During my pregnancy, one of the things I was really looking forward to after the birth, perhaps just as much as a large glass of ice cold rosé, was travelling abroad.
We had been on fabulous trips within the UK (Cornwall, Wales, Norfolk) during my pregnancy and in the first six months of my daughter and son’s arrival but I loved the idea of some proper sunshine in the Mediterranean or perhaps further afield.
Anyone who has had children will know that even leaving the house can sometimes be a logistical headache, equivalent to planning a military exercise. While even heading off on bucket and spade holidays in the UK, your car resembles some sort of car boot sale with endless toys, bouncers, nappies, cots, buckets, spades, teddies, carriers… the list goes on.
Heading abroad and setting foot on an aeroplane seemed a whole other step and having now done this a few times, with more or less success, including one flight I’m still trying hard to forget (think 40 minute tantrum, with people around us having to move seats), here are just a few of my top tips.
Tickets and Seats
Flying with very little ones (under 24 months), you get the bonus of not having to pay for a separate ticket (although there may be a small supplement). Remember this means that you share your seat with your little one and if flying with low cost airlines, you will almost certainly be allocated a seat next to another young family, so you might consider paying the small fee to choose your seat.
In addition to an item of hand luggage for every person travelling, including your little ones, most airlines allow you to check-in two items for infants free of charge (usually a cot, cot bed, car seat or pram). However, make sure to check what items can be taken on your flight, as the rules vary for each carrier.
If you choose to take your own car seat (this is often much safer, as car seats you hire from car rental companies aren’t always to the same standard) make sure to get a car seat bag for the hold. This will not only protect your car seat from bumps and scratches but means you can stuff a whole load of items into the hold free of charge!
Milk, Food and Snacks
With infants you are allowed to take milk (formula or expressed) and baby food on the flight which isn’t subject to the same restrictions on liquids at security. It is worth checking with each airport but this should mean your little one is fed and watered on the long journey with the food you want to give them, rather than having to rely on airport shops and restaurants. I just always make sure to pack our Cove Baby long sleeve and pelican bibs, together with plenty of wipes to minimise mess. If you have toddlers make sure you pack a lunch box and lots of snacks to avoid them getting hangry!
iPad and Tablets
Tablets can be incredibly useful when travelling with little ones, with films and games galore. Your little one is kept fully occupied and entertained on those long journeys, leaving you perhaps to look after your other little one, or perhaps even allowing you to enjoy your in-flight entertainment/gin and tonic. However, if your little one is anything like my daughter, screen time, coupled with a lack of sleep, can be a potential recipe for a disaster. If you decide to go with the tablet option, just make sure everything is fully charged the night before!
Some children find screen time so absorbing and overstimulating that when it comes to an end, meltdown ensues… We have therefore found that she copes better and enjoys more sticker books, drawing or audio books (the Julia Donaldson stories narrated by Imelda Staunton are brilliant). We therefore always make sure to have a fresh supply of new stickers and activity books.
…And finally, enjoy your holiday!