve-racking, of course, but I think it’s important to get him in different sleeping environments so he becomes adaptable to new places and situations and not addicted to his Snoo, and he did GREAT!! He had maybe one more wake up than normal, but he went back to sleep each time!
We also were asked how we bathed him! We didn’t bring his baby bathtub, I bathed him with me in the bath with him VERY cautiously and carefully with him on my legs (and a wet washcloth over him to keep him warm). This is actually how we’ve been bathing at home lately, too! He loves it.
Bring the baby carrier!
We actually didn’t end up using our stroller on our vacation! I know this differs hotel to hotel, and destination to destination, but we used the baby carrier exclusively! We did have the stroller in the car in case we wanted it, but we found it easier to get around with the baby carrier. This is the exact one we have – but it comes in many colors! You can get 10% off using this link and the code JETSET.
Don’t stress! Your baby LIKES new places
I think it’s important to remember that your baby feeds off of your energy! If you’re relaxed, they’ll be relaxed. If you’re enjoying a new place and a vacation, they’ll enjoy the new place and being on vacation! I was shocked at how much it seemed like our baby boy was wide-eyed LOVING this new world. It was adorable. Even if they don’t love the new environment at first, I personally think it’s good to get them into new places and atmospheres every so often so they start to!
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Book your trip through a good travel rewards credit card for extra perks
OK, this one isn’t exclusive to baby travel, but I figured I’d let you in on the tip anyway! We booked our vacation through our Amex card, and through American Express travel, which allowed us perks like $100 resort credit, free breakfast, and a late 4pm checkout. It was amazing! You can read up about this card and all of my other favorite travel cards on this post here – The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards.
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How to travel with bottles and breast milk
I know this is a top question when people are thinking about traveling with their baby for the first time, whether they’re breast-feeding, formula-feeding or bottle-feeding, and rest assured that it’s not difficult, it just takes some prep! The main thing to do is to check with your hotel or lodging accommodations in advance to request a compact refrigerator for your room if needed. If you’re flying, formula, breast milk, toddler drinks, and baby/toddler food (to include puree pouches) in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage on US flights. (Allow for some extra time at the airport to get through security, as you may be subject to additional screening.)
Here’s what the CDC recommends about storing milk and to keep in mind if you are pumping on your trip:
You can carry freshly expressed milk in an insulated cooler bag with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours. After arriving at your destination, use the milk right away, store it in the refrigerator, or freeze it. If you carry frozen milk in a cooler with frozen gel packs or ice, check your milk when you get to your destination. Upon arrival, if the milk has ice crystals, you can refreeze it. Keep in mind that previously frozen milk should be kept cold and used within 24 hours from the time it thaws completely. This will depend on the time spent traveling and the temperature of the cooler. If possible, check the milk after a few hours in the cooler to see if it has thawed.
When you’re moving from place to place, the best way to store breast milk is in sealed containers kept in a small, insulated cooler with frozen ice packs.
Cute breastmilk coolers!
and don’t forget ice packs like these specially-made-for-breast milk ice packs on Amazon