Last week we traveled to Punta Cana for a friend’s wedding. To say that I was super nervous about the whole trip, traveling with Eastyn such a far distance to a warm climate would be an understatement.
I researched online to make sure that we weren’t forget anything and for travel tips. My mom would just laugh “all you need is sunscreen and your boobs!” We did learn a few things this trip, and also met some challenges – a few that we were able to solve and others that will always remain.
I’ll share my packing list below, but first, I’ll bring up those challenges and share the few travel tips I learned!
#1- Location of your room
#2- Early bedtime for baby
#3- Cleaning bottles and pump parts
#4- Bathing baby
#5- Protecting baby from sun
#6- Long travel days with crummy flight times
Before I chat about how we addressed some of the above, I have to admit – the first day of our trip I felt a little bad for myself. I was too stuck thinking about what a tropical vacation used to be. No responsibilities, no schedule, drinks on demand, endless sleep… ahhh sounds nice, right?
As I mentioned earlier, we were there for a friend’s wedding (one of Greg’s best friends) so before going Greg and I agreed that I would take the bulk of the responsibility for caring for Eastyn so that he could spend time with the groomsman and his friends. While my expectations for this trip were different, it still took me a day to accept and then embrace it. Once I did, I had so much fun. I don’t get endless hours with her, so I took every day as it was and always put her needs first.
We took naps together during the day and Greg and I swam with her, showed her the ocean, and so much more. However – we got clever with our baby monitor and smart about room location so that I was also able to participate in some adult activities during nap/bed time too!
#1 Location of Room
Upon arriving to the resort we told the front desk we wanted to be as close to the pool as possible. We upgraded our room to “preferred club” and this put us about 30 feet from the pool, maybe 100 feet from the breakfast joint – on ground level. This was HUGE! When it was time to put her down for a nap, I could pop over to the room, get her settled in, set up the monitor and snag a spot at the pool where it reached. Get a room at ground level if possible. (You can see the corner of the pool in the pic below)
#2 Early Bedtime
Eastyn goes to bed at about 7:00 pm which made dinner and anything beyond pretty difficult. We laxed up on her routine and brought her to dinner with us a few nights and she went down later. Babies are resilient! One night, she slept in my arms at the restaurant until it was time to eat, then she got back up and lasted until we were finished and we put her down later.
Call us crazy, but on the night of the wedding we set up our Nest cam in the room as a secondary monitor. The nest runs solely on wifi – and thankfully the wifi at the resort was great. This allowed me to put her down for the night and jet over to the reception (a 5-minute walk away). I had to run back once to soothe her, and the second time (around 10:30 pm) she got fussy, I decided to stay in the room (I was exhausted anyway). If your baby is relaxed and wakes up calm (doesn’t need immediate attention) I think this is a perfect option for a special scenario night like a wedding!
I will add that our Nest cam system has been one of our favorite investments. They travel easy and work well consistently with an incredibly clear picture. We have three and have used them for a varirty of things.. baby monitor, watching Diezel, keeping an eye on our basement (when it was flood-prone), and more.
#3 Washing Bottles and Pump Parts
The water in most tropical places is not safe to drink, so I was really concerned with washing pump parts using the water. We asked the room service for a case of water, rather than only 4-5 bottles at a time. I did my best not to be wasteful. But it was really challenging to feel like I got the pumps/bottles really clean. Next time around, I’ll bring more bottles to avoid re-using washed ones. I also started to pump into bags verses bottles to avoid more washing. Don’t forget to bring a small bottle of breast milk quick clean soap!!
#4 Bathing baby
Our room didn’t have a bathtub, and given the amount of sunscreen she was wearing I didn’t want to skip out on an evening wash. So, I showered with her! She still isn’t sure about the shower, but we made it work. The first time I did, I struggled a bit. She was so slippery! I learned that bringing a hand towel in with me to wrap around her, providing some support made a huge difference. Greg would also help wash her while I held on to her. Also, the shorter the better. Don’t play around in there like bath time, just get in and get out, lol.
#5 Sun Protection
I was so worried about Eastyn staying cool and protected from the sun. I bought her a few hats for options, baby sunglasses (amazing), a portable fan, and long sleeve suits (all linked in my packing list below). We would just soak up the sun when she was napping so that when she was up, we were all happy in the shade. Sitting by the ocean provided an awesome breeze and she never seemed bothering by the sun. Another thing that helped, Eastyn always took her naps in the room. Before going, we both thought that she would recline in the stroller for a snooze but she wasn’t a fan of that. The naps in the room not only were more successful, it provided her a cool space to break from the heat every few hours.
#6 Long travel Days
Getting good flight times is not as easy as it sounds –especially when traveling to a place where a direct flight isn’t an option. We had an early morning flight, which was much easier than the late flight. I threw out everything we typically followed with meal times and naps to keep her relaxed and calm. This meant offering breast very often and many short (20 minute) naps on our laps. Overall, she did great. A well-stocked diaper bag with toys and a poofy blanket helped keep her calm and comfy.
A few other things about the travel…
We checked 3 large bags with the bulk of our items and we both carried on a backpack (one being the diaper bag). We purchased the Uppa Baby travel bag strolled and gate checked the stroller every flight. I also wore her in the Solly wrap. We agreed this was the best route, and would do the same again. I have to be honest too and say that we did not bring her car seat… I was very anxious about this. But again, my mom told me to relax. Our transport from the airport to the resort was only a 10-minute drive and we were in a van. I can’t imagine lugging around the car seat to. If our transport would have been longer, we would have brought it.
Overall, I felt like this was a perfect age for our first big trip with Eastyn (5.5 months). She’s independent and has a routine but isn’t mobile or on solids yet. While we didn’t follow her usual routine as well, she only took 1-2 days back home to adjust back to her normal self. My mom was kind of right.. we could have survived with sunscreen and my boobs!
But… we brought much, much more 😊
My Packing List for Eastyn (5 nights):
Swim Suits (Ruffle Butts) x3
Long Onsies (for travel) x4
Short Onsies x3
Jumpers (for day outfits) x6
Baby Towels x3
Muslin Blankets x4
Musie Squares x4
Baby Carrier (Solly)
Hats (Flap Sun Hat, Janie and Jack Blue hat)
Baby Float (for her, we actually found this not necessary…)
Tubby Todd Soap / Ointment
Laundry detergent (did not use)
Baby Powder (good to help with sticky thighs and sand removal)
Travel Crib (Guava Lotus Crib) *hotel would have provided but we wanted ours
Monitor – Infant Optics
Hatch Sound Machine
Portable Sound Machine
Gathre Mat (did not use)
Pre-pumped milk (10 oz) – in lunchbox
Stocked Diaper Bag
Stroller Travel Bag