As children Phill and I didn’t see much of the World. I went to France with a Church group when I was 14 and it sparked a desire to travel – but it would be a decade before I left England again, for a weekend in Edinburgh and I was 26 the next time I actually left our little island.
In 2010, Phill (who was then my boyfriend ?) took me to Egypt.
We snorkled in coral reefs, bartered with locals, rode camels through the desert. I was hooked! The wanderlust had well and truly taken hold and luckily I’d found my perfect travel companion.
Together we’ve made up for lost time, visiting 15 countries, watching the sun rise and set over four different continents and generally we’ve been able to take Beth with us.
When most people think of family holidays, I’m sure they imagine kareoke and kid’s clubs, but we’ve 100% made the most of the fact that we had one child and she was quite grown up.
Our girl would think nothing of coming home to find the car packed, the passports out and a mischevious look on her parent’s faces. She barely batted an eyelid when she saw cross country routes through mountains and swamps….the journey is part of the adventure.
We drove around Florida once in a Dodge Ram, taking directions from locals at Flea Markets. Beth knows the island of Ibiza like the back of her hand having explored it from top to bottom.
One Christmas, when it didnt snow, we packed up the car and drove to Mont Blanc where we knew we’d find some.
When the three of us became the four of us, I was afraid that these adventures would have to come to an end.
I was wrong. Perhaps we can’t be quite so spontaneaous now that we have a baby’s needs to consider, but the last couple of days have proven that you can still go on road trips….even if one of you can’t yet say ‘are we nearly there yet?’
On Friday we set out on our first toad trip since Dottie was born – Lancashire, England to Britanny, France.
I was VERY nervous. Even well travelled children sometimes struggle with long journeys…so how qould a baby manage?
When I asked a group of parent bloggers for their advice when travelling with a baby, the overwhelming response was bring snacks, make sure all the essentials are handy and take regular breaks.
Snacks helped to a degree as Dottie has just started to have a few solids but mainly the snacks just distracted her for a bit. I did however pack individual snack bags for the Phill, Beth and I which is something I haven’t done before This meant that we didn’t have any debates over who ate the last packet of cheddars, we saved money by not buying food at motorway services and we could all quietly nibble at our own stash rather than rustling big packets around and waking her up…..or Dottie ?
Also they looked cute ?
We used an organiser to make sure that baby essentials were always within reach. It was ok but some of the pockets are so small that I’m not sure what you’re supposed to put in them and the larger ones gape as soon as they’re filled. So that’s something to think about if you’re buying one. It did the job I suppose but I’m sure that one of those shoe tidys would’ve been just as good.
The most common piece of advice was to be prepared for lots of breaks which we were. I’d go further than that now and say prepare to almost double your travel time and break up your journey with overnight stays if possible.
Many a time we’ve caught a couple of hours sleep in campsites and service station carparks so that we can press on to the next official stop on our journey. We simply can’t do that now. Not only does having a potentially grizzly baby distracting everyone mean that the driver needs to be even more alert, but babies shouldn’t be left in their carseats for more than a couple of hours at a time.
So instead of taking in a 600 mile trip in one go, we were able to spend the afternoon at the seaside (Dottie’s first), have a bite to eat and get a good night’s sleep before we continued on to France.
We didn’t need anywhere fancy, just a clean, family friendly room, close to Folkestone…..that didn’t cost the Earth. The Travelodge on Ramsgate Seafront was ideal and I really can reccomend them if you’re planning a similar journey across to the Continent. There was ample parking, it was secure and quiet despite being a seaside town.
Notably the room featured an actual bed for Beth as opposed to a sofa. Beth was very impressed with this but not so impressed when we decided to test how many people it fit…
….two, it fits two….and a half.
The hotel provided a cot for Dottie and were even accomodating to her ‘off the menu’ meal requests.
We woke up the next morning to a decent breakfast and then pushed on to La France for our first adventure as a family of four ?
Have you ever travelled with a baby?
What was your experience and what tips would you give?
*This post includes a review of Travelodge Ramsgate. Though we were invited to stay at the hotel, this is an honest account of our experience*