Things You Can’t Do Traveling With Kids

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The most obvious statement of the century is that having kids changes everything. Yes, everything. That doesn’t mean everything changes for the worse, but it all changes. Naturally, this includes, but is not limited to the world of travel.

I remember when my daughter was about four weeks old. We had already been to hell and back with her due to a NICU stay, a life flight, and many straight days (and mostly nights) of constant crying screaming. It wasn’t the happy rose-colored-glasses view of having a baby that we had naively dreamed of. However, I was determined to try to start venturing out of the house with her and retain some of my pre-baby life and sanity. Because darn it I wasn’t going to be one of those people who totally changed 180 degrees after their baby was born. Ah, how little I knew then!

Anyway, my mission of the day was to get an outfit to wear to the annual Carnival celebration in Austin. I had gone for several years straight, and it was something we really enjoyed doing with friends. The costumes, the music, the dancing, the drinks, we loved all of it. We had arranged for my parents to come to Austin and stay with C while we went to the celebration downtown with friends. As we had done for years, I met up with a girlfriend to shop for an outfit with sequins, feathers, high heels etc. As a brand new mom venturing out for one of the first times alone with a challenging baby, it literally took hours to get out of the door.

I tried to time the nap correctly, the feedings correctly, packed a 50 lb bag of supplies for her and me “just in case”, and eventually made it out the door. We started our shopping at a costume shop that also sold some products geared toward adults, and consequently it was an 18 and up establishment. This is something I never paid attention to before, but it would become a big issue for this outing. As I went into the store, Little C was asleep in a Moby wrap snuggled close to me. I was proud of myself for making it there, and excited to do a “normal” activity with a friend.

Here we are at a Carnival celebration the year before Little C

However, my visions of regaining part of my pre-baby life were dashed when after a minute or two a store employee came up to me and said that since they sold some 18+ products, no one under 18 was allowed in the store. That included my quiet, sleeping four week old baby. I was tired, I was embarrassed, I was disappointed, I was overwhelmed, and I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit to a few tears quietly streaming down my face as I turned around and headed back to the parking lot. Within a minute or two my friend realized I was gone, and found me sitting in my car. She kindly pretended to not notice my red face and stray tears, and stayed in the car with C while I took a turn shopping, but it wasn’t the same.

Little C and I had been kicked out of a 18 and up joint at just four weeks old, and I was clearly gunning for the “Mother of the Year” award. I look back and laugh at it now, but at the time it was a big wake-up call that life was not the same, and no matter how hard you try, there are some things you did before having kids that you can’t do after having kids. The sting of the various lessons from that day still sit with me.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and I was at a conference in Colorado Springs. We traveled with our daughter, and several other bloggers that attended also brought their children along. One of those bloggers was Michael from Michael W Travels. He and his wife brought their adorable 16 month old, Lucas. Part of the planned activities for the weekend included a “+1” program for the spouses to attend a spa morning at the nearby Broadmoor Hotel while the bloggers were all in sessions at the conference. My husband participated by virtue of us having a local child care service arranged for C, but most of the other families in attendance didn’t leave their kiddos with the child care service either because they didn’t know about it, or didn’t feel comfortable leaving their kiddo with someone they didn’t know (which is totally understandable).

You can read the full story on Michael’s site here, but the short version is that Micheal’s wife, Kim, had arranged for Delta Points’ wife to watch Lucas while she got her massage. Delta Points’ wife would get her massage first while Kim and Lucas hung out in the spa waiting area, and then they would switch places. They all checked into the spa, got the tour, had the spa staff interact with the baby etc. They were doing great waiting while the first round of massages was going on, and Lucas was reportedly on his best behavior. Then the spa manager crossed paths with the baby and momma and told them, “The Broadmoor’s rule was that nobody under 16 years of age was allowed to be in the spa area.” She told them that they were a “5 Star resort and they couldn’t have any children in the spa at all.”

I wasn’t there, but I can imagine if I were in her shoes I would have felt several of the same emotions I experienced when we got the boot from the costume shop several years ago. I totally get why a spa wouldn’t want young children in the waiting area. Many young children aren’t calm, and a spa is supposed to be a very peaceful environment. However, it sounds like the delivery of the message wasn’t fantastic, and it probably would have been much better for all involved if this was something they were informed of at check-in when staff first saw Lucas. Or perhaps the spa staff could have worked with them to come up with an alternate solution that included pointing out other parts of the hotel where they might be comfortable waiting, and relaying that message to Delta Points’ wife when her session ended so she could meet-up with them and take over child care duties for an hour or so.

