When I drove down to our flat in Jersey City to rescue Sona from the clutches of the winter storm, she came wobbling outside towards the car. In one hand, she was holding her laptop case. Clutched in her right hand was a swimming costume, large enough to cover her belly. Outside, the snow was starting to quickly fall, making the swimming costume seem as ridiculous as bringing along a surfboard, or a bottle of sunscreen. But winter storm or no winter storm, with just a month to go before baby#2 is born, we were determined to go on our babymoon in Atlantic City. With our baby in tow.
Back in 2009, we went to the Dominican Republic for our first Babymoon and adhered to the travel industry’s rules surrounding the marketing of this post-honeymoon, pre-baby mini-holiday: couples only. The general consensus is that it’s a last hurrah for a couple to be a couple, free from the stress of daily life, before the baby comes around and you start sleeping with one eye open, losing all ability to relax. Back in the 1990s when the word babymoon was first coined, it was meant to be an opportunity for parents to bond with their baby, free from the stress of daily life. Good joke, travel industry.
For that first Babymoon in the Dominican Republic, we’d bought a package deal from Costco – it was my first all-inclusive, which as a budget backpacker, I never thought would be my cup of tea. It still isn’t ideal, but if given the option between sitting at home, or going to an all-inclusive, I’ll choose the all-inclusive. It’s relaxing. It’s mindless. There is no pretense of it being a cultural immersion, so there is no expectation to do anything aside from chilling out.
Since we spent Thanksgiving in Disneyland for a family trip, and Sona’s now 36 weeks pregnant, we thought perhaps a flight might not be such a great idea, even though Sona’s getting very itchy feet from booking a cruise for her parents, and her sister also has plans to escape this NYC winter for a few weeks.
The winter storm hit just a few days before our outing to Atlantic City, so there was still snow outside, and because Sona’s dad insisted on shoveling immediately the next morning, I went and promptly slipped on a huge slab of black ice on my way to the car while carrying one of Sona’s bags. The entire area that we’d shoveled was now like glass because, with temperatures in the single digits, the usual dousing of salt couldn’t work its magic. So it was even more dangerous than crunching through the snow. To avoid smashing my head or hip, I unglamorously dove into the snow covered grass like a ninja insect.
It took us half an hour to de-ice the windows. One year, friends of Sona’s family unaccustomed to the ice thought it would be a good idea to pour hot water onto the windshield to de-ice it. That worked out as well as you think it did. This babymoon was off to a great start. And it got better when we’re finally on the road and Sona’s belly declares a hamburger craving – specifically from Chilis. So, of course, we get there and she orders the steak. They had a two for $20 deal with appetizers and all, so that’s what we did.
We got onto the Parkway by about 2 and it was the smoothest, clearest ride to Atlantic City I’ve ever taken. We counted six cars total on the entire drive. We should travel during winter storms more often. We got to Revel Hotel in an hour and a half flat, found a parking spot right across from the elevator so we could hold on to all of our calories.
The room – third floor this time (we’re usually in the 20s!) –was gorgeous as usual, with a huge bathroom, comfortable beds, but the view of the ocean and the beach was a bit rubbish. Rain on the windows, bits of snow everywhere, and general gloomy weather. The next morning, there was fog everywhere. On the bright side, we didn’t feel guilty about not making an effort to venture out of the hotel.
In the off-season, Revel rooms are really cheap – under $100, with amazing amenities. The reason we write so much about Revel and stay here quite a lot isn’t because we’re high-powered travel bloggers who get rooms there for free. Although we do often get rooms here for free because my father-in-law loves to gamble. And perhaps more importantly, he loses a good amount, so we often get comp rooms. But even when we pay for the room, it’s well worth it.
The main reason we come here is because it’s extremely family-friendly – you don’t have to walk through a smoke-filled casino to get to your room, and kids are more than welcome anywhere in the hotel, except for the obvious places like the actual casino and night clubs. There’s a private beach, a large, indoor heated pool that’s perfect for kids and adults, as well as an outdoor one overlooking the Atlantic. And there’s so much room to run around inside the resort. Even the one downside it initially had of not having budget-friendly food on the premises has been sorted out with $4 breakfasts, $5 burgers, and $3 tacos (check out Sona’s post on the budget food at Revel).
Once we settled into our rooms at Revel, me and Sona attempted to take a nap in the room, with Kavya poking at us, making long exasperated sighs as she said, “Let’s go swimming already!” Outside, the weather was miserable. It was raining and snow was everywhere. This suited us perfectly because it meant the babymoon had properly begun: we had no reason to leave the hotel, not even to go to the boardwalk.
Kavya had fun splashing around in the pool and saw some older kids go outside in the blistering cold to the hot tub. So she said she wanted to go too. We took one step outside and she immediately wanted to come back to the heated pool. I had made provisions to pre-empt Kavya’s hangriness by making sure she’d eaten something before we got into the pool. I forgot about that wife of mine, though. Out of nowhere, she comes splashing towards me and Kavya with her belly out and screams, “I got hungry!” like a wild beast. Then panics about the pool trying to find the best way out. We quickly exit the pool. Kavya is wearing her little pink robe and I have my awesome muay thai kickboxing shorts that almost instantly dry up. We sit down at Distrito Cantina lured in by their $3 tacos. I have a grapefruit margarita and delicious tongue tacos that Sona for some reason didn’t want to try.
We go back to the room and chill out, with no plans to leave. Sona had the foresight to pick up a tiramisu and coffee for dessert that we all dig into with plastic spoons. It’s a lovely night.
The next morning, we dance around in the room and look outside at the gloomy weather, the news talking about record breaking winter chills. We don’t doubt it. We go for a cheapo $4 breakfast at Relish. Sona wants to hang in the room with her belly and do some reading, so she does that while me and Kavya go swimming. The pool was completely empty, which was super fun as we were able to zig zag and not worry about getting into anyone else’s lane. We did the waltz. Kavya did some mild swimming, but mainly she kept rescuing me from the storm and wanted me to offer solicited accolades to her swimming technique, while I’m carrying her on my shoulders or in my arms through the entire pool. And who gets all the credit for her swimming prowess? Ariel, the Mermaid, and Disney by extension. I am again completely caught up with the storyline to The Little Mermaid, even though Kavya changed the plotline where she still gets to keep her voice, despite the main source of conflict arising from Ariel’s inability to articulate herself. I mention this to Kavya, but she says there was an exchange of voices that went down. Ursula took her voice, so she took Ursula’s. Seems reasonable enough. The words, “hello, I am a human,” were uttered every third splash. The rest of the day was a blur, but revolved around inactivity and lounging around. We left the next afternoon, hitting up our favorite Vietnamese joint that we started going to when Revel didn’t have any good budget food options. It’s called Pho Cali, with customers and all the staff speaking Vietnemese and a TV set to Vietnmese shows that he turns to the news channel whenever some non-Vietnemese folks roll up.
Last year for our wedding anniversary, we went to New Orleans while Nani and Nanu watched Kavya. It was wonderful getting back into ishq travel mode, rather than just going for a holiday, from seeing the damage of the Ninth Ward, former slave plantations, a swamp and gator tour, and of course, the gaudiness of Bourbon street. We’ve never really been big on alcohol or going to sweaty night clubs, so the appeal of going to places without Kavya isn’t all that strong. It’s nice to just be Sona and Navdeep sometimes, even if it feels quite strange taking a trip without Kavya. And while I’m sure she would have enjoyed New Orleans, some trips do belong just to me and Sona. This babymoon was perfect with Kavya in it, and a lovely way to welcome her little brother.
Anyone else spend their babymoon with their baby? How’d it go?