family vacation: Key West

I looked at our upcoming summer and realized we had a summer vacation planned for just the two of us, one with my family but none as a family of three. Jake was in the middle of crazy, crazy work weeks that were making it difficult to spend time as a family. And me–well I always love trying to find a good bargain on flights. So after convincing Jake to take a couple days off, I found some dirt cheap Florida tickets from a new airline here. We booked a car and two hotels and I began counting down the days!

We had kept a mental bucket list of traveling in the back of our heads for a while and on the list was Drive the Florida Keys. Jake had done it with his father years ago but we wanted to do it together. So that’s what we did. I prayed Emmett would sleep well and we didn’t make any real plans other than seeing my friend from college the night we got down there.

It ended up being such a fun weekend. It was great catching up with my friend and Emmett slept like a baby in the backseat. We actually ended up with an upgrade for our car thanks to a nice worker who said he noticed we had a child and wanted to help us out. They bumped us up to a car with air conditioned seats and other cool things, but I just really cared about those seats.

 (first night at the hotel)

(a tiny public beach on our way down to Key West)

 (my favorite road tripper)

(Key West!)

 (the Hemingway House!)

(We got there too late to go in, but I was stoked to see a Hemingway kitty)

(Eating dinner at a Mexican place)

 (Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S.A.)

 (our second hotel was a teeny home!)

 (Sombrero Beach in Marathon, FL)

 (our little beach bum!)

 (I love this picture of him!)

(North Beach in Miami)

(the water was amazing. I miss it already)

(love our little family!)

 (these two)

It was a blast and I look forward to more vacations together as a family!

10 Tips for Traveling [Abroad] with an Infant

Note: this was a post written last year but was never posted because we kept waiting to take a picture that never happened… laid plans, guys.

As we returned from our Asia trip this week, it dawned on me what “baby traveling lifesavers” we used on our trip that I would never have known ahead of time. Somehow we just ended up bringing the “right” baby stuff and I truly believe it was God who allowed me to find and figure out what to bring. Not knowing many people who have done a trip like this, I was guessing on what to bring. I hope this list helps you.

Also, I was reminded this week by my aunt that having a baby is “not a burden.” If you are thinking about traveling with an infant, or doing something that is labeled challenging (as a lot of things truly can grocery shopping!), I encourage you to think about the reasons why you think you can’t do it. I had a list of reasons why this trip was too difficult and initially we had decided to decline it. But after talking with multiple people, we decided to go for it and are so glad we did. It was not easy, but it was not impossible. I would do it again!

10 Tips for Traveling Abroad with an Infant

1) Download a sound machine on you phone.

I downloaded  “Baby Sleep” which had a sea sound option. It was similar to the ocean sound that plays in his room at home for sleep time. I wanted it so that he would have something that reminded him of home as he was sleeping in different rooms for his naps and bed times. Make sure it does not need wi-fi, too!

2) Get a travel bassinet.

This was a lifesaver. We do not co-sleep typically and the hotels did not have cribs. I was not sure what we were going to do until a friend of mine showed me this travel bassinet. As a note, it has a weight limit of 15 pounds which turned us off initially since Emmett is 19 pounds. We ended up buying it though and after watching him in it, we figured the weight limit was for a baby who was strong enough to roll over the mesh siding, etc. We did catch Emmett playing with his feet over the side, but he never tumbled out and we always had it on top of a bed or the floor. It honestly worked AMAZING. I am not sure what we will do when he is a little bigger though.

 (Emmett after he woke up from his nap outside near a cave Jake was spelunking in.)

3) Bring your umbrella stroller.

To to be honest we really contemplated which stroller to bring, We thought that maybe we could use it for all of his sleep times (a regular stroller). In the end we said it would be to bulky to carry and I am SO glad we did not bring it (SO SO SO glad). The umbrella stroller was so light and easy to carry around and he even napped in it at the airport! We tilted it back on a chair and laid a coat over it, Also, this is not typical of him! I am positive prayer factored into this one 🙂

(Aiport napping)

4) Reserve bulkhead seats and a bassinet on your airline.

Call your airline multiple times before your trip. Even though we had reserved the seats and bassinet twice, we still ran into people telling us at the airport that they couldn’t give us these until we were at the gate. When you are at the airport ask everyone at every gate! Be nice and don’t act entitled, and show your cute baby to ensure a bassinet bulk head seat (extra leg room for you as a bonus).

(Delta’s bassinet)

5)Bring a bottle, formula packets, and a bottle of water.

 I exclusively breastfeed other than the recent introduction to solid foods. So when there was talk of leaving Emmett with someone on the trip while Jake and I were doing something, I seriously had an internal battle of what to do as far as food for my baby. Literally, last minute though, formula won that debate and I am so thankful it did. With the craziness that come with traveling in general, it was so easy to hand a packet (they send you those samples in the mail before baby is even here) and bottle to someone and leave. There was no planning around me having time to pump, hoping I made enough, and then cleaning pump parts afterwards. It was also nice in the middle of the night for Jake to be able to do so I could continue sleeping 😉

6) Use a backpack instead of a diaper bag.

Maybe you already do this and you are one smart parent! It just made physically moving around easier. Jake took his work backpack, emptied it and filled it with baby goods. He would then stick Emmett on the front with the backpack on the back and be a one man show. No, really. Foreigners are pretty popular in China!

7) Bring your baby carrier!

Do you see that exclamation point I added? I did that for a reason! It was a l.i.f.e.s.a.v.e.r.  When you are on the go and in and out, having your baby right there with you is wonderful. We have the Baby Bjorn and that thing was used more on this trip than in Emmett’s 7 months of life. OK, maybe that is an exaggeration, but I am just trying to make sure you don’t leave home without your carrier next trip.

8) Don’t forget baby Tylenol, snot sucker or other potential baby items. 

It was last minute, but we decided to pick up some baby Tylenol at the convenient drugstore in the airport. We had never given Emmett a dose of this but still bought it. For that I am eternally grateful. He started teething four teeth on our trip and was probably in the worst pain of his life. That Tylenol helped save all three of our sleep lives. The snot sucker? We forgot that and were pulling boogies out with whatever a hotel had to offer.

9) Make your baby stuff able to fit on one person. 

I have been eluding to this a little bit in some of my previous points. But I am going to allow a picture to suffice as well as tell you my husband is awesome.  (note: this is the said picture from above that does not exist)


(picture a backpack on back with a bassinet hooked onto one side and an umbrella stroller hooked onto the other…yes, my husband is awesome!)

10) Pray!

There is your next exclamation point. We were covered in prayer our entire trip. I could feel it. Emmett was falling asleep everywhere (a problem that had occurred over the two months preceding this trip where he would only sleep in his crib), we made planes and trains that we were running to make, and Emmett loved China.  I joke and say Tylenol gave us sleep, but I know prayer was more involved there. It was a blessing to know we were being prayed for 5000 miles away.

xo, bethany rose