In the end, Lucas’ mommy didn’t get her massage that day, and probably was left with a bad taste in her mouth. Could she have checked with the spa ahead of time to learn their rules? Of course, but she had arranged alternate care, and sometimes we all miss a step in the process. Now that my daughter is older we do make use of kid’s clubs at hotels with some regularity so that she can play with kids her own age, and we can take part in some adult offerings within the hotel. However, that doesn’t work when your kid is still really young, so you have to be even more creative with your planning activities on your trips.

In case you are curious as to how our own Carnival night ended up several years ago…I did eventually get a costume that didn’t look too ridiculous five weeks post-baby, and we met up with friends to attend the event. We had a few drinks in a nearby hotel room while getting ready. Then right before we left, I had the enviable task of pumping in the hotel room (in costume) while all of my friends (and their husbands) waited. That was quite entertaining for all involved. After that we made it to the event, and I was so excited to be there that I fell asleep in the corner, on a bench, within 15 minutes of arrival. All of the work to get there and I virtually passed out instantaneously (and it wasn’t from the two cocktails). It was a good effort, but totally unrealistic given our new reality as parents. We committed to going before C was born, and before we knew first-hand how different our lives had become. Even looking at the photo below I realize how silly the attempt was, but I know our hearts were in the right place.

Getting ready to head to Carnival one month post-baby

We would have had much more fun just staying home enjoying a glass of wine and getting a few extra hours of sleep while my visiting parents took over part of the night shift with Little C. We just hadn’t learned that yet. Both at home and when traveling, there are some things you can’t do with kids, and there are some things you have to do really differently and with much more advanced planning. My advice is to really think through the logistics of how a particular activity will work with a young kid. In the case of a spa, you probably want to arrange care with someone who is outside of the spa area. In the case of a late night party a month after your child is born, you may want to pass all together…or plan on passing out in the corner as I did. For the record, we still haven’t been back to Carnival since.

What were some surprise changes you experienced after your kiddo came along? Were there things you no longer could do when traveling (or even at home)?

Comments

  1. No more going out every weekend with your friends. I love having kids but I do miss the days when I could just go out with the guys and hit up the bars or stay out all night. Now i’m in bed by 10pm every night and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  2. Ron, so true! I wasn’t really a stay out all night gal, but staying up until at least midnight or so and then sleeping in the next day is a novelty I do miss from time to time, both when traveling and at home. Agree it is so worth the trade-off though. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Benjamin, ha ha. There are trade-offs, and I don’t intend to ever sugar coat that. However, if/when you are ready, there are also many, many great things from having kids. Getting a hug and being told “I love you Mommy” more than makes up for missing Carnival!

  4. Yes having kids change everything! Having one kid you can still manage to do pre-baby stuff as it is easier to ask someone to babysit for a few hours or even overnight. Having two kids it gets a lot harder but still possible; having 3 kids or more forget it! ๐Ÿ˜‰ but when the oldest become a teenager and can babysit the younger ones for a few hours, all the sudden you find yourself snique out more often than before! I miss the days when I could go up to the wine country wine and dine, or fly to somewhere for just a weekend. On the bright side, not doing all that save a lot of money! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. One of the things it took us a while to learn was adjusting the pace at which we travel. We probably pack about a third of what we used to into a day and have learned to be flexible with plans when the kids find something they love. We also spend more time hanging out at beaches and pools than we used to.

    It leads to some priceless memories. The Tasmanian wildlife park is much more memorable to us for seeing our kids feeding kangaroos. And the closest I’ll ever get to the feeling of travelling with a rock star is being in Cambodia with my blonde and curly-haired three year old son.

  6. Sharon, so true. Notice we still only have one kid! Ha ha. It is all temporary, but definitely a change. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Adam, I bet he was a rock star and the wildlife park sounds amazing. Very good advice. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Thanks for talking about this topic and mentioning our story. This was the first time there was an issue due to having a baby with us. He’s been all over the world so it was bound to happen at some point!

    BTW- Lucas is only 16 months old! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Love this post! I’m learning that it gets better for a while, but then it surprisingly (for me, at least) gets worse again. My son, now almost 10, is starting to rebel against traveling at all! Not that he has a firm choice in the matter, but it’s a lot easier when travel is an adventure for them and not an eye-roll.

  9. Finally a well written article that we all can relate to and one which doesn’t involve pictures of First Class cabins as if we haven’t seen enough of them already. The picture you have posted is exactly what happens to a lot of us after kids & I am glad that you highlighting the silver lining.

