7 Reasons a Vacation with a Baby is No Vacation

One year.

The term “family vacation” may simply exist as a hilarious oxymoron; especially when you have a toddler. While planning a road trip across Florida recently, my expectations were exactly where they needed to be: low. And as I expected, I therefore wasn’t disappointed.

Though it was very tough flying all the way to Sacramento with our son when he was only 8 months old, at least we had plenty of family awaiting us to help out. (My wife is the 9th of 10 kids.) But when you don’t have family to help soften the blow, an attempt at a vacation is simply that- an attempt.

Taking a vacation with a baby is like winning a free iPhone with a cracked screen. Or getting off work early due to inclement weather and then getting stuck in bad traffic. It’s like eating a trendy $4 cupcake but it being your least favorite flavor: Butterscotch.

Perhaps the best word for a vacation with a baby is “adventure,” which promotes the idea of excitement of the unknown and as well as the great possibility of setbacks. Here are 7 reasons a vacation with a baby is no vacation:

1. You can’t sleep in. Man, the thought of waking up lazily at 8:30 AM on my own, without a baby alarm clock is simply, unimaginable. Nice thought, though.

2. The irregular schedule throws off your baby’s sleeping patterns. We’ve been back for over a week now and our son still hasn’t quite adjusted back to not only Central Time, but also actually being able to sleep when he’s ready to.

3. You can’t ever mentally relax; even while you sleep. It’s more likely that your kid is going to wake up in the middle of the night. And while you’re awake, there is no pause button with your child.

4. You become stressed out about finding meals. When you have to synchronize your own hunger cues along with your child’s, while finding an appropriate restaurant to stop at, it’s not too surprising having driven yourself all the way across the Florida Keys without lunch. A sleeping baby in a car overrides the growling of two adults’ stomachs.

5. You and your spouse barely have time to talk to each other about anything other than the stress of the trip. When you do, it’s smarter just to fall asleep. So much for quality time.

6. Planning activities wears you out. You want to see all the cool tourist spots, but you also want to be able to relax. But you can’t relax anyway (as mentioned in #3) so it becomes easier just to distract yourself with the vacation activities themselves.

7. You become aware of the fun you’re missing out on as adults. So much for a simple date night at the bar of the hotel. It’s easier to settle for a bottle of Boone’s Farm from the gas station down the street, enjoyed in the splendor of two glass cups from your hotel’s bathroom counter.

But hey, this is what we know as normal now. I’ll sleep in when I’m dead.

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  1. by cynthia brennemann

    On December 18, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I feel for the kids this person is raising. A little forethought would prevent all those problems. A baby is a BABY. They cannot help what they need. An adult SHOULD be able to figure this out and plan around a babies needs rather than hauling the kid around and treating it like an unwanted burden.

  2. by Devorah

    On December 20, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Wow some people have no sense of humor. As if any amount of planning ahead will make traveling with a toddler more relaxing. Toddlers take even the best laid plans and toss them out the window. It doesn’t mean we don’t want them with us, it’s just a different kind of trip, and if you say differently you’re kidding yourself.

  3. by Brian

    On December 22, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with your summary of “vacationing” with kids. I thought I was the only one who felt like I was missing out on fun date-night type events with my wife because of kids. The guilt from thinking that way made me never open my mouth about it. Cynthia doesn’t understand where you were going with this, but as dad of two under two, I feel ya brother.

  4. by Nick Shell

    On December 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Thanks man!

  5. by Susan

    On January 2, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Ha! After our first big “vacation” with our 2 toddlers under 3 this summer, we were taught that it’s not called a vacation, it’s called a “trip” since it’s a 4-letter word. Now we know better.

  6. by Mike

    On September 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Wow! What a bummer.
    My wife and I have taken our 8 month old on two long trips and a couple short weekenders already and we have had a wonderful time. I think it takes a more positive attitude to pull off the extended vacation with an infant. Six of the “Seven reasons” from the article have nothing to do with the baby. They are problems with daddy’s attitude and stress level.

  7. by Amy

    On February 4, 2013 at 9:28 am

    So true! Lots of moms feel the same way, Dad, so you’re not alone! But don’t worry, it will get so much easier. As you and your wife get more experience you’ll start figuring out what works for your family and you’ll be able to have a genuinely good time together. (for instance, if you ask for the handicap accessible hotel room you’ll have more space for a portabed, meaning better sleep for your baby…and you) or you’ll try to get a room with a balcony so you and your wife can enjoy your evening wine together outside with a lovely view (even if it’s just a parking lot) when baby’s sleeping. . You get the idea. The type of fun might change, but you can still have a blast with your kids. Just don’t get cranky, that will take all the fun out of learning together. Looking at the picture of you with your screaming son, it looks like you’ve got a great attitude, though!