Back in September last year we decided to take our first family holiday abroad and as soon as I got back I started writing this blog post and then.. well you know the rest! Going on holiday as a family is something that I’ve looked forward to for years. As a child we were very lucky to be able to go on holidays and as a teen I didn’t really get out and about as much. As a result, I now have a massive urge to travel and it’s something I that I want us to be able to explore the world as a family in order for us to see different cultures.
I’ve always had visions of us all playing in the pool, jumping in the sea, exploring the different cultures and stuffing our faces with ice cream. (On this occasion it was just Craig and I eating them but I’ve no doubt that Charlotte will be grabbing them out of our hands next time!).
When I was speaking with family and friends prior to going away and explaining that we were taking Charlotte away at 4 months old, I got such a mixed bag of responses. Some people were saying it was the best age to take children abroad because they couldn’t crawl or walk and others were saying that I was insane for attempting to take a baby on a plane.
In all honestly, the travelling aspect wasn’t too bad! I found the luggage carrying and dropping off the biggest challenge as I had to make sure Charlotte was happy at the same time as checking in. Airport security were really helpful putting us in a priority line, I did, however, forget to take my phone out of my pocket which added extra checks for me (I blame baby brain).
I would definitely recommend trying to get as much of your luggage put into the hold as you can because it makes life so much easier when you’ve got a pram and are constantly stopping and starting! We bought a Silver Cross Pop prior to going away which I was advised was perfect at any age for holidays (it was spot on). I did buy a little insert so that it was easier for Charlotte to stay strapped in and it doubled up as a device to keep her cool too. It was perfect! You are also able to keep the pram with you right up to the steps of the plane so again, not having suitcases it’s so much easier than trying to carry a baby and suitcase up the stairs (it was windy as hell when we went so I wish that we had put the cases in the hold!).
Throughout the 2 and a half hour plane journey Charlotte was absolutely awesome, she just breastfed most of the way as I knew that it would help her stay settled. I was very on edge about making sure that I did what I could stop her from crying but as Craig always reminds me, she’s a baby and they cry and we all deserve a holiday!
We were travelling to Spain where my parents have a villa an hour away from Alicante and we therefore needed to use a hire car – luckily I booked this before and we sailed right through. We chose to take our own car seat and put it a car seat bag with the isofix base attached so that it classed as one piece of luggage. (The seat needs to be dropped off at a separate bit to the rest of your cases go therefore make sure you factor this in if you’re taking it with you).
As soon as we put Charlotte in the car at around 10pm, she flipped! I think the fact that she was already in a good routine with her sleeping and that it was dark outside completely confused her. She screamed the whole way. (Although the price is normally higher for daytime flights, I’ve booked them for our next holiday as I just want to try and keep her routine where I can in order for us to relax a little bit more!). The drive was a nightmare but luckily my parents were already waiting for us, the cot bed was set up and she settled really quickly.
I was really nervous about the temperature before we went away as I’d seen that it was still about 30 degrees but it turned out to be more like 25 which was fine as we just kept her in the shade and little dips in the pool. One note – if you’re going somewhere hot you will not need as many clothes for the baby as you originally thought as they will spend most of the time in their nappy! I took far too many and she didn’t wear half of them! I thought that the heat would make her more sleepy during the day and I don’t know whether or not it was the fact that she was going through a leap but her naps were quite hard work during this time and I was grateful of the extra help so that we could take it in turns pushing her in the pram whilst we were out and about or better still, trying to eat a meal! We quickly worked out that we would need to start going out for food earlier whereas when she was still a new born it didn’t really matter. One thing is for sure. Charlotte loves a routine.
Staying in a villa was brilliant as it meant that we could do what we wanted when we wanted, we knew the area well, made sure we knew when the supermarkets and chemists were open and we were all set. We have booked to go back this year in June and we have also booked a hotel for a holiday to Menorca but we’ve made sure we’ve got more of an apartment as I think it’s so important to be able to sort out food when you need to as well as having the extra space.
The feeling of being able to just go somewhere as a family and enjoy some time together was definitely worth it. The absolute highlight of the holiday for me was taking Charlotte in the pool and the sea. My Dad bought her a little flamingo inflatable for the pool and it was just amazing watching her and Craig having some quality time together.
If you’re considering going away with your baby, don’t be put off by what other people say. It works out so much cheaper to take them before they turn 2 so I’m taking advantage and making the most out of it before the prices get daft! You just need to plan ahead and just be chilled if the plans for the day don’t always go to plan (pretty much the same as at home!).
My top tips for going on holiday abroad are –
- Plan ahead, make a list and pack as you go. I started a few weeks before so and just kept buying bits that I thought of as I went along.
- Try and get all of your luggage in the hold if you can as you want to keep your arms free!
- Where you can try and get daytime flights if your baby likes a routine. If you can’t get your baby in their PJ’s so that the transfer is easier once you get to your accommodation!
- Cover your baby up as much as possible when you’re out in direct sunlight and try and avoid midday to be out. Invest in a snooze shade, a parasol is a nightmare when it’s really sunny.
- Ask for help – we ended up having a lovely man help us in the airport with our bags as we weren’t able to get them in the hold.
- Do your research and find out where the nearest chemists and supermarkets are.
- Stock up on supplies after you’ve gone through security at the airport so that you don’t have to look for them as soon as you get there.
- Pack items for insect bites, just in case, we didn’t need anything but I wanted to make sure if I did, the items were baby friendly. They were very useful for me as I was breastfeeding and therefore couldn’t use antihistamines that much! A mosquito net will come in handy too.
- Take each day as it comes and enjoy it!