Daddy Duty

Sleep, Eat, Diaper Change. Repeat.

Dallas/Houston Trip Report: 90% of things you worry about never happen

on March 31, 2012

We just got back recently from Texas and boy are we glad to be home!  There truly is no place like home. Also, I’ve said it time and time again, but my wife is a saint.  JJ and I would be lost without her. She always seems to know what to do at the right time for JJ, whereas, at times, I feel like I’m playing detective and guessing half of the time. I truly admire her confidence, her love, and her care for JJ and me and am so, so lucky to have her in my life. 

The purpose of the trip was to spend some time with my cousins and to attend one of my good college friend’s wedding in Dallas and to throw a red egg party for JJ to meet the Houston family.  

We were apprehensive about doing both the whole time we planned the trip. I was fully scared, yet prepared to be the parents everyone stares at with the crying baby on the plane. I tried to think about how to handle every possible situation and even role played going through security a couple of times to ensure we didn’t lose anything and went through seamlessly (I told you I was neurotic). I decided to do an early morning flight into Dallas, drive from Dallas to Houston and take a late flight from Houston back to Vegas.

Despite all of my worrying, airport security and flying were the least of my troubles.  JJ mostly slept during his 1st flight ever and just wanted to play on the 2nd flight (tiring us out). The major issues we ran into were:

  • After arriving at the hotel room the first night, he seemed to sense he wasn’t home and wouldn’t calm down.  He kept observing the room and looking around and wouldn’t go to sleep. He went between crying and observing while Claire and I tried every trick we knew (diaper change, feeding, songs, etc). As a last resort, we put him in one of his favorite long sleeved outfits and he calmed down. After that, I speculate that he wasn’t used to so much air on his skin wearing short sleeves.  As we had just left 50 degree weather in Vegas to be in Dallas at 80 degrees, this was the first time he had ever worn short sleeves.
  • We missed our glider,  One of our habits is to glide JJ to sleep. As we didn’t have a glider at the hotel, Claire and I became human gliders mimicking the motion with sitting sit-up like movements.  Those ab workouts really tired us out.
  • We also missed his whale bath tub.  Without it, we towel bathed him spot by spot. When we returned home, our bath loving baby suddenly forgot he loved baths and began crying in the water.  I’m sure he’ll like them again with a couple more.

In preparing for the trip, these are some of the main points I followed:

  • We carried as little as possible despite checked baggage fees. Knowing that we’d need our hands at check-in, security, boarding, etc, we didn’t want to be dealing with stuff. We only carried the diaper bag, a small pillow, a baby carrier, and JJ and checked everything else.
  • We gate checked the car seat and a stroller frame (it’s lighter than the actual stroller and is easier to travel with)
  • Claire and I took up maybe 20% of the luggage combined with the remaining left for JJ
  • Had we been in one place longer, I considered shipping wipes/diapers to the hotel to minimize luggage, but we didn’t that many for this trip so we just packed them (FYI, I ended up being 4 diapers short and had to buy another pack on the road…so close).
  • We asked for bulkhead seating, the poor man’s 1st class.  This provided ample room to maneuver.
  • We got a big rental car. I love saving gas, but having space to move around and haul JJ’s stuff necessitates a big car. We don’t need a minivan for the 3 of us, but an SUV/full size is a necessity in my book.

Now that I’ve survived, here are a couple of adjustments I’d make for the next trip:

  • Less clothes for JJ. We were way over-prepared for accidents and brought a lot of clothes we didn’t need.
  • Consider not bringing the baby carrier. There weren’t many times to use it.  I know some parents carry their baby in the seat like that on the airplane, but JJ was too tall and ended up standing on the seat when in the carrier.  To let him dangle the way he’s supposed to in a carrier would’ve necessitated a bending forward on my behalf over the foot space causing back strain.
  • Check if the hotels have computers in the lobby.  Both of the properties we were at did, so I didn’t need to carry my laptop to work after all.
  • Ask for a room far away from others if the occupancy is low. Many a time, a slammed door or loud neighbor would startle JJ.
  • To date, JJ has only slept in his Moses basket.  We’re working on the transition to his crib, but he hasn’t liked it so far.  Knowing this, we ended up creating a pillow fort on an extra bed in the room for him that worked out instead of ordering a crib in the room. Hopefully, we’ll be requesting a crib next trip.
  • I will probably only do early morning flights from now on as JJ sleeps best in the morning. 
  • I won’t make plans.  I had planned to see the zoo, museums, etc to show JJ my old spots as a kid.  However, his sleeping and fussiness overruled and we canceled all of the sightseeing plans to give him time to adjust to his new surroundings.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten a tip or two, so I’ll be sure to add it to a future post. We don’t have any more travel planned in the near future and probably won’t as traveling with an infant is truly tiring. On the one hand, it was great that we were able to spend time with family and friends and visit old and new spots, however, the convenience of home and a regular schedule is hard to beat. We’re not completely turned off to travel right now, but we’ll be taking a break for a bit.
On a personal note, it was a very neat feeling taking JJ around to where I grew up. I felt nostalgic seeing green grass and red brick houses as we use desert landscaping/turf and stucco in Vegas. It was a fun feeling to bring him back “home” and to let the Texas family friends meet him.  I am definitely a proud papa. At times, I thought about moving back so he could have the wonderful childhood that I had, however, I was then bitten by a mosquito and began sweating due to the humidity and was reminded that I’m not sure I can take another Texas summer.  Vegas is hot, but the dry heat makes a BIG difference.  Who knows, only time will tell what the future brings. 

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