By Erin Reynolds
We recently took a family trip to one of the best outdoor travel destinations in the PNW, San Juan Island in Washington State with our 5-month-old daughter. I have included some tips that we learned; hopefully they will encourage you to keep traveling as your family expands. For more tips on camping with a baby, see https://campingforwomen.com/babys-first-camping-trip/.
Our trip took place in October and our journey included our daughter’s first flight, ferry and campervan stay. Naturally, we had a few stressful moments but the campervan we rented had everything we needed from snacks and coffee to a place to change diapers.
When the inevitable autumn rain started, we walked back to the van and watched the weather together. Our daughter loved sleeping between us on the foldout bed and watching the ocean on our beach walks. We did a lot of strolling on city streets and hiking through rocky, wet terrain with baby in the front pack. All in all, we found the experience to be magical and we plan to return to San Juan Island when our daughter is older.
Tips On Traveling With An Infant
- Dining out takes a little more work than it used to Most of our dinners were spent eating alone while the other person took baby on a walk. Our most baby-friendly meal was homemade pastries at a farmer’s market. Next time we will rely on take-out and preparing our own meals in the van.
- Flying with a small child does not have to be horrible This trip was a test run for future trips and we purposely started with a short flight (less than 45 minutes). We packed everything we needed in our carry-on and nursed during takeoff and landing. As a first-time mom, I find myself getting anxious when driving on long trips with our newborn and I found flying to be a lot less stressful than long car rides we have taken with her.
- Rideshares and taxis are generally accommodating with car seats Just make sure you have had plenty of practice so you can quickly and safely install the seat
- Our campervan was a great size for our family of three However, next time we will invest in a van that has a dedicated place for the car seat so we don’t have to undo the bed and redo the car seat every time we want to go for a drive
- The weather is a bigger consideration now Our vacation took place in October, which is one of our favorite times to travel. However, the weather fluctuated between sunny and wet and rainy. As a Pacific Northwest girl, I love the rain and I made sure we were prepared! Our camping wear included lots of waterproof clothing, rainboots and wool socks kept us warm and dry. The campervan heater and fire kit provided extra coziness.
- Speaking of packing, I was surprised at how much longer it takes to pack for a family of three! Make sure you have extra time to prepare.
- “Try to get some sleep” is the most annoying thing you can tell new parents. But, if you can, try to get some extra rest the night before. Make sure to allow time for naps during the day, for both you and your baby. This is a great part of having a van, you can draw the curtains and sleep on the side of a busy street!
- But also….coffee! Since you probably won’t be getting enough sleep, at least scout out some good local coffee shops and/or pack your own.