I normally like to have my trips fully planned long in advance but caring for our five month old has been the primary focus. It’s that same adorable infant that will likely make planning our trip to Houston next month more difficult. The five-day trip to visit Beth’s sister and her family will be our first opportunity to travel with James and we’re not really sure how it will work. The airplane is a concern but we also have to figure out what to bring and how much of it to bring. I believe we’ll be fine once we get to Texas, of course, but there are a lot of unknown factors to plan for. That’s where all of my travel experience comes in; over-planning the crap out of this trip.
A. How we will travel:
We’re flying to maximize our family time in Texas (and my limited vacation time). I watched sales starting around Christmas and compared prices for different weeks in February since we had flexible travel dates. Flights from Minneapolis range in price from $175 to $450. If you want to get the cheapest flight possible you’re talking Spirit Airlines and one or maybe even two layovers that are usually too short or too long to be comfortable. I saw one flight option with a layover that was eight hours long. I like Charlotte, North Carolina just fine but I don’t need to spend eight hours in their airport! Economy seats on non-stop flights run $350-450 on several, nicer airlines. Ultimately, in order to avoid Spirit and layovers, we opted to go with a non-stop Delta flight for $398 per person. I signed up for a Delta Skymiles Card in order to get a few perks and offset the higher cost of tickets. Using my new Delta card will earn us preferential boarding on any Delta flight, we each get a free checked bag, we earn frequent flyer miles on both Delta and everyday purchases, and I’ll get a statement credit of $100 if I spend $1000 on the card in the first three months. Considering $800 of that $1000 was already spent on our tickets to Houston, we’re counting the eventual statement credit towards our trip costs. That brings the airline tickets to $700. That’s on the higher side of what I was willing to pay but I also did not want to take four flights with an infant. Two, one each way, feels like plenty!
Once we arrive in Houston we will need a car to get around. Val and Dave have two cars but are currently only using one. A friend of theirs may want to buy it so if it’s unavailable by the time we visit, we’ll just get a rental car. Houston is a giant, sprawling city, so we will need some mode of local transportation. I’m not very familiar with Houston’s public transit system but I know they have a light-rail.
B. What we need to bring:
- Diaper Bag – The mom’s purse, this amazing bag somehow, miraculously contains everything our baby might need. That being said, we’ll probably bring some other things just for fun.
- Baby outfits – Three per day sounds reasonable based on how often he spits up and how messy he is when he eats. We will be staying with Beth’s sister as opposed to a hotel so we can always do laundry.
- Baby food and formula – Beth breastfeeds our son regularly but his diet also consists of formula and, recently, mashed baby food/rice cereal. We’ll probably make a grocery store stop once we arrive for most of what we need.
- Toys – A rattle and his keys should be plenty, he mostly sucks on his hands at this point.
- Baby toiletries – Baby shampoo, lotion, Vaseline, diaper creams and powders, and all the other things Beth uses to keep his body clean, soft, and healthy.
- Baby monitor – For when he takes naps, of course. I believe we’ll be sleeping in the same room so it won’t be necessary at night.
- Babybjörn – We won’t be able to take a stroller with us and I’m not sure if Carter’s toddler stroller will work for our infant. Either way, we won’t be able to bring a stroller everywhere we go and our Babybjörn will give us a hands-free, sweaty, body-heat-capturing way of carrying our little one.
- Car seat and base – Duh.
- Diapers – Double duh.
- All of our own crap – So Beth and I are clothed and clean and stuff.
- Sunglasses – It was 67 degrees the other day in Houston. Minnesota has been in a mini January heat wave the past week, hitting 40 degrees a couple times, but I’m looking forward to a little sun and heat!
C. What we will see and do:
I still need to plan what we’re going to see and do while we’re in Houston. I’ve been three times before so I know a few of our many options. There are several restaurants I am interested in revisiting including Lankford Café and Grocery, home of my favorite cheeseburger. The “Grim” comes with bacon, cheese, jalapenos (which I skip), and a fried egg on top. It’s juicy and delicious. On this upcoming trip I really want to get a big ol’ steak too. Oh, and authentic BBQ and Tex-Mex! And waffles, even though Texas isn’t known for waffles. Okay, now I’m hungry. Val and Dave have moved to a new neighborhood so I bet they’ll have a couple new places we can try.
What else is there besides restaurants? Val and Dave have season tickets to the Houston Dynamo, the MLS team, but their season doesn’t start for a month so that won’t happen on this trip. We’ve previously visited the Museum of Natural History and the Houston Zoo. Beth’s nephew, Carter, loves the zoo so I imagine it will end up on our itinerary. I’ll do some research and add some more attractions this weekend.
James won’t care where we go or what activities we do. Babies are allowed in most places but he will still affect how we go about our sightseeing (the places babies cannot go, by the way, are places we don’t visit like nightclubs). The biggest way James will affect our trip will be his nap and feeding schedule. What could be a four-hour museum stop could turn into either a six-hour museum stop or a four-hour museum stop with two hours of sitting still on a bench. He’s a great baby so I’m sure it won’t be quite so extreme but my usual go-go-go travel style will be on the bench for a couple years. Beth will pleased, I’m sure. James agrees too. Just look at his happy face!
And now a bonus picture because I can!
I’ll keep you updated as plans progress. If you need advice planning a trip of your own let me know in the comments or check out one of my Travel Tips posts.