Travelling with a baby: Part 2
I wrote a post about the truth about travelling with a baby when my little adventurer was just five months old, but ten months on things are already very different.
I’m still not quite sure what to call her at this age. She doesn’t quite fit into the ‘toddler’ category, as she’s not actually toddling anywhere yet and is still very much a paid-up member of the bum-shuffling club. But she definitely now has the ‘I don’t care if everyone is looking at us mummy, I’m not happy about something and I’m going to shout about it’ attitude.
So taking my first solo trip abroad with my little adventurer definitely took a lot more planning than when she was five months old and we went to Sofia, Bulgaria. Looking back on that trip I don’t think we appreciated how easy it is to travel with a young baby. I was breastfeeding, so we didn’t have to take anything for her food-wise; she slept the whole way on the plane and when we were out and about she was happy to sit still and chill in her pram.
Fast-forward ten months and she is now very much a little person in her own right. She has views and opinions. She knows what she wants to do and isn’t very happy if she can’t do it.
So I was feeling a little daunted as I arrived at Heathrow airport ahead of our flight to Geneva, Switzerland. Luckily everything went smoothly and we actually had an absolutely brilliant trip. The weather was perfect, the people were so lovely and welcoming and Switzerland is GORGEOUS.
But I definitely learnt a few new lessons I thought might be helpful to share with other parents who are planning to travel with a baby:
Try to plan ahead
Back in the day when I was booking a trip, I’d barely look at flight times. As long as the price was good, I’d buy them without even worrying about whether we’d have to set off mega early or arrive in a place late at night.
However, as I was travelling with a baby I spent a lot of time looking at the flights, planning them around nap times and making sure I took into account the train journeys we also needed to take to and from Geneva airport. As all parents know, there is nothing worse than a tired baby so I actually tried to ensure that my little adventurer had her naps before getting onto the plane. Sure, that meant she was awake for the whole flight, but at least then she wasn’t overtired and upset during it.
I also took packed lunches and lots of snacks, so that I could try to keep her routine as close to her daily one as usual. That way, although we were in different surroundings and doing something new each day, at least she knew when she would be eating, having her bath and going to bed.
Ask to sit at the back of the plane
On both flights I explained to the check-in staff that I was travelling alone with a baby and would like to sit at the back in an aisle seat if possible, to minimise disruption to other passengers. They were more than happy to accommodate my requests and because the flights weren’t full, we ended up having a whole row to ourselves on each journeys. This made life so much easier and both flights went pretty smoothly. Even when we had a half-hour delay before departure from Geneva, at least my little adventurer had somewhere to play and keep busy until take-off.
Break the journey up into manageable sections
In total my journey door-to-door was ten hours. If I’d thought about all of that in one go it would have seemed really overwhelming. So I broke it down into manageable chunks.
I planned when I’d give my little adventurer meals, when she would nap and at what point I’d be able to take her out of her pram so that she could crawl around and stretch her legs.
For the plane journey I filled my bag with lots of little games and books, each of which I knew would only keep her distracted for a maximum of ten minutes (she is a very busy little girl!), but thinking of it that way made the flight seem more manageable.
I also knew that on the train journey from Geneva to Bex, where we were staying, I’d be able to walk around with her and look at things out of the window. Luckily the other friendly passengers also proved to be a welcome distraction.
All in all, the travel days actually flew by and my little adventurer was really good and patient for the majority of the time. It looks as though I may already have a little traveller in the making!
Be realistic about what you can achieve
I actually met up with a friend in Switzerland who has a daughter the same age as my little adventurer. We immediately agreed that we would just try and do one thing a day, so that the girls didn’t get overwhelmed with rushing from one activity to the next.
This worked well as it allowed us to feel as though we were doing things on our holiday and seeing new places, but it also gave us a chance to give the girls time to nap or play with their toys, rather than tiring them out everyday.
It also felt nice for us to slow down and relax and have the opportunity to really appreciate the beautiful surroundings we were in, without having to worry that we had to hurry on to another attraction.
Likewise, when we were at places of interest I had to accept that when you’re travelling with a baby you’re only ever going to get an overview of somewhere. I usually love looking around historic places and Mr A often used to laugh at how long I would spend somewhere, reading all of the information boards and exploring every nook and cranny. But on this trip, as I was looking around historic castles or exploring cobbled towns, I had to understand that I am no longer just working to my own timetable and my little adventurer definitely doesn’t have the patience to spend an entire afternoon looking around a castle. So a whistle-stop tour is the new norm.
Ask for, and accept, help when needed
Having travelled solo for so long prior to having my little adventurer, I’m usually a very independent person and will often turn down offers of help if I think that I can manage on my own.
But it was as we were getting ready to board our flight home, when priority boarding had just been announced and I was trying to juggle my pram, a nappy bag and my handbag, while throwing cheese sandwiches at a crying baby who most definitely did *not* want to be in a sling, that I thought to myself “I really need some help”. Luckily lots of the other passengers were really kind and stepped in to carry the pram and take my bags and the cabin crew were equally helpful. But it was a good lesson to learn that when you’re travelling with a baby, you don’t have to do everything yourself.
Appreciate the small moments
Some nights we would put the girls to bed and feel absolutely exhausted. But then we would start talking about the day and looking at the photos we had taken and all of the difficult moments were instantly forgotten as we remembered how excited they were when we took a train up the mountain in the snow, the looks on their faces when we first saw Lake Geneva or how my little adventurer shouts “moo” every time she sees a cow. Yes, travelling solo with a baby might be harder work than staying at home, but it’s worth every minute.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt about travelling with a baby? I’d love to hear it!
If you enjoyed this post, check out the very first one I wrote about why having a baby is like travelling the world or this one which includes five things to think about when planning your baby’s first trip.
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