Sunday, October 19, 2014

Britney's Top Tips for Travelling with a Baby

Snakes on a plane:
marginally less frightening than babies on a plane
It's been a while since I boarded a plane and flew to foreign climes. 18 months to be precise. 

I had a travel ban from my consultant when pregnant so was effectively grounded. Then the fear of travelling with a small tiny tyrant rendered me uninterested in any sort of plane situation. I know many some people trill merrily that: "Babies are just so portable" and that child travel is "So easy! Just wait until they are walking!". I didn't subscribe to this.  When you've spent 6 months living on zero sleep the thought of negotiating a busy airport with a baby that eats every hour is not a pleasant one.

For the woman who never spent longer than 8 weeks on Dubai turf, this travel ban was a total killer. Every time I walked past my (spectacular if I do say so myself) framed world map in the hallway, I sighed despondently. So much of the world still left to see! 

Would I ever quaff fizz in the airport bar whilst waiting to board again? 

Would I ever go wild in the Mac Duty Free aisles again? 
Would I ever sachay through the Dubai E-Gates again? Well - that's actually a tricky one with a child as they still need their passports stamped...humph.

I've blogged before about travel and shared my top tips. Here's an amended version for travelling avec Baby Britney (BB).

Divide and Conquer
If you're travelling with someone else, anticipate the worst case scenario. I'm lucky enough to have never lost my luggage....BUT......just in case: When you're packing, split the absolute necessities across cases. Eg one tub of formula in each, a stack of nappies in each, a handful of food pouches in each. Bless my husband for taking this on the chin and accepting his share of BB's frilly bikini bottoms.

Pick Your Airline Wisely
We paid a bit more to fly Emirates. They have bassinet seats which are a godsend. Even if your baby is too big for the bassinet (BB only just fitted), even if they don't sleep in it (ha!) you can use the bassinet for keeping baby stuff in. Or in our case, wine and gin.

Emirates also go a long way to making the flight more bearable. Mini baby packs with toys, wipes. Infant meals. Generous sevings of wine. Oh and my absolute favourite: they come round with a polaroid camera and take a photo of you as a family! Genius.

Fly During the Day
This will vary by child, but for us, it was a no brainer. BB is mainly awake during the day, so if she misses a daytime nap, it's really not the hugest deal. If she just cat naps in your arms for 40 minutes, this will get her through the rest of the flight.

But at night, in her normal life, she sleeps. When 6.30 pm rolls around, she's begging for bed. She practically cheers as she gets lowered into her cot and goes down like a stone. If, at 6.30 pm, you're experiencing mid-air turbulence and holding her, with bright cabin lights in her face, she isn't going to sleep. And she's going to protest, loudly, about this.

Take Your Routine with You
This is where you'll reap the benefits of your routine and rituals. Babies are malleable little individuals, and if you take all your sleep cues with you and crack them out, you stand a better chance of having a rested time. In our case, bath before bed, bottle, grobag, the white noise app, BB is powerless to resist. Whic brings me onto:

Invest in a Snooze Shade
This genius invention velcros over your pram, creating a lovely, snooze-inducing, dark environment. We cracked out the bedtime routine, popped BB inside the pram with the Snooze Shade covering it, blasted the white noise and voila! Sleeping baby. Ready to be wheeled downstairs to snooze next to us whilst we ate dinner. And drank wine. Best buy ever!

Be Relaxed
Ha! Ha ha ha! Have we met? I can't believe I'm even writing this. Honestly, try to relax. Wine massively helped me onthe plane. Also, baby screaming is surprisingly muffled by the sound of the plane. Who knew? You can barely hear it. I promise you. Which brings me onto:

An Extra Pair of Hands
I am extremely lucky and have a very hands on DH. A whining, teething, crying BB does not phase him one jot. One afternoon I handed her over, scampered down to the pool clutching a bonkbuster and enjoyed two hours on a sunlounger, quaffing wine and losing myself in a Hollywood trash bonkbuster. Imagine! 

I obviously reciprocated when he went to the gym every day, so it worked both ways. But it is worth repeating just how invaluable an extra pair of willing, loving and supportive hands are. When turbulence hits at forty thousand feet and you've been trying to placate the tiny tyrant for an hour, it is bliss to be able to take turns.

So there we go. There's no denying it's a dfferent experience travelling with a baby. And I'd definitely like to supplement this with some weekends away with a girlfriend. But there's something very beautiful about spending relaxed time together with the people that you love most in the whole world. You bond in a way that you don't always have time to when in the daily grind of life.

We went away as three separate people. We came back as a family. I recommend it.

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