Last weekend we went down near Austin to celebrate my brother’s 21st birthday. Normally we’d do something at my parents house, but he’s all grown up now with responsibilities like going to work and actually attending his college classes (unlike his older brother). My parents rented a really nice house, and it was nice being able to settle in for once (versus getting a hotel or crashing a friend’s house).
We had a great time being with everyone. Mostly it was just relaxing and hanging around, but we did get outside a lot for various activities like swimming in the pool or playing ladder golf. FTJr did really great throughout the weekend. Even though his schedule ended up way off from where we try to keep it, the trip down was well worth the effort.
Also, Moscow Mules are amazing. I had wanted to fix my brother at least one classic drink because he’s actually been good and never really drank alcohol until now. I decided on the Moscow Mule, so his official present was a set of two copper mugs from Copper Kings. Not long after receiving his gift we opened it and I made him and I a drink each. The ginger beer adds a very peculiar, but very tasty zing. I definitely recommend trying it if you’ve never had it before.
Anyways, I digress… onto the good stuff!
Below is what went right on this trip. We had a great time without too many hiccups, so this section will definitely be longer than usual. I’ll get around to the stuff that didn’t go so well in a follow-up post.
This is an Android app that allows you to view video and listen to audio over Wi-Fi. What that means is that we were able to set up a live video feed while FTJr was napping, so that we could keep an eye on him. We have a monitor at our house that we normally use, but it’s not built for travel so this is the next best option.
Why do we use this app in particular?
- price (free)
- ease-of-use (dead simple)
Boom. Can’t ask for much more than something being free and super easy to use. I’m actually even tempted to set it up at the house since our monitor is audio-only… hmm, maybe that’ll be another blog post in the future.
Download it here and enjoy! There’s even an option to stream over the web if you’re so inclined.
Mrs. FIRETravels and I both work remotely, which thus far has been AMAZING. It’s already allowed us to take some week-long trips to see family and it’s what enabled us to stay through Monday in order to extend the weekend a little bit.
However, we still have to get our work done. Mrs. FIRETravels only works part-time right now so we can manage without having help, but let me tell you – it sure comes in handy. Being able to let my parents take the bulk of watching FTJr while we wrapped up work and loaded the car made the longer stay infinitely easier.
Now, granted, we won’t have this for every trip, but you can be sure we’ll take full advantage when we do. The best part is that they love to do it!
Unpacking and organizing
I almost feel like I’m cheating a little bit here by putting this one down, because Mrs. FIRETravels has ALWAYS been great about this. It’s even gotten to the point where I start doing it on relatively short hotel trips.
What exactly am I going on about? I’m talking about unpacking your suitcase and neatly organizing your clothes into any available drawers, as well as putting away anything you won’t need (like your suitcase).
I used to always live out of my travel bags. Why take it out and then put it back again, I would say to myself. Might as well leave everything where it is. Then, two days into a trip I’d have clothes and toiletries strewn about everywhere anyway.
My wife’s approach is so much nicer, and the usefulness is multiplied exponentially now that FTJr is here. The entire weekend I knew exactly where his burp cloths, new diapers, and clothes were. I didn’t have to dig around his bag and getting everything messed up and mixed together, nor did I have to worry about a naked baby spraying the room while I hunted down a new outfit.
Cheers to you wife for making my (our) life easier. You rock!
When we’re out on the road or somewhere besides our house, it’s obvious that we can’t control as many things as we normally can back at home. That’s completely fine. It just means that sometimes you have to let go and do the best you can, which is what happened this weekend.
We were able to get FTJr down for all his naps, but the time he spent asleep for all of them was much less than usual. We were also up much later just talking with everyone. Between those two things especially, his schedule shifted and he ended up with a much later bedtime than we typically strive for.
We could have been super strict and holed away in our bedroom making sure he was following some rigid schedule, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, we opted to play things by ear and get him down for the night when it was workable. We still went to bed earlier than most everyone and it was a bit rough on Tuesday/Wednesday getting him back on schedule, but we managed to get some great quality time with the family so it was absolutely worth it.
Any time we make a trip where time isn’t of the essence, I’m always trying to convince my wife to let us take the back road route. Sure, it might add on 30 minutes or so, but at least you’re not staring at the same four-lane highway for six hours.
This time, traffic on I-35 helped me with the convincing. With the road to Austin from DFW still under construction for a large portion, the back way only showed to be 5 or 10 minutes slower.
We got to take in some great sights and, because of the lack of traffic, there was much less stress. That’s not something to be taken lightly since traveling with an infant puts more wear-and-tear on your relationship when you’re stuck in a car for hours on end.
This was our second trip while using cloth diapers and so far we’re 2-for-2 on easy trips. We ended up changing most of them, but my parents caught on pretty quickly. It’s really not that hard once you get used to it, at least not with the Flips Hybrid system* we use.
Luckily the place we stayed at had a washer/dryer that we could use. That would be the only caveat to using cloth diapers (needing someplace to wash/dry them) so this was a big plus. We could have ran to a laundromat or switched to disposables but that’s time/money we save by avoiding that.
Pool float + diaper setup
Alright, our last “win” for the weekend, but definitely not the least. Thanks to a hat tip from some friends of ours, we found a pool float for FTJr that worked out really well. It’s really meant for 9+ months old, so we just have to make sure we’re still holding on to him since he’s not old enough yet.
The clothing ensemble is pretty simple. We purchased a single diaper cover (not Flips – I don’t recall the brand, but I know we got it because the cover itself was much softer on the inside) and put that straight on him. This was basically just a line of defense in case he decided to poop. That’s it.
After that we put his t-shirt and swim shorts on, plus a hat to help keep the sun off of him. He did fantastic in the water and it’s already looking like he’s part fish!
A lot of things worked out really well for us this trip. We’ll have to continue doing those things, as well as setting up trips in a way that makes it possible to do said things. In the next post, I’ll look at everything that didn’t go quite so well.
Mr. FIRE Travels
Question of the Day:
I just can’t get the Moscow Mules out of my head. I probably didn’t even make it that well, but dang it was delicious. We’re planning on moving in the near future, and I think I’d like to start working on having an actual bar setup for “fancy” drinks. I love my craft beer, but I definitely feel better after having a couple cocktails over a couple beers. In addition, I think it’d be great to play bartender when friends come over.
What’s your favorite “fancy” drink?
*Mini-rant: My personal thought on using the word “system” to define cloth diaper styles is that it’s majorly off-putting. When I hear system, I think complicated and these are anything but that. For what we use, there are only two items: a cover and an insert. I’ll try to write a later blog post about how simple it really is.