Last month, we went to Croatia for 10 days. When we got back, I found out I'd won a copy of the book, 'Tales from a Travelling Mum', after leaving a comment on an interview with the author Alice Griffin over at the blog Angels and Urchins. It might have been better timing to have read the book before our trip but reading it afterwards, meant I could relate a lot more to Alice's tales and tips.
The book covers Alice's journeys with husband and daughter Isabella, beginning when her little one was a mere eight weeks old and covering the first two years. After having a baby, Alice didn't want her love for independent travel to be affected by parenthood and so her book is a great narrative of how you can make it work with a baby in tow. She provides both anecdotal stories and practical tips to give other parents the confidence to travel at whim with their children. Her travels were not just a week spent here and there but lingering road trips over a period of weeks and months. As a result, Alice has all kinds of insightful experiences to share with her readers.
I've decided to pick a few of my favourite pieces of advice from the book for this post, which I am sure you will find helpful for your own family travels:
Babies exist the world over. You don't need to stuff hundreds of nappies in your suitcase; just pick them up at a local chemist. Whilst this might sound obvious, many of us are guilty of over-packing when it comes to our children. It's good to stop and think what makes sense not to pack, like nappies and formula that you can pick up at your destination.
Consider self-catering accommodation when visiting a city as it provides a home-from-home environment for you and your baby. This is what we did in Croatia and it definitely makes life a lot easier than all being cramped together in a hotel room.
Old toys will not hold Isabella's attention if she feels irritable. I therefore now always have a handful of new items or toys she has never seen before, or that she sees as forbidden. This is something we learned on our recent trip. Whilst we had toys with us to keep our son busy as we had a coffee, waited for a meal or during a car journey, he barely took any interest in them. I'm now starting to collect a secret travel batch of toys and hope the novelty of these will hold his interest a little longer on our next trip.
It would be wise to visit a city with a little one at a quieter time. It is less overwhelming for little eyes and ears and everyone has a more enjoyable experience. I wholeheartedly agree with this piece of advice and think that before you're constrained to school holidays, it makes sense to take family trips out of season. With less cost involved and less tourists, it's definitely the way to go.
When you're heading off on a long car journey make sure you have a good selection of stories and nursery rhymes on CD. I wish I'd had this tip before our holiday. We had to resort to lots of singing in the car!
There is no need to take huge numbers of large toys. There is usually something much more interesting going on and you will just find yourself lugging them about for no reason. We took a small selection of small toys with us and it was fine. Our son was given some toys by friendly waitresses and shopkeepers and there were fun things to do outside like throwing pebbles into the sea and building sandcastles.
For many more helpful suggestions on travelling with a child under the age of two and for some wonderful travel stories, do get yourself a copy of Alice's book, Tales from a Travelling Mum: Navigating Europe with a Babe-in-arms. Also, check out Alice's website here.
What have your baby/toddler travel experiences been like? Do you have some tips to share?