Baby's first flight was OK. Thanks to the easy availability of food and comfort in the form of breastfeeding and some work on my part shushing and bouncing her, she stayed mostly quiet and even slept a little bit. If you want to be realistic, I think that's about as good as you can hope for. That's certainly as good as you can expect. If it goes more smoothly than that, good for you. And of course, this experience will be vastly different given even a month's difference in age (The Baby was 5 1/2 months old for this trip).
We arrived in San Diego, put The Baby into the carrier, collected our bags, made it to the rental car place, got the car seat installed and made our way to the hotel, all without incident other than at this point The Baby is about four hours behind on sleep. She was more or less delirious, but she was hanging on and being a pretty good sport about it. She would've fallen asleep in the car, but the hotel was really close, so she didn't have much of a chance.
As soon as we got to the hotel, we called down to have them send up a pack and play.
Tip #5: Call the hotel and tell them you'll be staying with an infant. Most will have pack and plays and other infant products that guests can use for free. We'd planned to rent a pack and play until a friend told us to talk to the hotel. Easy peasy.
Here's a tough question then, assuming you're not staying in a suite: where do you put the pack and play? If you put it in the bedroom, you're consigning yourself to many hours of sitting in the dark reading quietly. Or you can do like we did and put it in the bathroom. Problem there is... What do you do when you need to get ready for bed or take a poo yourself? On the balance, I think the bathroom is the smarter move, but you literally need to be more prepared. Before putting baby down for a nap, make sure you've done your business. At night, before you put baby down, plan it out so you have access to your bedtime products in the bedroom so you can pop into and out of the bathroom as quickly and quietly as possible so as to disturb baby as much as possible.
There is a third possibility depending on your hotel room: if the closet is big enough, you can put baby in there. This would be the best option, providing a quiet, dark place for baby while still giving you access to the bathroom. The closet in our room wasn't big enough for us to be comfortable with this, and it may sound strange, but remember what makes for a good place to sleep - quiet and dark. Closets are good for that.
The next few days, while not as relaxing as a pre-baby vacation would've been, were really pretty smooth. We did our best to respect The Baby's sleep schedule.
Tip #6: Respect your baby's sleep schedule. I know, I know. There are all these fun distractions right next to your hotel, and it's so easy to pop over for an appetizer or a drink or whatever. You know what you're like when you're tired, and you know what your baby is like when he/she's tired. If you want to push it, that's your business, but prepare yourself to deal with a tired, cranky baby. For us, it has as much to do with "doing what's best for baby" as "just not wanting to deal with a crabby little shit while in public." We pushed it one night. There was a good Mexican restaurant across the street. We thought we could put in an order to go and enjoy a quick beer while we waited for the food. We ended up tag-teaming The Baby; while one of us sat nervously at the bar, drinking alone, the other walked around outside the restaurant doing our best to keep her quiet. Just the kind of night you look forward to on vacation! You can respect the schedule without being a slave to it.
I thought I'd get to thoughts on Being Thought a Bad Parent, but this ran on longer than expected. Next time. Also, stay tuned for Poopmageddon!