I think we've established at this stage that I've been bitten by the travel bug good and proper, yes? So many people ask me how things have changed since the arrival of our five little ones and the honest answer is, not by much.
Organisation is still key and, while I'm not advocating you feel bad about not venturing outside your door for the first year of motherhood, I am advocating that you give it a shot. Here's my top tips that've seen all seven of us around the world twice over.
· Don’t think about it! If you do it will overwhelm you and you won’t bother going anywhere. A little preparation & organisation can transform a rushed stressed journey into a calm & somewhat relaxing experience.
· Completely empty out your change bag before travel & then repack only essential items. Do the same with your handbag if you are using one separate to the change bag. Saves a whole lot of stressed rummaging.
· If you are using formula for baby most supermarkets now sell pre sterilised teats & pre-made formula bottles. Stock up on these for your journey.
· Always pack extra nappies, wipes & feeds in your carry on in case of delays to flights, ships etc.
· If flying, distribute babies nappies, formula (if using) & clothes throughout all checked in bags, so if one bag goes missing you have enough to take care of baby for a few hours at least.
· Aim to get to the airport very early, so you can feed & settle baby before flight. Ours usually just sleep for the duration of the flight after a feed, even long haul flights. One time we were queuing for our flight to NYC, when we were approached by a member of Aer Lingus staff. We were told our flight had been cancelled due to bad weather closing in at JFK but seeing as we were at the airport early & we had twin babies would we like to be bumped up to the flight that was leaving in the next 30 minutes. I think we all know the answer to that one.
· For long haul travel get there early so you are first to check in to request the bulk head seat as this has a bassinet, where baby can sleep. You will also have extra leg room in these seats. It’s very handy to have your change bag at your feet throughout the flight.
· For toddlers have something for them to chew or suck for takeoff & landing like a lolly pop, for babies use a soother or their bottle. This prevents their ears popping.
· Distraction is key for travelling with babies & toddlers. I usually make up a little party bag for each of them to keep them entertained for the first hour. I include a lolly pop, little sticker/ colouring book with crayons, small toy & some jellies. Then in my carry on bag I have other things like a new picture book, new car/doll. Snacks & lots of them, anything like raisins, halved grapes, strawberries or carrots you have chopped or bought pre prepared.
· Easier said than done but try not to stress as baby picks up on it & then it’s just a vicious circle of panic & stress. Deep breaths have saved lives. True story.
· I always pack a couple of sachets of Calopl in my carry on in case of high temperatures during the journey.
· Layer clothes on babies & toddlers as flights can get quite hot. We usually end up with baby in just a nappy & vest.
· Pack a spare set of clothes for babies & toddlers in your carry on also include a top for yourself, accidents can & do happen!
My advice is thus, you and your little people have as much right to see this world as anybody else. Travel as much and as often as you can before they're 2, while you only have to pay taxes for them on your knee. Our girls were Stateside 12 times before their second birthdays!
When you step onto the plane and receive the blanket death stare, you stare right back, unapologetically. You know you're prepared and you know you know how to parent your children. You got this.
Take it as read that I'm highly, HIGHLY recommending you look at travel with the love and longing you did pre-babies. The world is literally your family's oyster and the only thing holding you back is fear of the unknown. I can't recommend enough broadening their (and your) horizons from as young an age as possible. Sure ye may as well be a little bit rattled while seeing the big wide world as while seeing Oprah reruns of an afternoon, right?
I'd love to know if you've travelled with your little ones and even more importantly, what tips would you add to my list?