Winter sun. Ah, the thought.
My mum and I are both people who tend to bloom in the sun and droop in the cold, so when my husband had to go away for 6 weeks with work, we thought we’d take the opportunity to sneak in a week of relative warmth in The Algarve in Portugal. We planned a restful week away, stepping away from the pressures of normal life, breathing in the atlantic breeze and turning our heads to the sun. You know: a holiday!
However, although I’m usually extremely relaxed about travelling, the thought of being responsible, not only for myself but for a SMALL CHILD, sent me into paroxysms of anxiety. The problem being that it is more or less guaranteed that on every journey I make I will forget one item of extreme importance. I spent the week beforehand wondering what that thing would be and surmised that as long as it wasn’t the baby or either of our passports, we would probably be fine.
So the morning of departure arrived and we made our way to the airport in the freezing cold. Me in a dark mood owing to the time of waking (FIVE am), my mum wondering how we could possibly have that many bags, the baby sitting happily because it is her aim to be up all night after all, and the taxi driver delivering a full comedy set, from start to finish, from the front seat.
Bristol airport, I have to say, is a very easy airport to manoeuvre and we had left a reasonable amount of time to get through. The only thing I hadn’t managed to do before leaving was to pack the pram in its flight case, so we dropped the bags off and I set about putting it in. I folded the pram, unzipped the bag, and noticed that there was literally no way that the pram would EVER. get into that bag. I mentioned the dark mood already, and I think it may have been at this point that my mum decided, upon seeing my expression, that it might be wise to take the baby to the other side of the airport and sit down.
I took part of the pram off and tried to put it in the bag again, getting hotter and more frenzied as I went along. More attempts led to more pram debris being spread around the small area that I began to feel was my own. My mum reported that it looked, from where she was sitting, like I was wrestling a large octopus. After about 20 minutes of trying I eventually managed, using my teeth and most other parts of my body, to get the pram into the bag and zip it up. I then had to stand up, brush myself off and give the offending item to the baggage handler who had been quietly waiting. I said ‘I don’t think I’ll be doing that again’. I was quite surprised not to have received a round of applause. As I walked over to where my mum was sitting, I noticed that the piped music was the theme song to ‘Chariots of Fire’.
Once through security, not having much time left after the pram debacle, I went straight to Superdrug to get some essential items and discovered that the item that I had left behind this time was my wallet. YES my entire means of buying ANYTHING whilst abroad had been left behind, whilst the extremely important items such as rubber duck, 45,000 nappies and soothing bedtime CD had been artfully wedged into every available space in my hand luggage.
I was fortunate to be travelling with perhaps the most patient person I know so this ‘minor’ slip up was greeted with a straight face and a can do attitude.
We then realised that our gate was closing and had to run with sandwiches flying in our wake, to the irritation of the flight attendant who wafted us along with her walkie talkie.
Travelling with a baby is no walk in the park, there are so many things to remember. You might be thinking – perhaps this isn’t the best person to be giving me advice about how to travel with my child? And you may be right. But they say that you learn from your mistakes, and better to learn from mine than your own. So here’s my advice:
NB – this applies to a 10 month old baby. God knows what you do when they’re older and I’ve forgotten what you do when they’re younger.
- Make a list and include EVERYTHING on it. Don’t think ‘Keys, wallet, phone don’t need to feature because they’re too obvious and no-one would forget’. There is a small possibility that someone could be stupid enough to forget one of these things.
- Check that you have your passports and boarding cards in your bag every 30 seconds – at least.
- Don’t wear dark colours, they show up sick and snot. Don’t wear light colours, they show up everything else. Wear patterns. And giant sunglasses, so hopefully you won’t be recognised.
- Take snacks for your baby. If your baby even begins to whimper, shove a snack in its direction. The baby will think its their birthday. Win win.
- If you are using equipment you’ve never used before, watch a YouTube video beforehand and practise at home. Don’t practise in the airport. Never practice at the airport.
- Leave 4 hours minimum to get through the airport.
- Take your mum, or your best friend. They are likely to be the only people in the world who will look at all of this carnage in your wake and say… ‘great, let’s get this holiday started!!’