Australia 

This blog post has been sitting in my draft folder since we arrived in Sydney on the 21st of December. I have been meaning to post it but we have been so busy I haven’t had the chance. Now as we start to prepare for our epic journey home I thought I better get it up. Who knows travelling home may be a different story altogether.

It was our first Christmas in Australia as a family. Actually it was both Elbie’s and my first Christmas in Australia so it was all pretty exciting while packing at home. The long flight though was something if honest I was dreading before we left. I’m not the best flyer and usually struggle with the 24+ hour journey anyway but the thought of having to look after a baby on top of worrying about death every time the plane makes a new noise filled me with anxiety. We have travelled a lot with Elbie already and it wasn’t her first flight but long haul is very different to a flight to France. It is a long time to be awake looking after a baby in a confined space while trying not to have a panic attack. But like most things with babies that I have discovered, the thought of it compared to the reality is usually vastly different and it was actually OK. 

Elbie was a superstar and dealt with everything in her stride. I fed her going up and down which not only helps her ears but also calms me down (mostly). She looks up at me nipple in mouth and if she could speak I’m sure she would be saying “sort your shit out mum, this is fun”. So with that little face and those big eyes looking up at me I calm down a notch. Elbie is having a great time. We were super organised and had booked seats with a bassinet months in advance thinking the bassinet was essential to our journey but we hadn’t quite thought it through. Elbie sleeps on her front and we use ‘crying out’ to get her to sleep so this threw up a couple of issues. She didn’t have much room for her arms and her little chicken wings would knock against the side, this made it near impossible for her to get comfortable. We also decided ‘crying out’ wouldn’t make us very popular with our fellow passengers either so we ended up using the ergo baby. This meant that one of us couldn’t sleep when she slept, well, mainly Eddie who is my hero travelling buddy husband. I have to say I was close to useless 37000ft up in the air at hour 15. It was long but we made it though. If anyone is thinking of taking a long flight with a baby who is older than six months I would say a baby carrier like our ergo baby is essential. We would have gone crazy without it.

The next challenge we encountered on our big trip was the inevitable bastard jetlag. I said I was dreading the flight but this was the big monster I was really worried about. Every time we come to Australia I take about five days to adjust and I was very concerned that we were going to be like zombies in a far away time zone dealing with our daughter who had no idea what time of day or night it was. I think it made a huge difference taking a flight that arrived in the evening but again though I was pleasantly surprised at how easily she adjusted. Now don’t get me wrong the first three or four nights weren’t much of a laugh but between the two of us we managed it and I also think it made us get over our own jetlag quickly. I used delicious baby blog to help guide me with our baby jetlag, I found it very helpful and kept night awakenings as quiet as possible. Once she had stopped waking at 3am to play she started to sleep amazingly. Her sleep has been an absolute dream since. I’m definitely not counting on it continuing when we get home but I’m in full appreciation right now. Jetlag is usually worse coming this way so there is a glimmer of hope when we return. 

We leave in just one day and although my fear of flying is still there hiding at the back of my mind, my dread of travelling that far with a seven month old has gone. Good job too as our family live in Australia and this is a trip we will be making every year. 
 

Travelling with a baby

We have just got back from a lovely break in Norfolk with some family and it came at a very good time as Elbie’s sleep has taken a turn for the worse again. Having family around to help out while in a beautiful holiday cottage was just what the doctor ordered. It was very relaxing, well as relaxing as you can get with a six month old baby. It’s the same as any holiday though, it always goes far too quickly and the days leading up to it go too slowly.

Although this was a short break in England whenever I tell anyone we are going on holiday they look at me then look at Elbie and say “good luck” or “you’re brave” and to be honest before we did travel with Elbie I was thinking the same thing. How on earth were we going to get to get out of the flat with everything?! How would we get to the airport on time let alone manage a flight with a baby and then be in a foreign place? The thought of it turned out to be so much worse than the reality. I still get a little panicked that I will forget something but I think everyone feels like that before they go away and now because I’m so wrapped up in sorting out Elbie’s luggage I usually do miss something, of mine though.

We have been lucky to have had the opportunity to travel so much with Elbie as Eddie gets school holidays off. We always try to get away as much as possible and we end up spending most of our money going on trips. We have been trying to decorate for over a year but never have the money to do it. We may not have lovely looking walls but we do have lots of good memories. Eddie and I share a passion of travelling and we want that to rub off on Elbie too. One day we will decorate I’m sure.

When we first took Elbie on holiday she was only six weeks old and although that sounds pretty daunting it was actually easier to travel with a new born than it is now. Back then all we needed to remember was the pram (it had a carry cot that she slept in), passport and the baby. Anything else we forgot didn’t really matter as could be bought cheaply. Now is another story altogether. Why do such small things require so much? At the end I will list my essentials for our baby travel. We used to be professional light packers but those days are well and truly history. Travelling with a new born doesn’t just requite less baggage but routines aren’t an issue either. There was no drama about staying out late as Elbie would sleep anywhere and had no idea of where she was or what time it was. We could quite happily eat out until midnight with no stress at all and no overtired screaming fits in the day if a nap had been missed either. Not that it is difficult to travel now but it definitely required less planning back then.

Here are my travelling lists.

New born travel (breast fed)-

• Baby (essential)

• Enough sleep suits and vests for days away plus three extras for those little accidents

• Enough day clothes for days away plus three extras

• Some nappies (rest can be bought when there)

• Muslins

• Towel

• Cotton wool (I’m a bit of a clean freak and like to top and tail Elbie in the mornings even though she bathes before bed. We have done this since 3 weeks old)

• Two mattress sheets

• Swaddle blanket

• Blanket

• Changing bag with –

changing mat

Nappy sacks

Wet wipes (more can be purchased away)

Antibacterial wipes and hand wash

• Pram (carry cot)

• Car seat (if needed)

• Baby carrier

We also took a mosquito net when we went to the South of France.

Six month travel –

•Enough sleep suits and vests for days away plus three extras for those little accidents

• Enough day clothes for days away plus three extras

• Some nappies

• Muslins

• Towel

• Cotton wool

• Two cot sheets

• Sleeping bag

• Blanket

• Changing bag with –

changing mat

Nappy sacks

Wet wipes

Antibacterial wipes and hand wash

• Travel cot

• Pram

• Car seat (if needed)

• Baby carrier

• Baby monitor

• Play mat

• Selection of toys

• Three books (totally unaware of the same books being read each night)

• Snack bag-

Small plastic containers

Spoons

Cup

Apron

Non slip eating mat (essential for eating out)

So much to pack! I’m sure I have missed something off somewhere too. If we are going somewhere by car then we also take Elbie’s bath seat and a chair/ bouncer just because we can.

We said goodbye to light, easy, care free travel six months ago. It may take more care and effort to pack these days but it is definitely more fun too.

(Image from National Geographic)