Well here we were, on the East Coast with our 5 month old baby girl. Traveling to the East Coast is no small thing as we live in Washington State. A 5 to 6 hour flight with a baby is a task not for the faint hearted.
Did I mention this is our first baby? Yeah so maybe it’s easier with one and no I didn’t have to juggle a newborn with a toddler (I’m imagining all you more experienced moms out there rolling your eyes) but I had NO experience with traveling across the country with any little one, EVER! So my lack of knowledge led me to write this post, sharing what we did sorta right and what we did terribly wrong. Learn from us and I’m sure your East Coast trip is a smooth one!
- THE PLANE
- MYRTLE BEACH, SC
- THE FOOD
- SAVANNAH, GEORGIA
- THE DRIVING
- DAYTONA BEACH, FL
If you haven’t already, check out What to Pack When Traveling with a Toddler. The info here can help when traveling with a younger baby as well. Also check out Traveling with a Toddler, a post on how to survive the plane ride with an active little one.
Our family had traveled to California when baby girl was four months old, so we were not completely afraid of getting on a plane with her. She did very well. We followed all the tricks, like nursing while the plane took off and descended. She slept both ways and it was a dream.
Now traveling across the country was a little different. She couldn’t sleep the entire time. Fond memory: she managed to spit up all over me, threw up actually (I guess I overfed her because she was fighting sleep), but all in all, we had a successful trip.
My biggest tip here: bring an extra shirt for mom, dad, and onsie for baby!!!
Second tip: Use the aisles to walk baby up and down. The passengers love to see babies and often smile like they are saying “Awww”. And if your baby is crying, don’t worry about irritating other people. Babies cry, and even if yours cries the entire trip, I promise you everyone will survive! And your worrying about what others think will not help your baby in any way and actually divides your attention.
Third Tip: Download a movie prior to leaving your house. And yes this is an important tip, even with traveling with a little one. This movie is for when baby finally falls asleep and you get a moment to yourselves, to relax and enjoy some entertainment. Even if you only get halfway through, it’s still worth it to take your mind off of the stress of travel. A movie based around where you are headed always helps you get excited and pumped for your vaca!
Also make sure to bring their favorite teething toys, small, light items to carry for entertainment. Formula and a bottle might be a good idea if you don’t want to breastfeed with a stranger squished up next to you. Their favorite blanket and rattle and some animated videos to distract them when they are getting restless.
So you made it! I always try to remind myself that no matter how the plane trip went (imagine horror movie, ear-piercing cries) you’ll never see these people again.
Now it’s time to walk away, take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for getting through an uncomfortable 5 hours. Moving on to the actual vacation!
Pick up your gate checked items. You know when you walk out of the airplane door and into the tunnel, you often see the wheelchairs, a few bags and… yep there’s your stroller and car seat! Convenient! We brought our stroller and coordinating car seat that fits together. Graco was a dream, easy to use with multiple purposes. We needed the stroller, that’s a given. But since we were renting a car, we also needed her car seat.
Gate checking made everything easier with her being this age, rolling right up to the boarding entrance. Also consider packing your Ergo front pack carrier in your checked luggage for when she needs to get out of the car seat.
We rented a car with Avis Preferred (we use Sapphire Reserve Chase Credit Card which comes with this free service)… and let me tell you how easy it was! Tired from traveling all day, we walked up to the counter, handed them our licenses, and they handed us the keys. In and out in 5 minutes. Best car rental experience to date. And perfect when you are tired and just ready to get to your hotel.
We picked a hotel near the Charleston Airport due to the fact that we knew how exhausted we would be, traveling on a plane, over five hours with an infant! We needed to crash, and not travel anymore distance just to lay our heads on a pillow. The hotel we stayed in was The Aloft Charleston Airport Hotel which is part of the Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Program. We decided to sign up for an American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card which has a 25,000 point bonus. This property only requires 4,000 points to book a night, so we ended up staying FREE for our first night on the East Coast, and we have 21,000 points to spare for another 5 free nights at a similar category hotel. When you’re traveling on a budget, these points and offers are worth considering.
Got in our car and off we go. We headed to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina straight away.
As a kid, my parents used to take me to Myrtle Beach for family vacations. I have pictures of our family playing in the water and building sand castles, a few pictures of me crying from sand in my eyes…
At any rate, I wanted to recreate these memories with my own family. Not necessarily the sand in eyes moment, but you get the picture.
We reserved a hotel room right along the boardwalk, which I highly recommend. It was great for finding food easily, getting easy access to the beach and for long walks in the stroller.
Bonus: it was extremely cheap! You can easily find hotel rooms for under $100, even with ocean views! We also wanted our hotel to have a lazy river and pool which was super easy to find as so many of the hotels have them, got to love competition and demand!
We decided to go in an off-season, mid-march. This kept the prices reasonable and there were no crazy crowds to deal with. The flip side to this is the weather being slightly cooler, mid 60’s and you probably won’t want to get into the ocean… it’s a little chilly. But hey, that’s why you have the heated pools, right?
