Our Colorado Adventure… with a 5 month old.
It’s no secret that we love to travel. I will gladly forgo most things if it means I get to book a plane ticket somewhere. I’ve had this itch since I was a teenager and after meeting BL with the same focus, it’s no surprise that we’ve spent a good part of the last decade seeing the world. 55+ cities and 3 continents later (with South America being added this Winter), we are only slightly slowing down now that Vander is in our life.
To bring V or not to bring V? That’s been the question we’ve discussed at length for the past few months. Since both BL and I travel quite a bit for work, it’s likely that we’ll make many of these trips a family one. However, there’s also something to be said about using our travel schedule to reconnect as a couple.
Van’s been home to see my family a few times, as well as a trip to Florida with my mom a few months ago, but this was the first time we took a trip somewhere together as just a family of three.
Traveling with a babe is a completely different experience than traveling without a babe. Which, obviously. But something I wasn’t fully aware of until we actually experienced it.
I’ve done this for most of my motherhood journey so far; romancing something that doesn’t actually exist. I thought natural birth would be the most beautiful thing in the world. And, it was until it wasn’t. I thought breastfeeding was going to be easy, and magical. Things that did not exist for me. And, I thought that we could continue traveling every month, just with a babe in tow.
The second night into our trip, when BL and I were huddled in the bathroom with only a nightlight, quiet as church mice eating Indian take-out so as not to wake Vander, it hit me that things are now different. Not bad, just different.
But, I think I’d still advocate for traveling with a baby? After talking to my friends about this, I think that there are two schools of thought: either your baby adapts to your life or you adapt to theirs. I think both are right and I know that we favor one for certain occasions and the other in different situations.
If you’re thinking about taking a trip with a babe, here are a my thoughts.
Traveling with an Infant
1. Make naps mobile.
We brought along our ergo baby for naps on the go; which was key to us not spending the entire trip in the hotel room. Vander still takes 3 naps a day, so we would make 2 of them mobile and one in the hotel room. This freed up BL and I to still see the sights and also allow for down-time for the both of us while he was napping. We bundled him up, put him in the ergo baby and strolled around the town.
2. Book a hotel near town.
We opted for spending a little more to get a hotel that was right in the heart of the action. This meant that we could park our car upon arrival, and not have to touch it again until we traveled to the next place. Being able to walk to everything allowed us to throw V in the carrier or stroller and not have to worry about timing his naps with car time. It also meant that he could fall asleep for bed and then be easily transferred from the ergo baby into bed without waking him.
One night we went to an art gallery opening, with Van asleep the entire time. We put him in his pajamas and wore him asleep to the event. We then walked around town for a while afterwards before getting back to the hotel close to 11PM. We didn’t do this every night, but it allowed for a few nights to stay out past 5PM without worrying about compromising his sleep schedule.
3. Consider sleeping arrangements.
We co-sleep for a lot of the night at home, so I knew I would just have Van in the king-size bed with us while we were traveling. We did ask for a pack and play in Denver, but Van opted out of that decision within the first few minutes of being placed in it. Maybe your kids are better sleepers? If so, call the hotel ahead of time and see if they have a crib or bring a travel crib.
Update! August 2018: We’ve now traveled with Vander to 10 different cities and by far the best thing I recommend is getting a travel crib. This is the one we love because it’s lightweight enough to be packed into our suitcase without taking up too much space (you can also check it for free on Southwest.) Van knows it’s “his crib” and settles into it immediately each time. It’s a little pricey, but if you plan on traveling often, then consider it.
Traveling during both the daylight savings time and switching time zones meant that Vander’s night started around 5PM. Which isn’t our bedtime. Being all together in a small hotel room meant that Van’s bedtime routine took priority and BL and I ended up eating dinner either in the hallway or in the bathroom. Think of it as an adventure! Or, try and book a suite so you have a separate area to hang out while the kid(s) are sleeping.
5.You aren’t in control.
But, you knew that already, didn’t you? The first 4 flights Vander went on, he was good as gold. Passed out the moment we sat down and slept the entire flight. I thought this might be some good travel karma that I received; having a baby who is as chill when it comes to adventure as BL and I are. But, NO. He screamed the entire flight to Denver and 1/2 of the flight back. I’m fairly certain the entire row saw my boobs as I fought to breastfeed him in every position to quiet him down. Nothing worked. Every trick that I had up my sleeve just made him more annoyed. I have no idea if it was the altitude or his ears or just a stroke of luck, but he was happy as a clam the moment we landed. I didn’t pass out candy in advance and while I tried hard to make as many “I’m sorry” faces to those around us, I’m sure our fellow travelers were as ready for the plane to make it’s descent as we were.
Here’s the truth: we’ve all been on planes with fussy babes. Being the mom with a crying babe is very, very hard and we are just as frustrated as you are. Thanks for being a kind human who understands that babies sometimes cry even when you are doing everything you can.
We brought our babe to a bar (during the afternoon, but still.) We brought our sleeping babe to an art gallery. We brought him on a brewery tour and we brought him to a crowded restaurant. Again, I think you either believe this is a good idea or a terrible one. I firmly believe it’s a good one and as long as Van was happy, we were happy.
If you are traveling to the Denver/Breckingridge/Boulder area, here is what I’d recommend checking out.
What to do/eat in Denver
City O’ City: This was the #1 recommended place that I got from you all on social media. It’s a vegetarian cafe with lots of vegan options. Obviously, these are the kind of places that I live for; kinda hippy with a robust plant-based menu. I liked it, BL wasn’t much of a fan. We ordered the chicken cauliflower and waffles and the seitan buffalo wings. I really liked the wings; I wanted more from the waffles. But, some of the other options looked really good and I’d still recommend checking it out.
Amethyst Coffee Co.: CASHEW MILK coffee! Friends, cashew milk coffee. This stuff is life-changing; I had this coffee every morning that we were in Denver. Now that I’m home, I’m making my own cashew milk coffee and blending it with chai concentrate for a delicious breakfast.
What to do/eat in Breckinridge
Rita’s: Criteria for eating dinner with a baby: find a place that is open at 5PM and allows you to sit at a high top table so you can alternate between wearing baby and holding baby. Bonus if they offer a happy hour. Rita’s has it all; DIY taco bar, fresh squeezed margaritas and baby friendly atmosphere (… if you dine before 6PM.)
Gondola: I was a little disappointed that the gondola ride didn’t offer spectacular views (like the one in South Lake Tahoe), but it’s free! Take the ride all the way to the top and grab an overpriced drink before coming down; it’s worth it, especially if you aren’t skiing.
Main Street: To me, Breckinridge is a younger version of South Lake Tahoe. It’s more accessible to pedestrians and offers lots of tourist boutiques and outdoor gear shops with plenty of casual restaurants and bars in between. In other words, it’s the perfect place to strap on your favorite baby wearing gear and stroll the town. Our hotel was right off main street, and we spent a majority of the time walking around, stopping into shops and grabbing meals and drinks in between.
What to do/eat in Boulder
Zeal Cafe: We only stayed for one night in Boulder, so I obviously don’t have an exhaustive list. However, we loved Zeal cafe on Pearl Street. We had two bowls, the mighty bowl and the BYO cauliflower spicy bowl and both were delicious. This kind of restaurant is totally my kind of vibe; earthy, with kombucha on tap and lots of vegetarian and vegan options.
Take a hike!: We started our morning with an awesome hike to the first and second flatiron. As Boulder is so beautiful, I highly recommend doing some type of hike. We started at the Chautauqua Trailhead, which hosts half a dozen different hike options. The first and second flatiron is moderate, though a little tricky in the snow.