We have just got back from a relaxing family holiday in beautiful Croatia. We stayed in a lovely little town called Omiš which has stunning scenery and a fascinating history (including pirate forts!). The shady beaches and family friendly restaurants made it a great location to visit with a little one. However, for baby changing we had to make do with the back seat of the car or laying the buggy flat. Getting to and from Croatia with a 10 month old certainly had its challenges. It was worth it though for being able to relax in the sun for a few days. In this post I’m going to share some of our top travel product recommendations for making trips with a tot more manageable.
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Travelling with a baby requires teamwork, patience and a positive attitude. Nerves can begin to fray very quickly when things don’t go to plan and when you feel under-prepared. This wasn’t our first time travelling with our little girl and we have certainly learnt a few lessons along the way.
Take your own car seat
We like to hire a car when we go on holiday. It means we can choose accommodation that is off the beaten track, but still get to supermarkets, restaurants, local towns and quiet beaches. Now we have a little one though, we have to sort out having a car seat.
When we booked the hire car, we declined the option to hire a car seat and decided to take our own. This was to save money as hiring a car seat for a week and half would cost the same as buying a new one! It was also because we were worried that a hired car seat could have been dropped, or been in a crash. We would have no way of knowing if it was safe.
Taking your own car seat means your baby will be in the seat they are used to, you know you haven’t abused it, and the airlines will check it into the hold for free if you are travelling with an infant.
How to protect your car seat
The disadvantage to taking your own seat is that it is a cumbersome oath of an item to lug around. In order to prevent it from being damaged by the enthusiastic baggage handlers, you need to make sure it has a decent amount of protection. We tried packing our seat in its original box but it was really hard to carry this way. The box was also ruined after the one trip, so it wasn’t a good long term solution. As we waited for our car seat to turn up on the carousel, we saw someone else who had their seat in a special travel bag. We decided we definitely needed one of these for future trips.
The best bag we found was the JL Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag. It was the only one we could find that had decent padding for the car seat. It also has enough space to add your own ‘padding’, such as nappies, wipes, towels and pool flotation aids. It’s a sneaky way to get some extra luggage space without a weight limit. As long as you don’t take the mickey, the airline will just book the bag in as oversized luggage without questioning what’s inside it.
JL Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag
Take a cheap and light travel stroller
We didn’t want to risk taking our normal buggy on a plane. We feared how it would fare with the baggage handlers. It was recommended by a friend that we get a cheap second hand stroller to use for travelling. Like the car seat, airlines will take a pushchair for free. They will also let you keep it until you are about to board the plane. You leave it at the gate and the staff will put it in the hold. If you’re lucky, you’ll be given it back as you exit the plane. If not it will be returned to you at the baggage carousel.
The stroller we chose was the MacLaren Techno XT. It is super sturdy but lightweight (7.2kg). There are so many of these available second hand on eBay and Facebook so you can get one at a great price. Aim for £35-50 depending on age and usage. eBay has much better protection for buyers, so I would recommend that for getting the buggy itself. However, I did find Facebook very useful for buying accessories, such as a rain cover and a travel bag.
The beauty of the Techno XT is that it has premium, high quality features that last a long time. This means that when buying one second hand, you are still getting a solid and reliable stroller (as long as the person you are buying it from has treated it well). Some features, such as the suspension, are much better than you would get buying a cheap alternative from new.
If any parts are worn or damaged, everything on the Techno XT is replaceable – the hood, wheels, straps, seat fabric – the lot. The replacement parts are easy to get second hand as well, so you won’t have to spend a lot maintaining it. As a travel buggy this is great. If something breaks during transit you can just change the damaged part.
Surviving being away from home
You don’t realise quite how many home comforts you depend on for caring for your baby until you try to survive without them on holiday. Where is your little one going to sleep? How do you feed them without a high chair? Trying to choose accommodation that specifically provides these can limit your choices, so next I want to share the things that we use to create a home from home when we’re away.
