As new parents, my wife and I are grateful for many things – among them is that our friends and family told us to take a Babymoon. (And they were right!)

While pregnancy and having a baby is nothing if not time consuming (and expensive), setting aside a little time for the two of us was one of the best investments we made.

And choosing to experience a Babymoon at the Four Season Jackson Hole, surrounded by the trappings of a top notch ski resort, stunning mountain views and the wonder of a grand national park a stones throw away….well it was pretty special. 

Here are nine reasons why it might be a good idea for you too!

Ted and Kalli on a road trip

1. You Haven’t Traveled Alone Since the Honeymoon

Traveling with your spouse, and only your spouse, isn’t always how it plays out!

You have a friend in every major city from Seattle to New York (and visiting without telling them just doesn’t feel right). Family holidays, weddings, and unfortunately funerals, take up a lot of available travel time and funds.

It’s difficult to find the time and place to escape with just your spouse, but it is so important to vacate together! The Babymoon is a great motivator to get something on the calendar that is just for two. And penciling in a few nights at the Four Seasons Jackson Hole gave us a lot to look forward to!

2. It's a Good Way to Clear Your Mind.

Sometimes a change of scenery (you can’t beat that views of the mighty Tetons) can give the brain a much-needed reboot. There are a lot of decisions to be made when you are expecting. Are you stuck on names? Maybe heading to a historical museum or local park can light your way – Bridger may be a popular name in Montana, but it would be unique in Arizona!

Kalli mom to be

3. Forget Your Baby?

Of course, that will never be an option. But it’s easy to get bogged down in baby registries, preparing the nursery, day care plans and the prospect of impending sleep deprivation.

Babymoons are vacations, and while you’re not exactly leaving pregnancy at home, you can enjoy doing things that don’t fall under the “nesting” category. Play cards, go shopping, enjoy a cocktail or mocktail together – do things that are fun for mom and dad-to-be before having to worry about when the baby needs to eat, sleep or bathe. We wanted to enjoy our DINK status while we still could.  

Hot stone massage heading Four Seasons Jackson Hole

4. Relax. 

Again: registries, nursery, stroller, day care, expenses, sleep deprivation. There are a ton of things that merit your attention and even add a little stress. But they will all still be there when you return. Taking time to relax (and committing to relaxing!) is healthy and revitalizing.

Let your brain, your feet, and all the baby-related worries take the weekend off. Having a baby is such an exciting time, it’s important to enjoy it. The first few months after the baby is around are rarely described as relaxing. So, take the time to listen to the birds, sleep in, take a long bath, and read a book while you can.

We were lucky enough to spend a great afternoon in the Four Seasons Spa where treatments are inspired by the mountain environment. My wife enjoyed a relaxing maternity massage designed to provide “gentle relief” for the unique aches and pains of pregnancy as well as to improve circulation. 

Guests (myself included) can also opt for healing native stone treatments, aromatherapy or sports massages. It all sounds good and feels even better.

Four Seasons Jackson Hole

5. Refocus On Each Other

When newly pregnant, it’s normal to focus on baby, baby, baby. It makes sense – you need to learn how to keep a human alive, which means acquiring a fair amount of knowledge, gear and gadgets; it’s stressful emotionally and financially. It is easy to stop prioritizing your partner and your relationship.

Babymoons are a great way to enjoy alone time with the person you love away from the daily stressors of the expecting. It’s not often you get to take a trip just the two of you – it’s a great time to kick the romance up another level.

Knowing that evenings would soon be a little more hectic, it was nice to linger over dinner and soak up the mountain lodge atmosphere. 

Grand Teton National Park

6. Explore Somewhere New

You might be past the “able to fly” portion of your pregnancy (we were).

That’s ok!

If you want to travel across the globe early on, go for it, but if you wait until you’re a little closer to “baby-watch,” it’s a good opportunity to explore places closer to home. Is there a resort town that you’ve been meaning to go to? A national park you’ve always wanted to see? While mom-to-be may not be up for camping or too many hikes, something involving a little more nature might be a fun adventure while the late-night scene is less of an option.

My wife and I live in Montana and took the opportunity to drive through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park on our way to the Jackson Hole Four Seasons. Neither of us had ever been to Jackson nor had we been through either park since moving back to Montana. It was a great opportunity to explore the incredible treasures that are right out our back door with a great destination resort in our sights. 