Myrtle Beach was super relaxing. We simply stayed along the strip, shopping for souvenirs and eating delicious southern foods. We stopped in an arcade and played a little ski-ball and hopped on the Sky Wheel during sunset for the perfect ending to our small stay in SC.
Honestly, all of the South truly exudes the “southern charm”. It really exists ya’ll!! The people are incredibly friendly, and my word, that food tho!! One of the ways we always judge a new area we visit is by asking these two questions:
- Were the locals friendly and helpful?
- Was the food delicious and memorable?
Yes and YES.
And while there was good food to be found everywhere, the one place that had the best biscuits and collard greens was Jim ‘N Nicks BBQ. UNBELIEVABLE stuff. Not just any biscuits, CHEESE biscuits! We only had the chance to eat here once, but we compared everything else to this place for the rest of the trip!
You’ll have the choice of different types of BBQ sauce at Jim ‘N Nicks and pretty much everywhere. I suggest to give the Carolina sauce a try as it is a bit more vinegar-y in taste (and my favorite). As you travel around the South, compare the differences in BBQ and make your own choice as to which is your favorite.
Our second choice, Cracker Barrel. Ranking #2 on the Best Southern BBQ Chains on Ranker and I would have to agree. Please do the fried green tomato BLT… just do it… and a side of fried pickles.
*You will gain weight, just wrap your head around this fact and move on.
The great thing about Cracker Barrel is the adorable southern gift shop you get to walk through right as you walk in. It’s so much fun to kill time souvenir shopping while waiting for your table!
Now a road trip is no good without a good drive through option. We choose non other than Bojangles! Order any biscuit sandwich along with a side of the dirty rice.
Ok now that I’m thoroughly hungry….
This city is full of charm and history. I cannot wait to come back and visit once again. We had a FREE Hyatt Anniversary Night to spend on a gorgeous hotel in downtown Savannah. When considering which travel credit card to apply for, you want to factor in what annual benefits the card gives you to offset the annual fee. In the case of the Hyatt Visa Card, you get one FREE night at a category 1-4 hotel on your account anniversary. We stayed at the Andaz Savannah Hyatt Hotel which is a category 4 Hyatt Hotel using our FREE anniversary night which would have cost around $300. Instead, we factored in the $75.00 annual fee and ended up only paying $75 for a gorgeous hotel! I mean GORGEOUS! Imagine a bottle of wine when you walk in along with plush white robe and matching slippers, literally making you feel like royalty! All for $75 bucks! Not bad, not bad at all!
Our room had a balcony opening up to courtyard where we could look out and see the 100+ year old buildings, OH the detailed architecture, and listening to the bands playing country music on the street. This definitely set the mood of feeling like we needed to go grab a beer with some shrimp and grits. Actually, this is exactly what we did.
Make sure to spend an entire afternoon on River Street. Explore all the nooks and cranny’s of the town. Get lost on the old cobblestone streets. Do some shopping and pick up some jewelry while pursuing the street market.
The brick streets and stone stairways are gorgeous and help you step back into time, pushing your imagination to horse and buggies. But it’s not
exactly stroller friendly. There were times we chose to use our Ergo front pack and other times when we didn’t want to carry her all day while shopping. Your choice but you have been warned.
River Street Sweets is a must see, and great snacks for the road. Plus they offer free samples… ’nuff said.
For more info on Savannah, we loved this post by Sand Sun and Messy Buns and took a lot of her suggestions so that we could make the most out our short time in the city. Check out her perspective!
Driving with a baby can either be easy peasy or it could be a disaster. You know you baby, whether or not they love or absolutely hate their car seat, which is unique to each kid. We decided to plan our long drives during times when she would typically be sleeping. This made for a quiet and relaxing ride. Often I found myself drifting off in the front seat as a passenger.
If your baby hates the car seat, you can choose to sit next to them in the back seat, sometimes this is comforting to them to see their momma. Soon into the trip, they will get into the routine and figure out what’s expected of them and how relaxing the hum of the car can be to lull them asleep. As we all say about babies, “it’s all what they’re used to”.
Don’t forget to bring a southern playlist, downloaded and ready to play! We had trouble finding clear radio stations at times so a playlist was nice to have. Also, sometimes baby needs the music as background noise.
We headed down the coast into Florida. We made it to Daytona Beach and enjoyed the warm white sand and a relaxing hotel stay.
At this point in our trip, we were tired and so was baby girl. So we took it easy, simply hanging out at the hotel pool situated right along the sandy beach, eating food along the strip and taking naps in the room whenever we wanted to. Don’t forget long walks on the beach during sunset, smelling the salty air and creating memories (see opening image).
And this was a great way to end the trip. Relaxed and all around happy with how we explored and what we discovered. We hope you also enjoy your stay on the East Coast and have an enjoyable family vacation.