Sometimes, before an article is written, I casually ask the Mammy’s Whatsapp group for additional pointers regarding a certain topic. The first bit of feedback received was off a mammy of three, who kept things typically succinct with the following nuggets – “Assume your partner is an imbecile. Check the dates on the passports.” If only it were that easy…
When travelling with babies or young kids, things become slightly trickier. If you don’t have time to read the reams of words below, here’s a summarised version of me spouting sh*te on The Last Word regarding this very topic…
• Purchase a lightweight buggy that you can close/open singlehandedly. True the weight shouldn’t really matter given airlines are kind enough to let you bring a buggy for free, but just from a handling perspective, it’s easier. One of the lightest pushchairs come from Cosatto, and easily manoeuvred one handed. I checked it on in person in a well-known mother and baby shop – and then bought it for cheaper online… Lastly, if you do go with a lighter buggy, don’t be tempted to load it up like a mule; the amount of times I’ve seen the whole thing tip over with the child inside…
• Now that you have your buggy for the sun, what you now need is some shade. Forget fannying about with buggy parasols; every time you change the direction you have to then move the parasol to keep the kid in the shade – its fine if you’re staying stationary, but it’s a buggy… What you need is some entire coverage – especially if you want your child to sleep while you’re out. Imagine, you could actually go for A DRINK while your child is tucked away.
This ‘Sun & Sleep Sunshade’ from Koo-di ticked all the boxes and, when you’re not using it, it scrunches up into that pocket at the back, transforming into handy sack…
• Keeping with handy sacks; get yourself a car seat bag. At this point, you may be thinking “Jaysis this holiday is costing us enough as it is, can I not just stick it in a bin bag and shtick it through??” – you’re not looking at the bigger picture… What would you prefer to do, spend in the region of €30 each way for a suitcase, or stuff your car seat bag with a f**k load of nappies, bedding, etc for just a tenner.
• This brings us neatly to the aforementioned sleeping arrangements. Travel cots are usually heavy AF, which is kind of ironic. You could always request a cot at your accommodation, but there’s sometimes charge €5 a day for this luxury. Plus said cot usually hums of something suspect. Therefore welcome to the world of pop up sleep tents!
They have their own mattress, inbuilt mossie net and weigh pretty much nothing. We stuffed it into our suitcase. And, no, (sadly) this article has not been sponsored by Koo-di.
• Next thing on the agenda, getting to the airport with all this stuff. If you are flying to Dublin airport and looking at long-term parking options, might I suggest the Red car park? True, the Blue Car Park is slightly cheaper, but if you can pay the extra tenner; the time you’ll save and the nerves you won’t shred. The difference between 5 minutes away and 15 minutes away is quite a mammoth chasm when you’re short on time. Plus, the Red car park has actual tarmac, not shards of shingle, no parking lines, etc.
• Now that you’ve got all the crap and left it at the baggage drop, what next? Surviving the dreaded security queue. To be honest, we have never had a problem getting through security with children. If anything, it’s been quicker. There always seemed to be someone quickly ushering us and the buggy through wheelchair access areas.
The downsides; if you happen to have any baby foods or milk stowed away, you will have to wait for a marginal amount of time for it to be tested to make sure it’s not drugs / combustible. There is something that may hurry the process along, however. Airport Genie. It’s currently only available in Dublin Airport, in both terminals, and goes under the title of Fast Track. According to DublinAirport.com, this service – which sees you clear security in 10 minutes or less – also “entitles you SMS flight updates and get 10% off when you shop in The Loop.” It will cost you between €5.99 – €7.99, depending on the date and time of travel.
• Well done, you’ve made it closer to the boarding gates! Hopefully, you haven’t lost anyone and still have some semblance of sanity. All that’s left to do now is purchase some water and field repeated requests to go to the toilet. And wait to stand in another queue to board the plane… For the likes of Ryanair, we never bother with priority boarding, especially if the seats have been pre-booked.
What have you got to look forward to after managing to haul your kids, and your collective bags, all while carrying the family’s passports in your teeth (open on the photo page, natch) up a flight of free standing rickety steps? Oh, just hours of trying to entertain your offspring while under the watchful gaze of Judgy McJudgy Features.
To ensure you’re not seated beside them, do try to board the plane as early as possible. Once you’re seated, let your kids RUN WILD. Within reason of course. Running up and down the aisle is not reasonable, but let them jump around their seats, bang the seats surrounding them (assuming there’s nobody in those seats yet; bit rude otherwise), and pretty much do whatever they need to do to exorcise the crazy. The benefits of this are twofold; with any bit of luck they’ll sleep as soon as the plane takes off, AND no one is going to want to sit beside you. Bonus.
• So, at this point you’re probably trying to figure out how to use the infant seat belt along with your own (I hosted a tutorial for this on the back of a plane bound for Portugal; there was – no joke – seven couples with babies down the back of the plane and the air stewards had no intention of showing anyone what to do); or you have older kids. In which case, you just whip out the portable DVD player/tablet/laptop and stick on a film? Easy, right? Not when you’ve accidentally checked in your device…
• After about 3 hours of story time, eye spy, colouring, eye spy, several picnics, and eye spy, you start your descent into warmer climes – and that’s when the fun really starts. The howling. GAWD the howling. Their little ears are popping and you scoffed all the sucky sweets during picnic number 3. Never fear – having a yawning competition, followed by a face pulling fest – anything to get those jaws going in the absence of sweets. If you’re travelling with a baby, try giving them a drink or use a soother to help with potentially sore ears.
• REJOICE. YOU’VE DONE IT! The plane has landed. Before you start rejoicing uproariously, you must remember how to get yourself and the baby out of the dual seatbelt; haul yourself, the kids, and your bags down those scary steps (while dispensing sun hats); and then carry the baby the entire way to baggage claim because “they don’t leave the buggies by the plane in this airport.”
• All you need to do now is look forward to doing it all again on the way home. Yaaaay.