After initially agreeing to only holiday in the UK with our new baby, we made it three months before we were discussing how we would use the rest of my husband’s annual leave for the year. We had already set aside when the leave would be taken. We needed some time for travelling to a wedding in Spain, and the rest was evenly spaced out around this. We had planned for two weeks in November and we were discussing what we might do with this time. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves booking a long haul flight to the Caribbean having never travelled more than an hour or so with her. Our motto had changed from “Lets travel as much as we can before we have children” to “Lets travel as much as we can before she’s two and we have to start paying for a seat for her”.
As the time came closer and the weather started to cool, and the days shorten we began the countdown to our fabulous holiday. We’d flown to Spain with her in September and this had been a predominantly good experience. She still isn’t crawling so we weren’t too worried about her getting too stir crazy on the flight. November came around and on the Friday before the flight we planned to travel down to the airport so there was no rush and stress the next morning.
The packing was slow and painful. Having left it to the last minute and then developing a cold meant I could only pack in short bursts. Not to mention Amelia having only short naps those couple of days further hampering my efforts to pack. It was finally completed in the hour before we left home. Again we were laden down with baggage. The husband asked which was his hand luggage bag. As I explained the contents of each I realised they were all for Amelia!
The night prior to the flight was pretty terrible. Amelia woke a couple of times screaming until she finally settled after some Paracetamol. We woke to her having very sticky red eyes. She was again screaming and unsettled. More Paracetamol was administered. As we walked through the airport I felt faint and awful. At this point in time panic was setting in and I was wondering what had we done. Was this the biggest mistake we’d ever made.
I had ordered baby food, milk, swimming nappies and a couple of other bits from Boots. This was after some research that suggested it was useful to order online and collect from the Boots after airport security. In the end this was really useful. Just make sure you take a spare bag to put it all into. The other recommendation would be to ensure this is done with plenty of time to go. They require at least 5 days from order to delivery as it also involves the products having to be security checked. Do not pick the same date for pick-up as your flight. Choose a date at least 1-2 days in advance. Once you complete the order it tells you that collection time is from 12noon on that date thus not helpful if you have a morning flight. I spent a long time picking what to buy to see this note after putting our departure date as the day for collection. I then spent some time on the phone discussing this for it to be clarified that you need 5 days for turnaround from order to collection, no I can’t change my pick-up location to my local store, and no I couldn’t cancel the order. The only alternative should it not be there to collect would be for it to not be picked up within their two week time frame and then I would be refunded. As luck would have it I had a message on the Wednesday to confirm it was ready for collection.
The flight was great. Amelia was just fine. No major meltdown just a couple of few minute long whinges when it was naptime. She napped three times – two in the bassinet and once on Daddy. She ate lunch, smiled and waved at other passengers, and watched Mickey Mouse cartoons on the screen. On the return overnight flight it was a little tougher. There was a little turbulence, and we found that each time she shuffled about she would half wake and whinge a bit. I was worried about irritating the sleeping passengers around us and used my breast as a dummy several times. In the end she had the most sleep of the three of us and slept well the night of our return.
The holiday itself was lovely. The resort was beautiful and the weather amazing. Amelia went in the pool a couple of times each day. We had booked an all-inclusive trip so that we didn’t need to worry about anything. On the whole Amelia was a really good girl who spent the trip practicing her waving, learning to clap and ‘Hi-five’.
What were the downsides of travelling with an 8-month old? The time difference – I had read that babies are pretty good at making the transition. Amelia changed her body clock by two hours – ready for bed at 5-5.30 and ready to get up at 5-5.30. She woke during the night and I think this was partly a fine balance between her being too warm or too cold. I wasn’t sure if the air conditioning was making her mouth dry too. Naptimes were much less regular or predictable. At home she would normally nap in her cot but here she was not so keen. It was also much harder to get her to sleep in her buggy. Lots of walking and rocking required. Tired Amelia was not my favourite Amelia, and it left me feeling grateful for just how good a girl she really is! She had made a decision that she would not sleep throughout a meal. We had to hurry meals at times. It would have been great if the hotel had offered room service. I think we would have taken this up a couple of times just to let her have a really good sleep. Finally, something that I just wouldn’t have thought about in advance was where I could safely put her down. The room had a tiled floor and around the pool a concrete/stone floor. So to allow her time to sit she needed to be on the bed or on a sunbed with supervision and an arm ready to grab her at all times! I had a picnic blanket and this was helpful on the sand to allow her a bit of time to sit and have tummy time and practice her movement. It was fine until she reached the end of the mat and started eating sand! She ended up head to toe in sand!
I think each age and stage of development provides its own challenges. I did think that had it have been a month or two ago that we went it may have been a different experience. She has become pretty settled in a routine nowadays and we disrupted that. Nevertheless we both agreed that it wouldn’t stop us from travelling with her again. It just might involve us altering what features we look for in our accommodation. It was a great experience and created some lovely memories. We got to spend some great time together as a family!
Do you have any tips for travelling with babies?