Jackson Hole WY

7. It Might Be a While Until You Travel Again

On the one hand, if travel is important to you, you’ll travel with your baby. He or she shouldn’t stop you. But travelling with a baby is different than travelling solo: the top Google search on “flying with your baby checklists” includes 60 items!

So no more walking through security with your carry on and a backpack. Traveling with a baby is intense and once you get to your destination, you’re in a new place with a baby. For many people, it’s going to be at least 18 months before you all get on a plane together – enjoy traveling with your partner while you can still carry on or travel light.

hike Grand Tetons

8. Get a Head Start on Daytime Activities

My wife and I enjoy good food and delicious cocktails. Two of our prerequisites for travel destinations have always been a progressive food and cocktail culture. While the time will come when we can prioritize those things again, having kids shifts the focus to daytime activities. The expecting mother probably isn’t up for any late nights or bar hopping anyway, so most of the Babymoon will be spent hanging out together and doing fun day activities – which is great! 

In our case, it was fun just to relax in our luxurious room and in the beautiful public spaces and soak up the alpine vibe of our five-star resort. Also, there are great trails (not too strenuous) in nearby Grand Teton National Park if you are up for outdoor fun. You can snag a pair of binocs from the concierge on your way out the door, too.

The town of Jackson Hole also has a slew of great shops and galleries for those who enjoy wandering through a great mountain town any time of year. 

The glitz and glam of urban nightlife may be alluring at some stages of life, but regardless of where you go there is lots of fun to be had during office hours – getting a head start on planning vacations with days that end at 6 (and finding out how fun they are!), will get you excited to plan your first trip with your baby.

mocktail

While the mother-to-be may not be able to indulge on everything on the cocktail menu, many bars or restaurants do have great mocktail options.  During our Babymoon at the Four Seasons, the bartender, Blake, made Kalli a ginger-mint mojito mocktail that hit the mark and made our Happy Hour experience that much more fun.

Babymoon at Four Seasons Jackson Hole

9. It’s a Good Excuse to Travel!

If you’re reading this article, you have an appreciation for travel. Work, family, expenses, and even maternity-leave-guilt can all be reasons not to take off. But, life moves pretty fast, and if you don’t take a second to hop on a plane or take a drive, you might miss the opportunity! Sometimes getting things on the calendar is the hardest part.

So, why not let your Babymoon be your motivation to go somewhere you have never been and start your new adventure with a new adventure? 

We’re glad we did!  

IF YOU GO 

We stayed at the Four Season Jackson Hole and enjoyed time at the onsite spa. You can find out more here.

You'll find the craggy, mountain town of Jackson Hole hidden in the shadow of the Tetons and adjacent to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Find details on how to get there and what to do here.

 

 

Published in Sleep

If you really want to see Alaska, you need wheels.

Most visitors come to the Last Frontier on a cruise ship or a plane. A motorcoach picks them up at the airport and delivers them to a hotel, to an airstrip or a national park, and they only see a small sliver of this state.

It’s a beautiful sliver, to be sure — but too small considering Alaska’s vast size.

Which is why my kids and I decided to go the other way. We rented a car in Anchorage and took to the road, driving down to Seward and up to Denali National Park. Yes, there’s still a lot for us to explore, and plenty that’s inaccessible by car, but the enchantment of Alaska’s open road is something you can’t experience from the back of the bus, off the deck of a cruise ship, or from Alaska’s impressive railroad.

My three kids and I are fortunate. Our family travel site is supported by Hertz, which set us up with a Ford Explorer, an SUV that can handle almost any Alaskan road. I should note that most car rental contracts, including Hertz’, don’t allow you to drive on unpaved roads, especially in the 49th state, where unpaved can mean anything from less maintained to downright dangerous.

Which brings me to my first piece of advice: Take the SUV, or at the very least, a four-wheel-drive vehicle. You never know when you’ll be trying to negotiate a steep grade in a national park or find yourself on a rain-slickened road, and you’ll want the extra control. Two-wheel-drive cars are for suburban commutes, but not for this place.

There are at least two things you can discover in a car — the road and the destination. And there are three roads that really stood out during our month-long tour of Alaska. First, the magnificent drive from Anchorage to Alyeska on Highway 1, with its breathtaking views of the Cook Inlet’s Turnagain Arm and the unspoiled wilderness of Chugach State Park. There’s also the intriguing drive south along Highway 1 and Portage Glacier Road to Whittier, through the narrow Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. And finally, there’s the ridiculously picturesque drive up Highway 3 to Denali National Park, and if you’re adventurous, up to Fairbanks.

