When the momentous decision was made to have children the words 'but it won't stop us travelling' quickly followed. We were determined that starting a family wasn't going to stop us seeing the world, although we recognised that trekking through the Andes might have to wait for the teenage years. ..."we'll just sling them on our backs and off we'll go; it will be a fantastic experience for them; we're not having kids just to leave them behind"...
And then we had to put our money where our mouths were when a close friend announced she was getting married in Asia. Gulp. Suddenly the thought of coping with a long haul flight, jet lag, and the heat with a 7 month-old made us feel quite nervous. But we desperately wanted to be at the wedding and had an image to think about. We were the intrepid travellers...weren't we?
So we held our breaths and booked our flights. And guess what? It was actually one of the best holidays we've had. Not quite cocktails and dancing till dawn, although there was an amazing mango daiquiri involved, but immense fun nonetheless.
All my fretting about a screaming baby for 12 hours came to nothing. He slept (a bit) and played in the bassinet (smaller than you'd imagine), and smiled at the other passengers (thank God).
The jet lag mirrored ours so that was fine, and he dealt with the heat, the strange food, the inquisitive people, the sleeping in restaurants, brilliantly. Yes it was different to other holidays but we knew it would be. The pictures of him smiling on the beach and being bobbed in the beautifully warm ocean are priceless.
So what gems of wisdom can we pass on from this experience? Well, you need to be more organised. Think about what you might need on the plane, particularly food and entertainment. Feeding a baby on a plane is quite tricky and you risk a friendly neighbour getting splatted with puréed carrot, so lots of wet wipes are needed. And try and get as much space as you can - if the flight's not full see if you can secure an empty seat next to you. Don't fret about the jet lag, chances are you'll also be wide awake and quite up for a game with the stacking cups.
Make sure you pack things for your child that you would pack for yourself, like sunscreen, hats, travel wash, favourite teddy etc. If you have a cloth highchair take it with you, they come in very handy in restaurants and cafes. However we found the staff loved our son so much we would often eat in peace whilst he was hugged and cooed over. Kids really help to remove cultural barriers and are a great conversation starter.
Above all don't be afraid to try new things, it's amazing how adaptable babies can be as long as they're fed, loved and can sleep every now and again. Relax and stay positive. Take every situation as it comes and just go with it - you'll all have a much better time as a result.
Watch this space for the next instalment - travelling with toddlers - a step too far perhaps? We'll see...
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