We are just finishing up six weeks in England with our six-month-old baby and I’ve learnt a lot about what we really needed and what made life easier.
Read on for my thoughts on…
planning and packing for a long trip with a baby.
Before covering things you’ll need, I thought I’d share a few things that made our life easier when it came to planning.
Accommodation choices with a baby
Being overseas for six weeks, we knew the chances of having days where we needed to kick back and relax were high. And that living out of hotel rooms would probably suck. We did stay with family (I’m English) for about half our trip, but the rest of the time we stayed at AirBnBs. I carefully selected the places we stayed and it paid off as all were great and offered the advantages of:
- easy, on-site parking;
- space to relax on the couch while baby was napping, especially if it was a rainy day and we wanted some time at home;
- ability to cook meals so we weren’t constantly eating out (budget friendly and healthier);
- washing machine so we needed fewer changes of clothes; and
- tonnes cheaper than hotels.
Getting around with a baby
When we first considered our holiday, we thought about doing a combination of public transport and hire cars. Then we did the maths and also thought about the headache of a baby plus luggage and realised our original plan would be expensive and painful.
We hired a mid-sized SUV after a few days (time to get over jetlag) and because my sister-in-law picked us up from the airport, she’d hired a car seat from Tiny Tots rather than us lugging yet another item on the plane with us (and it was cheaper than hiring through the car hire company).
We found that Hertz was far cheaper than any other car hire option. We also were pleasantly surprised to get a free upgrade to a vehicle with built-in GPS. If you aren’t familiar with where you are heading, a GPS or having Google Maps on your phone will make travel more enjoyable, although we could have survived without it (I did bring an AA Road Atlas and have a pretty good idea about getting around, at least in the south of England).
What to pack for a holiday with a baby
You’ll be able to come up with the usual holiday packing list (clothes, toiletries etc) but there are other things that are handy to have when it came to baby.
Baby Carrier: We have a Lille Baby and we used it a lot, it allowed us to go places where a pram can not, as well as being a lifesaver at the airport and on the plane.
Compact Travel Pram: We bought a Mountain Buggy Nano, not cheap but it folds down to be tiny (qualifying as carry-on but we checked it) which meant it fitted in the car with our luggage easily. It’s not the comfiest and I wouldn’t use it for a baby smaller than ours (six-months) but it did the job. The wheels are pretty small and we found cobblestones were challenging however we did manage to avoid getting stuck or anything breaking.
Travel Bassinet or Cot: Since birth, Gemma has slept in this nifty travel bassinet by Sunbury and luckily, she still fitted in it for our trip. It is a brilliant bassinet – very well made, great for protection from mosquitos and folds up very small and light (again, carry-on size but we checked it). Whether you use a travel bassinet or cot, I’d suggest getting your baby to get it used to sleeping in it before you leave on your trip. You can often find accommodation options that can provide a cot option, but I prefer to BYO so you know it will be suitable and that your baby is familiar and comfortable with it.
Portable High-Chair: Unless you know that you’ll have access to a high chair at each place you stay, it’s worth looking at a portable high-chair solution. We picked up this folding high-chair from Argos when we got to England it was a great investment as it allowed Gemma to eat with us at meal times, folded down to be very portable and we squeezed it into our luggage to take home to use when we travel.
Baby Towel and Bath Items: AirBnBs are great, but most just provide enough towels for the adults. I brought a hooded baby towel, a couple of washers and a bath thermometer and they were very useful – we would have had to buy some over here if I hadn’t packed them.
Muslins, Blankets and Sheets: We packed a stash of different sized muslin clothes and two lightweight pram blankets. They were great for keeping baby warm, for spreading on the floor to play and for catching food under a messy eater. A set of magnetic swaddle clips and some pegs were fixtures on the pram to help create a dark space for sleeping if we were out somewhere busy. I also packed a spare set of bassinet sheets and mattress protector in case of a middle of the night bed wetting incident (never had one before but didn’t want to get caught without sheets).
On top of these, our basic baby packing list included:
- Baby Clothes – Pack a mix of warmth weights and styles. I mostly went for ‘comfy but cute’ think combos of long and short sleeved onesies teamed with leggings and socks, plus all in ones for cold days.
- Baby Nightwear – We bought one each of a 1 tog, 1.5 tog and 2.5 tog Love to Dream Sleep Suit with us as that’s what we use at home.
- Baby Accessories – Sun hats, beanie, bibs, socks, hair accessories if that’s your thing.
- Baby Feeding Equipment – We’re doing baby led weaning so just packed a couple of baby spoons and a water bottle but if you are doing puree weaning, you might need to pack a bit more equipment.
- Toys – We brought the bare minimum (two soft books, two board books, a combination soft toy with moving plastic bits, a rattle and a soft cub with a bell) with us and improvised toys. I did buy a few items after four weeks – I was bored with the toys we had even if Gemma was still liking them.
- Toiletries and Medicine – I use very limited creams and potions and no soap at home so I didn’t pack a lot and didn’t use most of it (but didn’t want to have to buy it in a hurry). We brought a hairbrush, sunscreen, moisturiser, Weleda Teething Powder, Baby Liquid Panadol and a digital thermometer.
The only things I brought which we didn’t really need were a few burp cloths (after having gone through a couple of weeks of chucking up a few times a day just before we left, spewing became a rarity while we were away) and a 360 cup as she has kind of mastered drinking with a straw water bottle but I decided that it was too had to teach her the 360 on holidays.
What would you add to the list or leave off? What is your advice for planning for and travelling with a baby?