Hello, Boston!

Boston was a part of our 2 week road trip of New England and Canada.

We flew to Boston direct on Southwest. Unfortunately, our flight was quite delayed so we didn’t arrive until very late. We were staying with some family friends in Belmont who were very generous to wait up for us.

Napping in the airport during our looong delay. Reclining stroller again to the rescue!

The title of this blog post hearkens to a children’s board book written by Martha Day Zschock. We had purchased this book for Kiddo a couple weeks before our trip and read it often to get him excited. Strangely, it was a great way to plan for the trip. We tried hard to hit all of the sites that were mentioned in the cute rhyming story!

Things We Did

Quincy Market and Fanuiel Hall

We were able to get a ride from our hosts to Alewife Station and then took the T into downtown Boston. We started by grabbing lunch at the iconic Quincy Market. There were an amazing amount of choices for food and it was quite crowded. After a short wait, we were able to grab a seat while Eric enjoyed a clam chowder and Della went for pizza. Kiddo had some munchies and a large glass of milk! We then went across the street to check out Fanuiel Hall. It was under construction from the the outside, so not too interesting to look at. But the inside was beautiful. We enjoyed checking out the hall itself which has held meetings, protests, and debate for 275 years!

 

Freedom Trail

We walked north from Fanueil Hall on the Freedom Trail through the North End. The Freedom Trail is a fun red brick path that you follow through the heart of Boston that takes you to several interesting, historic sites.

The next stop would have been Paul Revere’s house. We were interested to go in, but the line was awfully long and it didn’t look like it would easily accommodate our stroller so we continued on.

Then we were on to the Old North Church of Paul Revere “One if by land, two if by sea” fame. It is also the oldest church building in Boston, built in 1723. There is a lovely shaded park in front of the church that we hung out in for awhile, letting Kiddo run around. He enjoyed splashing in the fountain and then staring in wonder at the statue of Paul Revere.

We decided at this point to turn around and head back south on the Freedom Trail, but first we needed to refresh ourselves with a cannoli from Mike’s Pastry. Delicious!

Next we headed to the Old State House. The Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony in 1776. We enjoyed looking at the lion and unicorn statues on top. These two animals appear on the British Royal Arms. The lion represents England and the unicorn Scotland. We also looked at the monument on the pavement in front of the Old State House to the 5 people who were killed during the Boston Massacre.

We checked out the Old Corner Bookstore which is one of the oldest brick structures in Boston (1712). It is now a Chipotle!

Up next was the Old South Meeting House which is a church where those who planned the Boston Tea Party departed from.

We saw a monument to the Boston Latin school which was the oldest still operating school in America! It was started in 1635! It was no longer at this location, but we enjoyed the monument.

Next, we took a minute to get out of the hot Boston sun by stepping into King’s Church. We enjoyed looking at the enormous pews and reading about various people who had purchased each one.

We walked into the Granary Burial Ground in which many famous people are buried including 3 signers if the Declaration of Independence, Paul Revere, and relatives of Benjamin Franklin.

Finally we were to the Boston Common and the State House. Boston Common is the oldest public park in the US! It was created as a common space for grazing cattle and for people to meet. We mostly just took a little time to rest and do a failed jelfie.

At this point we had completed the majority of the Freedom Trail! Kiddo slept in our new reclining stroller from after we ate cannollis until we arrived at the Boston Common.

Boston Public Garden

Our next stop included a statue of the the ducks from the children’s book Make Way for Ducklings. Kiddo was awake now and ready to enjoy the time in the park. He is a big fan of ducks, though he was a tad scared of the statues. He liked watching the real ducks and seeing the big swan boats go by.

Commonwealth Mall to Copley Square

We next wanted to head to Copley Square where we knew there was a statue of the Turtle and Hare (thanks Hello, Boston book!) We walked through the beautiful Commonwealth Avenue Mall. It is 32 acres designed in the French Boulevard style and it is lovely, shaded, and has many statues lining it. We spent a little time in the sunny, crowded Copley Square checking out the statues before deciding to head back toward our lodging.

Harvard

We stopped at Harvard on our way back out to Belmont. We were a little tired at this point, so we just walked around Harvard Yard and read about some of the buildings. We laughed quite a bit when Kiddo said a huge “Wow!” right as we entered the quad. He doesn’t talk a lot yet, but something about Harvard clearly impressed him!

