The Baby and the Travel Bug
As a sit here in my hotel room in Albania writing this blog, we are part way through our incredible road trip through Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro with our 3-year-old.
By now you’re all probably very aware of my fondness for the beach and seaside. Well surprise surprise but I feel much the same about travel! I want to say at the onset of this post that babies and travel are awesome! As much as new parents freak out at the idea of taking a newborn any further than the local playground or to mummy classes in their first six months, I can assure you that travel with a little one is the best thing in the world, and completely doable.
But back to my zest for travel and keenness for the wind in my hair, Thelma and Louise style! I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that the travel bug hit me, suffice to say that when it did, it happened in a big way! A typical Australian gal with a hunger to see further afield, I started travelling from eighteen years of age, and to this day I haven’t stopped. I guess it’s why the UK appealed so much. I had the best of both worlds - I could live here legally and I could get on a train to Paris or fly to Italy within a few hours. Just that thought alone blew me away. “Mini getaways” took on a whole new meaning when compared with my former years in Oz (unless you only ever wanted to go to New Zealand which is the only place you can get to in sub 3 hours).
I met my Scottish husband here five years ago and our little girl followed two years later. We were constantly told by knowing folk that life would change so much when we had our daughter, and to be completely honest, this scared the shit out of us. We had lived so many of our adult years doing what WE wanted when WE wanted, so we were a little concerned our travel plans might be thwarted by the arrival of our little bubba.
In fact, it turned out to be the complete opposite. She had her first plane at three weeks old; she also accompanied us on our honeymoon in Italy at three months old. Her passport will have more stamps in it by age five than mine did at eighteen. And she continues to be our travel buddy on all our overseas adventures to this day (three years on).
Sure, logistically, travelling with a baby or toddler means a huge amount of luggage is required - I liken it to moving house over and over and over again – and isn’t the easiest thing to do (and neither is travelling on a 24 hour flight solo with a toddler) but introducing her to new countries and cultures is just incredible. And for anyone who loves a good mini-holiday, the joy of travelling as a family and going abroad far outweighs any trip to a local farm or soft play centre.
When you go from a ‘team of two’ to a ‘team of three’ there are many dynamics that change. But there’s one thing doesn’t change. I’m a firm believer that holding onto my passion for travel has made me a better version of myself, and a better mummy to my daughter.
And this is why I’ve put together a handy list of things I would recommend for those brave parents who want to boldly go where no family has gone before. I’ve also suggested some brands I swear by, I don’t get paid by these brands to endorse them, I just share what our family loves personally.
- A cheap, lightweight stroller – our bugaboo weighs 23kg and we learnt the lesson the hard way that it isn’t great for getaways.
TIP: Mothercare offers an amazing lightweight and cheap stroller that packs down easily and comes in a variety of colours. And given I’ve had one friend have theirs stolen on the return trip from abroad, it’s probably best not to travel with your ultra fancy buggy just in case.
- A lightweight travel cot – we love the Phil and Ted travel cot as it can fit into a standard sized suitcase and weighs less than 3kg. It’s a total must-have for the enthusiast traveller or camper. https://philandteds.com/uk/Products/Sleep/traveller#.XOeLRchKhyw
- Back up meals - on any flight or at any point in time while away, you’re likely to have a moment when they refuse to eat the “kids meal”. Always pack one or two of their favourite staples so you know you can get out of a food pickle! (Get it...pickle...food!)
TIP: Babease pouches are incredible. The kids love them and they’re also great if you become stuck for food choices in a random country filled with cuisines your toddler has never dabbled in before. https://www.babease.co/
- An inflatable bath. Now, this may sound like a random one, but for anyone who has a baby who isn’t a fan of showers and hasn’t booked a room with a bath, a little inflatable bath is so compact and is handy (and a novelty for the baby) I can’t recommend this highly enough. https://www.munchkin.co.uk/white-hot-inflatable-safety-duck-bath.html
- Bring an oversized pencil case – fill it with colouring pens, crayons and books to keep them entertained on the plane.
- Sticker books - just like pencils and crayons, stickers can keep toddlers amused for ages! And it’s not like you have to pull the stickers off your fancy home furniture after they’ve stickers the whole area.
- One absolute fav toy or teddy bear - we always make sure to travel with one of her favourite items. It might be a teddy she can snuggle up to when it’s nap time or her latest toy of the month, but having one of their favourite things gives her a reassuring comfort that things are still the same wherever we go.
- And finally - if they’re smaller (pre-toddler), take extra muslin cloths and more nappies and sterilising tablets than you ever think you’ll need. One bestie got forced to do a nine-hour stopover during a 24-hour long haul back from Oz. Had she not packed extra of those items she would have had to work out where to buy them in Dubai. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
TIP: If you’re doing a long haul flight like the UK to America or the UK to Australia, consider ringing the airline in advance to find out if they have formula and nappies as a backup. When travelling on Emirates for the long haul, I’ve found they had both, and the staff were incredibly helpful.
People often use kids as an excuse not to do the things they really used to love. But the reality is, we were people before we were parents and giving our children the experience of travel from such a young age is an incredible gift to pass on. It helps them understand different cultures, get used to assimilating I’m different environments, taste new cuisines, and understand that the world is filled with a plethora of languages, smells, colours and people. And all of these things are worth their weight in toddler gold.
Here is to love, laughs and adventures with your little ones