Baby’s First Roadtrip: New England (A Cautionary Tale)

We were a bit late for the leaf show… it was pretty brown! But still very fall-y in new england.

We were a bit late for the leaf show… it was pretty brown! But still very fall-y in new england.

I wanted to do a quick post to document our little fall excursion to New England the week before the fire, when the most annoying of life’s inconveniences paled in comparison to the week that would follow!

Mat had a week-long break from school so we decided to make the most of it, and as it turned out, we tried to make a little TOO much of it. I don’t know what I was thinking when I was planning it, but even though I knew that traveling with a baby brings a specific set of restrictions… I somehow thought any problems would totally pause if you yell, “Vacation!”

The idea was to drive through the gorgeous New England fall scenery, enjoy a little time in nature (hence the yurt) and also tour a little bit around Rhode Island, where I was born - an excursion I’d been wanting to do with Mat since moving to Québec. Google Maps said there were “only” 4(ish) hours drive-time between all of these places - Trois-Rivières to Vermont, Vermont to Rhode Island - which seemed doable during the planning process, but in reality proved to be much longer. (I had conveniently forgotten that baby needs to be nursed every few hours, even on vacation…!)

The outhouse of the yurt - fun during the day time… a little trickier in the middle of the night.

The outhouse of the yurt - fun during the day time… a little trickier in the middle of the night.

I booked us four nights away: Two in a yurt in Vermont, and two in what was listed on Airbnb as an “Aparthotel” in Newport, Rhode Island. The travel days were spent doing really just that, leaving not much time for exploring. During planning, two nights in one place had seemed like plenty, but what I failed to realize was that gives only one full day at the destination in between travel days. I thought, oh, on the travel days we only have 4(ish) hours of road, so, we can grab a quick brunch or stroll around the village in the morning…with a 5-month-old…


I don’t know why I can’t get into my head that babies are really not that portable! Even though you have all this STUFF to transport them around so that you CAN do things, they still take so much extra time - feeding, changing, getting dressed for cold weather - that you just don’t even realize the time is gone before you remember that you hadn’t planned for it.

And, of course the baby goes to sleep at 7 p.m…. so, what did I think we were gonna do, go out after he went to sleep? Hahahaha. I’ll say it again, I have no idea WHAT I was thinking.

As a result, we barely had time to do much of anything at our destinations for all the driving we did, and the baby was very understandably fatigued from being in the carseat or the stroller all that time. And to top it off - we were a little late for the colorful scenery, which had already begun browning and falling… When I fail at travel planning, I go all the way!

(Don’t know why the caption isn’t working, but the above photos are from the time we were determined to enjoy a brew despite Benji’s grouchiness and refusal to nap while we -tried- to chill.)

This isn’t to say we didn’t have some good times. Mat and I have done a fair amount of road-tripping together and we always enjoy a good car ride, chatting and listening to podcasts and music, or just being quiet together (when the baby wasn’t making it widely known he was done being in the car…). Despite the leaves being a bit beyond their peak impressiveness, the landscapes were still beautiful.

The yurt was fun once we got the baby to sleep. We enjoyed our quiet time, reading, even if it was a bit dark (yurt = one room = no place to close the door on baby sleeping… another thing to note!). It was a really cool property, secluded just enough for that “forest feel” but not so far we couldn’t easily access the quintessential Charming New England Village down the road.

gotta love those charming new england towns full of covered bridges and colonial mansions turned into hipster coffee shops!

gotta love those charming new england towns full of covered bridges and colonial mansions turned into hipster coffee shops!

The “Aparthotel” in Newport was cute, if not a bit misleading. What I had thought was a kind of separate guesthouse turned out to be a large bedroom suite on the second floor of the owner’s home. Not a huge problem - we had a lovely time, as short as it was anyway - though I had sought deliberately to book only separate houses/apartments instead of a room like this, so as to have enough privacy not to disturb anyone when Benji would inevitably cry when he wakes up during the night.

The owner, a very sweet, older woman who’d been running her place as a guesthouse for several years, told us the crying didn’t bother her. Though I tend to take those comments more as politesse than reassurance, and so I wasn’t at all comfortable letting him cry. As a result, I nursed him back to sleep each time during the night, which was sometimes every 2 hours, and not something I would have done if we’d had a more separate space. (Mat tried to encourage me that it was fine to let him cry a bit, but I just couldn’t do it.)

We had planned to spend our one full day in Rhode Island on a jaunt up to Providence (the city where I was born). But that was nixed after a minor issue with the car kind of robbed us of half the day, and so we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon strolling around Newport. (The car issue didn’t turn out to be anything we couldn’t wait to have fixed back home, but we wanted to be sure, so we had it checked out anyway.) We grabbed some seafood and walked by the beach, and finished the day watching the sun set over the ocean. Not a bad day, and it also happened to be my 32nd birthday!

Being our first trip with Benji, it was bound to be a learning experience. Our new rules are now to never spend less than 3 nights in one place, and to always rent full, complete homes and apartments, preferably with a separate room for the baby. Also, “4 hours” of driving translates to “6-8” hours in life with baby.

Five months old is kind of a rough age - too young to plan activities FOR, but not young enough to just sleep through everything we parents wanted to do. Mat and I really have to adjust our approach to travelling - we can’t run around touring from place to place anymore; we gotta plan those downtimes for baby to stretch and not be stuck in a stroller or carseat all day. The funny thing is, this is a concept we thought we completely understood. And yet, in practice, it was really hard to make happen!

He’ll only get more fun to travel with, however, and we can only get better at it as a family. (We surely can’t get any worse!)

Next post, I have many photos to unload from our big trip to New Mexico, and Benji’s very first plane ride!

Quick note to all the friends and fam who subscribed: let me know if it’s not working properly or if you’re not getting an e-mail - I’m still working out the kinks to managing my own “mailing list” and it’s honestly a bit of a wonky process!

À la prochaine!