Travelling Solo with a Baby

Everyone who knows me knows travel is important to me, I wouldn’t be who I am without it. It’s always been my plan that my children would travel as much as they could as often as they could. Just because Tom left, I don’t see why that should change. Don’t get me wrong it makes it a little harder, doing it by yourself, having to save for so much longer but the passion remains. I knew I wanted to take Zak on a plane this year and I knew it would be something we had to work towards not something we could just do on a whim because I wanted to do it just the 2 of us. My parents worried about me doing it by myself but I was determined.

So,I decided to book us a little trip to Ireland. It meant only 1hours flight, somewhere they spoke English and somewhere we would both enjoy whatever the weather with no huge culture shocks. The last thing I wanted to do was overwhelm either of us but the main part of this trip was the plane element and getting around without a car and being without all the home comforts we have. That last bit makes it sound like we were roughing it for a couple of night’s but we really weren’t– we were in a lovely hotel with swimming pool and everything we could ever need! What I meant was the comforts of baby stuff. Let’s face it babies come with a lot of stuff and you can’t take all that with you so it was about working out what essentials we could live with and what items we could live without.

Ireland was absolutely the right choice for our first solo trip. Cork is a beautiful city, very easy to get around and the hospitality of the Irish never ceases to amaze me. Nothing was too much for any of them, they couldn’t do enough to help us, several people would just stop us in the street and comment on what a happy baby Zak is.

Perhaps one of my favourite parts of our trip to Ireland and a memory I shall treasure forever was when we ate out for dinner 1 night. I decided we were going to brave it and eat in a nice restaurant just the 2 of us. We have eaten in restaurants lots of times but normally with other people and lots to entertain him and when we have been on our own it’s just been a tea & cake kinda situation. This time I upped the antics and chose a really nice restaurant and we ate early around his usual dinner time of 5pm. He was bloody incredible. He sat in his highchair opposite me, read his book, played with his toys and because he eats everything I could confidently order a dish for us to share and some extra veggies, which we devoured.

It might seem silly to some people that this was an achievement, but I was so proud of how well he behaved, he drank out of a normal glass of water, he didn’t scream or cry once, he sat there good as gold chatting and playing and in fact 3 different people in the restaurant commented on how well he behaved, bearing in mind at the time he was only 10 months. It was the first time I felt like I was getting the parenting thing right, which I get sounds a bit ridiculous but not having someone there to ask for advice, I worry all the time if I am doing the right thing. I think the fact so many people commented on how good he was whilst we were away made me realise that actually it probably is down to the hard work I am putting in. I believe kids are a product of their environment and if we raise them with love and respect they will give that back. Let’s face it parenting is probably the most stressful thing we put ourselves through in life and we are permanently questioning if we are doing it right.

When we were on this trip he suddenly seemed so grown up and the whole trip he was just so happy & charming, the Irish adored him and everyone was so incredibly helpful and accommodating, it was a breeze.

Sure we had 1 bad night of teething and I ended up walking round the hotel lobby at 5am rocking him in his pushchair to try & get him back off to sleep as he had been up 3 hours; but all in he bossed it. He is so much laid back and adaptable than I give him credit for and he is content as long as he is entertained. The trip taught me that yes travelling with a baby is different, they obviously come first and holidays won’t be how they used to be but actually with a bit of preparation & patience they can be just as much fun and so incredibly rewarding.

My top tips:

  • Take the buggy to the gate, particularly if your baby isn’t on the move yet as it’ll be sods law your gate will be the furthest away and if my child weighs a tonne, I already have a bad back I don’t need it added to! It’s easy enough to collapse at the steps to the plane, they stick it in the hold then you can just board

  • Take ALL the snacks – best tip a fellow single mum gave me! Pack enough snacks for what you would normally have on a day out and then double it. Zak is never happier than when he’s eating!

  • Choose your flight times – I appreciate this may not be possible for every flight but I paid a little more to have flights that wouldn’t interfere with his routine too much. Our flight out was lunchtime and flight back was his dinner time which was perfect as once we were seated and strapped in I just fed him. (sandwiches& cold foods were easiest)

  • Adapt their routine accordingly – if they aren’t going to be able to have their usual naptime or probably won’t have it as long as you’ll be out and about just adjust the other nap. For example, on our last day I knew Zak probably wouldn’t have his usual 2hr lunchtime nap as we would be checking out of the hotel and heading to the airport so for his 9am nap which is normally 25mins I let him sleep as long as he wanted then 2:45pm when we were at the airport I just led the buggy flat and walked up and down a few times and he had another 30 minutes, enough to see him through till bedtime – which coincided with us getting back to the car and driving home – perfect!

  • Preparation is key – as much as people like to ‘wing it’ when travelling I think you need to have a bit of a plan when taking a child so it’s not too stressful for them. I knew the return flight would get us back to the car right around Zak’s normal bedtime so I made sure I had clean baby grow, readymade bottle of formula in the boot of the car along with a bottle of water and some snacks for me. So once we got to the car, quick nap change, in his pjs and he was asleep within 15 minutes of driving and I had snacks/dinner to refuel me on the way home and it meant there was no mad panic to sort it out when we landed!

  • Feed when coming into land (particularly if tiny baby or sensitive to noise) give them a bottle as soon as the seatbelt sign comes on and you start you decent as this makes them suck/swallow and ease the pressure they get in their ears as they can’t make them pop like we can!

  • Accept help – seems silly but don’t be too proud if people offer to help you with luggage or entertain your child. It was a huge thing for me to learn to accept help as I am a stubborn person who likes to do it all myself but I’ve learned to relax a little!