“We are having a baby” you shout excitedly to your partner, but at the same time think “we had better book that last holiday because once the baby has arrived we won’t be able to travel again for a good few years”…
I know a lot of people might have those thoughts but it really doesn’t have to be that way. In fact I thought the opposite. I couldn’t wait to share my love of travel and adventure with my children and I wanted them to be able to travel as soon as they could so it just became ‘the norm’ for them and they weren’t phased by it at all. My presenting role with ‘A Place in the Sun’ (travelling two weeks every month) meant I had to have that attitude if I wanted to continue with a job that I very much love. I am incredibly lucky to work with such a family friendly team who have allowed me to bring my little ones along each time I travel overseas.
Rocco and Tahlia both had their passport photos taken when they were 14 days old and when they were three weeks old they both started travelling with me, Rocco to Austria, when I took part in the first series of ‘The Jump’ and Tahlia to Palma, Mallorca when I returned to film A Place in the Sun. I had a winter baby and a summer baby. It was easier to travel with a new born in the winter months because I could wrap Rocco up in several layers to keep him warm and then take them off when he got too hot. It was more of a challenge to keep Tahlia cool in 38 degrees. Looking back now it was a little crazy!
Travelling with a new-born is actually pretty easy. They don’t move, they sleep a lot, they don’t take up too much room on the seat and, as long as you give them something to suck on to help their ears equalise when there is a change in pressure, it is usually straight forward. Neither of my two have had a dummies however, Tahlia sucks her thumb so she does that to equalise her ears. When my two were little babies I gave them both a bottle of water or milk for take-off and landing to help equalise and stop them crying. My advice would be travel as much as you can when your children are this age – it’s easy! You really don’t need to pack everything including the kitchen sink because so many things are readily available when you are abroad. Monarch have lots of fantastic family friendly hotels and if you enquire in advance you will find that they can help you and provide you with many of the items you might need.
I’ve found a couple of great products that have changed my life when it comes to travelling with children. One is called the ‘Doona’; a car seat that doubles up as a pushchair and the other is the Baby Jogger City Stroller, a collapsible pushchair that can be stored in the overhead locker on a flight. This is very handy if you have a long walk from the gate to the luggage belt.
You are usually faced with the real travel challenges when your child hits one. They want to move about and walk up and down (and up and down) the aisle. Until they are two, they aren’t old enough to sit in their own seat and their attention can’t be held long enough to watch a film or read a book. It’s an awful feeling for any parent when you get on board a flight with two young children and you can almost hear the people sitting close to you saying ‘oh great we are next to two young kids’! I see it as a challenge and think I want to show these people that children can be quiet and well behaved on a flight.
I NEVER let my children kick the seat in front. It is NOT acceptable and I do think any parent with young children should respect the other passengers around. Take a few books (colouring and reading), pack a few dry snacks, take some form of computer tablet with interactive games and pack as a few little toys if you are flying long haul. Try and keep your children entertained. I love Trunki’s car booster seat that doubles up as a ruck sack. I can store everything I need inside it for a flight and Rocco can even sit on it when we are on board. Best of all Rocco carries it and loves the fact he is being Mummy’s super helper. Rocco was more of a fidget at one compared with Tahlia who seems to be more interested in saying hello to the passengers around her. Every child is different and you never know how they are going to behave on a flight until you try.
There are so many airports with soft plays/or children’s play areas through Europe. It’s worth doing your research to find out if the airport you are departing from has any facilities for children and where exactly they are based in the terminal. They can be extremely helpful to help tire your little ones out a bit before boarding your flight.
Another great thing I have discovered that I would highly recommend when travelling with children is ‘Premium Gatwick’. After your flight, the last thing you want to do it face a long queue at passport control when you get back to the UK. For £12 per passport holder you can fast track passport control when you land. You join a separate queue and pretty much go straight through to collect your luggage. I’m always impressed by this service and would especially recommend booking it during school holiday peak time travel.
Travelling with babies and children really is amazing. It helps with their confidence and they can learn so much. I hope that as my children get older their love of travel and going on adventures will continue.
Below I’ve put together a little list of some useful products that might be worth considering if you are travelling with your little ones.
Top tip travel products
The Doona – A rear facing car seat that turns in to a pushchair.
The Trunki’s Rucksack Seat – a booster seat and ruck sack in one.
Babyjogger City Stroller – a pushchair that folds down to a ruck sack and can be kept in the over head locker on a flight
The Baby Bjorn carrier and travel cot (the easiest out of all I have experienced!)
The Tot Seat – a fabric portable high chair that ties around any chair
SUNUVA – children’s clothing with sun protection (SPF50)