One of the greatest joys in my life was unquestionably meeting my wife. Being single well into my late twenties had its advantages when it came to traveling, but I undoubtedly wanted someone to share it with. Shortly after meeting my wife in May 2006, we were jet setting around the Country to experience new places together (Chicago, Las Vegas, South Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, the Bahamas (well almost), etc.). We were married in July 2008 and had our first son in April 2009. Starting a family was truly everything I always thought it would become.
Traveling with babies, then infants, and now a toddler has opened up a whole knew realm of possibilities when it comes to travel. Who knew I could enjoy my time watching Disney Toy Story 3 on ice or other kid friendly events? The major change with traveling as a young family though is the abundance of stuff you need while traveling. Yes you could always pick it up when you arrive at the local store (diapers, wipes, etc.), but sometimes it’s just not worth the time and effort. So into the suitcase it gets crammed.
In April 2010, I surprised my wife for her 30th birthday by flying us all out to California. The purpose…to see San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Disneyland (Anaheim). My parents, sister, and brother-in-law all accompanied us on the flight into San Francisco. My wife’s parents were also flying out to surprise my wife later in the trip to meet up with us at Disneyland. We left Easter afternoon at a smaller airport, making it extremely convenient with little crowds. This was after all going to be my sons first time on an airplane just days before his 1st birthday. In addition, it was our first major travel where we weren’t driving with all the necessary baby equipment.
Flying to San Francisco was honestly not a problem. There was enough entertainment between all of my family that our infant was easily enthralled. One thing I had never put any thought into ahead of time, and that saved us a ton of headaches, was that hotels typically provide a crib or pack-n-play just by asking. This alleviated my concerns of having to carry a pack-n-play to the other side of the country.
Another major bonus, when you are traveling with a young family, is a good stroller can pay dividends in the end. For this trip we chose to bring our larger stroller (not the quick umbrella type). This allowed us to easily carry around additional baby items for maintenance and entertainment. In addition, the back could be dropped to allow our son to sleep. And the best thing…that we could gate check the stroller free of charge. I have to say I was extremely surprised to see how friendly and accommodating airlines were with young families. On this trip, we flew Delta for the major hauls, and then took Southwest on the small connecting flight later in the trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
This trip really opened my eyes and made me think about future travel arrangements in more detail. We love to travel and as long as we are financially stable, we will continue to do so as we feel it creates a great learning environment for our son (and future child). When making plans for the trip though, we now need to think about a lot of items I never had to as a single traveler. What time will we be eating? How will our son react if he goes without a nap? How will we get from point A to B with stroller, etc.? I’ll elaborate more on our travels to California in future posts.