Have Baby, Will Travel: Road Trip 2K18

While pregnant, Will and I frequently heard how our adventures would cease once Liliana was born. Babies don’t like change, said one friend. Infants change everything, said another. If you get them out of their routine, you’ll regret it, said a third.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, that didn’t fly with Will and me. Sure, adventures are different these days but they certainly don’t need to stop. After all, how are we supposed to raise another outdoor woman if we don’t….get her outdoors?!

Enter our next family adventure:

Road Trip 2K18

True to form, Will and I decided we need to show baby girl the beauty in our own country, specifically focusing on our nation’s stunning public lands. With that mind, we’ll be gone for almost three months, from mid-May til the end of July. Why? To road trip around the American west, camping and hiking throughout some of our fave state parks, national parks, national forests, and national monuments!

PC: Moxie82 Inc

I’m guessing there are quite a few questions, so I’ll do my best to stave off a few.

How is this possible? Don’t you have to work?

When we’ve told friends and family of our plans, this is literally the first question we get, and for good reason. Yes, of course we have to work! As a freelance writer I can work from anywhere and I will have to do so while traveling. I have a number of BACKPACKER deadlines that are due during our travels, as well as various interviews and scheduled writing times for my book. But again, I can do that from anywhere, which is what I plan to do.

Will does not work remotely, but thankfully, he is employed by one of the most progressive companies I’ve ever heard of {especially in the United States}. His company gives all new parents {men and women} four months of paid paternity/maternity leave to be used within the first year of kiddo’s life. Knowing that while pregnant, we concocted our plan. Since he is allowed to split the time up, we opted to use six weeks of his leave immediately after Liliana’s birth when we knew chaos would reign. Assuming things were going well at the six-week mark, he would then return to the office, saving the other 2.5 months for later use.

As a result, we still have the remaining 2.5 months left for our road trip! We’re beyond thankful that his company is so generous and supportive of new parents, and we’re psyched that we have the opportunity to spend this much quality time with Liliana doing what we love. We realize we’re incredibly fortunate to be in this position, especially in the USA where paid maternity is a luxury that most don’t get.

Where are you going?

If it was up to me, the entire road trip would be a chaotic mess of unplanned decisions. Thankfully, my husband doesn’t roll that way and had the foresight to consider factors like permits and reservations for some of the areas we really hope to visit. He even typed up a detailed spreadsheet itinerary for me to reference while scheduling interviews for my book {since access to internet is critical for Skype calls}.

What a guy.

Of course, a large portion of the itinerary could change as we travel, especially if we come upon something that sounds way cooler than what we have planned. But honestly, I don’t foresee that happening because we are both SO PSYCHED for the existing plans!

As it stands now, we’ll be leaving our beautiful Colorado mid-May and heading west towards Utah. While in the Beehive State, we’re hoping to spend time in both Goblin Valley State Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. We’re tentatively staying in a yurt in Goblin Valley but really want to camp in Bryce.

From there, we head south into Arizona where we’re hoping to snag walk-up permits to the famous Wave {which I’ve never seen!} Permits are apparently tough but can be much easier if you’re willing to camp-out at the ticket office. Sounds like we’ll be showing Liliana how to do the whole sleeping-in-a-tent-in-a-parking-lot thing!

After The Wave, we’re really looking forward to spending time in Glen Canyon and Antelope Canyon, exploring slot canyons. Since we have Liliana, we won’t be pushing the limits and doing any technical canyoneering, but we do plan on hiking as many as we can while keeping her safe.

Leaving Arizona, we’re pointing our car at the first outdoor adventure I remember as a child: the Grand Canyon. My parents took my sister and I to the Grand Canyon when I was maybe five or six years old and I still fondly remember looking into that great abyss. I doubt Liliana will remember it {since she will barely be 7 months old!}, but the photos will still make me smile.

Post-Grand Canyon, we’re headed to our first city location of the trip: Sedona. Sedona itself is a beautiful spot to visit, but it has sentimental value for Will and me since it is where we met. Again, we’re well aware that Liliana won’t understand the importance at her age, but we’re beyond happy to take her there. We’re even considering tracking down the specific location where Will and I had dinner on the first night of the Columbia press trip, just to walk down that memory lane. Could be fun!

