Family holidays are some of the most enriching experiences for you and your baby. They immerse them in new cultures and create a lifetime of memories.
For all their fun, many mums come back saying they need a holiday from the holiday! If you’re travelling with a young baby, follow our top 10 tips to make your journey easier.
Prepare in advance
If you’re going abroad, it’s best to learn as much about your destination as you can. Choose a hotel or apartment that’s close to hospitals, and write down any doctors’ numbers. Accessibility is not always top priority in some areas, so make sure your accommodation has ramps and elevators. Finally, it pays to have priority boarding on the flight!
Baby bags can make us feel like Mary Poppins sometimes! Try to travel as lightly as possible – a maximum of two pairs of shoes and a few outfits that you can mix and match. Disposables such as nappies and wipes can be bought at your destination. It will make things much easier.
Plan how to get to your final destination
Whether you’ve hopped off a train or a long-haul flight, you need to know how to get to your accommodation. Checking Google Maps with a screaming baby is not ideal, so look up taxis in advance.
Check the rules on car seats
If you’re hiring a car, remember that the laws may be different for children in your destination country. The same applies if you’re putting a car seat into a taxi. Look up the regulations on a government website, and always try to take your car seat as hand luggage if you can. It’s the one luggage item you don’t want baggage handlers to lose.
Bring travel-sized everything!
You should add travel accessories to your shopping list. A travel cot, travel steriliser and travel bottle warmer should all be staples of your travel bag. Remember to pack a first aid kit and consider taking a universal plug. If you’re stuck without a bathtub, you can turn your hotel shower into a bath easily.
Make them comfortable
Ears popping is one of the unwelcome effects of air travel. Young babies may be confused by this, so give them a dummy to suck on, or travel sweets if they’re older. Similarly, bring a blanket and familiar smelling clothing so that they feel comforted. Bassinets should be used for long-haul flights, and cushions for shorter flights.
Avoid rush hour
It might be a commuter train or a long row of traffic, but rush hour is no friend to a travelling mum. Plan your flights around mid-morning or early afternoon to avoid the crowds. Finally, add an extra “kids’ half an hour” to your journey – you never know what could happen!
“Wear” your baby
Not only does a baby sling improve the bond between you and your baby, it also frees up your hands. You’ll need both for security, finding boarding passes and keeping baby comfortable, so invest in one of these and remember to take breaks for your back. If you’re taking a buggy, store laptops or devices in this and don’t forget to collapse it at security.
Pack sun protection
If you’re lucky enough to be going somewhere hot, don’t forget to stock up on the sun cream (and keep it in the hold!). It should be a minimum of factor 15, but anywhere up to 50 is ideal for young children. Dress them in light, airy clothing and pack a sun hat. Stay in the shade where possible and try to avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm.
With jet lag and the general weariness of travelling, it’s best to sort mealtimes early. Your baby will likely have a sleep routine which you should try to keep to, but don’t feel guilty if you are flying across multiple time zones. In many European countries, diners go out for dinner much later, so if you do have a grumpy little one, you can avoid embarrassment by eating around 5 or 6pm.