Baby on Holiday

10 things I learnt when on my first trip abroad with my newborn

I have been so excited about taking our 3 month old away and to start showing her the world. I’ve written a packing list, which you can read here, which was pretty helpful as I’ve been so tired lately that I didn’t have to think too much.

And now, after our first trip abroad, here’s my list of things I’ve learned after our long weekend in Sardinia.

1) We were lucky we flew from Gatwick

It’s always absolutely freezing in Gatwick. Without exception (actually, there is one exception. That’s when I was heavily pregnant, still suffering from morning sickness, attempting to swallow my own vomit and squidged into an EasyBus furnace, with no air conditioning, no openable windows, a journey that took 2.5 times longer than it should have and a driver more intent on Whatsapp than, say, trying not to hit the car in front of us. THEN it was super-hot.) it’s always cold, windy and usually raining. Grim, if nothing else.

So, we were lucky because I’d packed with that in mind and so had extra layers to keep us warm when we came back. Because, despite the promise of pure sunshine and at least 26 degrees Celsius at our destination, one day we had 16 degrees Celsius, tops.

I was glad I had extra to wrap up the little one. Always be prepared for the unexpected!

2) Car rental

Don’t go with a budget car hire company, even if they’re owned by a big multinational, unless you check the insurance cover. Particularly if you need to catch a shuttle bus from the airport to collect your car. The company I’d booked through had no signs, just a random printout on a torn piece of A4 hidden on a tree at the back of the carpark with a number to call that was out of service.

A shuttle bus miraculously appeared but, once we’d arrived and waited for the archaically slow staff to work out what day it was, we were told that our EUR160 car hire was going to cost more than double due to compulsory insurance. Oh, and that they were going to charge my card with EUR2,000. Which would be refunded. *ahem* Sure it would.

3) Get good directions to your accommodation

My other half was fuming after the Car Rental Fiasco, (I am no longer allowed to book vehicle hire. Ever.) He then banned me from using my phone because I’m always on it and “we’re on holiday”. Which was just fine. Except it was 11.30pm. And he was hungry. And we had no idea where we were going.

Luckily we found some food, and, after driving up and down a dirt track for over an hour, trying to work out which villa it was, we finally arrived at 2am.

4) A rest day

Given 2 & 3 above, this is going to be a necessity for us going forward. Getting up early and then not stopping for the next 4 days was an absolute killer. Also, we’d rented a glorious little villa (once we found it!) and it was a shame we didn’t spend any time enjoying it.

5) Converter plugs

Check you have the right ones! An argument at 3am because they look exactly the same, but one only fits the bathroom socket and not the “normal” ones is not ideal!

6) Sterilisation equipment

If you need to sterilise anything, I highly recommend that you take a Milton travel steriliser. They also do one for small things like dummies. You can either use tablets (go for the tablets!) or a microwave.

I thought I was all organised by checking that the villa had a microwave. What I didn’t check was which century it was from.

I also didn’t check that they had a kettle. And it turns out that the water is undrinkable. So we were boiling bottled water on the hob which took F.O.R.E.V.E.R. then putting it into the microwave which we almost had to power by physically pushing it, in order to get it to work. I’m pretty sure it was held together with duct tape.

Also, don’t forget a scrubbing brush. We have amazing Dr Brown bottles, but I left the mascara-wand brush at home so was rolling up serviettes to try and remove formula from the funnel.

Just take the tablets!

7) Snacks

I always pack snacks. My other half always rolls his eyes and sighs dramatically, but then eats most of them. This time, I thought I had enough to get to the airport on my own and we’d be fine.

Take the time. Take snacks!

8) The New Beach Experience

We were so happy to show her a beach and get sand between her toes and dip her feet into the sea. What I didn’t picture was wrapping her up like a mummy to protect her from the blistering sun, and then propping her up at the back of her cot, with the hood turned up, back into the driving wind which I think drove her a little crazy in the beginning - it was very windy!

Then, new parents, be vigilant. I glanced away for a second to see she’d waved her hand, whacked the sand and then tried to put her hand in her mouth. Cue super cute pictures of her with a sandy moustache. Until such time as she dumped a whole handful of grit into her face…less cute photos. Poor baby. It was everywhere.

Also, she got dehydrated pretty quickly, due to the heat. Keep an eye on that.

9) Mosquito Net

You’d never guess it to look at me (particularly as my brother once pointed out that my family weren’t best known for our hand-eye coordination!) but since I’ve become a mother, I have almost ninja-like qualities when it comes to killing insects that I think my want to nibble my child.

11 for 11 was the final mosquito-killing score. I was rather impressed with myself. We also had a mosquito net for the buggy which was great. I’d highly recommend it. It also provides dappled shade in the sunshine which is useful for part protection.

10) I love my little family

Reading back, this article seems to be a bit of a rant about all the things that went wrong with my holiday (and I’ve just remembered the thunderstorm on the way home, and Little Miss behaving so badly on the flight that I’m sure all the other passengers have cursed me!) but at the end of the day, this list is just to try and help make sure that no one else makes these rookie mistakes. With “baby brain” still in force at the moment, if I don’t write things down, I tend to forget quickly.

What I will remember is playing Frisbee and attempted acrobatics on the beach, dipping her pudgy little feet in the water as she did her Elvis dance moves on the sand, demolishing cherries with the juice running down our faces, eating way too much gelato, sending her first postcard, how happy she was just in the airport carpark seemingly transfixed by the twinkling stars above her, laughing and remembering how lucky I am to love and be loved.

Yeah, it was a pretty good trip.

Have you ventured abroad with your baby? Let us know about any tips in the comments!