Elphie has survived her first plane trip and made it to the lovely Italian island of Sardinia! Despite the miserable passport control woman being unwilling to stamp her passport as we were from within the EU, Elphie has made her first foray abroad. Benvenuto in Italia!
So, having made it here – what are my top tips for travelling with a two month old?
Top Tip #1: Arrive very early
This may seem an obvious one, but leave plenty of time. Do not, as I did, decide that this is the point at which you need to swap out the buggy (the brake had stopped engaging) or buy a cot bed mattress. However efficient the nursery staff are at John Lewis in Brent Cross at getting replacement buggies ordered within 24 hours, the day you are going on holiday is not the best for such shopping expeditions. This trip, you will be surprised to hear, left us late leaving for the airport (that and not being able to find the guidebook!). Then the motorway was jammed due to a broken down cab on the flyover, so we were even later, arriving just under an hour and a half before our flight. There were two good things – firstly I had booked into the short stay for the princely sum of £90, heavily discounted by booking in advance, and well worth it to reduce the stress of a first trip abroad; secondly, there was only a small queue at check-in so we got through that relative quickly, which was good as at that point Elphie started to scream.
Top Tip #2: Food on arrival
Once you have done top tip number one then you can embrace top tip number two: feed the grub the minute it wakes up upon arrival at the airport. Screaming babies do not a happy travel experience make.
Elphie continued screaming through checking-in her car seat at oversized baggage, and all the way through the extraordinarily long queue in Security (where was a pregnant lady / screaming child priority queue when you need one? Or a good Samaritan willing to let me push in front?), until finally we were on the concourse and she could be fed. Having left most stuff for Fred to collect up from Security, I realised my breastfeeding cover was inside the breastfeeding pillow cover – both back at Security! So some proper breastfeeding in public ensued, well not quite proper, I didn’t brave the full display and instead was making use of the wonders of nursing tops and trying to show as little flesh as possible – but still, flesh! Go me! I have the makings of a hippy earth mother in me yet.
Top Tip #3: Feast
Knowing that we were going to be too late for dinner the other end, I asked Fred to go and buy us an early dinner while I was feeding Elphie. So he went off and dutifully bought some sandwiches and croissants. Unfortunately, five hours later this didn’t quite cut it and Fred was having to cook emergency pasta and pesto for an extremely cranky duo. Another sandwich each was probably required!
Top Tip #4: Priority boarding
Try and get on the plane first. There is nothing like having to assemble all the stuff for yourselves and wrangle a baby while being surrounded by marauding stag partiers who are jostling around you to get to their seats. Luckily by looking harried at the departure gate and Elphie starting to kick-off, a kind airline official suggested we get on first – so that was amazeballs (thanks Meridiana!).
Top Tip #5: Under pressure
I had a wave of inspiration during my trip to Brent Cross that I must ask Fred to pack a pacifier to be used as a sucking device during take off and landing so that Elphie didn’t get sore ears. Of course when I got there I forgot all about it until we were taxiing. Others would say that you should breastfeed during take off and landing, which would be possible but I did not have the confidence at that point to contort our conjoined seatbelts in the way that would allow this. So instead I came up with a cunning plan and in the stead of the pacifier used a nipple shield with my thumb stuck up it. This seemed to keep Elphie sucking for a while although she was grizzling a bit at the lack of milk from my thumb and boy does she have a vacuum on her – my poor thumb, and extra props to my nipples for coping with that day in day out! On landing, she was asleep so I let her lie and she didn’t seem to have any ear problems, so perhaps I was worrying about nothing.
Top Tip #6: The chronicles of travel
We tried to get a stamp in Elphie’s passport, but the miserable official said that as it was within the EU it was not allowed. Sad times.
Only now do I think how cool it would be to have a photo of Elphie next to a sign saying Gatwick and another saying Olbia to chronicle her first flight. Instead I have one in Gatwick airport of her being burped (but honestly, it could be anywhere) and another equally nondescript one in Olbia Airport with Fred checking his email rather than revelling in the moment. Ah well. We have some from the plane at least…
Top Tip #7: Bring your own
Car seat that is. If you can then I think bringing your car seat along helps remove some stress from the holiday – your baby knows it, you know how to work it and you know it hasn’t been in an accident. Plus you don’t have to pay the exorbitant hire company charges.
Top Tip #8: Feed ’em any chance you get
Elphie fed most of the way through the flight so when we got to Olbia I didn’t make use of the nursing room signposted at the airport. Big mistake. By the time we had got through passport control, collected luggage, worked out where oversized luggage was, collected the car and set off, she was ravenous and told us all about it for the next half hour all the way to the villa. I tossed up whether to stop and feed her or endure the crying through the twists amd turns of the Sardinian countryside, I decided to keep going in the end because I didn’t fancy sitting on a roadside breastfeeding late at night in a foreign country. I am sure the
nursing room would have been preferable to either option though!
One thing we have to remember is that travelling with a two month old is relatively easy. As the harried father chasing his toddler around Olbia Airport proclaimed, “you wish you could tranquillise them”.
So we have that to look forward to!