Travelling with a baby / toddler has its challenges. Here’s a copious list of dos and don’ts drawn out by a hands-on mommy who recently enjoyed a fabulous get away with her husband and toddler. We hope you to can draw some learnings from her experiences and make your vacation, with your child, a truly memorable one.
Travelling with a toddler is no easy task. Our plane had barely left the tarmac at Stanstead airport that the inevitable question, ‘are we there yet?’ had me send a silent prayer to the same direction the plane headed, up – into the unknown.
There’s a certain comfort of knowing exactly where things are when you have a child with you. Restaurants are usually as far as we go in terms of the ‘unknown.’ Those visits too are planned meticulously – meals, nap times, milk feeds, toilet trips, probable-tantrum timings.
So when we booked our tickets to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, a lot of thought went in to it. And I don’t t just mean the sunscreen, beach towels and toys that made up most of the Ryanair baggage allowance. It was planning for the known, the familiar that made us, in the three week run up to the holiday, slightly unhinged, paranoid parents.
You see were aren’t, or should I say weren’t the overly organised kind of couple but quite the opposite – it was sleep we loved the most. And aspirationally still do – we love taking it easy and it is for this reason that we plan around Anoushka. Child happy and calm = us calm and happy. Whine versus Wine, you get the gist…
So here we were planning a break – away from routines, both hers and ours. But one that would have all the familiar elements that make us all at ease, and make our holiday, a real one.
I started with a trip to our local Waitrose armed with a list of the most unlikely items one would carry for a beach holiday – instant egg noodles, canned tuna, porridge sachets, microwaveable rice. Her meals sorted.
Night 1: I packed a home-cooked chicken and rice meal for her dinner, which she loves and enjoys. Tummy full and restful night meant we could enjoy our sea-facing balcony with a well deserved bottle of red.
Day 1: I bought fresh seafood from the local fish market, pan fried with the microwavable rice
Day 2: Instant egg noodles, tuna and fresh vegetables from the market. And so on…I used what I brought along with me with fresh ingredients that are readily available, anywhere.
Breakfast was included in our stay but I made sure she had a bowl of porridge when she woke up and everything else was a bonus – as it turned out she loved the ham and ate nothing but that.
And when we ate out, which my husband and I did excessively, we ordered seafood, paella or easy finger food for Anoushka which was a much better alternative to the staple fish fingers.
Then came the clothes – bikinis are lovely but the Canaries and especially the island we were visiting is well suited for wind surfers. I bought the body suit ‘sunsafe’ piece which kept her comfortable and screened from the strong sun.
I traded flip flops for Crocs and it was a good decision while it lasted – one shoe fell off her foot as she slept in the Buggy in the airport on the way back . But it has a stronger grip and it’s easy to wash the sand off.
And the buggy – at least for us, was the best alternative to a baby sitter. Anoushka would tire herself out on the beach all day and would take a nap as soon as we put her in the buggy, allowing 2-3 hours in the afternoon for long lunches and some loafing.
It was in all a fantastic trip – I know that because I haven’t stopped looking for options for our next holiday since we got back and this time the search criteria is not ‘baby-friendly, crèche-fitted, sterilising-enabled facilities – but the holiday kind – I think I’ve got the hang of the ‘unknown.’
10 of the most useful things I packed:
- Children’s toothpaste and toothbrush
- Anoushka’s backpack – Pink with Doc McStuffins on it but a handy size for us to carry around with the essentials
- Porridge and rice sachets
- A pan
- iPad – there were moments, yes
- Portable Bluetooth Speakers – for the tunes.
- Inflatable swimming tube and arm bands
- Two swimming costumes – nothing worse than wearing one that hasn’t yet dried under your clothes
10 things I should have packed:
- Baby Monitor
- Insect / Mosquito repellent
- Data roaming pass – it was nice being cut off from the world but how would Facebook know where I am!!
- Baby Oil – dryness cure for us all
- Instant/powdered milk – we reached after shops and the hotel’s restaurant had closed so had to skip Anoushka’s night feed so an alternative would have been ideal
- Band aids
- Paracetamol – easily available, but we did have to wait till 9 the first morning (after the bottle of wine)
- Reservations for the way back – who was thinking of coming back?
- Can’t think of a tenth – Can you?