So you'll be glad to know that I genuinely don't have time to waffle too much here, and this is going to be more of a pictorial affair. I've never had so little time to do, well, anything. My poor little man is teething and he is in absolute agony most days. My days are mostly spent feeding or cuddling him. I'm dosing him with Neurophen, Calpol, Bongela and Teetha gel / granuales as much as I possibly can, but seeing my baby boy in pain is just heartbreaking. I can already see the tip of a tooth that has surfaced on the bottom. So yes, time is precious and mostly spent comforting Billy. The very worst of it has been this week, starting literally the day after his christening. It's just one of those things, the poor little mite.
I could literally write a book detailing the different parts of our holiday that I want to share with you all, but I'm going to have to have a bit of self control here. We travelled to Caleta De Fuste in Fuerteventura on 27th September 2014 for our first family holiday when baby Billy was just 16 weeks old. I'm going to let the photos pave the way here.
The airport. Things I would recommend? Think about the logistics, make a plan, and DO NOT STRESS. I'm a pretty anxious person at the best of times but thankfully I'm not someone who gets stressed out in airports. I know people who are so laid back that they are horizontal, and yet mere thought of an airport fills them with panic. The way I see it is that you have a bit of a process you have to follow, so follow it, check and re-check everything, have a plan and just go with it. Going to the airport and flying with a 16 week baby is probably a bit of an exception and I definitely could have turned in to an absolute lunatic, but surprisingly I didn't.
I had planned to get rid of the pram at the check-in desk (any person travelling with a baby is entitled to bring a buggy or pram free of charge). I could have kept it until the steps of the actual plane, but I thought that the sling would be a better option given the time of day. It would be Billy's "nap time" and I knew he would sleep happily in the sling. He would also sleep comfortably in the pram but I had a feeling that carrying Billy in the sling along with wheeling my trusty little pink suitcase would be a calmer set-up. And that it was! We arrived at Terminal 2 having parked in the long term carpark in Dublin Airport (which cost €40, much cheaper than two taxis for us, and meant our car seat was ready and waiting when we landed). A shuttle bus brought us on our merry way and it was totally painless and calm. When we got to the check-in desk the lady tagged our pram, took our suitcases (which were under the weight limit, why does that always feel like a victory?), and that was it. I took a seat nearby and fed Billy because I knew he would fall asleep in the sling for some time. A quick feed later and we were on our way through security with Billy in the sling. They even let me walk through the metal detector and do the whole security thing with Billy still in the sling which made life a lot easier (I wish the same could be said for the flight home. They were pretty much the opposite and I had to wake Billy up).
As you can see I dressed casually and comfortably. I wore a pair of leggings from H&M, a black string top, and an oversized baggy top from H&M. All this was themed with sandals from Penneys and compulsory 'I'm going on holidays' sunglasses. Oh, and wearing a baby! I wanted to dress comfortably, wear something that I wouldn't be too hot in when we landed in Fuerteventura and yet something that wasn't too light either. As always I also had to think about feeding Billy. Wearing a string top under my top meant I could easily latch him on without showing the world my belly. No you heard me right, I've no issue with people seeing the boobs, but the flabby post-baby belly (this is a lie, it was flabby before, but that sounds good) reveal would be a bit of an issue for me. All in all, 'twas a good choice on the outfit front.
Ah sure there I am. We arrived at the bungalows and to my delight they put us in a bungalow directly in front of the pool. You literally walked out our door and the steps to the pool were about a metre away. I was chuffed about this as it meant I could enjoy pool time and still see my baby and my baby daddy (I have ALWAYS wanted to say that. His name is Peter, which is slightly less ghetto to be fair).
We've stayed in these bungalows before so I knew what to expect but I was thrilled to see that they had actually been renovated since our last stay and were even better than before. I seriously can't fault this accomodation. It's ideal if you have young children or a baby because there are no steps, it's clean, has a super cheap poolbar that does decent grub, and it's a two minute walk to the town where the bars and restaurants are. It's also a two minute walk from the beach. What's even better is that it is incredibly cheap. For 10 nights accomodation we paid €230 for the three of us. That's great value for money.
