We went on our first family vacation this past week! Destination: New York! This trip was originally planned for last summer, but got cancelled because of the pandemic. We kept joking with Baby R that she wasn’t even supposed to be on this trip lol.
Vacationing with a Baby
Traveling with a baby was HARD, but we are so happy we pushed ourselves to go on this trip. Despite the stress, it was still a memorable experience. Years from now we aren’t going to look back and be happy we stayed home and stuck to a routine. We’ll be happy we went on this trip and (hopefully) have fond memories of traveling with a 3 month old.
Our flight from LAX to JFK was pretty smooth. Besides a little fussing here and there, Baby R didn’t really cry throughout the entire flight. Because the flight went so well, we were pretty optimistic traveling with a baby wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe it was our hubris that caused everything afterwards to plummet downhill.
Our taxi ride was pure chaos. We had spent a good 30 minutes trying to find our Uber before giving up and just hailing a taxi. JFK was so congested and stressful to navigate. Because we wasted time searching for our Uber driver, we delayed Baby R’s feeding schedule which meant she screamed and cried the entire 40 minute drive from the airport to our Airbnb.
We were relieved when we got to our Airbnb, thinking we would just feed and settle Baby R and get ready for bed. Unfortunately, things just kept getting worse. The Airbnb we booked promised a Pack n’ Play (the whole reason we booked the listing in the first place). We looked everywhere and the Pack n’ Play was nowhere to be found. Turns out the host forgot and said they would bring it by the next day…no big deal… It was frustrating the host didn’t seem too bothered. It’s like showing up to a place that promises 2 beds only to find 1 and not think it’s a big issue. We ended up moving the mattress onto the ground and co-sleeping with Baby R. We had never co-slept an entire night before and were terrified of the risk of SIDS, so it made for a very unrestful sleep the first night.
As promised, the Pack n’ Play was delivered the next day. Again, we were feeling optimistic and ready for a fresh start. We have the Pack n’ Play! We had been “practicing” with Baby R during the weeks leading up to our trip by having her nap in her Pack n’ Play at home, so she could get used to sleeping in it. We were so sure Baby R would transition smoothly and sleep in this vacation Pack n’ Play soundly. Baby R had other plans. She WOULD NOT sleep in it. She screamed and cried. And after a few minutes, for the sake of our vacation neighbors, we decided to co-sleep again. It’s true what all the blogs say, “All rules go out the window on vacation. On vacation, you’re in survival mode“. We have to be honest though, it was kinda nice to co-sleep with Baby R. And now that we’re back home, we kind of miss the snuggles and cuddles.
We spoiled Baby R on this vacation. We catered to all her needs and demands. If she cried when sitting in the stroller, we took her out immediately and baby-wore her. If she didn’t go down easily at night, we rocked and fed her to sleep. The flight back home was a nightmare. She cried almost the entire time. We joked that she was a different baby than the one we started the trip with. She was needier. In retrospect, she was probably just really tired from a week of disrupted naps and not enough night sleep. Now that we’re back home, we have our “good” baby back.
Anyway, we were pretty optimistic the morning of our first full day in New York that we could turn the tide and have a fresh start on our vacation. We got the Pack n’ Play and were just waiting on our rental stroller to be delivered. Turns out…the rental company never confirmed our purchase. To make matters worse, they were all booked up on their rentals so we didn’t even have the option of a last minute booking. We were left scrambling to find another stroller rental company. Luckily, we were able to find one. The company had only one stroller available. It wasn’t our preference, but beggars can’t be choosers. Ideally, we would have gone with a travel system stroller since we know Baby R can nap in the cozy car seat attachment. Because Baby R didn’t end up liking the rental stroller, Jake found himself carrying her in the baby carrier the majority of the time. Baby R sat in the stroller for maybe 20 minutes at a time. Also, the stroller we got didn’t have a basket underneath which made things a little inconvenient. When planning the trip, we assumed we would have a basket underneath our stroller. Fortunately, we had packed a spare backpack to carry all the things we were planning to store in the basket.
And finally, there was the stress of nursing in public. If Cindy was self-conscious about nursing in public before, well she’s definitely not now. She nursed everywhere and anywhere this vacation– in the middle of busy Washington Square Park, on Liberty Island near the Statue of Liberty, in a dog park near the United Nations building, in the bathroom of the Empire State Building, on a bench in Central Park. Nursing was one of the more stressful parts of the trip. We probably spent half our time desperately searching for parks or family rooms. We tried to keep to our feeding schedule, but sometimes we were in the middle of touring an attraction so we would push feed times. But then that just left us with a screaming baby when we pushed too close to the edge.
By Night 2, we just wanted to go home. We weren’t having fun, we were tired, we were stressed, and we were overwhelmed. But then it got better. It was like we hit vacation rock bottom first before things started to look up. We can’t say if anything in particular really changed… it just took the first 2 days to adapt and adjust our expectations. We tried to keep our home routine and schedule on our vacation and that just wasn’t working. Once we let go of our routine and went with the flow a bit more, the trip became more enjoyable. We read somewhere: “What happens on vacation, stays on vacation“. And that little mantra gave us the reassurance we needed that we can just jump right back in to our routine with Baby R when we got back home.
Lessons Learned: make sure to book the stroller you want in advance (or just bring your own), the baby carrier is magic, invest in a good nursing cover, let go and go with the flow.
The Actual Vacation
We aren’t foodies, but our favorite part of the trip was probably the food!!! We got sandwiches from a Deli, smoothies from a street cart, bacon egg and cheese bagel sandwiches for breakfast, NY Pizza, Chinese take-out, and Levain Bakery cookies. We dined at a fancy French restaurant and ate at a breakfast diner. It was so fun to get the New York food experience.
Our second favorite part of the trip was watching Wicked on Broadway. The musical was amazing!! But what was more amazing was the atmosphere. This past week was Broadway’s return since shutting down because of the pandemic. It was quite emotional when the audience started cheering and applauding as soon as the curtains drew. We are so happy we got to experience a play on Broadway. Our friends who just moved to New York kindly babysat for us, so we could enjoy the evening!
It was also so cool to see all the places you see in the movies in real life! We told ourselves that it was okay to not get through our itinerary and to be open to dropping activities if it seemed like it was too much. We ended up doing almost everything on our itinerary and even visited a few extra places! Even with a baby, we had a classically Cindy & Jake vacation– one where we pack the day full.
Jake’s favorite part of our trip was visiting the Financial District (Wall Street). He’s in such awe of how much economic activity takes place in one single area. It’s crazy to think how much money flows through one place. He doesn’t like city life, but thinks it would be pretty amazing to get to work in an area like this.
Cindy doesn’t have a favorite part of the trip because she loved it all. She’s officially in love with New York City. She loves the busyness, the bustle, the city sounds, the crowds, the subways. She loves how everything is walkable and there’s endless restaurants to try. She loves the skyscrapers and the brownstones. The city reminds her of Taipei. She likes to think of NYC as American Taiwan. She misses NYC already.
We’re sad our vacation is over. But it was such an amazing experience, despite all the hard parts. We survived traveling with a baby! Now that we’re home, we’re getting Baby R back to her routine. And Jake is starting his 4th year of his PhD program!!