The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
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Mother of one or more babies you hesitate to go on a trip with them?
You don't dare to try it: fear of the judgement of those around you, difficulties in organising yourself or questions about your child's safety. Stop worrying!
First of all, you too have the right to treat yourself even as a mother.
Second, don’t worry. Others have already done so and can attest to it today. If they can, so can you!
Let’s meet Gill, mother of two daughters, who tells us about her experiences during a trip with one of her two little girls. Leaving La Rochelle, a charming seaside town in the South West of France, Gill travelled to Coleraine in Northern Ireland with her 4-month-old daughter.
So I asked her about her trip, collecting advice and anecdotes from her...
<h2>You decided to travel with a baby, so how was the journey ?</h2>
"I left La Rochelle with a morning plane to Stansted, a town with a large airport where I then took a second plane to Belfast in Northern Ireland. Once in Belfast I took a taxi to Coleraine which took about an hour.”
<h2>What transportation should I choose when I leave?</h2>
"For my part, I chose to take the plane because it was the easiest. Not necessarily the quickest but the cheapest and most practical way to travel with a baby. I had already travelled by train with my daughter and I knew that it is a complicated transport to manage alone with a baby, between luggage, changing train, etc. The plane is much simpler. There is no direct flight to Northern Ireland but I am used to Stansted and Belfast airports. I was in a place that I was familiar with which made travelling with my daughter less stressful.”
<h2>So how was the plane ride?</h2>
"What's nice with a young child is that you get priority in the queue for check-in and boarding when you're carrying all your stuff and that you've been carrying your baby since you arrived, it's much more pleasant than having to wait for hours on standing and carrying everything.
The downside of being alone at the airport: the pushchair. It is very useful and even indispensable for moving around the airport (especially in the capitals where they are bigger). Mine was light and handy so it was quite practical, especially when my daughter was sleeping and I had to get to the other end of the airport with all our luggage.
That said, when you have to fold the pushchair up before boarding while holding your baby in your arms and being careful with your things it becomes much more complicated... and once the flight is over you have to start all over again when you get the stroller back on the way down. My advice to avoid this problem is not to hesitate to ask for help from the stewardesses (or even the people around you).
On the plane I gave my daughter some water to drink so that the pressure wouldn't hurt her ears too much. I had swapped my pushchair for a baby carrier in which she was perfectly supported and wedged but the stewardess insisted that I take her out of the baby carrier and put her on a seat supported only by a belt that didn't hold her well enough for me. I didn't really agree with it and the other passengers thought it was a bit absurd to seat a baby like an adult but I had no choice.
Another thing I had planned was food. As a general rule a baby eats at specific times so I changed my daughter before boarding so that she was clean and could do her business during the flight if she wanted to. I waited until take off to give her her bottle which kept her busy for a little while and then she fell asleep fairly quickly. My big stress was that she didn't fall asleep, didn't feel safe or comfortable and started to cry. It's a lot quieter with a sleeping baby because it's a baby that doesn't cry haha. People don't like children who cry especially when they are not their owns…
Anyway, I also had planned something to calm her down and reassure her if needed, her cuddly toy, a blanket that smells like home and reassures her, plus a maximum of things to amuse her and attract her attention. I also tried to remain as calm as possible or talk to her with a confident voice so that she would feel comfy.”
<h2>What are the essentials to take with you when travelling with a baby?</h2>
"A bag for the journey which will be made up of everything you usually take with you when you travel with baby or when you take baby with you to friends' houses.
For my part it was made up of food, drink, her bottle, her cuddly toy, a change of clothes in case she gets dirty with something to clean her quickly (wipes, towel), a bib, some toys and her health record.
I had also provided a blanket so that she could be wrapped up in the plane as it can get quite cold when you get to high altitude.
As for food, I advise you to always plan more, you never know if your transport will be delayed or even cancelled and when the baby is hungry it is better to have enough to feed her…
I was able to put this advice into practice when I returned from my trip back to La Rochelle. The plane didn't land at my house but in Tours where, to compensate us, the company then paid us a taxi back home. Believe me, I was quite happy to have enough to feed my child at that time.
Of course I also had my daughter's passport and she wasn't even able to stand up straight on her own for her photo. As I didn't have the same surname as her at that time I was checked in and they asked me for a document signed and stamped by the town hall certifying that this child was mine and that I could leave the territory with her.