There he is. Baby daddy himself! He actually brought Billy for a walk nearly every single morning. They would go on a little adventure while I would tidy up, have a dip in the pool, read a magazine and eat a yoghurt on the patio. I loved this "me time". I could write a whole post on the pram (which I won't do, don't worry) but I would have been lost without it. We both agreed that this pram is just brilliant. It's the Mothercare Expedior and the whole thing including car seat cost €319. That is seriously cheap for a travel system. It's suitable from birth to 3.5 years, morphs from a pram (bassinet) to a stroller, comes with rain over and handy storage basket underneath, and is just all round fabulous. Billy slept in it for the entire holiday. At night time we just removed the hood and it acted as a comfy moses-basket type of bed. Billy loved it. As requested, the accomodation had given us a travel cot but we didn't even bother. The pram easily changed from being inclined to being flat and so when he fell asleep we would make it flat and then pull down the sun shade to darken it for Billy. He would happily sleep in it anywhere. He slept during walks, in restaurants, in a bar, at the beach, on the patio, of alongside our bed throughout the night. Absolute God send.
Now, this brings me on to my next point. The sun shade. Did someone say "best purchase ever"? I bought this shade for €22 in Tony Kealys about two weeks before we went away and it was perfect. I wasn't keen on the Shade The Babe or Snooze Shade things and this was an excellent alternative. We couldn't have coped without it. It extended to totally shade Billy from the sun and it also pulled so far forward that it totally covered any light getting in and created darkness in the pram when Billy slept. Thrilled with it! To anyone travelling to a sunny destination with a baby, DO NOT get a parasol umbrella that clips on to the buggy. I made this mistake and ended up being refunded two days later. You literally spend every minute or two changing the position of the umbrella as you turn a corner, and as the sun's position changes. Pain in the bum.
Doesn't he look comfy? The pram came with this lovely bassinet cover which is like a soft mattress and makes for very happy sleeping. We only discovered recently that he likes to sleep on his side.
Like father like son. During one of their afternoon naps. Billy would nap and Peter would do the same and mind him while I had a swim or relaxed for a while which was really nice. Scenes like this totally melt my heart. My two men. Just look at them!
Billy would also happily nap in the pram on the patio so we could enjoy the sunshine while he slept in the shade. I think he enjoyed the breeze and the noise of the people splashing about the pool too.
Snug as a bug in a... suitcase. This is totally one for the wall at his 21st.
The day we went to the beach. We rented one of these "beds" for €15 and it was definitely worth it. I'm this photo Billy is asleep in the pram with the shade covering it and facing away from the wind. I had a nice dip in the sea until he woke up and then he had his first ever experience of the sea which he loved.
Having a little moment with my little man who is clearly deep in thought looking at the waves crashing. Seriously, look at his hair!
First time touching sand and sea water with his feet. He loved it. A lovely moment.
We ate out most nights in one of the lovely restaurants in Caleta but one night I was treated to a home cooked meal on our patio. It was our 5 year anniversary while we were there, and this is how we celebrated. Peter is an amazing cook and he made a bacon a choritzo pasta dish with salad and crusty bread on the side. We also had dates wrapped in Serrano ham which was damn good.
A lovely morning where I was just about to feed Billy on the patio. I loved being able to feed him absolutely anywhere without giving it a seconds thought. It was actually rather liberating. I fed him in restaurants, at the beach, IN the pool, at the pool, and everywhere in between. No bottles, no sterilising or formula measuring, just me and my boobs. So so handy and it made our holiday that little bit more easy going. I loved it! Billy fed more regularly while we were away and that is most likely due to the heat. A lot of it would have been thirst.
A late night thumb suck on the patio. It's about 1am here and Billy woke up crying on a particularly hot night. We brought him out on to the patio where it was nice and windy with a lovely cool breeze. He cooled down and went back to sleep soon after.
A compilation of "Billy and water" photos because he really loved it. The pool (which he was in everyday), the sea and the waterpark. He is definitely a water baby like his mammy. His daddy loves water too but is convinced that every single jelly fish that ever lived is touching his feet.
And a bit of an OOTD baby holiday collage. I couldn't help but dress my tiny baba in the cutest little outfits. I bought most of these in Las Vegas when I was 7 months pregnant, so to actually see them on "the baby" was quite surreal.
During the day he mostly just wore short vests and then at night we would dress him in his actual clothes which ranged from jeans and a shirt to shorts and t-shirts. Then at night we would strip him of the clothes and he would sleep in just the vest underneath. This was handy when we would go out for dinner and he fell asleep. It meant we could just gently take his clothes off and leave the vest on, meaning he was ready for "bed" and could sleep for a good long stretch without being disturbed too much.
He slept great on holidays. I would usually feed him twice during the night but it would just be a quick dream feed and he would drift back off straight away.
