The strangest thing happened when the baby was just two weeks old. Both my grandmother and my grandfather, who hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in over 30 years since they got divorced, they both passed away within days of each other. One funeral was up in Herefordshire, and the other down in Holland. I really didn’t want to miss either, so took the little one with me to both of them!
I wasn’t ready to brave a flight just yet but he was fine in the car. It was a few hours up to Herefordshire, with a few stops on the way to stretch our legs and get some fresh air, do a nappy change and breastfeed. But the motion of the car sent him to sleep for most of the journey so it was a doddle! The journey to Holland was a little bit longer so we had a couple of extra stops, but again he slept for most of it and driving also meant that we could fill the car with everything from his bath float to his bassinet, pram and nappy bag.
By the time he was six weeks old we felt pretty comfortable taking him in the car, and drove down to Cornwall for a long weekend at the Watergate Bay Hotel too (a Beach Retreats cottage is just as family friendly, if you’re looking for a relaxed Cornwall break!).
DRIVING WITH A BABY: WHAT TO PACK
When they’re super tiny, there’s a lot to pack! The largest being the pram / buggy (otherwise just a sling will do) and something to sleep in (the pram bassinet is fine or otherwise a travel cot – unless your end destination can provide one). Then you’ll need clothing for them including outdoor wear, some nappies and wipes to last you until you have access to more, muslin cloths, the breast pump and charger if you’re using one plus bottles, blankets for sleeping under and perhaps even their lullaby toy, dummies if they’re using them, baby wash plus something to bathe them in. Instead of schlepping around the baby bath I just packed this lightweight bath float instead which you can use in both a sink or bath. Because of all this gear, the car really is the easiest way to get around!
FLYING WITH A BABY
By the time he was a couple months old and a bit more resilient, I felt brave enough to take him on flights with me, even on my own without anyone with me to help! When flying, I would leave the buggy at home entirely and travel only with a sling, my hand luggage and the baby’s hand luggage (which is plenty – you don’t want to be carrying any more than that!). I’d make sure there was a travel cot set up wherever we were going so that I wouldn’t have to carry one with me. And as I wasn’t breastfeeding anymore I also didn’t have to worry about bringing the breast pump and attachments.
Most airport will have a family-friendly airport security queue where the wait time is shorter, and you’re not rushed once it’s your turn.
When going through airport security you’re actually allowed to take a couple of bottles of milk with you (whether breastmilk or formula). In fact, you can even take up to 2 litres of pumped milk or formula through security with your. If you need more you can reserve and collect prepared baby milk & food to pick up after security. You can also bring other liquids (up to 100ml) like Calpol and baby shampoo.
If your baby is formula fed you have the added advantage of also being able to bring formula powder with you in your suitcase (in a zip lock bag or Tupperware is easiest and takes up less space).
The easiest way around the airport is with the baby in the sling, but some airports also offer buggies you can borrow.
Many airports also have play areas, or otherwise it might be worth booking into a lounge.
TIPS FOR FLYING
You’ll want to keep a full bottle of milk handy for on the plane, so you can feed your baby while the plane takes off and again when the plane lands, as the swallowing helps to avoid their ears from popping. You’ll also want to book a flight that coincides with nap time so they might even fall asleep on the bottle with take-off.
If your baby is a few months old already and requires some entertainment then just have their favourite toy handy and download an episode of In The Night Garden or similar onto your phone in advance in case of emergencies.
You can carry them in the sling all the way through the airport, through security and onto the plane, you just need to buckle them into their baby seatbelt (which an airline attendant will hand you) when it comes to take-off.
TRAVELING SUPER LIGHT: WHAT TO PACK
You’ll obviously need to pack a blanket, some muslins plus all the clothes they’ll need, plus milk and nappies for the journey, but that’ about it! As long as you’re traveling with them in the sling and there’s a cot set up where you’ll staying then you won’t need to bring much else. Formula, baby food and additional nappies and wipes you can always pick up at the other end. And in terms of bathing, you can always bathe them in the sink and borrow a regular towel! You’ll thank yourself for carrying around less stuff.