Having just survived an intercontinental trip with our 8-month-old baby, I am ready to share what I’ve learned. I’ve already discussed how well my son handled the trip and while I’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t exactly easy, or quite as relaxing as previous baby-free vacations, it wasn’t nearly as bad as we’d been led to believe it might be.
Of course, I know that’s not what many of you want to hear, especially on this blog, so…I wrote the following list for you. Consider it your daily helping of schadenfreude.
This is for all the parents needing justification for not taking their baby out of his comfort zone. For everyone who wants to know that all the extra stress and logistics of taking a baby on vacation truly do make it a bad idea. For the people from older generations who expect their warnings of disaster and complaints that “he’s too young to go overseas!” to be borne out with terrible tales of how hard it was on us, and yes, they were right, we were crazy to even try. This is my gift to you.
DadandBuried’s 10 Tips for Traveling with a Baby – Schadenfreude Edition
1. Don’t be stupid, leave the baby at home.
This is key to enjoying your vacation. Bringing your baby on vacation with you severely limits your enjoyment of said vacation. You know how you get on a plane and as you’re walking downthe aisle, you spot a baby in the distance and begin mentally calculating where your row is in relation to that baby, just so you can be sure you’re not sitting near a goddamn freaking baby on a seven-hour plane ride? This time that goddamn freaking baby is yours and he’s sitting on your lap and you’re responsible when he cries and please god let me off this plane right now!
2. Are you crazy? Ditch the kid with your parents!
This cannot be stressed enough. When you’re traveling, babies are essentially just another piece of baggage to cart around. Baggage that has its own baggage, like the car seat and the stroller and formula and diapers and every piece of clothing he owns because everyone knows he’ll shit himself at least five times. AT LEAST. And no one is doing laundry during vacation. You’re probably trying your hardest to avoid paying baggage fees, but with a baby you’ll have little choice; there is just to much stuff you absolutely NEED. But it’s not the actual money that you’ll be worried about at the end. Yes, you’re wallet will be lighter when you get back, but your load will be heavier. With a renewed hatred for mankind.
3. Seriously, bringing a baby is a bad idea. Am I making myself clear?
The presence of a baby – especially one that is your responsibility – makes life 100 times more stressful. Especially on vacation. Being a stranger in a strange land increases your stress exponentially. Especially when that strange land is populated with drunken ruffians. Or when that strange land is Dee Snider’s Strangeland. Plus, if you’re foolish enough to rent a car, you may be forced to drive on the other side of the road down narrow streets with kamikaze locals barreling towards you, all while the world’s most precious cargo sucks his thumb in the backseat. Aren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing? DITCH THE KID.
4. I cannot stress this enough: it’s not a vacation if you bring your child.
Ever have a dinner without a baby? Blissful, right? Ever have a dinner in a foregin country where everyone hates Americans and your baby is crying and everything costs 1.5 times more than it usually does including oatmeal and the fruit your baby just threw at the person in the adjacent table? Right.
5. I would sooner leave my baby in a kennel than take him along next time.
Ireland is known for its pubs. Many of the most touristy of the tourist attractions are pub crawls. Literary pub crawls, haunted pub crawls, historical pub crawls, etc. Pub crawls featuring screaming babies strapped to your chest? And guess what? Babies are just as annoying in foreign countries as they are in the U.S., and making your way back to safe, familiar ground when your baby goes apeshit is a lot less easy when you are overseas and have no safe, familiar ground.
6. If you can’t find a babysitter for the week, put him in the tub with some water and formula.
Relaxing dinners out are a lot more relaxing when there isn’t a high chair next to you, featuring a whiny baby spraying blueberry porridge all over his face, pajamas, your table, the server, and the nice elderly couple sitting nearby. If you thought people sitting near you on the airplane over were annoyed, wait til you see the faces on the restaurant staff and the other customers when you stroll in the door, literally, with a baby in stroller. At least on the plane there’s a decent chance the engine will drown things out. At dinner, everyone can hear him scream.
7. I AM NOT JOKING. BABIES ARE THE OPPOSITE OF VACATION.
Vacations used to be about relaxation and drunkenness. Good luck getting drunk with a baby in tow. And good luck relaxing in a foreign country where every single native looks desperate to steal your baby and sell him for a keg of Guinness. MomandBuried and I even braved a baby-sitting service so we could get out by ourselves and attempt to get nice and smashed. But doing shots and pounding beers is a lot less enjoyable when you’re not positive your son will still be in your hotel room when you get back. I mean, it’s still enjoyable. But less so.
8. You’ve been warned. In fact, this is me continuing to warn you.
Ever driven in the UK? It’s not super enjoyable. In Ireland, the roads are narrow as all hell and the other drivers don’t care if they die. One of our hosts actually recommended that I “not back down” when encountering a car coming at me on one of those narrow roads, lest the other driver take that as license to terrorize meek little me. She was essentially advising me to play chicken. With my baby in the backseat. I mean, I did it, but it didn’t make things any easier, especially with my wife screaming at me that we were all going to die and at least put the beer down and drive with both hands, you’re going to kill my son!
9. Don’t you get it yet? Babies and vacation don’t mix.
We stayed in a bunch of B and Bs, despite the fact that we are not good B and B people. This meant that we had one room in which to stash our luggage, our bodies and our child. Which also meant that once it was bedtime for baby, it was DO NOT MAKE A FUCKING SOUND FOR THE NEXT TWELVE HOURS OR YOU’LL WAKE HIM UP AND HE WILL SCREAM NONSTOP. Thankfully the only TV that was available to us was playing either “One Tree Hill,” “Friends” reruns, or Gaelic news programs, so we didn’t miss much by turning off all electricity at 7pm every night. But the imposed silence made our vacation less of a vacation and more of a “this is what jail is like.”
10. Cherish the memories of your first family vacation!
And take pictures. It’s the only way you’ll be able to prove to the kid that you took him anywhere special because NEVER AGAIN. So help me god, NEVER AGAIN.
There. Satisfied? Does that line up more closely with the expectations you have of bringing your baby on a plane ride to a foreign country? Good. I’m happy to indulge you. But don’t believe for a second that that’s what it was like for us.
I’ve said as much before, but MomandBuried and I are here to live life with our son, not live a life that’s been hamstrung by him, and that includes taking trips to new places and surviving them as best we can. I guess we were lucky, because we did survive, and with flying colors.
Despite any poop stains that may or may not have been left all over rental car.