From: East London
Q1. How old was your child when you first went abroad/first staycation?
Our first trip abroad was a bit sooner than we’d expected. My husband’s Grandma died when Byron was 10 days old, so at 3 weeks we were on board a Ryanair Flight to Ireland. I actually think that helped us with just having a baby in general. If you can handle flying with a tiny baby (including an in flight nappy change inside a Ryanair toilet cubicle) then you can handle anything motherhood throws at you!! In the first six months that he was born we had a few staycations down to Portsmouth to visit my family and then flew out to Cyprus for a month to visit more in-laws.
Q2. What was the journey like? Be honest good bits and bad bits?
The first journey we made to Ireland was absolutely fine (even with a poonami mid flight). I don’t know if it’s because I was soaring on adrenaline, or whether the flight was less than an hour long but it was honestly fine. I was much more frazzled on our next journey when he was 5 months old to Cyprus. Byron didn’t want to sit still and I’ve not enjoyed “lap flights” since then. I actually did the flight home on my own because my husband had to come home for work and apart from not being able to eat or drink during the flight we managed fine.
Personally, I find the whole airport experience ten times worse than the flight itself. Everything always feels rushed and I always feel disorganised, even though I am organised within an inch of my life. We struggled because Byron was formula fed which meant loads of paraphernalia and queues at security for liquid checks. It would be great if all airports had dedicated family lines for security because it does take time to clear when you are juggling babies, buggies, bags and documents.
Q3. What’s this best thing about travelling with kids?
The best thing about travelling with kids is seeing the world through their eyes. Seeing new things and exploring different food and cultures. I love the excitement as he asks how long until our next trip, or what we will do when we arrive. We spent Christmas in Oman when Byron was 18 months old and the wonder on his face when Father Christmas turned up on a Camel has stuck with me. A lot of the time we travel to visit family, and it’s great to see relationships form even with language barriers. He might only be three, but he definitely remembers the trips that we make and the friends he made on them.
Q4. What’s the worst thing about travelling with kids?
Two of the worst things for me, are airports and strangely enough, hotel rooms.
Airports are not family friendly, the queues, the lighting, the noises, it’s just all a bit overwhelming. Have you ever travelled through Stansted for one of the first flights of the day? It’s like a portal of hell has opened. The stress is definitely more on myself as a parent than Byron, he’s just excited at that point. We usually try and find somewhere he can sit and watch the planes and grab some snacks and magazines ready for the flight.
Hotel rooms, the struggle is everyone in one room, putting the baby to sleep and having to remain in silence for the rest of the evening. One of our trips away, our hotel room didn’t have a balcony, so that was it. Once he was asleep, we just had to sit in darkness in our room using our phone torch for reading. We now make sure we always have at least a balcony so somewhere to retire while we are in close proximity. Now that Byron is older, it’s made it a lot easier to go out and about with him even later and he just goes with the flow and is generally excited to be out and about in the evenings. We’ve tried villa trips, they worked perfectly when he was a small baby, but as he’s got older he likes the interaction of making friends and lets be honest, I like a breakfast buffet!!
Q5. What are your must haves in your suitcase?
Must haves in hand luggage are always –
• Wet wipes
• Exciting snacks – but nothing too sugary
• A change of clothes for everybody – not just baby!
• When tiny, dummies to suck for take off and landing. For weaning children, pouches like Ella’s works perfectly for this if they don’t want dummies
• Calpol or Ibuprofen for half an hour before take off and landing to stop sore ears
• New things to entertain, whether it’s a new book, new magazine, new toys
• Something that smells like home for babies to settle, we always used to bring muslins to lay in the bassinet for comfort
• More nappies than you think you’ll ever need
• Oh, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m a massive fan of as much screen time to keep you sane!! iPad’s – download brand new games, and their favourite TV shows for entertainment if short haul.
Q6. What are your travel plans for the future?
We had ambitious plans for 2020, but Baby number 2 is due in a matter of weeks so those plans may be put on hold for a while. We’d hoped to pack in a lot of holidays before Byron started school in September but we may need to tone it down. Short term, a trip to EuroDisney is definitely on the cards and hopefully via Eurostar which would be a whole different experience. We are so close to Stratford International and we need to use it more. Next year will involve a lot more staycations, I’m desperate to visit the Highlands as Byron loves the outdoors. We will spend Christmas this year in Ireland.
Our second family ski trip will be in February, we went for the first time last year and it was amazing. We’ve chosen to visit an Ikos resort for our first family all inclusive get away in June for some total R&R.
Long term, we’d love to do a road trip in America. We have family in the Carolina’s and we’d love to visit them and wind up in Florida to visit the theme parks and the Keys. Once baby number 2 is a little older we also plan to spend some time in Iceland. We visited as a couple in January this year and we know it’s somewhere the whole family would enjoy. Once nappies and feeding isn’t a problem we also want to return to Cuba as Havana is magical and one of our favourite places in the world.
Q7. What are you top travel trips?
Top travel tips? Be flexible. Take your time, bin your schedule (unless you have flights to stick to). Practicality wise, we used lounges until Byron turned two (children are generally free until then) as it was a little bit of calm amongst the madness and slightly better surroundings to relax or wear them out before a flight – and nicer toilets to change them in to their pyjamas if you’re on a night flight.
If flying between 2 and 3, fly with a car seat. It’s another bit of bulk to carry around the airport with you but keeping a toddler comfortable on a flight is hard to do and if they’re in their car seat they are comfortable and usually used to it so understand they can’t get out of their car seat if it’s not a good time for them to want to run laps of the plane.
It also means you don’t have to hire a car seat at your end destination as you already have one!
You can find Alex on her own blog where she has even more travel advice – https://themummyhustle.com