And then we get to spend time with my family! Our nephew is turning one so we’re flying out to Honolulu at the end of May for his big birthday party. My sis and her husband live in Hawaii, so we certainly don’t mind visiting. However, we’ve visited Oahu enough times now that we were itching for something new. After the party, we’re jetting over to the Big Island for a week so we can explore some volcanos and give the babies time to get to know each other. Honestly, I’m freaking ecstatic about this because they have yet to meet!

Post-Hawaii, the trip gets busy! After returning to the mainland, we almost immediately hop on a boat to head out the the Channel Islands. Will secured camping permits for three nights and since I’ve never been, I’m really looking forward to visiting this national park. Plus, this will be Liliana’s first time on a boat!

The following weeks encompass so many plane flights that it is dizzying; I guess I should avoid calling this bit of the trip a “road trip”! First off, we’re spending a few days in San Diego. Why? To visit Grandma and Grandpa! Longtime readers likely remember that Will is from San Diego so we frequently visit his family there. Usually, we head back for events like birthdays or weddings, so it will be nice to log bonus Grandma and Grandpa time without any other requirements.

Then, we hop on a plane to fly all the way to the east coast for a wedding in North Carolina. From there, things get even more complicated as Liliana heads back to California with her grandparents while Will and I hop on another plane to RUSSIA!

If you know us in real life, it’ll come as no surprise to you that Will is a soccer enthusiast. Like whoa. He was an avid player for years and only quit after tearing his same ACL three times {and his doc telling him to knock it off!} While football is never on the TV in our house, it’s fairly common to hear hollering at the screen on Saturday morning when Liverpool is playing….anyone, really. That said, he and his childhood friend have been going to the World Cups ever since the 2006 event in Germany. We were dating when Brazil hosted the World Cup but I couldn’t get away from work so was unable to join them.

Thankfully, this time around it’s different! We’re meeting his friend {and new wife; now we’re a pack of four!} in Moscow where we’ll spend a few days, followed by another couple days in St. Petersburg. We scored tickets to the Senegal vs. Poland game, so that should be a scene. Truthfully, I’m the least soccer-minded of our group, so I’m betting this is highly entertaining for me.

We waffled on spending more time in Russia, but in the end, we opted to head to Europe for some trekking {shocker, right?} After the four days in Russia, we part ways with our friends so Will and I can head to Venice. From there, we’re spending six days hiking the Alta Via 4 in Italy!

Choosing a trek was difficult and I’ll chat more about that later, but we’re pretty confident in our choice of the Alta Via 4. The Dolomites have been near the top of our list for awhile and we like the remote nature of Alta Via 4 when compared to 1 or 2. It’s been tough to find a lot of beta online since most of the web data focuses on Alta Via 1 or 2, but we did snag one book that has a basic guide/outline. Regardless, we’re beyond excited as Italy has been on my list for years.

After Italy, we return Stateside to our baby girl {who I know I will desperately miss!} Once we scoop her up, we’ll head toward the Eastern Sierra for a backpacking trip to Will’s fave place on the planet: Ansel Adams Wilderness. This will likely be our first multi-night backpacking trip with Liliana so it will be quite sporting. Thankfully, we have some terrific friends joining us who offered to help shoulder the load.

Assuming Ansel Adams goes well, we’re then planning on trekking the Lost Coast Trail for a few days before gradually turning the car due-east and returning back to Colorado. When it’s all said and done, we should get back to our beautiful Rocky Mountain just before Denver hosts the summer Outdoor Retail in late July.

What about Tals?

Unfortunately, our fur baby doesn’t get to join this time. As she ages Tally just can’t hike and run like she used to, which makes us even more thankful we brought her with us on our honeymoon for one big hiking party. Her surgically repaired leg is quite strong now, but the other one is showing major signs of arthritis, at best.

That said, she will be staying back in Colorado with a house sitter/friend who will be watching our home. Tally loves him and all of the cuddles she receives so something tells me she won’t mind too much!

How will you travel?