For mothers who don't have the same surname as the baby, I advise you to go to the town hall before leaving to find out about the risk of not leaving if you don't have the document. For my part, my mother-in-law who had dropped me off at the airport and was still waiting with me at the time, was able to certify that the child was indeed mine and I was therefore able to leave.
In the suitcase; I had a whole set of emergency medicines in case I needed them on the spot, such as something to manage the fever, syrup, gum gel or earache, basically all the usual ailments that could have bothered my daughter. I had also provided nappies so that I would have enough to change her for the first two days at least in case I couldn't find her usual nappies and wipes.
Finally, I had also planned for a certain amount of clothing based on what we were going to do. At 4 months, between regurgitation and drooling the clothes are regularly changed during the day. So I had planned about 4 outfits per day over 3 days knowing that I could then wash them on the spot. As we were going to Ireland, I had of course, planned warm clothes and a sleeping bag thick enough for my daughter to sleep warmly".
<h2>How do you prepare for the trip?</h2>
"Personally, I didn't have so much preparation before organising our trip apart from possibly the suitcase and the administrative documents. I also had my daughter's vaccinations checked and that was all I had to do before flying to Coleraine!”
<h2>How to choose the destination to travel with a baby?</h2>
“On this trip, I knew the destination, I had already been there alone. I chose a destination where I was comfortable, where I knew I wouldn't have to look far to find a place to buy nappies and that there would be a doctor available nearby if needed. I stayed in Europe and chose a destination with a journey that was neither too long nor too complicated. As at that age my daughter wouldn't benefit so much from the trip, I still chose a place that I liked above all others, that attracted me and that I wanted to discover.”
<h2>How do you get around with a baby?</h2>
"For fairly short journeys or walks in the countryside, hikes etc., the most practical way is for sure the baby carrier. That said, always plan to have a pushchair with you, either directly with you or available on site. If you want to go for a walk in the city, a pushchair will be more fun and if you go with your two children it will be all the more useful.
Personally, I was very happy to be able to put my daughter in the pushchair from time to time and not have to carry her 24 hours a day. I also often travelled with a backpack, which was more practical to have my things at hand without them taking up too much space".
<h2>Not too complicated to find accommodation that accepts babies?</h2>
“Generally speaking, babies are accepted in the different accommodations that can be found. What is more complicated is to find a place that has a baby bed or even a pram. Sometimes the locals are much more generous and understanding than the big hotel chains who don't have much to do with whether you have a baby or not. Most of the time they are more concerned about the comfort of their guests.”
<h2>Did you manage to enjoy travelling with a baby?</h2>
“Overall yes. For me the trip was super easy, my daughter was super cool, slept when she needed to sleep and ate when she needed to eat. What's more, I was used to this trip and everything on the spot went as well as if I had been alone. It was a pleasure and for my part I even found it easy. The people are generally super cool and understanding and most of them didn't hesitate to help me when I asked them. One person gave up their seat when they saw I was coming with my baby carrier and another one even held my bottle to free up one hand.
Of course, if my daughter started to cry even a little, all eyes would turn to me with a single desire, let her stop. My advice on this, ignore the looks and you will find it easier to calm your child if you are calm than if you start to worry about the judgment of others.”
“My travel anecdote would be that I went to Ireland which has a reputation for treating children like kings and queens. I didn't really believe it at first but once I got there I really felt it, especially with my daughter who is a little redhead. It was a must for them haha.”
<h2>One last piece of advice:</h2>
“For all those who would like to travel with a baby I can only say go for it! Leave serenely, be cool and everything will go very well. A zen mother equals a zen baby and a trip that will go even better. Don't hesitate to plan more than not enough and ask for help around you and above all remember that you are capable of it. If you have managed to take your baby to a friend's house you can just as easily travel with him, it's the same thing, just a little longer.”
So ladies, has Gill convinced you? In any case, wife and mother, she didn't wait for other people's opinions to change before taking the plunge and had a magical journey! All you have to do now is choose your destination and why not sleep at a hosts’ house. With La Voyageuse, for example, you can travel with a child under 12 years old. The meeting will certainly be much more pleasant than if you took a hotel.