Phil and I have always loved a holiday. Before Austin arrived we would go away 3-4 times a year enjoying city breaks and winter sun, we loved them all. Road trips were our favourite, Australia for 3 weeks covering 3 states, we also enjoyed a California road trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas. When we were planning our honeymoon destination we knew we wanted an adventure so another road trip beckoned, this time from Vancouver to Calgary with an amazing stop in Tofino too. Our family trips have been less adventurous so far but it’s quite nerve-wracking taking a baby away so we’ve enjoyed a few pool/beach breaks away to warm us up!!!
Since having Austin we have been lucky to have some great holidays as a family, our first to Jersey in July 2016 when Austin was around 16 weeks. He was great on the flight (a short 40 mins) and we found it a very nice experience especially as my parents came so we had an extra set of hands. We stayed at the Atlantic Hotel in St Brelade just 10 minutes from the airport which was fabulous and the hotel staff were really accommodating. Even though it’s a high end hotel with a Michelin star restaurant inside we always felt welcome with Austin and even enjoyed our first date night at The Ocean Restaurant whilst mum and dad looked after Austin in their room. It was great as I was able to go up and breast feed Austin in between courses!
Jersey is such a great Island to explore, my husband has been visiting for 18 years. We hopped on buses and although we didn’t visit the Zoo this time we have before and its well worth a visit. St Aubin bay is lovely and we also enjoyed some shopping in St. Helier during our visit. A short flight and such an accessible island so great for kids and I hope we return many more times with Austin! I will always remember our first holiday as a family and can’t think of a more perfect place.
Isle of Wight
We then went for a weekend to The Isle of Wight in August 2016 with Phil’s family which wasn’t as successful due to the start of teething. We had very little sleep and couldn’t understand why Austin was so upset. A few days after we returned his first tooth appeared and suddenly it all made sense. Travelling in the car via the Ferry from Portsmouth was great though and for ease with a baby I would highly recommend. We literally took the kitchen sink which was great! We stayed at The Royal Hotel in Ventnor which again was great with children and had a lovely pool area for us to spend our sleep deprived days. We were so lucky with the weather too, beautiful sunshine the whole time we were there.
I was still breast-feeding Austin which was great as no need to take bottles or sterilise. So convenient when on holiday! Lots to explore again on the Island but for us was a lazy pool/beach break. We did however venture to Monkey Haven which was fun and lots for kids to see and play. It was £10 per adult and under 3’s are free. There is a free 7-day return with all tickets so great if you are staying for a week or so.
In September 2016 we continued our summer holidays and took Austin to Portugal (another short flight of 2hrs) when he was around 5.5 months. That coincided with him trying to crawl and although we had more sleep that holiday he was much more frustrated as he was trying to move. Temperature wise the heat was ok, even with the weather hitting around 30/31 degrees Austin coped well. We stayed in a great resort on the Algarve in an apartment. We had a separate lounge/kitchen area so when Austin went to bed Phil and I didn’t have to tip toe around and could enjoy the evening without sitting in silence! Monte Da Quinta is a very family friendly golf resort with a kids club (over the age of 2) and a great pool area. The restaurant on site is amazing but there isn’t really much kids entertainment in the evenings which was fine for us with Austin but if you had slightly older kids you may need more for them to do.
The Shack is such a great spot for lunch or dinner, right on the lake with fab views overlooking the nature reserve and serving delicious sliders and cocktails.
There are also private villas on the resort to rent which we did a few years ago before we had Austin and you can still use all the resort facilities too. We’ve visited a few times now and always such a great holiday and hopefully we will head back there later this year.
The easiest holiday by far was our trip to Dubai earlier this year (January 2017) when Austin was around 10 months. This was the first trip after I had stopped breast-feeding and Austin was weaned so I had to be more organised with formula and food. For ease I bought the pre prepared bottles and lots of pouches of food in case Austin was fussy. We took a night flight and he slept for most of it. This was our first long haul with Austin and I can highly recommend this. He slept in a seat (like a bouncer) that was strapped in and this was better than the bassinet (BA give you the option for both) there are age restrictions for the bassinet and having the bulk seats was great. Any turbulence though and you have to take the out, so after one time when the seat belt sign came on I just kept Austin asleep on my lap strapped in.