Unlike previous road trips, we won’t be renting a campervan. {Because, ouch! That would cost quite a lot of money for this long!} Instead, we’re taking Will’s new F-150 that we bought last fall. We both love the truck and it is the perfect road trip vehicle. It has a SuperCrew cab which is quite literally the best back seat I’ve ever sat in; plenty of room for both me and Liliana! {Since everyone knows you have to sit in the backseat with the baby if you want a peaceful road trip.} It also has electrical outlets where I can plug in my breast pump, which is quite handy for long hauls.

Added bonus: all of the gear fits in the bed. Winning.

Where will you sleep?

For the most part, we plan on camping. Some camping will be in designated campgrounds while other nights will be at dispersed camping areas or backpacking sites. But, by and large, we will be sleeping in a tent.

Of course, there will be quite a few places where we have cozy beds to nestle into at night. We’ll stay with Will’s family in San Diego and have rented an AirBnB in both Honolulu and Hilo. While we haven’t worked out lodging in Russia, I’m sure it will be a hotel of sorts, and we’ll certainly be staying in refugios while trekking the Alta Via 4.

How to Choose the Best Tent for Backpacking

How in the world is this going to work with a baby?

Back in October, I had concerns about this trip but as time passes and we’ve learned more and more about Liliana’s personality, neither of us are worried. Liliana travels like a champ and change doesn’t phase her too much. I’m sure her first night or two in the tent will be a bit tricky but otherwise, I’m not concerned. If anything, I’m beyond excited to watch her grow up while exploring our beautiful public lands. There is a great chance she will crawl for the first time while we’re traveling, and having a memory like that at a place like the Grand Canyon (for example) leaves an indelible mark.

Even if she sleeps through everything, I’ll remember she was there!

More than anything, I’m thankful that we can give our daughter this opportunity. We live in such a beautiful country and while I know she won’t remember this trip, we will. My hope is that trips like this and adventures like those will embed a seed in her brain that will sprout into a deep and rooted love for our public spaces. After all, what better way to encourage the protection of these lands within future generations?

What am I missing?

Per usual, I’ll be sharing a lot of our real-time travel on Instagram and IG Stories, as well as this site. But here is my question for you guys: what would you like to read about? 

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27 Comments

  • Reply Katy April 11, 2018 at 7:47 am

    That sounds incredible!! May I ask how your baby girl will sleep in a tent? I think the sleep issue would be the one thing that would prevent us from taking a similar adventure. Our girl currently sleeps in her rock n play, which obviously would be clunky and take up a bunch of space in a tent

    • Reply Heather April 11, 2018 at 10:19 am

      We’re planning on figuring out with trial and error but currently, I think we’re just going to bring a sleeping pad and sleeping bag specifically for her, and put her between us. I suspect we’ll have the Pack ‘n Play for hanging out at camp, but that won’t fit in the tent we’re bringing. If this doesn’t work, we’ll have to figure out a Plan B, but I suspect it will. We don’t co-sleep at home but we shared a bed with her in our campervan in Iceland and she thought it was quite fine!

      • Reply Yasu April 11, 2018 at 4:34 pm

        This is awesome!!! We were hoping to get out more last year with our daughter (will be 2 yo this summer), but ended up with just 2 nights of camping…

        We took Travel crib by Lotus Guava (https://www.guavafamily.com/products/lotus-travel-crib) to go camping with our daughter. It fits awesome in 4 person tent with this crib and 2 person sleeping pad.. We also take this crib anywhere we go for travel, as it packs down to backpack size, and nice to have in hotel room or at airbnb kind of situation as well…

        It was also nice that while we were packing down the camp, we could just put our daughter in the crib and let her play without us worrying about anything else…

        • Reply Heather April 12, 2018 at 10:02 am

          Hey! Is this smaller/less cumbersome than a Pack’n Play?

          • Yasu April 12, 2018 at 10:56 am

            Compare to normal packnplay we had, its less than half, id say. 🙂

  • Reply Jen April 11, 2018 at 9:42 am

    My parents were big believers in just bringing us along on the same adventures they were having before they had kids. So, we hiked with them, first on their backs and then marching along on little legs (I’m told I always wanted to be at the front of the line of hikers) and camped and fished and tubed down creeks and slid down natural waterslides and generally anything we could safely do with them. We were whitewater rafting as soon as we hit the age limits for the nearby rivers. My siblings and I are all now people who love to adventure in the outdoors. We got to see so many amazing things as a result and I’m so glad that’s the attitude they had!

