It’s no secret that Missy and I are big on research and planning. From trips to Italy to buying the new family car or even just the food on the bi-weekly grocery run, we make sure to leave no stone unturned in finding the best deal or option for our family. Not frugal, per se, but prudent. It’s not that we aren’t spontaneous from time to time, but doing things (at least…the big things) on a whim doesn’t happen too often in the Hardinge household.
So as you can probably imagine, a great deal of effort went into planning this trip even before a single suitcase had been packed. One phrase we live and die by as new parents is “be prepared”, and we both felt that there was no way we could over-prepare for a trip of this magnitude. And since I was at work five days a week, that left Missy home to do a majority of the pre-trip preparation (on top of that whole…caring for three babies thing…another reason she should win the Mother of the Year Award).
Yet there was only so much she could do here in Iowa. We were going to be over 1,000 miles away from our home base; we needed someone on the other end to help prepare the way ahead of us. So Missy recruited my mom and my cousin Aubrey as our vanguard to help make sure the transition from West Des Moines to Babyville-East (and all points in between) went as smooth as possible.
Among the billions of things going through our minds as our departure date approached, there were a few major items that we really had to dot our I’s and cross our T’s on before we left Iowa, including:
Air Transportation. Having never flown with infants before, this was the biggest unknown for Missy and I. We wanted to have one adult per baby on the plane, so Shannon offered to fly out with us the first weekend. Since she had to be back the following Monday for classes, she flew back that Sunday. So for the flight home, Cindy took over, having met up with us for the wedding in Durham. Oh, and both flights were direct…also a must when travelling with babies.
Ground Transportation. FYI: renting a minivan for ten days is expensive. Luckily for us, we had another option. My mom drives an eight-passenger Suburban, which she kindly offered us to use throughout our stay. My two brothers are still in school together at VA. Tech and only need one car, which means the other sits at my mom’s place, unused. So we were free to come and go as we pleased, while my mom had means to get around town as well.
Car Seat Bases. While our car seats can still be used without their bases, not needing to strap and un-strap them each time we mobilized made life a whole lot easier, especially since the girls never want to be in them in the first place. We were able to use one of Aubrey’s spare bases (having two kids of her own), as well as two others she managed to scrounge up for us through friends. Her husband then installed them in the ‘burban, so we were ready to roll upon arrival.
Baby Stuff – Big Items. Having things like swings, bouncy seats, Pack ‘n Plays’, and play mats waiting for us was another one of Aubrey’s huge contributions. Although we’ve tried to avoid forming habits, Rowan naps in a swing. Jovie loves the bouncy seat. Sienna loves staring at herself in the mirror of her play mat. Not having these things available to us was asking for failure. The other big item, their strollers, were brought with us from Iowa.
Baby Stuff – Clothes. With all the spit up, drool, and diaper blow-outs, any parent knows that you can plan on a two-outfit minimum per infant per day. With six outfits per day for ten days, we had 60 outfits we needed to find room for. So, always thinking ahead, Missy packed an extra suitcase for my dad to take home with him to where we would be staying in Hagerstown) when he was here in September. This gave us one less thing to carry, check, and worry about (and one less thing to get lost by baggage handlers) as we travelled.
Baby Stuff – Food & Diapers. One of the most important pieces ended up having one of the easiest solutions. My dad bought us the formula we would need for the duration, saving us suitcase room. We did end up buying some bottled and “nursery” water while we were there to mix with as an extra precaution to avoid any unnecessary crankiness. We also packed some diapers, but again, the majority of them were purchased post-arrival.
So while we didn’t make a detailed itinerary spreadsheet this time, I feel that we (well, Missy) were fairly thorough in all our trip arrangements. We couldn’t have done it without all the effort we put into the pre-trip planning. We also couldn’t have done it without mom and Aubrey helping out so much on the other end, so big thanks to you guys! I think if we would have had to travel with our swings, I would have vetoed the whole thing.