The title says it all. We went on holiday with a baby. Not just any holiday. We went on a plane!
If you told me pre-baby I’d go abroad with a four month old, I probably would’ve laughed. But as the summer months passed Pete and I felt we needed a holiday. The only annual leave he had taken this year was paternity when Jack was born. We were overdue a getaway. Other people have been on holiday with a baby, right? So why can’t we? And the search began…
As we started looking around the safety net of going with more adults started looking more and more attractive. “Daaaad, do you and mum fancy coming on holiday with us?” I pleaded.
I couldn’t help but smile when asking the question. Oh how I’ve done a 360 degree turn; from not wanting to holiday with my parents after hitting my teenage years, to now actually asking to go with them. Parenthood really does make you go soft. Luckily my parents jumped at the chance. They were already going to stay in a villa in Spain, so we basically gate crashed their (what would have been) serene and quiet break. Sorry mum and dad!
My main reason for writing this post is that on our travels to Spain I learnt quite a few things about travelling with a baby that I’ll certainly bear in mind for next time – yes, I promise it wasn’t that bad so I’m sure there will be a next time. I hope some of the things I discovered along the way may help other first-time-traveling-with-a-baby-mums thinking about taking the plunge.
So here I go…
First things first, getting the passport.
Getting a head shot of a tiny baby looking at the camera baffled me. How the hell is one meant to achieve that? Well, after a recommendation I went to a photo shop in a village near us and it was easy peasy. The professional photographer laid Jack down on a white background. I then looked very silly making all sorts of cooing noises over the photographers head to get Jack to look at me. Hey presto, ten minutes and £7 later, we had our pictures. Mug shot is definitely the word I use to describe them.
2. Booking the flights
My parents are “so BA dahling”, so I was lucky enough not to have to convince the penny watching hubby to not go for the cheapest airline. And boy am I glad we went with BA. They made everything simple. We did have to pay £40 for a return flight for Jack even thought he didn’t have a seat, but it included a lot of baggage allowance – we took a travel system buggy, a car seat, a travel cot (which could have been substituted for a 21 kilo suitcase) and Jack’s own hand luggage. The dream!
Arriving at the check in desk with one suitcase each (5 in total), and a two-part travel system buggy, car seat and a travel cot, everything went through on the conveyer belt no questions asked. Hassle-free.
We kept the buggy with us until we boarded the flight, where it was taken and put into the hold. Easy.
After the flight all our baggage arrived with the buggy, car seat and travel cot within minutes. Bingo.
The only tip I’d give is to take a sling for coming off the other end before you collect the buggy. Jack certainly enjoyed this after being pent up on a plane.
3. What to pack…
Everything! I took everything. I’m not even joking.
What was in Jack’s bag…
- Day outfit for each day, plus a couple of extras just in case changes were needed (which to be honest was most days!)
- Bedtime PJs for every night, plus a few extras
- Blankets x 2
- Nappies (lots of them. However, on hindsight we could’ve easily bought some out there)
- All the wash stuff we normally use at bath time
- Any medicines we may have needed i.e. calpol and teething granules
- Sleep monitor
- Bottles x 8
- A box of formula powder x 1 (we were only there for a week)
- Bottles of ready-made formula – these were so handy when I needed that extra bit of milk for comfort on the plane or quenching Jack’s thirst outside of his normal feeds in Spain
- Oasis disposable steriliser bags – now this is something I’d really recommend. They were very compact and very simple to use. Much easier than taking your huge steriliser with you
- Now you’re probably going to think we’re MAD for doing this, but we took Jack’s door jumper! Thanks Dad for squeezing it in your bag. Even though it seems quite extravagant I’m glad we did as I think it made Jack feel at home, plus freed up all of our hands when we wanted to eat some lunch
So after reading that mammoth list, you’re probably thinking is there anything she didn’t need. Sorry but the answers no. I used most of it, so would pack it all over again. Luckily BA has a baggage allowance of 21 kilos, so make sure you choose an airline that allows a lot of baggage.
4. Getting through airport security…
…is the dream – travelers with babies go through a separate queue and it is so much quicker. You really do get VIP treatment with a baby.
My main worry about security was Jack’s milk. I wasn’t completely sure what was allowed despite reading lots of bits of advice online. Due to this I only took one bottle. But seeing how easy it was going out there and that security would allow much more than one bottle, I went for it on the way out and took…five bottles of formula! We went through no questions asked. So the moral here is, take as many (if not more) than you need, as you’ll get through with them no questions asked.
5. Travel cot
We got a great travel cot for just £79.99 from Mothercare. It was light, had wheels so was easy to carry through the airport, and literally went up in five clicks. We arrived at the villa at midnight so this was essential.
The only downside of the cot is the mattress was very hard. I realised this before we went away so took a blanket to put under the mattress to make it softer. On hindsight I wished I’d bought another mattress to go in, and will certainly do this for next time.
Now as we’ve only stayed in a villa with a baby it’s all I can comment on. But what I will say is I will stay in a villa again as it worked really well for us.
- You’re not tied to any schedule such as breakfast, lunch and dinner. We could relax and eat whenever it suited what we were doing with Jack
- You can stick to your normal routine – nap times still happened as we weren’t tied to staying in one room, and Jack was bathed and in bed by his usual time of 6.30pm. We could put the monitor on in his room and be confident he was safe, while we were downstairs enjoying a night cap and a game of cards
- There’s plenty of shade – we could sit on the balcony where there was some sun and some shade. So while Jack was in the shade we could keep an eye on him while soaking up a few rays (even though to be honest I think I must have sat in the sun for about 20 minutes max!)
- You can easily get out for a walk and explore
- It was very quiet and there were no concerns about having noisy neighbours while Jack was sleeping
- As Jack’s on formula milk having a kitchen facility was essential and made managing his feeds very easy
7. Formula tips
I didn’t know this before I went away so I thought I’d share the information as it may be helpful for some readers. Please bear in mind this was for Spain though, so it may differ for other countries:
- When sterilising bottles you can use the water from the tap, you don’t have to use bottled water
- When making up the feeds it’s recommended to boil bottle water that’s low in sodium. To be honest it was hard to find the sodium content on the water bottles so I ended up going with a brand I recognised (Nestle) and Jack was fine
Finally, my burning question before I went on holiday was always, “How was your baby on a plane?” Well, Jack did have quite a wail as we stepped on. So much so we were considering stepping back off. But we managed to get him settled on some milk and he was fine. I would recommend to travel in the day. I thought travelling at night might be better as he’d be sleepy, but he ended up being all out of his routine that I’m sure it was unsettling.
So I think that’s everything…but the message is, you can do it, you CAN take a baby on holiday. Yes it was very different, yes no books got read or no sunbathing happened, but because you’re in a new environment, spending every hour of every day and night as a family with the only task to do that day is look after your baby, it was very relaxing and we can’t wait to do it again!
Love me xxx