When our daughter was only 4 months old we got her her first passport. At 6 months old we flew to France. Now, we are not seasoned travellers and I never toured around South East Asia on my gap year, or built something really helpful like a new school for the poverty stricken children in Africa (* feel a bit guilty *). However, I do like holidays, and I actually like the travelling part too.
I was determined to continue to enjoy this, even when towing around a baby, a buggy and copious luggage.
Having flown 4 or 5 times with our daughter in her short 3.5 years, there are a few things which we are so grateful we chose to spend our hard earned cash on to make life a little easier. Rather than searching for the cheapest possible solutions like we had always done, we began to realise that actually minimising stress is worth the extra dosh!
It really is.
In no particular order, here are the things that we did that made airports and flying enjoyable and were worth their weight in gold for the first 2.5 years of our daughter’s life.
- On-airport hotel – with early flight times and a 2.5 hour car journey to the airport, we would travel up the night before and stay in the closest possible (and unfortunately most expensive) terminal hotel with parking. In fact, we could walk from the hotel to the terminal through a short walkway. When you’re pushing a buggy, suitcases and trying to carry hand luggage, the expense was honestly worth every penny! No transfer buses, no cold and wet walks back to the car, no exhausted parents and no over-tired baby. It was easy, and as a result, we checked-in calmly, no rushing or worrying about what we may have forgotten. It got the holiday off to a good start and, when you book a holiday, you are booking it for a break, not for a stress.
- Buying toiletries after security – ok, it may be a little more expensive than trying to squeeze your shampoo, shower gel, conditioner, baby bath, baby cream, cleanser, moisturiser, toner, you get the drift… into your suitcase, and it may mean you wrestling with an overflowing carrier bag onto the plane, but it really does make things easier in terms of packing. I would positively bounce towards Boots whilst leaving baby and partner in the coffee shop. It was a bit of ‘me’ time, browsing the shelves of holiday products and maybe treating myself to a random foot cream. I didn’t have to worry about fitting items that I wanted on the flight into the see-through bag. It was just, well, easier.
- Booking with a non-Orange airline – this was a bit harder to stomach as there is quite a big price hike, however the differences we found made the choice more than worthwhile. Our first non-Orange flight had the check-in guy make a special effort to see if he could get us better located seats that would make it easier for us to get on/off the plane. I’m a stickler for good customer service! We get a drink and a snack onboard – adds another level of intrigue for our daughter and keeps us all entertained. They give out a children’s goodie bag with magazine, pen, small toy etc. These little details make a big difference!
Now our daughter is a bit older we are chancing Orange again, and no longer booking an overnight hotel pre-flight. In the baby and toddler years, we needed those luxuries to feel like our holiday started from the moment we got in the car, and it has ensured that I remain as excited as a child when it comes to heading for the airport.
Roll on August!