Early in this pregnancy, I’d started laying overly optimistic plans for our usual fall travel (as birds fly south, we fly where we find the best mid-season deals). My first instincts for this fall were to book a discount package to Turkey where I’ve been longing go for some time, to run to Costa Rica now that the kids are (just barely, and still debatably) old enough to enjoy some of the exciting activities (okay, no zip lines, but how can you go wrong with howler monkeys?), or to finally see the great pyramids that have really been calling to me, and to generally go-go-go while we can!!! Of course, this was our travel motto before having kids, but didn’t change after the first, or the second…
Having a first, then second child, however, systematically ruled us out of many European budget hotels (the ones bundled in most package deals) as they insisted the rooms were too small for our family, though we were sure we could make it work. And with rising airfare costs, added taxes, baggage fees, and fuel surcharges, pricing domestic airfare for four these days can nearly bring on anaphylactic shock (just take a look at Debbie Dubrow’s recent post on how a seemingly modest vacation to New Mexico with kids [one flying for free] totaled $3,373). So it’s really hard to fathom pricing for: “Istanbul, party of five,” or much more in the way of overseas travel.
Clearly, it’s time to take out another frequent flyer credit card with a fabulous mileage bonus.
Yet, as I battle indigestion, round ligament pain, and tuck that fourth pillow into its place at night, I am reminded how much easier adventure can be after the baby comes out. It didn’t take too many episodes of first-trimester nausea, or midnight trips to the john, or sudden cravings of very specific foods to own up to the fact that a real “vacation” during these labored months might involve more sitting on the beach time and less riding a bus into the desert time.
While first-time expectant parents often take advantage of a “babymoon”–one last hurrah to pamper themselves in their couplehood without worrying about waking the other hotel guests for a 2 a.m. feeding, and sleeping in without a small person propped between them–I still trip over the word. To me, “babymoon” sounds more like something you’d take after the baby arrives–a first camping trip together as a family, a first weekend at the beach, a visit to introduce the baby to family and friends, or how about an escape to Thailand?
You would think that the expression “familymoon” would cover that base: “Yay! We’re a family now! Let’s get away from the laundry baskets and diaper pail and venture out on a familymoon!” Instead, “familymoon” is what the travel industry’s dubbed the vacation a newly blended family takes after a remarriage. (“I have to share my room with my new stepsister?! You’re darn right we’re going to Disneyland!”)
I think it’s only fair that with all of these special terms and designations there should be some official expression to describe the crazy family with a toddler and a preschooler and a pregnant lady who set out in search of one last travel hurrah–before they outnumber place settings in a typical restaurant booth. Perhaps a “Haven’t-You-Changed-Enough-Diapers-Yet-Moon?” We’re going to be a big family, at least compared with my experience growing up and certainly by Bay Area standards. Just think, this will be the last Thanksgiving Grandma will be able to pick us up at the train station in her own car.
The fact that we still don’t have our travel plans completely nailed down shouldn’t worry me too much, however. Given our appetite for travel, we’ve pulled out plenty of stops to squeeze in as much travel as we can fit into the travel budget–including booking most of our trips in as few as 2 weeks (and less) before our departure. Our amazing “New Additionmoon” to Hawaii’s Big Island (shown above) while pregnant with Travel-Baby #2 was no exception. (It helps that I am always planning trips to the places I most want to see, of course, for when the right time–and deal–comes along!)
Whether we travel far and wide this season, or stick close to home and continue saving up for next year’s “Travels-with-Babymoon,” one thing is clear for this next trip: there had better be plenty of pillows.
Some vacation planning suggestions for the pregnant lady with two small children in tow:
1. Visit family or friends. They will help keep track of (and feed and entertain) your children while you put your feet up and possibly even take a bubble bath (by yourself, without the squeaky toys).
2. Head for the sand. You can sun yourself on it while your children play in it and happily bury your spouse in it.
3. Aim for an all-inclusive. With the right deal, your children will stay for free. The added advantage of having plenty of (not-gonna-cost-you-extra) food options within a short walk should keep you all happy, and if there’s a children’s program that covers your children’s age range–you can both cat nap by the pool.
4. Consider a cruise. If you’re past your woozy phase, and there’s plenty onboard to keep your kids happy (a playroom, supervised kid’s program and activities, pizza), you might appreciate venturing into some fairly exotic ports while returning to mama- and toddler-safe food and drink onboard–the aromas and flavors of which may be more likely to agree with you. (Again, check out the kids-free cruises offered by MSC, Costa, and some others that occasionally offer this promotion.)
Got some ideas or suggestions of your own? By all means post them below!
Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby
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