Vacationing with a baby is an oxymoron. It's just not possible.
The word vacation implies getting away from the stress of your day-to-day life, which was the whole goal of a recent family trip to San Diego where we hoped to relax and unwind. Apparently my 1-year-old daughter, Nicole, did not get that memo. In fact, she seemed to do everything in her power to make me long for the redundancy of our life at home.
Let's start at the beginning. When traveling with a 1-year-old, pretravel planning should begin approximately at 6 p.m. the day after your baby is born.
This pretrip period includes deciding which of her outfits she absolutely must wear on the beach and which clothes she can probably do without but you'll take anyway.
Next comes the feeding portion of the planning, which entails lining all of your baby bottles up on the shelf to decide how many she actually needs for a three-day, two night trip, paring down to the absolute essentials of bowls, bottles and binkies, and then packing every single one of them anyway.
Perhaps the most time-consuming portion of packing for a baby is the daunting "products" category. These are all of the little one's various ointments, creams, salves, lotions, medicines, bath soaps, Q-tips and washcloths. For a pint-size human, babies need a heck of a lot of personal-care items.
Please keep in mind that you must bring every single medicine or cream that your baby has ever used. It is absolutely vital that you pack as if you will be traveling through the sub-Saharan wilderness with no convenience stores for days, much like I did when I traveled to the remote locale of San Diego.
Once this initial packing stage is done and you have three or four bulging bags ready to go at least a week in advance, you are ready for stage 2 or what I like to call the onset of triptheria. This fun stage is when babies hear you say the word vacation and decide it would be hilarious to spike a 102-degree fever and break out into a rash.
Try to stay calm.
This is an inevitable part of any vacation with a baby and usually only requires one or two frantic calls to the doctor and one call to the airline to scope out the cancellation fees. The illness is usually nothing and it clears up just before you head out the door for the airport. Haha, good one, baby.
Now that you've made it through the pretrip stage, you're ready for the main event. But you can be confident that you've packed with care you've got binkies o'plenty just waiting to be called into action and an array of outfits that will be just right whether your little one is playing in the sand or has to attend an impromptu charity gala.
You can now sit back, relax and try to ignore the scowls from passengers 26D and 28E as your baby screams during takeoff and landing. These sans-baby travelers are under the misguided notion that passengers with baby in tow are secretly pinching their little ones throughout the flight and quietly giggling about how hilarious this is. I mean, why else would we just let them scream like that?
But with the flight behind you, you are now ready to enjoy your vacation and by enjoy, I, of course, mean adjust to your baby's new sleep pattern, panic about the death trap of a hotel room that doesn't even have one socket cover, and spend about 89 percent of your vacation time cleaning sand out of your baby's diaper.
Note: The other 11 percent of your time is spent sanitizing your baby's hands and applying ridiculous amounts of sunscreen to her nose.
But it's worth it.My trip to San Diego may have not been the relaxing trip I envisioned, but I know that it meant something to Nicole. I just know that 10 years from now, I will whip out a picture of her playing with her sand toys on the beach and she will make it all worth it as she says, "Hey, I've been to San Diego?"