  10. I have a question for you: Yesterday my parents were flying AA on first class from DFW-GRU and my sister was in coach with her 20 month old daughter. In the middle of the flight the child woke up crying and started asking for grandma. She wanted to stay with grandma. My sister walked to first class where my mom was with my father and the child got herself comfortable with my mom in her seat. She stopped crying and was almost falling asleep again when a very rude flight attendant went to coach and in a very impolite way demanded that my sister should go there and get the child back because she was not allowed to stay there. Again, she is a very tinny 20 month old little girl and all she wanted was to stay with grandma. My sister told the flight attendant that she would bring her back as soon as she felt asleep again but the guy started to get very rude and to avoid having FBI waiting for them when the plane landed my mom took the child back to coach. What is the rule in this case? Do you think a letter to AA complaining about this situation would help? My parents are both Executive Platinum and fly 3 to 4 times a year on paid first or business class so I would say they are very good customers for AA. Tks!!!

  11. Ha so true. We used to use points and miles for 2-3 days trips. This year, we’ve cancelled long haul after long haul as the trips approach. We’d much rather spend time with the baby and family. It’s easier that way. But the seasons can change and that’s when the points and miles will come in handy.

  12. Michael, he is so mature for 16 months. ๐Ÿ™‚ Got it fixed and sorry again your wife had that experience, but I think it is a good learning point to share. Thanks for doing so and great meeting you all.
    Dia, I’m sure as you creep toward the teenager years it becomes a whole different battle. So glad you liked the post!
    Cory, fair to say there is a whole array of types of dress (or undress) there. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Stacy, glad you like the post. I try to share the good bad and ugly. That may be first class or it may be getting kicked out of a joint with a baby. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Santastico, so sorry you had that experience. I think it is unfortunate the way it was handled. Technically since it was an international flight it sound like your child was ticketed as a lap infant in coach, and therefore wasn’t technically ticketed for first (which would have been 10% of a larger number). However, one can always wish people would use compassion or common sense. While they wouldn’t have to permit this either, it might have been worth asking if the grandmother and one of the parents could simply trade places for a while if the baby was truly happier with grandma. Again, so sorry. The FA wasn’t totally wrong, but certainly doesn’t sound like it was handled in the best way possible at all.
    The Weekly Flyer, we stuck relatively close to home the first year or two as well. Started branching out more as she inched closer to three, but we still don’t like to be gone from her too often or for too long!

  13. I remember that first big trip out very well. I love to ski and after having a February baby I felt left out having missed the early part of the season. Our first overnight trip was to Tahoe (about 2 hours away for us) and it was an absolute CF trying to get out of the house, but we made it! At 3 weeks post-baby I went skiing- with or without Dr’s blessing. By the time we got on the hill I only had about an hour before the resort closed and it was the first time I’d been away from my little boy for more than 20 minutes probably. Since we were staying at the casinos (21+ obviously) we all took turns watching baby while the others played. The next day I got to ski a little more and pushed our boundaries even further. That same day also brought our first roadside diaper change in the middle of a blizzard! After that things got easier and we gained the confidence to take our 13 month old son to India, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bali this year. I’d say we’re pretty much back to normal now. True, our baby does keep us out of a few 21 and over establishments (we’ve watched the sun come up in Vegas, haha, and Reno more than once) but I don’t really miss it at all. I’d much rather sip a cocktail poolside or on a beach where the whole family is welcome!

  14. It was great meeting you guys too! I forgot to add in the comments (possibly another post) about how Randy Petersen and BoardingArea went above & beyond and are making it up to Kim!

    Another point is to also know your environment so to speak. We had many massages elsewhere with Lucas present. The staff fought over who could hold/ watch him for us!

  15. I remember that first big trip very well. I love to ski and after having a Feb. baby I felt left out having missed the early part of the season. Our first overnight trip was to Tahoe (2 hours away) and it was an absolute CF trying to get out of the house, but we made it! At 3 weeks post-baby I was going skiing- with or without Dr’s blessing. By the time we got on the hill I had about an hour and a half before the resort closed for the day. Since we were staying at the casinos (21+ obviously) we all took turns watching baby while the others played that night. The next day I got to ski a little more and started pushing boundaries even further. That same day also brought our first roadside diaper change in the middle of a snow storm! After that things got easier and we gained the confidence to take our 13 month old son to India, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bali this year. I’d say we’re pretty much back to normal now. True, our baby does keep us out of a few 21 and over establishments (we’ve watched the sun come up in Vegas, haha, and Reno more than once) but I don’t really miss it at all. I’d much rather sip a cocktail poolside or on a beach where the whole family is welcome!

  16. The meals and snacks! Before the kid arrived, we could skip breakfast and be pretty flexible about the times we had our meals while traveling (and at home). But now our little hungry bear needs 3 meals and 2 snacks every day, which equates to eating something about every 2-3hrs. When we were traveling in Asia earlier this year, I was so thankful for the Hyatt Diamond breakfast benefit.
    The food allergy thing has also made eating out more challenging. While husband and I were used to being able to eat anything and everything, now we have to be more cautious about what we order.

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