    • Reply Heather April 11, 2018 at 10:20 am

      This makes me so happy to read because that’s our hope: that she will love it as much as we do. I can’t imagine a better way to adventure in the future if not with each other 🙂

  • Reply Jodee Ristich April 11, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Heather have a great adventure. I didn’t camp & backpack with my kids . However I traveled with them as early as 3 weeks old . They both did great . So good for you and Will
    Jodee Ristich ( Larissa ‘s Mom )
    Give a big hello to your sister for me

  • Reply Caryn April 12, 2018 at 1:04 am

    I’m exhausted just reading all of these plans. God bless you all! I cannot wait to follow along on the adventures and see Liliana take it all in. It’s already in her blood, and now you’re bringing it into her heart. You’re the best and thank you for sharing xo PS: Give Tals some kisses from me, please.

  • Reply Chrissy April 12, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    We camped with Tommy when he was just about a year and he just slept on a cushion in the tent (we were sail-camping and just used a cushion from the cabin – nothing fancy for him!). The only thing we did was make sure that he was in the middle of the tent so that if he rolled off, he wouldn’t be smushed between the cushion and the tent wall and would be able to breathe fine. We also used our huge tent with two “rooms”, so we spread out more and kept the dogs in the other section.

  • Reply Corene April 12, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    I love this!! I love that you are willing to travel with your baby girl, such an encouragement to other new parents. You will make amazing memories on this trip and will look back on it with so much joy. I look forward to following your adventures. 🙂

  • Reply El Diche April 12, 2018 at 11:42 pm

    I was a navy brat growing up. I can’t say if my life is better or worse for it, but the movement and adventure has really defined my life. I’ve taken greater risks and reaped larger rewards than my younger siblings. I live for adventure in a way that they do not.

    I took my son along on all my adventures. As a single parent, I didn’t have many options, but… likely wouldn’t have chose those alternatives anyway. I like me, and I wanted him to know me.

    100 years ago, camping was called living. Your kids will be fine. Frankly, I’m jelly – I miss my son as a young child. He’s a grown man now and… it’s true – time passes so quickly. And there is nothing better than seeing someone experience something AMAZZZZING for the first time.

    You’re good parents, I’m sure. Don’t sweat it. Go forth and have fun!

  • Reply Friday Faves 4/13/2018 | Must Hike Must Eat April 13, 2018 at 4:45 am

    […] Have Baby, Will Travel: Road Trip 2K18 […]

  • Reply Rochelle Tyson April 13, 2018 at 10:18 am

    That sounds amazing!! We camped a ton during our first daughters first year of life – we live In Utah. We took the bigger tent and she slept and played in the pack n play just fine. She had no hair so as long as I kept something on her head at night she slept great. Honestly don’t ever let people tell you things that you can’t do because you have kids. Kids are adaptable and learn. I hate that we “limit” ourselves and what we do because we think kids can’t do it or won’t sleep it won’t like it, etc. It may take a few days but kids are way more adaptable then we give them credit for. Example my two year old is in a cast as she broke her leg. It only took her one day to figure it out and honestly besides her walking funny, it hasnt slowed her down one bit!
    Anyway – have so much fun this summer. I really jealous because I would love to do that with my husband and kids – I have three now (5, 2.5, and 5 weeks) but instead I will live vicariously through you and hope our two camping trips this summer fulfill my need for the great outdoors.

  • Reply Jual Obat Aborsi April 15, 2018 at 1:32 am

    2.5, and 5 weeks) but instead I will live vicariously through you and hope our two camping trips this summer fulfill my need for the great outdoors.

  • Reply Patrice La Vigne April 19, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Oh man, so many things to be jealous of!!

    We visited the Wave a long, long time ago & I can still see it clear as day in my mind!! Leaves quite an impression.

