Travelling With a Baby: 'The Same Old Shit, Just Somewhere Else'
Firstly, forget holidays as you know it. Don’t even refer to your holiday as a ‘holiday’ or you’ll be sorely disappointed. Just to reiterate this point, the clue is in the title of this (uplifting!) little piece, going away with a baby is, as my NCT friend referred to it as; ‘the same old shit, just somewhere else’. Everything you currently do for your little one still needs to happen even if you’re in the most beautiful of locations. Gone are the days of sipping cocktails whilst sunbathing, relaxing and reading. Cocktails are now gulped down whilst batting off tiny hands trying to make a grab for your pretty looking glass. And as for sunbathing, relaxing and reading…hahahaha; as if.
Flamingo, Nella and I have all made it there and back relatively unscathed to Spain, Italy and France. I was originally rather reticent about our first trip away which was a 3 day trip to Barcelona when Nella was 4 months old. I was worried that it was all going to be more hassle than it was worth. But I’m so glad we did otherwise we’d never end up doing anything at all. Plus city breaking seems only something that can be done whilst you have a baby rather than a toddler. And once you’ve gone away once, you learn what worked/didn’t work for next time. Our second trip was to Tuscany for my best friend from university’s wedding where I was also a bridesmaid and Nella was 5 months old. Our third trip was our first ‘proper’ holiday; 2 weeks near Cognac when Nella was 7 months.
Admittedly we’ve yet to do long haul but judging by our European jaunts, long haul is, well a little too long for us at the moment. We’ve managed to fit in travelling by pretty much all modes of transport; plane, boat and car. Travelling by car which we did for France was great in terms of packing but not so great in terms of the length of time it took to get down to Cognac. And the only reason we also ended up experiencing travelling by boat was that particular day the channel tunnel was suspended; sod’s law indeed. Travelling by plane is tough but we found Easy Jet pretty accommodating for families and they allow you to take a lot of extras in terms of baggage with you in the cabin.
There are a few things I’ve gleaned from our travels so far and a few things we’ve bought that I’ve found genuinely useful. In case these help you, I’ve listed them below:
A Travel Buggy:
We have a Joie Pact which was recommended to us by our NCT friend and I have in turn recommended this to all my friends. It’s super light and folds down so you can even take it as cabin baggage on Easyjet. Plus if like me, you bought an overpriced ‘day’ buggy, you don’t have to worry about it getting wrecked in the hold baggage. The wheels aren’t huge though so if you’re off-roading a lot, it might not survive and make it a rather bumpy ride. But we found it absolutely perfect for Barcelona.
A great invention to cover the pram so your baby can’t see out and therefore helping them to sleep. We didn’t originally have one of these for Barcelona but we wish we had because we hadn’t bargained on Nella being so busy watching everything that she didn’t want to sleep! It’s ideal for napping as it’s dark and it’s also perfect for hot weather as it has UV protection. Plus it keeps the sun out of sensitive little eyes if they are awake and it’s too bright for them, much better than attempting to drape scarves/muslins over!
Sleeping Bag/Foot Muff
We only survived going out in the Winter because my sister had given us a sleeping bag/foot muff for the pram. It’s perfect to take away for cooler nights if you want your baby to sleep when you’re out and about. I know there are lots of sheepskin liners for the pram but the sleeping bag is great because it covers them completely. Nella always had the best sleep when she was snuggled in it. There are lots of expensive ones out there but the one we have is cheaper and does a great job:
Portable Battery Fan
For hot climates, a portable fan you can clip onto the pram/cot is ideal. We used ours all the time in France. Also they can play with it without hurting their fingers.
Mirror For the Car
A mirror that clips onto the back seat so you can see your baby’s face is a must for car journeys.
Baby Neck Support for the Car
I’ve yet to find the perfect neck support and we’ve tried quite a few. This isn’t perfect and it’s more expensive than the rest but it’s the best out of the bunch we have tried. Note that you can’t put it on until the baby is falling asleep and then you do have to keep adjusting it. But I found it better than not having anything at all.
1. It is actually easier to go away for the first time when your baby is little and before you start weaning, especially if you’re exclusively breastfeeding. You don’t have to cart food around or plan around their mealtimes. Plus everything is easier when they stay in one place and don’t want to crawl/walk around everywhere.
2. If you’re booking flights in-advance, think about how old the baby will be then; chances are they won’t be in the same routine as they are now. Plus the older the babies get, the less likely they are to sleep on you so think before booking an evening/night time flight.
3. Breastfeeding on take-off/landing helps any discomfort for babies’ ears.
4. Arriving at the airport early and finding somewhere you can decamp or book into a lounge is helpful pre-flight for changing/feeding etc.
5. Check your destination for rules on car travel with a baby; for instance in Barcelona you can hold your baby for short journeys in a taxi which meant we didn’t need to take the car seat.