So there we have it, a bit of an insight in to our first family holiday. It was a total success and the flights were easy and painless. I would totally recommend travelling with a baby who was in the 3-6 month bracket because it is such a perfect time. They're not eating solids so all you have to worry about is milk, they sleep a lot (and even more so in the heat) and they are great fun! We couldn't be more delighted that we made it happen and it's something we will look back on forever as a special experience for our little family. I was 15 before going on my first airplane, and Billy was 16 weeks. Times are different now and it's all so much more accessible.
As for the financial side of things, we got a good deal. I had saved €1000 for when I was on maternity leave to help me out for the six months but one day I decided to book a holiday instead. Totally spur of the moment and the best decision ever. I booked it during the Aer Lingus sale and the whole holiday cost is €880. That's for all three of us including all flights, bags, accomodation and taxes/charges associated. As for spending money, we spent about €90 a day between us. We could have easily spent half that if we wanted to but we had nice meals etc!
I'm the kind of person that needs holidays. I just find a way to make them happen and it's always so worth it.
And like everything, it was the very last day before we found the place that did the nice coffee. Doh!
I'll leave you with this, my top tips for going on holiday with a baby.
- Stock up on sun cream. Factor 50 all the way. For you and baby. It just isn't worth the risk.
- Buy and use a UV suit in the pool. So important for protection against the harmful rays of the sun, and it's just a bonus that they look adorable too.
- Think carefully when packing your hand luggage. Make sure you have everything to hand that will make life easier for you on the plane. For us it was spare clothes, nappies/wipes, spare doddee, and pain relief for poor teething Billy.
- Let baby lead the way. We never had a planned time to go out for dinner while on holidays. We would wait until Billy had a feed and was asleep before setting off to a restaurant. This meant he happily slept in the pram while we enjoyed a meal.
- Bath them every day. Even if you don't usually bathe the baby every day at home, it's important to wash away the sun cream which might be a bit irritating to a babies skin if left there all night.
- Drink plenty of water. In general, but particularly if breastfeeding as chances are your baby will feed more regularly than usual due to thirst due to the heat.
- Suss out the flight times and really think about the affect the times might have on you all, particularly the baby. We had a very late flight coming home which wasn't ideal because Peter was in work the next morning and ended up having about three hours sleep, and it meant a full day of sauntering around Feurteventura trying to fill up time. You know that feeling? You're all packed up, you are mentally prepared for going home and yet you have hours and hours to kill. You don't feel that relaxed holiday vibe any more and are focusing on the logititics of travelling home. However, the late flight worked a treat for Billy who basically slept from the moment we arrived at the airport in Feurteventura until the next morning in Dublin. He literally just woke for his feeds.
- Don't stress too much about spending money. As with most holidays, you can spend as much or as little as funds will allow. I'm the kind of person who needs holidays. I just book it and figure out the spending money afterwards. Saving a bit every week is a good idea and it all really adds up. There are always super cheap places to eat and you can whip up quick and easy dinners in your holiday kitchen too!
- Take lots of photos. I'm obsessed with taking photographs in general, but I know that I'll cherish them forever and they really bring back wonderful memories.
- Don't bring your hair-dryer, straightener or curling tongs. Let it all hang out and enjoy a few days of the 'natural' (ie lazy holiday) look.
- Change your bed sheets the day you leave for holiday. This might sound weird but when you arrive home from holiday it is the loveliest feeling to sink in to your own bed with fresh sheets and fresh PJs. I would also recommend stopping at a shop on the way home from the airport to pick up milk and bread. It's nice to be able to wake up and have a bit of breakfast before facing the mountains of washing and 'back to reality' ness.
- Don't bother getting too depressed when the holiday ends. That's why they are called holidays. They're treats. I used to get really down when a holiday ended but there really is no point. It ruins the whole thing. Enjoy it and then start thinking about booking another one ;) "Champagne ideas and lemonade money" comes to mind.
- Stop making excuses. A holiday is more doable than you might think. I'm not someone who goes out every weekend or spends €100 on a pair of shoes. I'd rather a holiday. It's SO SO worth it when it comes around. You deserve a holiday. A few days of being carefree with your family. Go on, DO IT!
I hope this post was somewhat helpful if you're thinking about taking your baby on holiday, or if you have something booked. I actually booked the holiday when I was seven months pregnant. It was the best thing I ever did and I spent the majority of my maternity leave looking forward to it. Fell free to message me or comment if you have any questions or if there is anything I have left out.