Surviving the journey with a small one
I didn’t want to be that woman. The one everyone stares at.
Non-parents tutting with a look of inconvenience, cursing your existence.
People (who left the kids at home) thinking ‘poor Sod’.
Parents sat with children, give you the knowing look.
I am that woman.
The woman who gets on the plane with a baby.
I was dreading a long flight to the USA with my just-turned One year old.
Her first flight.
I worried whether she would sleep on the plane; would she cry; would it hurt her ears?
I wondered how we would cope with the time difference and being out of routine.
It turns out my little girl was brilliant. Thank the heavens.
On this holiday, Elsie learnt the art of charming almost everyone we came into contact with. She developed this special little look, fluttering her eyelashes while turning her head like a little puppy looking for attention.
I was the woman with the really cute, entertaining baby! Hooray.
It was ok to be that woman.
So off we went on Elsie’s first proper holiday to Maine, USA, to see her Uncle Mark get married and spend time with lots of family and friends.
I had worried so much about this trip and how we would cope when we got there. It turns out we managed just fine.
We had moments of stress; let’s face it, you can never properly relax like you used to in the age BC (before child). But we did manage to have a great time, and were much more relaxed as parents.
I am a stickler for a routine, so I just had to let it go, and get on with it.
If you have a trip planned and share my worries, I hope these notes are of use.
[I’ll cover tips, and what to bring in this post. Then talk about our holiday and everything else separately, or this will get way too long.]
What to bring
Packing to go on holiday with a child is a nightmare, not least because they need so much stuff and you might just end up with a pair of spare pants and a hat.
We brought some key items with us that we wouldn’t be without. Then planned to buy stuff once we got there.
The most useful items we took:
Our own cot bottom sheet
We needed it; there was not one provided anywhere we stayed. (Request the travel cot / cot bed in advance)
Grobag / baby sleep bag (1 tog) – the essential sleep item
The amazing Maclaren globe-trotter
This is lightweight, robust, easily collapsible and ideal for the airport; for getting about, and for naps. Yes, NAPS! I have a baby who would never previously nap in a buggy, but on holiday she did. It was a God send.
Muslin and blanket
For napping on the plane and in the buggy, depending on temperature.
Nappies (don’t bring loads)
Take enough nappies to get through the first few days, until you can find a supermarket. Don’t pack a whole holiday worth of nappies. You can buy them.
Do take swim nappies. I couldn’t find those. I’m sure you can in some places, but I couldn’t find them in the supermarkets.
Take plenty of your baby’s favourite snacks. They come in handy all the time. At least you know your child likes them. We bought some there, but it was pot luck whether she would like them or not.
We took Elsie’s little munchkin lunch box with us. It was so handy. We could pack up meals for travelling, or take it out so Elsie didn’t have to wait for food to arrive in the restaurants. She doesn’t have the patience to wait for food, so I’d bring something to tide her over.
Ready mix toddler milk for the plane
Ready mix is hassle free and wont go-off. They don’t stock real full fat milk on the plane.
You can bring real milk in a bottle / cup, which you can take through security, but they have to open and test it. I didn’t want to risk taking real milk, then letting it sit there for an age and go sour.
We bought whole milk once we were there and it was absolutely fine for the holiday.
If your baby is under one, and you are travelling outside of Europe then I would recommend you take your formula. In Europe you can usually find a familiar brand, but in the USA I didn’t recognise any of them. And they were more expensive.
Top Tips for the airport
It’s worthwhile checking the policy on liquid and baby stuff for each airport as the rules all differ
Technically you are allowed to bring milk and food for the baby. Let’s face it the 100ml allowance is not enough to keep a baby going for the journey.
You put the baby stuff in it’s own special tray through the scanner. It is often tested at the other side. More so the liquids, than the food.
Take a collapsible buggy and keep it until you get on the plane
You can drop your buggy off literally just before you get on the plane. It comes back just after you get off, meaning no carrying of heavy child.
There would be nothing worse than having to carry a heavy child for the ridiculous hour and a half it took to get through American airport security to reach bag collection.
(It took ten minutes at Heathrow. Just saying.)
Top tips for the plane
Book an infant seat if your baby is still under 2 and you think will fit in the seat
Elsie did cry a little bit on the plane, mostly when tired or too hot; restricted from getting off my lap while we waited to take-off and land. But mostly she was quite content.
Once she could go in the infant seat, (which is shaped like a baby bouncer), she went off to sleep.
We timed the flights to coincide with sleeping times, so that obviously helped.
Once the baby is asleep, have yourself a Gin & Tonic.
You’ll need it. The Stewards /esses will be expecting this! We were sat next to parents of an 8 month old. We all simultaneously ordered G&T as soon as the babies were asleep and the drinks came round. Solidarity.
Top tips for the car
We did quite a bit of driving on this trip.
We travelled from Boston to York Beach, where we stayed a few days at the lovely Union Bluff Hotel overlooking Short Sands Beach (for the wedding).
Then journeyed further north to Bar Harbor. A beautiful place in the surroundings of the Acadia National Park. Absolutely breathtaking.
Then we had a long journey back to Boston airport.
- If hiring a car, book a car seat in advance. Preferably from an outlet who know something about them. Turns out the manager at the Avis franchise we used didn’t have kids. This, he explained, meant he didn’t need to know about car seats and how to fit them. Really?
- If your child is a ‘thrower’ like mine, make sure you have toys you can attach to the car seat. It saves your back, and your sanity.
- Bring books too
- Have plenty of snacks for car journeys; and water
- Try to time the journey to include at least one nap
I could go on, but I won’t.
Join me next time, where I will share more about our trip, coping with the time difference, scrapping the routine and how to have fun AND go out, WITH the baby!
I’m just trying to figure out google + so join me there too, if you wish.
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