Fuerteventura 2017: 21 moments of clarity from taking our baby abroad
I’ve admitted I was wrong about my expectations that taking Roma on holiday was going to be a challenge. And the experience of our nine-night getaway to Fuerteventura last month has taught me 21 important lessons.
(1) Testing, testing
We had two road trips, Manchester and York, ahead of the holiday, which was really useful to get an idea of what travelling with a baby would be like. The first time around we over-packed massively and the second time we were more streamlined – handy when you face airline fines if your baggage is overweight.
Don’t book flights before you have your baby’s passport. We threw caution to the wind and made that mistake. After reading that it takes just three weeks for a new baby’s passport to arrive, we got complacent and left it with four weeks to spare, which meant we almost shat ourselves with worry it wouldn’t be delivered in time – thankfully, there’s no shortage of nappies in our house.
(3) Check and Send
Someone was clearly on our side. Using the passport check and send option – whereby the Post Office ensure everything is in order before posting – we were pleasantly surprised the passport arrived within days. The paperwork arrived at the office on Tuesday and we had the passport back on Saturday! No need to wear Roma’s nappies any longer.
Behind-the-scenes of this little diva’s passport photo shoot – she was fine after she got her demand for yellow peanut M&Ms ️ It’s exactly three weeks today until we go on our first family holiday, and I now feel safe posting this photo as Roma’s passport has officially arrived Yeah, we made the very risky move of booking the flights before we’d even sent off for the passport I’ve got to say well done to the passport office though, it arrived just four days after they received the application! What was your first family holiday like and where did it take you? #DADultLife #TravelTuesday #LivingDangerously
(4) Air fare
Apparently babies under two travel for free, but technically they don’t because you still need to pay tax for them – even though they sit on your lap. In the grand scheme of things though, it was only £20 each way for Roma.
This was quite a nice surprise – with Ryanair, you can take two pieces of baby-related equipment away for free.
(6) Battle of the buggies
We were fortunate enough to borrow a Babyzen Yoyo, which I’ve previously referred to as the Optimus Prime of the buggy world. A lightweight one-piece bit of kit, the Yoyo folds up into a portable bundle that can be carried across the body with ease thanks to built-in strap.
Using a Yoyo was in keeping with our plan to travel light and simplify things, which was ideal as we left our usual two-piece Joie buggy at home. And even though the Joie is by no means bulky, any pram will arguably feel like a tank next to the Yoyo’s portable daintiness.
Proper parent manoeuvre now – the checklist, which Jenna insisted on. Dull? Yes. Worth it? Also yes! You don’t want to get on board the plane and realise the bottles of milk are chilling in the fridge at home. As Jenna kept reminding me.
(8) Security checks
On the way out, our 15kg case weighed a whopping 20.6kg! There’s that overpacking thing I mentioned rearing its head again. I said the plan was to travel light, I didn’t say we’d mastered it! Thankfully, the guy at baggage drop turned a blind eye, perhaps taking pity on us travelling with a little un.
On the return, despite shaving off 4kg, we were still overweight and the woman on baggage did not share the same pity, charging us a tenner with relish.
(9) Getting to your gate
One day I’ll get to Stansted and actually have time to have a full English and pint of cider at Wetherspoons before boarding, but this was not the day. As a couple, it’s okay to powerwalk your way to the gate like maniacs, but with a baby and buggy in tow, you’ll need to recognise there will probably be a handful of lifts to wait for on the way to the plane. At least one of us managed to neck a stiff drink before taking off…
As we’ve learnt over the past few months, milk and motion are two guaranteed methods to send Roma to sleep. So, feeding her a bottle during take-off and landing was an ideal way to keep her calm – not that she ever really seemed overly fussed about what was going on around us.
(11) Sky high nappy changing
You know the expression there’s not enough room to swing a cat in here? Never would it be more accurate than when said in an aeroplane toilet while changing your child.
(12) The walk of shame
You’re a family man, but based on the look you’ll get from fellow passengers for daring to enter a plane with a baby, you may as well be doing the walk of shame after a heavy night.
(13) Seating arrangements
Being on a budget, we kept the flight no frills. That said, extra leg room will be essential the next time we go away. At 6’2, the seats are tight enough as it is, but with a sleeping baby rendering me immobile, I got extremely uncomfortable. The flight on the way back was especially painful and I felt like my knees were going to give up on me, so spent most of the flight hovering around the galley to stretch my legs out.
(14) We’ve landed!
Leaving a plane is always like a stampede. The people who are desperately yearning to rush off, only to wait at a carousel for their luggage, have no regard for those around them at the best of times, and seeing us with a baby didn’t change their urgency. As a result, we waited until everyone around us had got off the plane before making our exit.
(15) Pooling around
You could quite easily suffer from exploding head syndrome when blowing up your child’s inflatable – approach with caution. Or, you know, use a pump.
No, this isn’t a green light for you to wear Speedos. A friend, who happens to be a lifeguard, advised us to get a wetsuit for Roma ahead of taking her into the pool. That wouldn’t have been on our radar, but I copped one from Sports Direct and it seemed to help. The only time she went nuts during a swim was when she had been in the water for a while and became tired, so the extra layer was great for keeping her warm.
(17) Getting around
In addition to the pram, I took my baby carrier, but truth be told it was just excess baggage. The pram was ideal for our countless walks and realistically, the baby carrier would have probably only made the pair of us even hotter than we already were.
(18) Feeding time
Just order an iced water with your meal. It’s what your pina colada will taste like after all the time spent playing pass the parcel with your sleep-resistant child.
Remember finishing a meal without needing to pause every couple of bites? It’s been a running theme (read joke) Roma would be wide awake during every dinner except one – so eight out of nine – while @greyham85 and @megsd21 were able to tuck into their food in peace as their little bubba slept soundly, with @jennashilstfit and I rehearsing our juggling act. How did you do it?! What’s the secret? Any one else know this struggle? #DADultLife #PleaseSirIWantSomeMore
(19) Nappy changing
Depending where you’ve headed, the holiday destination may not have the same enthusiasm for baby changing facilities as restaurants in the UK. Be prepared to have your meal rudely interrupted with a poogrimage to find one nearby.
(20) Nappy changing – The bonus round
Swings and roundabouts…
(21) Memory fuel
Going away with Roma was more fun than I could have imagined. Paternity leave aside, it was the longest solid run we’ve had together as a family.
If you’ve got any worries about going away, try to cast them from your mind. With the right preparation, booking a family holiday for the first time will be the best possible thing you can do.