    This past summer, we backpacked across Channel Islands and it now stands in our top 5 NP backpacking trips.

    I am most stoked for your trekking in Italy, as it is high on my bucket list. Without having done any research on routes, etc, I don’t know what’s what and where. That’s why I love when people like you take a trip because I know there will be great planning details!!!!!!

  • Reply Emily April 25, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    You’re going to love the Dolomites! Alta via 4 is a great choice.

  • Reply The First Six Months: The Best Baby Outdoor Gear -Just a Colorado Gal May 2, 2018 at 5:30 am

    […] Thankfully, I can’t say that we’re wasting any of our precious moments together. It took some effort, but Will and I managed to get outside fairly frequently, and more often than not, baby girl is with us. She has been abroad; she vacationed in a campervan; she’s been backcountry skiing {touring}; she visited a backcountry hut; she’s been hiking; she’s been trail running. And her repertoire is going to become more extensive in a few weeks when we embark upon our road trip! […]

  • Reply Scott Jones May 5, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    Better hit me up for a beverage when you pass through Phoenix! Also, I can provide some additional suggestions for your Arizona portion.

  • Reply Kia May 6, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    I am so glad you did not listen to the advice you were given. It has been great watching you on your parenting journey with your platform. When our youngest was three months we road-tripped to Oregon in a Honda Fit. My boys do have routine and stability but are also very adaptable and chill on unpredictable adventures.

  • Reply Jessie May 15, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    So incredible and so happy for you all to have this humongous adventure together!
    Weird-ish question, but since we are both in similar boats with baby, and BF/pump/formula feeding, how do you deal with the issue of cleaning / sterilizing the bottles while on such a trip? I feel like that (along with baby sleep situation) would be the biggest hurdle for me. So excited for you!

    • Reply Heather May 21, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      Ha, we actually have a bottle of dish soap in the truck with us and bring the bottle cleaning brushes! We’ve boiled water at camp and washed them there, and then dried them in the truck cab overnight. Or, we’ve honestly used hundreds of visitor center bathrooms to wash the bottles in the sink. We brought five bottles with us so we usually have to wash them once a day. It feels odd at first, washing dishes in the sink, but once we explain to the rangers what is going on, they go out of their way to help! And then when we occasionally stay at a hotel or an AirBnB, we sterilize them there. Also: I’ve taken to storing all of the parts in our Otterbox cooler since the cold temps keeps bacteria from growing (or so my ped told me!)

  • Reply Clare July 12, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Hi there! Your adventures sound amazing. My husband and I have been itching to camp with our 6th month old daughter, but we worry about keeping her warm at night. She was born a month early and is on the small side, so she’s doesn’t have her cute babyrolls yet. We live in Fort Collins , Colorado and usually head into the mountains for some relief from the heat. What does your daughter sleep in at night to keep her warm?

    • Reply Heather July 15, 2018 at 10:26 am

      Hi! It depends on how cold it is but our coldest evening was in the mid-20s (chilly!) so we put her in some footie pajamas, a fleece onesie by Helly Hansen, and then a snowsuit over top. We also put fleece booties on her feet and put her between us in the double sleeping bag so she would get some body heat. We tried putting a hat on her head too, but she got too hot in the middle of the night and ripped it off 🙂 Truthfully, she seems to sleep better when it’s a bit cooler!

  • Reply Clare Neal July 15, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    Awesome! Thank you so much. We ended up camping in Roosevelt National Forest at about 9,500ft this weekend. The low was in the high 40’s and we were able to keep our little one warm. Hurray for the great outdoors!

  • Reply Backpacking with a Baby: 10 Tips To Get You Started -Just a Colorado Gal August 12, 2018 at 7:40 am

    […] we did it. We went backpacking with a baby not once but TWICE on our road trip. And, our second voyage was a four night/five day trip in California’s Eastern Sierra up to […]

  • Reply Backpacking with a Baby: 6 Tips To Get You Started -Just a Colorado Gal August 12, 2018 at 7:44 am

    […] we did it. We went backpacking with a baby not once but TWICE on our road trip. And, our second voyage was a four night/five day trip in California’s Eastern Sierra up to […]

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