Well, we survived our first family holiday abroad. There were a lot of raised eyebrows and aghast looks when we mentioned to some people that we were planning on taking the little man abroad. Holidays were ‘our thing’ before little B came along, we’ve been lucky enough to travel to some amazing places and wanted to continue to share these experiences as a family.
We knew it would be a very different sort of holiday, and travelling with an 8 month old probably wasn’t going to be a lot of fun. But in the end we were pleasantly surprised. I think having got in the mindset that it would be tough, and not very relaxing meant that we’d set our expectations low!
So off we trotted blurry eyed on two hours sleep to the airport for an early morning flight to sunny Spain. Two suitcases, a cheap stroller (in case it got mangled on the plane), a car seat (rather than trusting those out there) and hand luggage filled with enough toys and nappies to cater for an entire baby group in tow. We’d booked an early morning (6am) flight thinking (hoping, praying) that he may go back to sleep. Not a chance. The bright lights of the airport and crowds unsurprisingly really woke him up, so we ended up with an overtired baby going out. But it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I expected it to be. I breastfed him on take off and landing and he didn’t have any trouble with his ears, one of the best tips someone told me. He got a bit fed up of our company half way through but a very kind lady helped keep him amused. Our return flight was much better, 11am so about when he was due a nap.
As soon as we landed and picked up our hire car he fell asleep for the next leg of the journey. We’d hired a villa with our own pool in the hills outside of a little town called Competa – one of the best decisions we made. It was so well equipped and set up perfectly for us. I was able to make and freeze him up dinners just like at home. We soon got into a routine and although (no surprise) his sleep at night continued to be challenging (it had been terrible again in the weeks leading up to going away) he did at least nap well during the day. On a few days he napped for two hours straight. Amazing. We had time to relax, drink a beer and read a book. My friend had lent me one of those sun shades / black out covers for the stroller, they are brilliant, a definite must for taking abroad. We spent most days around the pool, our friends joined us for a couple of days which was lovely and we did attempt the beach one day. We ate out a few times, mostly around his dinner times so he could eat with us, which he loved, the Spanish are so family friendly it made it such an enjoyable experience. We also visited the caves in Nerja, which he absolutely loved. It got us out of the heat too, the whole time we were away it was in the 30’s. The villa had an outdoor kitchen with a BBQ and pizza oven, so as soon as he was in bed we got to relax a bit together outside in the evening sun.
I’m so glad we did it, I think the first time you travel abroad is always going to challenging but at least we’ve done it now, we know what to do differently next time and what worked well. Anyone considering whether to do it or not, don’t think about it, just do it. Life’s too short to not give things a go.
Here’s a few things I found really helpful.
- Microwave steriliser bags, a brilliant invention and save a lot of luggage space.
- Feed on take off and landing on the plane.
- Don’t bother taking lots of clothes for baby. We luckily had a washing machine so could wash things through but if he wasn’t in his sun suit he was in the shade in just his nappy. Or naked. He loves to be naked this boy.
- Don’t take an expensive pushchair. We bought a Chicco stroller for about £60 (which he appears to love) that reclines so he could nap in it, we weren’t worried about it going in the hold then.
- If you have a sling, take it. They are really useful for when you’ve landed and are waiting for your luggage. We put ours in our hand luggage.