Travel - First Getaway as a Party of Four
Back before kids we used to jump in the car and head down coast or up to wine country pretty frequently with no destination and no reservations. Nick and I are not planners, never have been, so this type of weekend getaway suited us just fine. Wandering from hotel to hotel (or Googling roadside) in some costal town looking for a room after a boozy dinner was sort of our thing. Not the most glamours way to travel but certainly fun.
Fast forward 4 years and I am calling every hotel on the California coast to ensure they have a pack 'n play, a large room with two queen beds, a strict no smoking policy and on-site parking. Spoiler alert: Children are the death of spontinatity.
Mum-in-law from England was in town visiting our newest little sproglet so we got ambitious and tried to plan an L.A. weekend. Considering we had an extra set of hands we figured we could manage. But after much (actually not that much) considerations the idea of getting a 6 week old and a 3 yr old packed, through security and on a plane for a 72 hour getaway was less than appealing to me. Have you ever traveled with a newborn? It's like the tinier the human the more shit you have to pack and drag everywhere you go! SO after much procrastination we decided on our old stand by: Carmel by the Sea.
Early Fall in Carmel is gorgeous. Indian Summer kicks in, the fog rolls out and if you time it just right you can have a hot, sunny beach weekend. Unfortunately it seems that everyone on the West Coast knows this so booking a hotel 3 days before departure wasn't easy (or cheap). In Carmel you seem to have two options: extremely expensive luxury boutique hotels or fairly overpriced, lackluster motels disguised as 'Inns' or B&Bs. Since we mostly stayed in the latter I took the time to do a little extra research and try to find something in between.
One look at the pictures of the lobby Hotel Carmel (hello, mud cloth pillows!) and the mention of a 'wine hour' and I was sold.
When we arrived I was a little disappointed that Hotel Carmel was just 'one of those Inns' that had been recently renovated (formerly the Dolphin Inn) but the updates and newness of the rooms and decor was enough to keep me happy.
The fire pit area was great for enjoying your complimentary wine before heading out for dinner. Nick and Louie enjoyed the little hot tub (I missed out as I was usually stuck in the room feeding Willa... babies are so needy). They had a bagel breakfast each morning which I obviously loved (all the carbs, please!). The rooms were a good size, they had a pack 'n play and parking. What more could you want? Air conditioning. You could want air conditioning. It was 90 degrees in Carmel that weekend and the room was hot as hell at night-- not ideal sharing a bed with a squirming toddler. If you stay here during Indian Summer, request a fan.
We ate at some of our favorite places; La Bicyclette and Cantenetta Luca. We had dinner at a middle eastern restaurant called Yafa that was seriously delish. I got a precious couple hours to peruse the shops solo (well, with Willa but close enough). We spent both mornings at the beach watching Louie revel in the sand, Sue enjoyed the onslaught of poodles due to an annual poodle convention (yes, that is a thing) and Nick fit in a morning of Surfing in Santa Cruz on our way down. Something for everyone. Other than a massive diaper explosion in the middle of dinner at Yafa that had me carrying a mostly naked, very wet baby through the streets of Carmel, it all went off without a hitch.
So life with two kids has continued to move forward and I think we may even be getting the hang of it. Now if we could just secure a third parent for all future vacations...
A few tips for road tripping with a baby:
1. Call ahead and make sure they have some type of crib so you don't have to travel with your pack 'n play.
2. A white noise machine is key to everyones sleep when you are all in one room. I also have an app on my phone in case we forget.
3. You can buy diapers anywhere so don't bother filling up precious space in your suitcase.
4. I bring my bottle brush and a bag with some dish soap so I can clean bottles, pump parts, pacifiers, etc in a hotel sink. Medela Quick Cleaning Wipes are also great to throw in the diaper bag incase you don;t have access to a sink.
5. Don't bother bringing a bouncer or chair. Between the carseat, stroller, and a simple blanket on the floor-- the kid will be fine.
6. Check the map and plan stops along the way for nursing/feeding so you aren't stressed. Shopping plazas, cafes, playgrounds are best so your partner and/or other children have something to do while baby is being fed.
7. Break it up if you can. We spent the first night in Santa Cruz to make life easier. We knew we would be driving in rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon and didn't want to push the limits on our first attempt at a two kid road trip.