Boston College

On our second day in Boston, the weather was a tad dreary. We also had a few social activities planned – meeting up with the family of our hosts, and enjoying a lovely lunch with college friends! Our friends work at Boston College and Della’s father attended there, so we decided to do a walkabout on campus. We enjoyed the tour by our college friend and trying to take pictures of things that Della’s dad might remember from his days there. Kiddo napped in our reclining stroller while we enjoyed chatting with our friends!

JFK Library

We had a busy final day in Boston. We met up with different college friends for brunch and then rushed through the JFK Presidential Library before heading back to the airport. We started getting into Presidential Libraries in the last year and were excited to add another one to our growing list. We really wish we had more time as the library was well laid out in a creative way. Unfortunately, kiddo wasn’t really into being in his stroller at the time. We had hoped he would nap, but he never really was able to relax. Therefore, we missed out on most of the videos which would have really enhanced the experience.

Traveling with Kiddo (Lessons Learned)

As mentioned above, using children’s books (even board books) can be a good way to get kiddos excited about travel destinations. They can also be useful in helping you plan out good kid-friendly activities and sights for when you get there!

We’ve mentioned above and in other posts how the reclining stroller is a game changer.

We struggled with which car to rent when traveling with Kiddo. We ultimately booked a compact car which we may have been able to fit in. However, we got upgraded when we picked up to a full-size we think and it was probably much more comfortable. Also- driving in Boston is insane!! Not even just in downtown, but everywhere! The streets make NO sense and have no discernible pattern. We realized quickly that you need a full time navigator AND google maps step-by-step driving instructions to get anywhere.

There is a ton to do in Boston and, like many places we’ve visited, we wish we had more time to explore. We look forward to visiting again when Kiddo is older.

 

Spring Break Trip to Tennessee: Jaunt to Kentucky via Nashville

As we mentioned in prior posts, we’ve had a recent addition to the family and we’ve learned a lot about how to travel with a baby! We are attempting to visit US states that we haven’t yet been to. So, for spring break we decided to do a bit of a Tennessee/Kentucky road trip. We were joined on this trip by Della’s parents Peggy and Wayne. We started out in Memphis and then drove to Mammoth Cave in KY with a short stop in Nashville on the way!

We drove 3 hours from Memphis to Nashville in the morning. Luckily, Kiddo napped most of the way. We had planned to stop at Belle Meade for a break, but unfortunately all the tickets were sold out when we got there. We went with our backup plan of visiting the Parthenon. It was really fun to see this full scale replica of the one in Athens. The replica was built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition. It also includes a re-creation of the 42-foot Athena statue inside. Peggy took Kiddo to a playground across the way while the rest of us went inside. We really enjoyed the information about the Centennial Exposition, a special exhibit of interesting modern mosaics, the Athena statue, and Elgin marbles inside.

We continued on through bad traffic to our hotel in Cave City, KY stopping to eat at the White Squirrel Brewery in Bowling Green. Everything was decent, but not fantastic.

The following day we awoke early and headed to the main event: Mammoth Cave National Park! We had signed up in advance to participate in the Historic Tour. The tour group was quite large (over 100 people!) The historic tour goes through the areas of the cave that were first discovered and explored. There were not too many spectacular formations on this part of the tour because it is not actively exposed to water. We ultimately wished for more historic content by the guide on our tour so were slightly disappointed. Kiddo rode with Eric in the carrier. He ultimately seemed less than impressed! The most fun aspect was that there were a few parts where you really had to squeeze through narrow areas! Eric made it even with Kiddo on his front!

Following the tour, we rushed through some exhibits in the visitor center. We wished we could have spent more time because there was a lot of good content. However, you’re probably noticing a pattern, Kiddo was not really feeling it.

We ate a quick lunch in the parking lot before getting back on the road to head back toward Nashville.

