Pre-baby, I had all sorts of ideas of the type of mother I thought I would be. The reality was somewhat different. Hypnobirthing and a water birth ended up being a sideways breech baby and a caesarean delivery. Lovingly prepared organic meals are interspersed with Ella’s pouches and I would definitely describe my parenting approach as laissez-faire despite being fairly routine driven in my own life.
The only thing I did stick to was travel. It was a big part of my life pre-baby and one that I was determined wouldn’t change. I was brought-up my two travel-mad hippies who thought nothing of taking a baby backpacking around Scandinavia. So, I guess you could say, it’s in the blood.
A combination of circumstance, planning and having to rearrange our honeymoon once we realised I was pregnant meant we travelled a fair amount during my maternity leave on both short and long-haul flights, as well as a five-week road trip in a camper van around Spain.
Travelling with a baby takes forward planning and a mindset of going with the flow. It’s not always easy especially when you throw in sleep-deprived parents into the mix – but the experiences and memories you make are so so worth it.
Here are some things I learnt along the way.
Baby travel tips
- Tell the airline you are travelling with a baby. We flew to Sri Lanka with Emirates and were given a bassinet for our son to sleep in both there and back. He slept for pretty much both flights (I think the hum of the aeroplane sent him to sleep), which meant we got the chance to watch films, eat our dinner uninterrupted and have a bit of sleep ourselves (basically the dream).
- Try to go for night flights and a schedule which fits around naps (if you can).
- Buy, borrow, beg a travel pram/stroller. We have the Babyzen Yoyo, which we use daily and also folds up to cabin bag size.
- A baby carrier is brilliant for getting through airports, particularly at the points you have to pack up your pushchair to take it through security.
- Bring twice as much baby food, wipes, nappies and bottles/formula milk than you think you’ll need just in case of delays. Most long-haul airlines carry baby food and milk so my husband thought I was silly for packing Ella’s pouches. However, they had run out so it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I wouldn’t worry so much about toys for younger children as they can be fashioned from napkins although we did bring a couple of things.
- Take spare onesies/clothes into your carry on bag. The chances are you will need to do at least one change…
- Pack Milton sterilising tablets and a couple of plastic freezer bags. They take up no space but meant we could sterilise in hotel rooms where we did haven’t access to washing up facilities.
- Take baby friendly hand sanitiser and wipes. However, be prepared to go with it. There is an element of just having to appreciate your child will come into contact with different germs and bacteria, which all helps to build up their immune system.
- That being said, bring Calpol and a family travel first aid kit. You can buy a small one from Boots or other chemists.
- Remember there are shops abroad and you will be able to buy nappies etc. Look up the local translation for Calpol (this came in handy in Spain). It’s pretty much sold everywhere and helps if teething comes on suddenly.
- Do look at local shop opening times when you arrive or online beforehand. We went to Austria for some family business and luckily realised in time all the shops were closed over the Easter break. We managed to get some baby provisions with just an hour to spare.
- Don’t worry too much about food. I took a Nutribullet with us in on our road trip and never used it. Rudy ate lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs and bread.
- Check the sodium content of bottled water. The lower the sodium content the better. Evian is usually ok.
- Buy a mosquito net if going further afield and a packable travel cot if you’re backpacking. We took a camping cot on our road trip, which folds up in a small bag and it’s the lightest travel cot I have seen so far.
- Give each other a bit of time out each day (if travelling with a partner) to put your feet up, read a book, have a beer. It’s so important to make sure you feel it’s a holiday and you get a bit of ‘me time’.
- Go with the flow. Travel does mean stepping out of your routine. However, it’s definitely worth it!