Prior to the birth of our baby girl, my husband and I had no hestiation in travelling anywhere.
Often I would discover a cheap flight and equally affordable accommodation, and would then figure out the rest as the time approached, or even when we got there.
During my pregnancy, we travelled a lot and in preparing to have our baby, we discussed about how we would like to continue travelling once she had arrived. However, at the time we had no idea what that would look like or what it would entail.
Recently we got to discover what travelling with a newborn baby was like, when we travelled to the South West of England for a mini UK break. For reference she was 7 weeks old at the time, which I consider to be very much newborn.
We survived the trip, but the whole process was a little different than before.
Here are some things we did or observed that will hopefully make planning the next trip with a baby much easier:
I am not the most organised in general. I will normally pack the night before and figure things out as I go along. With a baby however you have to be organised. We had booked this trip before we knew I was pregnant, as it was tided in to a job my husband was doing in the area.
During my early maternity leave before our baby arrived, I sat down and booked accomodation, then saved all the details into our electronic calendar including all the postcodes and distances to certain areas. I even went as far as finding the cheapest car parks to use.
As we were packing to leave, I was thanking my former self for doing all of this. Baby brain is seriously real.
In all fairness the planning involved is all centred around the baby. Where do we stop along the way to get her out of her car seat. Where has good baby change facilities and where is best to go with a pram.
What we packed
Pre baby, I’d chuck a few things in a case and be done with the packing. As long as I had my passport (if needed), money, my phone and some clothes I knew I’d be ok.
Before finding out I was expecting a baby, my husband and I used to look at other parents and say “why do people need to cart around so much crap for their children.”
Now we are in the parenthood game, we realise that a lot of the gear that needs to be carted around is actually pretty essential.
So for 1 weekend away (3 night stay) we packed:
1 case for the baby which included:
– 2 packs of 24x nappies (plus a dozen in our change bag)
– Nappy bags
– Clothes (pretty much all the clothes she had as was still in newborn and tiny baby outfits which we didn’t have many of)
– A sleeping sack for night time and a pram suit as it was cold outside
– Baby wipes x 2 packs
– Muslin cloths which are one of my essential items for babies (especially when you have a baby with reflux)
– Dummies (pacifiers) as our baby is LOUD when she cries and she uses a dummy to settle herself to sleep
– Henry the Hedgehog. Our white noise toy which is so effective at getting her to sleep.
– A story book and some sensory toys.
Travel cot. We took our own travel cot, despite knowing that the hotel could provide one. The cot we have from Nuna is amazing and has a bassinet section in it, so it is much easier to lift our baby in and out. It also has a much comfier matress within it. Its also quite compact and fitted easily in our car.
Gro Egg. We use one at home and glad we brought it with us. The room in our hotel dipped to 17 degrees one night, so we knew we needed to dress her in another layer.
Feeding kit- If you are exclusively breastfeeding, then travelling with a newborn may be a little easier. However, if you are bottle feeding may be a little tricker.
I am doing a combination of feeding. Expressing breastmilk and feeding it by bottle.
This means that the amount of feeding equipment I need to bring with me is much greater than many other parents who may just be bottle feeding formula.
In my kit I have 2x manual breast pumps, 2x Hakka silicone breastmilk collector pumps, and Tommee Tippee express and go pouches. I have two of each as I can express in the car in between locations, as we may be travelling several hours before we can sterilise.
At home we have a steam steriliser which was too big to take with us, so we brought milton tablets to sterilise with.
Snacks for the journey. Easy to open and eat snacks such as cereal bars and fruit.
A mini fridge. This was a bit of a luxury item and only needed to store my breastmilk in. During the days we had a insulated cool bag and ice packs, which the hotel froze overnight to keep the milk safe when we were out and about.
A change bag. We tend to use some packing cubes in our bag, and have a few nappies, nappy bags, wipes and a change of clothes in each. This means that when changing our baby we just pull out the packing cube.
A case for us. We packed a few extra clothes for us in the event of a nappy incident, or being vomitted on.
So with all of that, we had to play a bit of car jenga to fit it all in.
Car travel with a baby
When travelling by car with a baby, it is important to plan some stops along the way. You’ll need to do this for a number of reasons. One being that you may need a comfort break yourself, or your baby may need a feed or nappy change.
The other and more important reason is that it is not recommended to have babies sat in car seats for more than 2 hours.
So before we set off we had a look at our route and potential places we could stop. We’d get our baby out and transfer her to the pram and go for a stroll. Places we stopped were pubs for lunch, or service stations (or ikea, which actually has amazing baby change facilities and cheap food!)
We stayed in a premier inn hotel, which was absoultely fine. However, we did miss out on some of the home comforts and so would probably look to book an air bnb or similar next time, as we missed having things like a proper fridge and a microwave. I also felt a bit anxious when my baby kicked off and started crying late in the night.
If you are staying in a hotel, do request a family room and if possible on the ground floor, as it will make your life so much easier.
Lowering your expectations
When travelling, we would often try and cram in doing and seeing a lot. However, with a baby sometimes this isn’t possible. What I learnt from this trip away is that you have to lower your expectations of what you will achieve.
Sure you’d probably like that instagram worthly shot of you and your baby in a scenic location. However, the reality is that your baby may be sleeping, crying or just vomitted all over your lovely new jumper.
During our trip we did manage to see a little bit of Bath and the Cotswolds and it was lovely, but it did feel rushed a lot of the time and that we were trying to make sure our baby was warm enough and that we were near to places we could feed or change her.
What we learnt from this experience
Having gone on this trip it has taught us that travelling with a small person is possible. It is different, but it is possible and we survived.
It also helped us to know what to do next time.
We are soon due to travel back to Northern Ireland for Christmas. This will be a 300 mile trip to the ferry terminal, followed by an 8 hour ferry and another 60 miles to my parents home.
For this trip, we have managed to get some supplies at my parents place, including a second hand pram to use. We have also got an overnight bag for the hotel meaning we don’t have to cart in half our belongings.
We have learnt a lot about ourselves through this mini adventure and we are now looking forward to showing our little girl more of the world.