If your first child is under one and you are thinking twice about going on holiday, don’t delay. Book it now!
When you become a parent every first seems daunting.
Just a trip out of the house requires packing up a whole sackful of paraphernalia you never used to have to think about. So it’s no wonder the idea of having to remember everything they would need for a whole week, or more, and transport it miles from home – according to airport regulations – makes you want to hide under the bed.
But honestly, while your child is under 12 months there is never going to be an easier time to get away from it all and enjoy a break. If you miss that window, it could be another 15 years before you can ever truly enjoy a ‘holiday’ of your own again. And that’s assuming you don’t have any more kids…
We just returned from a week of sun, sea and sand in Greece with my 19-month-old daughter. Thanks to the two hour time delay we were able to enjoy lie-ins (well, when she woke at her usual 6.30am it was actually 8.30am), long, lazy days playing in the sand and splashing in the pool, and dining out as a family in restaurants every night.
It was a lovely holiday. But there was little time to ourselves, even to read a book or just lounge around.
Our travelling companion kept us constantly busy. As a paddling playmate, a construction worker building sandcastles, a stone-collecting assistant (she was very undiscerning as to which were worth keeping, which meant having to drop a trail out of the pushchair everyday on our way back from the beach) and a jester entertaining her at table. Not to mention having to be on the alert for every time she made break for it towards the sea, the pool, the road. You may not see any danger close by, but somehow they always find it.
It was our third trip abroad with her, and this latest journey made me realise just how easy the first two had been.
I had dithered and worried about how difficult it would be, but before she was one, travelling truly was a holiday.
Flying with a baby was a breeze. And her toddler tantrum on our home-bound flight this time made me understand it is only going to become more of an endurance task from now on.
A baby is just an extra piece of hand luggage. Not to mention the fact that infants travel free, or at a reduced rate.
Babies sleep all the time. And cuddled up on your lap in the dull confines of a plane they are more than likely to snooze through most of the flight. The younger and smaller they are, the less uncomfortable it will be for you. Flight staff will even offer to warm food or milk for you.
You can feed a suckling baby during take-off and landing to ease any ear-popping discomfort. As they get older they become more aware of the change in gravity and although they can’t yet understand it, they can still complain.
Airport security can seem a hurdle at the best of times. It is no wonder a new parent would worry about tackling it with a baby and all their kit in tow. But they really do do everything to help parents with young children.
Families go through a separate security queue where staff are prepared for babes-in-arms, buggies, changing bags, baby food and even water in baby bottles.
Children get extra baggage allowances for all their equiptment and most airlines let you keep your buggy until you board the plane. And major airports even have temporary buggies for you to use when you get off. With a young baby, taking a sling is also a good idea – so you don’t end up having to carry them the whole time in a long passport security queue. But again, you will often be fast-tracked.
Before children are fully mobile they are a perfect travel accessory.
You can wheel them around, then park them in the shade to sleep while you lie back and read a book or take a dip in the pool. And you can be confident they will still be in the place you left them.
They also make much better dining companions. They can sleep through that as well, or just eat their own food – rather than expecting you to order them a meal, or worse still scoffing all of yours.
You may worry about keeping your child’s routine in place when you travel. But the younger they are, the shorter their routine cycle will be, and therefore the easier to maintain.
The older a child gets, the more they will dictate what you do. A baby is still just along for the ride.
So don’t miss the boat, or the plane in this case. Get your baby a passport and get jet-setting.
Wish I was there…