We were in Kentucky though – so we really thought we needed to try some bourbon! We stopped in Franklin to visit the Dueling Grounds distillery. It was a pleasant place with both inside and outside seating areas. We were able to request a tasting and tour when we got there and a very nice and knowledgeable worker took us through a tasting of their offerings: “the clear” which is not aged virtually at all, a 2 year bourbon, the Apple Pie which is clear mixed with spices, and then three fruit liqueurs.  We liked the all but particularly enjoyed the bourbon and the Apple Pie. The worker also gave us a tour of the distilling process in back which was very educational. Kiddo was being pretty antsy and fussy again so we had to take turns holding him and missing parts of the tour. 

We finally got back on the road to Nashville.

Traveling with Kiddo (Lessons Learned)

Kiddo was 13 months and about a week away from walking when we visited Mammoth Cave. We are big fans of baby carriers and they allow you to do a lot of things that a stroller wouldn’t including visiting Mammoth Cave.

Kiddos at this age are pretty squirmy… Thank goodness we had some extra adults to help out when we had to step out of touring situations.

Kiddo’s favorite activity at this age is almost always playgrounds!

 

Ten Tips for Traveling With a Baby

We took our kiddo on his first flight about 3 months after he was born. We continued to travel several times throughout his first year. It was intimidating to figure out how to get back to traveling with a young baby, but here are some ideas that helped us get back on the road.

  1. When you’re deciding on where to travel – pick a place where you will visit family or friends. Extra hands for baby watching are always appreciated! In our experience, family and friends were more than happy to give us a few minutes break now and then to snuggle with our new addition. We were able to even do some traveling type things (go to a wedding baby-less, go on a couple hour segway tour, waterski in a lake, etc.) We have definitely come to a conclusion that the ideal adult-to-baby ratio is at least 3-to-1. 😉
  2. When you’re traveling by plane – less stuff means less stress! We were surprised on our first trips that, if you ask, you can find people at your destination that have many of the baby items you need. For example, on our first trip, which was to TX where Eric’s family lives, they were able to provide a carseat (already installed when they picked us up from the airport), a pack n play for sleeping, and a stroller for any walking we needed to do while there. We were lucky because Eric’s sister has a child and so many of these things were easy to find.  *Of course, we made sure that the carseat was not expired. We were able to do something similar on our second trip to Wisconsin where we also have family. Again, all of the essentials were provided for us! We were surprised because the youngest children out there were considerably older than our Kiddo, but they still had many of the items and were happy to let us borrow them. We took another trip to TX in the fall – no family support this time, but we’re of an age that many of our friends either have children or know others who have children. On this trip, we had to bring our own carseat and stroller, but our friends were able to get their hands on a pack n play for us to borrow.
    (Random note – we have now also been the random people who have a pack n play in our town for borrowing when friends’ friends come in to town!)
    Regardless, if you’re going somewhere where you know people, it never hurts to ask! (Many hotels and some airbnbs also can provide a crib/pack n play.)
    On that note, if you don’t need a stroller at your destination- don’t feel like you need it just for the airport! Carry baby in a carrier – it’s much less bulky and is attached to your body – one less thing to worry about!
  3. If you can’t go to a destination to visit friends or family, bring some with you! We started to explore new places when Kiddo was about 7 months old. We weren’t yet ready to face a long flight with a baby. (We realized too late that the easiest time to travel is when they are smallest and are in the eat, sleep, poop phase. By the time they are awake more and almost crawling, it felt like shorter travel times were better!) So, we decided to start hitting US destinations that we have never been. We each have a goal of visiting all the US states at some point, but neither of us are there yet. First on the list: Arkansas! Della had never visited and Eric had some wonderful childhood memories from there, so off we went. Hot Springs, AR is only a 4 hour drive from where Eric’s mom lives, so she drove up to join us (bringing a pack n play and carseat!!) This meant we had an extra pair of hands and less stuff to travel with. Again, baby carrier to the rescue – we didn’t even need a stroller.
    On another trip, we visited Tennessee, Kentucky, (and sort of Mississippi). This time, we brought Della’s parents along with us. We had to bring all the items, but because we had two extra adults flying with us, it wasn’t too bad!

    Grandma support while waiting for rental car!

