1. Don’t be too ambitious for the first trip away. Consider a holiday in the UK, or a trip to France where you can pack everything in the car and drive, or a destination with a short haul flight. Leave the California trip to when you’re feeling more confident.
2. If exotic destinations are your thing, think about going somewhere where the time difference isn’t too big - like South Africa for example. Babies get jet lag just as adults do, and you may well suffer the consequences, not just for the duration of the holiday, but for weeks after arriving back home. The disrupted sleeping and eating cycles may break baby’s normal routine and cause them to suffer a regression. You may find you have to go through sleep training all over again - gah!
3. Think about what facilities are essential for your baby. If you formula feed your little one, you’ll need a decent sized kettle and perhaps a fridge - does your accommodation provide this? If you’re weaning baby how will you manage this? Taking tons of baby food pouches is possible, but is expensive and will take up a lot of room in your suitcase. Consider going self-catering if you don’t mind the odd bit of cooking while away. Local produce is often cheap and very tasty especially if you’re going somewhere, where it’s likely to be locally grown. Remember to pack your hand blender if you’re doing purees. If cooking is not your idea of a holiday then maybe look into a family-friendly all inclusive deal. Some of them will take daily requests of what food you would like for baby and cook it to order.
4. Most hotels and self-catering apartments should provide a travel cot and a highchair. But make sure you check before you go as many are only available upon request, and some places will charge.
5. Nice-to-have facilities at your accommodation might include a heated pool - outdoor pools even in hotter climates can still feel cold to a baby’s sensitive skin. Some larger hotels may provide creche services, and some have baby monitors you can borrow. Otherwise take your own. Indispensable for if you’re staying close to the room but want to coincide a spot of sunbathing with baby nap time.
6. Don’t take your expensive travel system away with you. It’s likely to get banged up by the baggage handlers if you’re flying, and will take up tons of space in the car if you’re driving. Look out for deals on second hand Maclaren type buggies on ebay or your local nearly new sales. It’s pointless buying a brand new one to take away with you when it’ll get covered in sand and suncream.
7. …speaking of which, many brands including Boots Soltan do a range of suncreams especially designed for baby skin. Also pack a parasol or sunshade for the buggy as well as long sleeved loose fitting tops and several sun hats. The ones with the neck visors are good for when you want to take baby in the pool. Take a couple of extra large muslins as these are great sunshades - use them in the window of your hire car to give shade in the back; or drape over the buggy when you’re on the beach to give some extra shade.
8. Don’t bother packing all the nappies you’ll need for your stay. Just take enough to get you through the first couple of days. Most European countries sell brands including Pampers.
9. If you’re flying, take a bottle for the descent as the sucking action will help equalise the pressure in baby’s ears. Also if your baby falls asleep towards the end of the flight, try to get them to do so on your lap with their seatbelt around them. Otherwise, to comply with flight safety regulations, you will have to move them and in doing so will most likely wake them up just at the worst part of the flight. Cue screaming baby. Thank god for that handy bottle you packed…!
10. Make a list a week before you’re due to travel with all the things you’ll need so that a) you have time to actually get them, and b) you’re not worrying all the way up to the holiday that you’re forgetting something vital!
11. When you’re actually on holiday, let baby dictate when they want to eat and sleep. Kick out the rigid routine and just go with the flow.
12. Take baby’s favourite toys and books with you but also break open a couple of new ones. The novelty factor of these brand new toys might just get you through a tight spot.