Hello, dearest humans! Yours truly is checking in from sunny Costa Rica, where myself, Italian and baby T have been hanging out for the past couple of days.
This trip has been long time in the making.
I knew things would be tough with a mid-November due date, as the babe would be tiny during the suckiest months of the Canadian winter. We decided to wait until the first round of vaccinations (two months), and then wave winter (and seasonal affective disorder) bye-bye. Hot temperatures might not magically make my baby sleep through the night, but I would rather be sleep deprived on the beach. You know?
Except… when mid-January rolled out, and our family doctor gave us his blessing to travel, Taya’s paper work was nowhere to be seen. I had a two month old baby, and no birth certificate. No social insurance number. And while both Italian and I had a living screaming proof of her existence in our hands every single day, the Canadian government did not.
Which meant – no passport, no travel.
When my best friend got her baby’s birth certificate, despite giving birth nine (!) weeks after I did, I was starting to get hopeless. I called and called, but the response was “paperwork can take up to four months, nothing we can do”. In the end, the combination of a note from family doctor, AND a persuasive call to our local MPP seemed to finally do the trick, and I held a birth certificate in my hand in the middle of February – three months after the baby was born. I had her passport done mere days later, and booked the tickets to Costa Rica asap.
We were getting some sun!
Packing was quite a bit different this time around – we got used to travelling light – carry-on only (or to be more precise, GR1 and GR2) for trips that lasted few days OR few weeks.
With an infant, we knew we’d need more stuff, but – how much more? I was a nervous wreck before the trip – trying to think of ALL the things, and confident that I would forget some essential baby item.
Here are some things that we did differently with a kid in tow.
The beauty of extra hot climate – you wear as little as you can get away with. A pair of shorts and a tank top is the de facto uniform. And a swimsuit, of course. Although I did drag a friend out for a little shopping excursion before the trip, to try and look for a swimsuit, nothing really spoke to me, and I figured I could get away with two old one-piece suits I already owned. Now that I am here, I do feel a bit ridiculous in a one piece – it’s just way too much fabric for +35C.
Thankfully, baby clothes are tiny – as a result, she has more clothes here than Italian and I have put together at home, I think. And, of course, now that we are here, she spends most of her time in a onesie and maybe a pair of socks, with a light swaddle cloth thrown over her head for shade. [Managing sun exposure is something we are still trying to work out – so far we have been trying to minimize time in the sun, staying in the shade, and opting for walks before sunrise, and after sunset, and covering her completely if we are out during the day.] The Airbnb we are staying at also has laundry facilities (a must for a family with small kids, I think), so we rarely build up a big stash of dirty clothes. In other words, we could get away with significantly less clothing for the babe.
We did bring a car seat that snaps into a stroller. Car seat was definitely needed for the cab ride to and from the airport. The need for stroller was less obvious, but we did enjoy having it for the layover – the direct flights were much more expensive, so we flew from Toronto to Dallas, and then Dallas to Liberia.
Now that we are parked in Tamarindo for a bit, the stroller is not really getting much use, as the roads are not very stroller friendly. This is a place where a stroller meant for more rugged terrain does well – think inflatable tires, not plastic tires. The Ergo 360 carrier has been getting a lot of love though (thank you, K. and M.!).
We did consider bringing a portable Pack’N’Play, but both places we were staying at were super baby friendly, and had either a crib or a crib alternative available. Less to bring! Phew.
Ok, so this is obviously a brand new item to me!
A friend who lives in Costa Rica few months of the year, and has a daughter of her own suggested that we brought our own diapers if we could. The brands and sizes were all different in Costa Rica, and diapers were quite a bit more expensive. Since we were already bringing a suitcase, we brought enough to last us for most of the trip.
The small diaper bag that we had with us at all times had about ten diapers, two outfit changes, two toys, a pacifier, wet wipes, couple of plastic bags for dirty diapers, a change mat, a swaddle cloth, some Q-tips, and a baby thermometer.
For a similar trip in the future, I’d be willing to explore the possibility of travelling with just the carry-ons once again – this would mean even less clothing for Italian and I, and having to buy diapers on site.
Baby T is still exclusively breastfed, so that part was easy. Although I did drag my breast pump and bottles along – mostly for my own psychological benefit. I experienced some issues with oversupply early on, and been freaked out to be without the breast pump since then (just in case). The family doctor suggested that we might try offering her some water in a bottle, since it is so hot, but so far she expressed zero interest.
With longer trips, we always aim to stay at a place with a kitchen, so we can take advantage of local produce, and cut costs on eating out. Another luxury of having a suitcase this time around is that we were able to bring a French press from home (and maybe even some ground coffee… shhhhhh).
In the end, we were able to very comfortable pack with GR1, GR2, one suitcase, a stroller, and a small diaper bag. We are still settling in, but I can already see a dozen different ways of packing more efficiently for the next trip.