A lightweight travel cot
A lot of traditional ‘travel’ cots are heavy and awkward to carry. We looked for alternatives and came across the LittleLife Arc 2. This great little cot is super lightweight (only 2.5kg) and packs up into a travel bag that is about the same size as a rolled up sleeping bag. We just throw ours into our suitcase and pack our clothes around it. The mattress inside is really comfortable for your little one. It’s really easy to put up and take down. We find it always fits neatly into a corner of the bedroom we are staying in or alongside the bed. If you are staying anywhere hot, the mesh panels mean mosquitoes can’t feast on your child during the night.
A great accessory you can get with this cot is a sunshade that fits over the top. This means you can use the cot outside as a playpen or napping place with the benefit of sun protection. You can secure the cot with tent pegs if you are using it outside. Our favourite use of the sunshade though is as a ‘blackout blind’ for the cot. It stops our little girl waking up as soon as the sun peeks through the curtains of wherever we’re staying!
LittleLife Arc 2 with Sunshade
If you don’t want to buy this cot new they are quite easy to find second hand on eBay or Facebook. There is another version available called the LittleLife Arc 3 which is bigger, and can be used by a child up to the age of 3/4 (depending on their height).
A clever pocket sized high chair
This ingenious little pocket high chair from JoJo Maman Bebe is brilliant for travelling. It means we can create a high chair anywhere that has a seat with a back on it! I chose the wipe clean version (for obvious reasons) but they do have a slightly cheaper non-wipe clean version as well. Both versions are machine washable.
Pocket High Chair by Jojo Maman Bebe
(images taken from jojomamanbebe.co.uk)
Feeding on the go
Whenever we travel with our little one, we pack a couple of days worth of food to take with us. Pouches are the most lightweight option. It gives you a bit of a grace period when you arrive at your destination before finding a supermarket where you can stock up on baby food. You can read about our favourite brands and flavours of pouches here.
As well as putting pouches in the suitcase, we also carry food in our hand luggage. Baby food does not have the same liquid restrictions when you go through security. They will ask you if you have any and check it separately. If you are carrying milk that is not factory sealed, you may get asked to taste it.
Another item which I throw into the suitcase is a pack of Tommee Tippee disposable bibs. They are so useful when travelling; very lightweight and surprisingly cheap. Amazon stock them, but you can also sometimes find them in the supermarket. Aldi recently stocked them for £2.49 a pack. Since discovering these travel bibs I now use them any time I take my baby out anywhere because they are so convenient.
Staying safe in the sun
We have a real battle on our hands when it comes to putting sun cream on our little girl. She absolutely hates it, especially on her face. What’s more, most of the normal brands irritate her skin and bring her out in spots.
To help get around this issue I have been buying Ultrasun once a day sun cream. We put it on in the morning (at least 20 minutes before going in the sun). We can then forget about sun cream for the rest of the day. Ultrasun has a really high UVA and UVB protection, and the Extreme version is SPF 50. This is the one that I use on my daughter. It is suitable for sensitive skin and she has had no irritation from it at all. Although she still hates the first application she only has to go through it the one time.
Once the cream has dried into the skin you can’t feel it at all. It’s pricey, but we only needed one bottle for her for our entire 10 day holiday. We still had some left at the end. I normally do a Google shopping search to find the best price. If you need it sooner, John Lewis and Jojo Maman Bebe stock it.
My husband and I are also big fans of Ultrasun as we also hate having to reapply sun cream all day. I burn really easily so having a product where I feel safe in the sun is great. The cream stays put even if you swim, so it is perfect if you like a dip in the pool or sea. If you swim a lot, you might like to top up with a second application in the afternoon. We use Ultrasun Family which is SPF 30.
We bought the 400ml bottle and this lasted the 2 of us for 10 days. You can get smaller sizes too. I normally get it online, but you can also find it in John Lewis. Sometimes you can find Ultrasun in TK Maxx at a discounted price.
Thank you for reading!
I hope these tips can help you with planning a trip with your little one. Is there anything you couldn’t live without when going off somewhere on a family holiday? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments!
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