My husband and I have always loved going on holiday and visiting new places. We were determined that this wasn’t going to change when we had a baby boy in May 2010. Therefore we embarked on our first holiday abroad with a baby in September 2010 when he was 5 months old. Although we only ventured as far as Jersey, this was a great ´test´ for us to enable us to see how holidays with our new addition would be.
Here are a few of my thoughts on making your baby´s first holiday a success.
1. Change your expectations!
You are still going to have to do night feeds, naps and early morning starts when you go on holiday with your baby. You aren´t going to be able to have a lie in until 10am (unless you are very lucky!) or be able to lie round the pool for hours – but this doesn´t mean that you aren´t still going to have a great time. Babies change your perspective on everything and the joy you will get from seeing them experience new things for the first time will more than make up for it. Accept that you are entering a new era of holidays now with your new family, and embrace the change that this brings.
2. Plan your flights carefully.
I´ve heard a lot of horror stories about taking babies and toddlers on a plane, but with a bit of careful planning this needn’t be an issue. I look for flights which depart at a reasonable time, and airlines with a decent bag allowance and family friendly seating policy. It does take longer to get through the airport with a baby due to the additional time taken to check in, take car seats etc to the oversized baggage area, get through security etc but if you factor this time into your journey you shouldn´t arrive at the plane a nervous wreak.
3. Picking the right baby friendly accommodation – which is right for us too!
We’ve always liked staying in nice places when we go on holiday. By nice, I don’t mean 5* hotels with all the bells and whistles but smaller, more intimate places which provide us with a good service, comfortable accommodation and opportunity for us to explore the place we are visiting. After we had our baby, we felt that self catering would offer us more flexibility and space than a hotel room, and have been surprised by the high quality of baby friendly self catering apartments and cottages which exist. My ‘must have’ list when looking for a baby friendly place to stay includes a cot and high chair included in the price of the price of the accommodation and a separate bedroom for the baby to sleep in (this is just a personal preference, but we always find we sleep better when we weren’t all sleeping in the same room). Additional equipment such as microwave, washing machine, steriliser helps makes things easier too as reduces the amount we have to pack and transport around.
4. Find something for you to do on a night too.
When we were looking for somewhere to stay with our baby in Jersey, one of our criteria was to find somewhere to stay with ´something for us to do on a night´. Our son went to sleep at 7pm (ish!) and we wanted to be able to relax and have a bit of a holiday ourselves. We chose to stay at Les Ormes Log Cabins which had a hot tub for us to use in the evening – perfect! On subsequent holidays, we´ve looked for places which have bbq´s so we can eat outside after the baby´s bedtime.
5. Find our about baby friendly things to do in the local area
Babies and toddlers need entertaining! I found it useful to have a rough list of baby friendly activities we could enjoy whatever the weather when we went to Jersey. This involved trips to the Durrell Wildlife Park where our son ogled at all the animals, finding out about nearby parks and also making the most of Jersey´s legendary beaches. Do a bit of research beforehand and you will make the most of your holiday.
Make the most of them being a baby!
When our son was 5 months old, he always had a luncthtime nap. This meant that we had 2 hours when we could go out for a nice uninterrupted lunch with our son asleep in his pushchair. These long leisurely lunches don´t happen now he is an active toddler who doesn´t need a nap anymore!
What was your experience of taking your baby abroad for the first time? Please add your comments below and let me know if you have any advice for fellow parents.