Learn from our experience and follow these top tips for a baby (and parent) meltdown free holiday!
1. Invest time and money in buying and packing the right kit. An insect net, pushchair fan, first aid kit, swim ring with canopy and several other items were purchased for our first holiday with baby Charlie and they were absolute lifesavers –View essential packing list for a holiday in the sun with a baby and/or young child.
2. Research before you travel. Is there a store nearby that sells infant essentials? If so, just pack enough nappies, etc for the first few days and cut down on your luggage. What can your hotel provide? I knew before travelling on holiday to Mexico that I would have access to a microwave in one of the hotel bars and so I purchased bottle micro-steam bags which were brilliant.
3. Consider your baby’s routine when you book your flights. For our first family holiday to Mexico we booked night time flights for the two long flights – Atlanta to Cancun and return and this worked really well as Charlie slept the entire duration in both directions. When booking your flights request a bulkhead seat as this will provide you with a bassinet/in-flight cot to lay your baby down and prevent you from having to hold him/her for the entire flight. (Bassinet dimensions and weight restrictions vary from airline to airline and therefore always check your chosen airlines website prior to travel. Virgin Atlantic for example have an in-flight cot weight restriction of 9kg on some of their aircraft and 11kg on others. So you cannot even assume if you have flown with an airline before that the in-flight cots are going to be the same on a different flight).
Airlines generally have a policy that customers flying with an infant have a priority over bulkhead seats however depending on how many infants are onboard your flight you may not end up sitting with your entire party (plus you may end up next to somebody else’s crying child!)
4. Try to stick to your baby’s routine as much as possible but do not let it spoil your holiday i.e. returning to your hotel room every few hours for baby to nap is not much fun for you! I always continue with my sons normal bedtime routines whilst on holiday. For example (when travelling with Charlie as an infant) bath followed by milk but instead of putting him down to sleep in his cot we just tucked him up snug in his pushchair covered by a mosquito net and went for a walk before dinner to get him to sleep.
5. Always have muslin blankets and baby wipes to hand. Extra large muslin blankets are great for dunking in cold water and laying over baby to keep him/her cool. The heat and humidity was unbearable at times in Mexico and this trick along with the pushchair fan were lifesavers. (Please note that covering up your baby with a muslin blanket whilst in a pushchair is dangerous as the fabric will prevent air from circulating and the temperatures inside the pushchair can quickly become unbearable). Baby wipes… well I need not explain their value as they are a mums best friend! Baby sick, poo, snot marks can all be quickly erased with a wet wipe :-)
6. Consider how you will transport baby when on holiday. A travel system (pushchair base with the option to add a car seat or pushchair seat) are perfect for when you wish to leave the resort and explore by taxi/public transport. Airlines generally allow one free pushchair and car seat per infant in addition to a hand and checked luggage allowance. We have always used our car seat when travelling abroad with our boys as infants as you cannot assume that taxi companies abroad will have adequate car seats available.
7. Protect your pushchair. Umbrella strollers are great for throwing onto airplanes however they are not so great for attempting to push through sand on the beach and so you may wish to consider taking your everyday sturdier pushchair and just protecting it from airport damage with a protective bag
8. Save space in your suitcase by packing mainly vests for a newborn baby. I packed lots of cute outfits for our first holiday with Charlie but I have learnt my lesson since as for the majority of the holiday it was too hot for him to wear anything more than a vest.
9. Do not forget to pack your sense of humour! During every family holiday we have always had some stressful and sometimes embarrassing moments but memories and happy smiles such as these make it so worthwhile.
For tips on flying with a baby read my Essential packing list for flying with a baby and/or young child. For more tips on travelling with a baby read Taking the plunge – First overseas holiday with baby