aboutWe are Akila and Patrick. Our minds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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Tag: North America
gear and tips for traveling with a baby to costa rica
the nitty gritty

Amara and I at Villa Blanca Cloud Forest

Looking at the chickens at Villa Blanca Cloud Forest

Last week, I told you about why we loved our Costa Rica trip with Amara.  I think it's a perfect first international destination for new parents because:

  • most people speak English
  • food and water are clean and safe for immediate consumption
  • Costa Rican culture is very family-oriented and babies are everywhere
  • most restaurants and hotels offers high chair and portable cribs/pack and plays
  • distances are not too long so it is possible to see a few places without subjecting your baby to very long drives
  • many of the popular attractions are outdoors and relatively low-key, involving hiking, walking, and beaches, all of which are perfect activities with baby

All this being said, we found very few families traveling with babies and toddlers.  Several people stopped us on our flight back home and told us that they remembered us at the hotels because we were the only couple with a baby at two different hotels.  Perhaps because of that, we had a hard time finding detailed information about traveling to Costa Rica with a baby so the information provided below gets into the nitty gritty of travel, in the hopes that it will answer many of the common questions that travelers with babies/toddlers may have.

Amara in Costa Rica

Trying plantains for the first time

What to Pack

Patrick and I did a lousy job packing for our first international trip so this list is based on what we should have packed (and is close to what we ended up packing for our subsequent trip to India) rather than what we actually packed for Costa Rica.  We ended up needing to do laundry every two days because we did such a bad job with our packing!  Anyhow, for a one week trip, assuming that you will do laundry mid-way during the trip, you should pack:

  • at least five pairs of shorts/pants: we found that we had to change her clothes at least once a day because of the high humidity and stickiness
  • at least five shirts/tops/onesies
  • two days worth of diapers and wipes: there is a HUGE Wal-mart right outside of San Jose which is a great place to stock up on diapers and wipes, but it's important to make sure you have enough for the plane and the first day or two
  • food pouches: we find baby food squeezable pouches to be the most convenient for traveling and stocked up on these in the United States before we left; we found jars of baby food in Costa Rica but didn't see the pouches anywhere

. . . keep reading gear and tips for traveling with a baby to costa rica after the jump

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on traveling to costa rica with a baby
seeing the world through her eyes

Amara and me in Costa Rica

Amara and I at a pit stop on the way to Manuel Antonio 

I was recently talking to a family travel blogger about how we've spent the last four years or so traveling all around the world and only returned to the United States a year ago because I was pregnant.  The blogger said to me, "Well, now that you have a baby, you won't be traveling to exotic places like that anymore.  You'll have to focus on writing about places within driving distances."  And, I said, "Oh, well, Amara has already been to Costa Rica and India.  And, we've got a trip planned to San Francisco and maybe Yosemite over the summer.  We're talking about somewhere in South America for the fall.  Maybe Peru.  We're not sure, yet."  The other travel blogger paused, stared at me, and gave me the deer-in-the-headlights look that could only mean that she thought I was crazy. 

I get that.  I really do.  I used to think that traveling with a baby was about two steps removed from checking into an insane asylum. In October, the Costa Rican Tourism Board contacted me about traveling with them on a Gift of Happiness tour, a sponsored trip to some of the most beautiful spots in their country.  At first, I said no.  I couldn't imagine taking an eight month old baby all across and up and down Costa Rica at a hectic pace, all in one week.  Impossible.  Unthinkable.  Ridiculous.

Us at Villa Blanca Cloud Forest

Us with Arenal Volcano in the background

But, they talked me into it.  Though, to be honest, they didn't have to try too hard.  After all, it is Costa Rica.  I love this place.  When I was there three years ago, I swore that I'd return to meet more of their wonderful people and see more of their gorgeous scenery and wildlife.  I wanted to bring Patrick to Costa Rica.  And, I wanted the country of pura vida to be Amara's first international destination.

So, we crossed our fingers and our toes and went for it.  And, it was marvelous.  Beyond our wildest dreams wonderful.  It was one of the best trips that we have ever taken.  Ever. 

Amara on a hike

Getting ready to hike at Villa Blanca Cloud Forest

I can't pretend that traveling with Amara is the same as traveling without her.  There's a lot more planning, organization, and way more laundry and gear involved when we travel with her.  We used to carry one small suitcase each and now we have to take a huge suitcase just for her.  We did laundry three times in the one week we were in Costa Rica because we clearly didn't bring enough clothes for her.  We spent most of our evenings in, relaxing in our hotel room, rather than eating out, because Amara goes to sleep at 7:00 (or, if we ate out at dinner, Amara slept in the carrier).  There wasn't any sleeping in, as we normally do on vacation, because she wakes up at 6:30 every morning

Hiking in the coffee plantation

Amara holding onto a walking stick

Hiking in the coffee plantation   

But, when we traveled with her, we were engaged with her in a deeper, closer way than at any other time in the previous eight months.  The truth is that, as new parents, we live scattered lives.  Or, maybe it's not being new parents.  Maybe this is just the way people live in the 21st century.  Little pieces of our lives rush around us --- we're talking while IMing, eating while watching, driving while texting --- and we're constantly grasping at stray moments. 

