Below guest blog is from Rebecca who blogs at Jennifer the Book. In below post, she shares her experience of travelling to Italy on her own with her 6 month old daughter.
Travelling abroad on your own with a baby is horrendous. I never want to do it again. Airlines charge extra for baggage so Jenny and I had to share just hand luggage for our week vacation to Italy to visit my mum who lives there, but even if they had of supplied us with baggage I wouldn’t have been able to carry it as pushing a buggy AND pulling a mini suitcase it difficult enough. Then I had to take off my boots at airport security while trying to soothe an upset baby, before having to hold the baby AND collapse a very stubborn pram at the same time because the airport have some idiotic policy that they can’t hold the baby and they are all so stupid they can’t take my direction on how to fold the pram down themselves; the outcome being that I almost dropped Jennifer then squashed her while I was blinking away the tears whilst slipping in my socks on the shiny floor wishing I was wearing my shoes. If that wasn’t traumatic enough they made me taste the bottle of ‘metallic milk’ which almost made me projectile vomit all over the security man. At 6 months old I had just weaned her off the boob and on to this awful powdered stuff; Jennifer is by this point screaming hysterically, I’m a sweaty, red and blotchy mess and we’ve only just started our trip.
The airport lounge is no better with no seats available and just before we board I realised that Jennifer has filled her nappy to the brim and I couldn’t find a toilet with baby changing facilities. Finding our boarding passes and passports for boarding the plane was an ordeal enough but then realising we had to go down a large flight of stairs with a baby, pram AND a mini suitcase was impossible on my own. I was close to tears again waiting for a passenger to stop and help me. Once on the plane it was worse still, trying to juggle Jennifer with a huge bag and still holding onto my boarding pass and passport for dear life. Then I realised that Jennifer’s bottle was stone cold and the air hostess couldn’t heat it up until the seatbelt sign was off so Jennifer spent the entire ascent screaming because her ears hurt. When I needed anything from my bag in the overhead compartment I had to rely on the kindness of strangers to help me lift it down each time, who hated me because of the screaming baby. As my bag was massive and everything I need for our holiday was crammed in this bag I was forever rooting round for Jenny’s soft toys to keep her entertained whilst balancing Jennifer on my hip. Then getting off the plane I had the same issues again, with the added troubles of knowing ZERO Italian and I needed to find a train station and find, pay for and validate my train ticket; AND board the train with the same difficulties of boarding the plane but with the added bonus of not knowing the language to say ‘please help’ or ‘I’m sorry’.
Luckily the week spent with my mum was well worth the trauma of travelling alone. We explored the local town of Arezzo (Tuscany) and I was introduced to proper Italian cooking and the magical stuff that is Gelato (Italian ice cream). The last half of the holiday we decided to visit Florence and Rome, where I took pictures of Jenny outside the Colluseum and our trip went from being a fantastic catch up to being the trip of a lifetime.
The return journey from Italy was a nightmare as predicted. Jenny did the worst poos in the most awkward of places – one of which was the train which had no toilet! I had to take Jenny, her pram and our luggage to the end of the carriage where the doors are. I laid the buggy flat and changed her god awful stinky cess pit of a nappy with Jenny screaming at the top of her lungs. We were not stable stood up even with the pram brakes on, the high speed train was making me stumble and make even more of a mess. Meanwhile the other passengers were muttering in Italian and swiftly moving away from us and the smelly poo. There was nowhere to dispose of the stinky nappy so I had to carry it on the hour long, sweltering hot journey. My face was a shocking shade of red! Jenny still managed to do another horrific poo on the plane just as the plane started moving. The seatbelt sign was on for obvious reasons and Jenny decided to push really hard and let rip with gusto. The plane was packed and Jenny was sat on my knee when I felt something warm drip down my leg. Even before the plane had gathered enough speed to get us off the Pisa runway I had runny shit all over my jeans. The guy sat at the side of me unfortunately had a very sensitive gag reflex and started retching. We caused quite a commotion, it was awful, on the plus side Jenny found it hilarious.
My tips for travelling with a baby are:
Bring as many nappies as you can cram in your suitcase as not only are they mostly overpriced but the quality of the 3 brands I tried were awful.
Invest in a bottle cool bag as if the weather is warm and you have pre-made bottles they quickly become unusable.
When choosing a buggy to buy for a holiday choose the most compact and lightweight one you can find – also make sure you are able to collapse it one handed if travelling alone.
Pack LOTS of your baby’s favourite toys and books to keep little one entertained on the plane.
A drink will help with the pressure in baby’s ears on ascent and descent of the plane, for the next holiday I made sure I had cooled boiled water to hand.
Make a little bag inside your hand luggage you can separate by your feet for the plane journey so unlike me you don’t have to be rooting around in your main bag flinging underwear, nappies and bikini’s around the plane when all you needed was a bib!
Pack loose lightweight clothing for baby for hot holidays, nothing too fussy or fancy as you’ll probably need to dampen them if baby gets too hot.
Always keep an eye out for the nearest toilet with baby changing facilities!
Definitely get travel insurance as Jenny got ill on every holiday we have been on and it’s not worth the worry of expensive medical bills.
And finally take lots of pictures and enjoy yourself!
Do you have any experience of a long distance travel with a baby? How did you manage to make it enjoyable for both of you? Share your experience and tips that might help mums like Sarah ensure her long haul flight with her baby and toddler goes as smoothly as possible.