Austin was at this point taking steps but not full on walking so he was very manageable (we were able to keep him contained) but he enjoyed standing up by the pool and playing by our sun beds in the shade. Unfortunately I caught a stomach virus on the last night and had to fly home the next day very poorly. NOT FUN when you have to amuse a baby on a 7 hour day flight!
We stayed at The Adresss hotel in the Dubai Marina which was recommended by our friends who travel there a lot with their son. The hotel is linked to a Mall with everything you could need for you and your baby shopping wise from Waitrose to Boots. The Marina is a great place to stay as lots of great child friendly places to eat out. One of our favourites was The Scene Restaurant which has great views overlooking the Marina. Pier 7 is definitely worth a visit, lots of great restaurants to choose from. We only stayed for 4 nights but even with a longer flight it was nice break.
There was quite a few covered play areas along the Marina too, we would often enjoy walks along there when Austin was napping. Jumeirah beach is great for lots of restaurants and evening activities but again with Austin’s bed time we always ate local and returned to the hotel. Great holiday for some winter sun and temperatures in the late 20’s which was perfect for Austin. This was our second time to Dubai, the time before we stayed at The Atlantis (before having Austin) and I can’t wait to take him there. So many restaurants and the Water Park on site, its great for families. We just felt like staying somewhere different this time but The Palm is a great location.
So that brings us to our recent adventure to Italy. I will write a separate post for this trip shortly as we covered quite a bit and stayed in a couple of different places. I thought I should cover our other trips first!
So my tips when travelling:
You can order food/formula at the airport so you can pick up once you are through security and not waste your luggage allowance/space. I just ordered from Boots online.
The steriliser bags I took to Dubai were great, a bit of a faff though, it is much quicker using a microwave if you have access to one. They last 24 hours but require a good rinsing after and when in a hotel room its hard to find the space. I hung the bag in the shower!
I packed and planned so many cute outfits for Austin and he pretty much worn none of them! Just a nappy by the pool if hot and then straight into a sleep suit when we went out so we could transfer him to bed. As Austin has got older he wears more outfits but I still pack too much for him every time!
For protective swim wear I found the rash vests were best for Austin as the all in one suits were harder to change him! We also wasted money on an inflatable ring that he would not sit in! Austin preferred splashing around in our arms. Keeping a hat on a baby is hard but we found if it was wet he kept it on for longer.
We have never taken a car seat with us, always hired one with the car or asked for one in the taxi and this has always worked well for us! The standard of car seats has always been great but you can ask for their make/model before you arrive to check you are happy.
We have never taken a travel cot either but as sometimes the mattress they provide isn’t that thick. I did also worry when he was very young about sleep safety and cleanliness of a mattress so I always took a travel one. Very light and easy to fold up in suitcase and gave me peace of mind what Austin was sleeping on. I bought this airflow travel mattress from Mothercare which is fab.
Our usual Icandy pram is quite heavy and in two parts so we bought a buggy for use on holidays and I chose the Amildillo City from Mamas and Papas. A great choice for us as Austin loves to be reclined back and naps well whenever we travel. It doesn’t fold up like an umbrella though so a bit more bulky but still in one piece which is great and we have never needed to have it in a protective bag. It’s very sturdy and has lasted well over 8 flights.
For day time naps by the Pool and walks The Snooze Shade was great! We’ve used this on all our holidays and really blocks out the light but protects them from the sun too.
Austin isn’t at the age where an iPad or electronic devices can keep him amused on the plane so I found plenty of snacks or saving his milk for take off and landing really helped. When I was breastfeeding I fed during those time which helped his ears and I also took a small selection of books and toys but ultimately walking him around was the best amusement for him! Keep Em Quiet packs look great and I will definitely use them in the future now Austin is older.
There is no doubt holiday’s with kids are a completely different ball game and you rarely feel rested upon your return but with every holiday we get more confident and I can’t wait for next year when my brother gets married in Vermont so we are planning a road trip from Boston to New York!