  4. Schedule direct flights around nap times if possible. As your baby grows and *maybe* starts falling into a schedule, do your best to make sure they sleep on the plane. This is less stressful for everyone. We have literally chosen our destinations based on where we can fly direct (that’s affordable).
  5. Feed baby on take off and landing. Apparently the sucking motion helps with natural ear popping and can help keep baby calmer and in less pain while the plane goes up and down. We live by this rule, though luckily our Kiddo has not seemed to have trouble with the pressure changes. Della found breast feeding challenging and therefore breastfeeding in the confines of an airline seat almost impossible, so we always used a bottle (but many other women find breastfeeding on the plane easy). We start the bottle shortly after the plane starts taxiing. Kiddo normally falls asleep shortly afterwards. Luckily, for many of our trips, Kiddo slept all the way through and we didn’t actually have to feed on the way down. Note: You can take breastmilk, regular milk, formula, and even small amounts of water through security, but plan for them to pull it off and do an extra testing. It takes a bit longer, so make sure you get to airport early! In order to make it go most smoothly, pull out all food or liquid items that you have for baby and put them all together in one bin. In some cases, TSA officers have told us that they need to remove the lids from the milk and other times not. But, they always have do a separate test of all liquid items. This has always gone smoothly for us though it often does take extra time!
  6. Bring some toys! For the plane ride itself, if Kiddo does wake up, we have some favorite toys and books along for distraction. We also now carry a variety of snacks for Kiddo to feed himself if necessary (like Cheerios!) Also, if your destination doesn’t have any, you’ll be grateful for the small breaks they’ll provide you. We always pack in packing cubes and have started to take one medium sized cube full of his favorites when we travel.
  7. Bring a hook-on high chair! If you know you will only be eating at regular restaurants on your trip or that the family member or friend that you’re visiting has a highchair already, you can ignore this one. However, we’ve found that it is invaluable in airbnbs, hotels, at some fast casual restaurants, for picnic lunches, or if we’re visiting friends that don’t have highchairs (or need their own for their own kid!) We have 2 hook-on high chairs, one is called an Inglesina Table Chair. This works great for many restaurants, picnic tables, or counter tops. However, we prefer a very old one that we have (it was Della’s when she was a baby) that hooks on much more easily and also folds up much better. It looks more like this. However, we can’t find any new ones like it! It works much better for tables in peoples’ homes. (If a table has any kind of lip underneath, our other chair simply doesn’t work.)
  8. Use an old device for a white noise sound machine! Our Kiddo uses a sound machine at home to sleep. It is generally just a good cue for letting him know it’s time for sleep, but we don’t want to lug it with us! So, we’ve started to use Della’s old tablet which we occasionally bring for reading purposes anyway. It is so easy to download white noise apps and then play them all night. You could also use your phone – but we tend to want those even after baby is asleep!
  9. Invest in a travel stroller that has a reclining seat. This is something we have learned over time. Initially, when traveling to visit family, it was easy to set aside nap times or when baby was really small, he could sleep anywhere (like in a carrier). When we did our first real sightseeing trip when he was a bit older and had more FOMO it became more of a challenge. First, it became hard and annoying to plan our days around napping – impossible really. That first trip we had a very small umbrella stroller. Kiddo would not nap in it really at all. It was very small and light and therefore easy to travel with, but it ultimately was not the best option. For later trips, we got a bigger umbrella stroller. It doesn’t compact nearly as much, but it reclines and is more comfortable for Kiddo so he can easily fall asleep in it. This was a game changer for sightseeing trips because he can nap on the go!
  10. Find the shortest travel time! You’ll notice that we have talked mostly about flying trips in this post. We found out early on that flying was easier for us than road-tripping even though our kiddo was pretty good in the car and tended to sleep well. The problem was when he woke up! Even if he slept for 3 hours, he was pretty grouchy when he got up and wanted out of the car. Driving anywhere typically takes longer! Of course, flying takes time too, but there is generally a little bit more flexibility. We would find areas in the airport with fewer people and let him crawl around while waiting for planes. He would typically sleep for a few hours on the plane and even if he woke up he wasn’t constrained as much and was able to interact with both of us for entertainment. Also – of course, when they are under two they can fly for free on your lap! We will likely change our mode of travel when he gets a bit older to be much more road trip oriented.

So, there you have it! Some ideas about how to get back to traveling with your new addition! Our travel style has definitely changed and we’re still getting used to that, but it definitely feels good to be back on the road!