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Summer has always been one of my favorite seasons in Central Oregon. We have hiking, biking, rafting, beer, floating the river, tons of lakes, the list goes on and on… However, this summer has probably been one of the worst summers I’ve ever had. The highlight of the whole summer, of course, was bringing M home from the hospital. But other than that we haven’t been able to do anything. We’ve been locked in the house the entire time. First, because he was a newborn and I didn’t feel like going outside, all I wanted during those first few weeks was sleep. Then it was so hot if you missed your “perfect temperature” window it wasn’t worth it. And finally, the smoke from all the wildfires in Oregon was straddling the line between “unhealthy” and “hazardous”. I finally told my husband, “if I don’t get out of this house soon I will go crazy!” We started planning a trip to the Oregon Coast that day.
I love the Oregon Coast in the Summer. The temperature is perfect, in the mid-60s to mid-70s, blue skies, and tons of things to do outside. We decided to go to Florence since it is only 4 hours away from us. I spent a few days finding a house close to the beach that would fit all our needs, planning activities to do with M that would be fun for everyone, and looking up restaurants to eat at while we were there. I also planned what the day should look like, a rough schedule, so M could still get his big afternoon naps, trying to keep some semblance of his schedule.
Here are the top 5 tips for planning a vacation with an infant:
- Make a schedule: when I was doing research on how to go on vacation with kids everything I read said to make a schedule. Having a schedule will make it so you can get out and do things you want to do, but also keep you from having a cranky baby, by planning for downtime as well as active times.
- Do some research beforehand: no one likes to go on vacation and have the “where do you want to eat tonight conversation.” In fact, this conversation is probably the one that leads to the most arguments in my house. Doing research beforehand you’ll have an idea of what restaurants sound good, get the best reviews, or are in your budget, etc. When you have narrowed down the options there might only be 2 or 3 places you’d like to try, instead of 100s.
- Plan your activities: planning your activities is a must. Just like tip number 2, above, you don’t have to have the “what do you want to do today” conversation. Plan 2 or 3 things then pick the one that you have time for or that everyone is interested in.
- Plan for food: this is different from finding out what restaurants are in the area you want to try. I’m talking about are we going to make breakfast or eat out? Pack a picnic for the hike? What about snacks and water? Should we make dinner or go out? If you have a general plan for what you’ll be doing for food it will also make the trip a little smoother because you will be packing accordingly.
- Be flexible: this is still a struggle for me. When you travel with other people you have to take into account what they might want to do. Creating a schedule is a life saver, but also knowing when you can change it and when you should stick to it is just as important. If you stick to your schedule too rigidly you might miss out on something you might not have been able to try. If you don’t stick to the schedule at all, what was the point in creating at all? I am learning to think of a schedule as more of a guideline. You’ll know what is best for you, your family, and the trip.
This is the list I came up with:
- Hobbit Trail– I wanted to do this hike for a few reasons. One, my husband’s family loves the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings movies so I thought he would get a kick out of it. Two, it isn’t a very long or a very hard hike. It takes you through trees to the lighthouse and you can also take the trail to a semi-private beach. Our plans were foiled when Siri took us to a trailhead that didn’t exist. So we decided to start from the Heceta Light House first. We got to take a tour of the lighthouse which was really interesting. The volunteers who work at the lighthouse are so nice and helpful. We found a place to catch the Hobbit Trail from the lighthouse. We didn’t end up actually hiking the Hobbit Trail though. We were just running behind on Saturday so it was too late. It’s on the bucket list for next time.
- Devil’s Churn– This is one of my favorite places on the coast. I came here during college on a road trip with my mom. It is beautiful. You can walk down along the beach and in between giant lava rocks and you can look through tons of tide pools during low tide. The trail also leads to a semi-private beach. We didn’t get to do this hike either. The plan was to do it Sunday before we left, but we ran into some problems with the Tulle box and my husband had to spend 2 hours fixing it. Another thing for the bucket list.
- Honeyman Memorial State Park– I know what you’re thinking, “swimming on the Oregon Coast, are you crazy?” But I found these two amazing swimming holes nestled in between the dunes. I knew this was going to be a long shot because even though they say the water is warm, I don’t think we want to be in our swimsuits if it isn’t at least 70-ish degrees outside. Another thing we didn’t get to do, but this one I wasn’t bummed or surprised about, it was just a little too cold. Still putting it on the bucket list though.
- Siuslaw River Coffee Roasters– My husband loves coffee. I used to love coffee too but now can only drink tea. The caffeine really affects M and keeps him up. This place was a highly recommended restaurant/coffee house in all the research that I did. My husband said the coffee was amazing, and I was introduced to a London Fog Tea (Black Tea, Steamed Milk, and Vanilla) delicious. I never actually went into the coffee shop but was told it was cute but very busy.
- ICM (International C-Food Market)- I remembered going here a few years ago with some of my family. I remember it being nice and having good food. When we went this time the food was just okay. Although my husband got clam chowder and he said it was amazing. I had the fish and chips.
- BJs Ice Cream (Old Town location)- Whenever we go to Florence we have to have BJs Ice Cream. Apparently, there was a large car show in Florence on Saturday, so BJs was very busy! Because it was so busy the service wasn’t good, we felt like they were just throwing the ice cream at us. And they seemed annoyed when I wanted to taste the difference between the Rasberry Cheese Cake and the Blackberry Swirl.
- 7:30 AM wake up, feed, change, play
- 8:30 – 9:30 AM M Naps, we eat breakfast
- 10:00 AM out the door to do a planned activity.
- 2:00 – 5:00 PM back to the rental house to put M down
- 6:00 PM go out to dinner
- 7:30 – 8:00 PM put M down for the night
- The rest of the night hang out and reconnect with my husband.
We didn’t stick to this schedule at all. We didn’t get out of the house until 11:30 am which really cut into the things we could do. I had planned for everyone to do some kind of activity while M and I were at home napping. They all wanted to go crabbing. Fun, but we weren’t prepared because we didn’t know where to rent the crab pot, we needed to put the crab pot in the water at the peak of high tide, and my husband wanted everyone to go, including myself and M. Even though I needed some convincing and a few deep breaths to calm my anxiety about the schedule being so messed up, I strapped M in the backpack and we all went crabbing at the docks in Old Town. Luckily M did take a good nap in his backpack.
The problem with not sticking to the schedule is we didn’t really get to do the things I had planned. Which gives me anxiety. Anxiety that M didn’t get to take his good long naps, anxiety that I planned for nothing, anxiety that I didn’t get the family pictures I wanted, etc. But for all my stress and worrying I think we still had a good time. Did we get to go on the hikes I wanted, no… Did we get to put M down at the right time, no, but he did sleep for almost 9 hours straight on Saturday night, which kind of made it worth it. We were able to create some memories and we got some family pictures. All in all, I think it was just nice to be outside, spend time with family, reconnect with my husband, and just relax.
I also share tips and tricks on how to road trip with an infant and what made our road trip experience so successful.