In Costa Rica, we had the time to stop and enjoy each other.  We woke up in the morning to the sunshine streaming in through our windows.  We found free toys --- empty water bottles, used toilet paper rolls, keys, and cloth bags --- and played with her on the bed.  We walked with her, pointing out butterflies and sloths.  We swam in the pools, basking in the greens and blues.  We sat on the floor, listening to the heavy sounds of the drumming afternoon rain.  When she napped, rather than rushing to clean, cook, and organize, we napped with her.  Sometimes, she slept in the angles of my arms and I watched her tiny eyelashes flutter to the thrum of deepening sleep.  We marveled at her, this amazing little being who is part of each of us.  We reveled in the luxury of time, in places that felt timeless.

. . . keep reading on traveling to costa rica with a baby after the jump

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amara's oh the places you'll go! nursery

Amara

Amara Subha McConnell arrived on March 21, 2013, at 5:37 p.m., weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces, at 18.5inches tall.  More on her nursery below.

Amara's Oh The Places You'll Go Nursery

 

Amara's Oh The Places You'll Go Nursery

After three years of roaming the world and four+ years of storing all of our things in a gigantic storage facility, in late December, we moved into a place.  Our place . . . a settled, permanent home with our furniture, our books, our knick-knacks, and the assorted conglomeration of our old lives and our new one.  I've mentioned before that we don't buy many things when we travel because, frankly, we don't have the space, but, when we found out that we would be having a baby, we started picking little things up here and there.  And, all these little things make up Amara's Oh The Places You'll Go! nursery, which is, without a doubt, our favorite room in our house.  Given that this blog is all about travel, I thought that y'all would like to take a sneak peek into her travel-inspired space.

Wall of travelers' knick knacks

Walking into her room

One of my favorite features of the room is that almost every item in it came from somewhere special to us --- there aren't a whole lot of items that are from big-box stores.  Each of the hanging ornaments came from a different country (Turkey, France, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Croatia) though my favorite is the ceramic hot air balloon which we purchased the day after we found out I was pregnant in Prague, as we were still reeling from shock and surprise.  My grandmother gave me the stacked Indian dolls when I was a little girl and Patrick had an identical Kermit the Frog toy when he was a baby.

Hot air balloon nursery

Armchair in hot air balloon nursery

 Looking at her crib and armchair

When we first started planning out the nursery, I looked at a lot of inspiration pictures of other nurseries on Pinterest and other sites and kept coming back to this one.  I loved the light blue walls and the awesome Etsy decal, but we knew that we wanted a brighter, sunnier look for Amara's room.  So, we used a lot of bright white in the room to make the aqua and primary colors really jump.  The glass balloons above the nightstand come from Venice, the box on the nightstand comes from Paris, and the candle is from Santorini. 

. . . keep reading amara's oh the places you'll go! nursery after the jump

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November 2012


on stuff and things
November 27, 2012

December 2011


costa rican cuisine
creating a pais marco
December 22, 2011

hummingbirds flutter
near poas volcano
December 16, 2011

from farm to table: doka estate coffee
December 13, 2011

skirts swirl
at mirador ram luna
December 9, 2011

September 2011


the taste of two years
September 30, 2011

weekly photo: bonaventure cemetery
in savannah
September 16, 2011

unmitigated luxury
at couples san souci
September 13, 2011

biltmore festival of flowers
in asheville
September 2, 2011

August 2011


elizabeth on 37th
upscale in savannah
August 26, 2011

July 2011


fig charleston
new south cuisine
July 1, 2011

April 2011


savannah southern food smackdown
paula v. wilkes
April 27, 2011

mabel francis potter's cupcake emporium
in savannah
April 1, 2011

March 2011


weekly photo: leafy gates
March 11, 2011

February 2011


weekly photo: antico pizza
February 4, 2011

steelers potato skins
February 3, 2011

December 2010


our santa
December 28, 2010

chewy's silver screen soiree
December 6, 2010

May 2010


sweet georgia skies
May 25, 2010

April 2010


unsettled
April 22, 2010

September 2009


the low-down
a wrap up
September 11, 2009

oven-baked amarillos
September 4, 2009

hana
this is Hawaii
September 02, 2009

August 2009


west maui
the easy way . . . or the hard way
August 27, 2009

the low-down
a wrap up
August 21, 2009

vieques
feeling good
August 13, 2009

fajardo
glowing in luminescence
August 5, 2009

san juan
kite-flying in the old city
August 4, 2009

July 2009


healthy tropical granola
July 21, 2009