Along the way, we discovered that the road was the destination. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Highway 1 from Anchorage to Alyeska

It’s a short, one-hour trek from Anchorage down to Alyeska, Alaska’s legendary ski resort. We made the trip in early September, when the leaves were starting to turn yellow and low clouds hovered low over the Cook Inlet. Coming from San Diego’s balmy 80 degree weather to the mid-40s was a shock. We recovered just in time to appreciate the stunning views of the mountains and bay.

The road winds its way south, with frequent turnouts for tourists like us to take pictures. Good thing, too. Without these opportunities, I’m sure there’d be more traffic accidents, with shutterbugs veering into the oncoming traffic in order to find the perfect shot.

Here, off the beaten path means access to almost everything the locals have. You can shop for groceries at Fred Meyer or swing by Gwennies for sourdough pancakes, and you don’t have to worry about a train schedule. A word of warning, though: Parking in Anchorage can be a real bear. Like a lot of tourist towns, they’ve figured out a way to maximize their parking revenue. It pays to park a little farther from downtown and walk off that pancake breakfast.

Alyeska is its own reward, from the impressive Alyeska Resort, with its incredible network of hiking trails, to my kids’ favorite, the Bake Shop (try the sweet rolls, they’re amazing). But the highlight is the drive. If you’re staying in Alyeska, as we were, you’ll be tempted to head back north a few times just to do it over again.

Portage Glacier Road to Whittier

If you’ve never driven to Whittier, and you have an extra day, you really should consider going. Highway 1 extends farther south to Portage, past even more spectacular views of mountains and inlet. Then you hang a left and motor down a narrow, two-lane road past Portage Lake until you meet the mountain. It’s a $13 toll to pass through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel and reach Prince William Sound on the other side, but well worth it. At 2.5 miles, it’s said to be the longest highway tunnel in North America. And it’s the narrowest. At just one lane, it’s shared with train tracks and you have to time your journey just right so that you don’t have to wait for your turn.

We found Whittier shrouded in clouds, with lone espresso booths at the port catering to freezing visitors like us. This is a popular launching point for glacier tours, but as with the first road trip, the drive is also its own kind of destination. Along the road you’ll see abundant wildlife, including moose and eagle. Portage Lake takes such a beautiful picture. But go slowly, since it’s only a 40-minute drive from Alyeska to Whittier. Pull over often and savor the views.

Highway 3 from Anchorage to Cantwell

This 3 1/2 -hour road trip is among the most picturesque in the United States, if not the world. On a clear day, you can see the snow-capped peaks of Denali National Park, including Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet. But take that drive on a clear fall day, as we did, and you’ll see so much more. The foliage is more vibrant, with brilliant yellows and reds with the dark cinnamon undertones of the turning blueberries bushes.

Many visitors to Alaska make this trip in a motorcoach or by train. I’ve done it every way, and driving is still my favorite. Why? Because you get to determine where you go. Want to stop at the Talkeetna Roadhouse for a slice of pie? You can in your own vehicle. Want to visit my friends at Alaska Nature Guides for a hike up Curry Ridge in Denali State Park, for the best views of McKinley? Take the SUV.

Mostly, though, the road to Cantwell is mesmerizing in a way that no other road in America can be. Its two lanes run straight north into pure wilderness. The shifting weather — sunny and bright one minute, rainy the next with a slight possibility of snow — reminds you that you are no longer in the lower 48. This place is not for the faint of heart.

Driving Alaska’s roads is strictly defensive. A lot of the oncoming traffic is commercial: Trucks hauling logs, fuel or other supplies. The roads are sometimes well-paved, but often riddled with potholes that are the inevitable result of the wildly fluctuating temperatures. You have to be at the top of your game to drive here. And if you’re not, the car can help. Someone turned the settings on my SUV to maximum sensitivity, so that even a sudden turn would result in a warning to “rest soon” from the vehicle’s navigation system.

Rest? But I’m just getting started.

For some people, coming to Alaska is a bucket list trip, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. For my family, driving in Alaska was the bucket list trip, and I can’t wait to do it again.