FIRST TIME FLYING WITH A BABY: OUR LESSONS

JULY 2021

In June we were finally able to travel internationally again, after not having crossed the Dutch borders since September 2020. When the Dutch government relaxed the travel restrictions in May, we immediately booked a ticket to Lanzarote to enjoy a week of nature, a private swimming pool and Spanish dishes. We would have preferred traveling with our little camper van, but unfortunately our neighboring countries still had quarantining policies, so we booked tickets to Lanzarote instead. Luckily, we are now welcome again in most European countries, so we can do our first international trips with the van in the upcoming weeks. Flying with Hugo went surprisingly well, but we still prefer to travel by van after our experience. In this blog you can find how we prepared the flight and vacation, how we experienced it and what we learnt.

Preparing for the flight & vacation

Our flight departed from Schiphol and the journey to Lanzarote would take us about 4 hours. Besides Hugo crying with exitement for five minutes we had a relaxed flight to Lanzarote and back again. This is how we prepared and what we did:

Timing the bottles: We timed Hugo’s bottles exactly during take off and landing. Drinking or using a pacifier helps keeping the baby’s ears open and prevents them from having pain during the flight. Especially the landing can be hard on the baby’s ears, luckily Hugo didn’t flinch one bit. We didn’t end up using the bottles as he just slept through both landings. We also made sure we brought sufficient baby food. We brought along a whole box of baby food, so we would have ample food in the case that we were delayed. We were able to bring hot and cold water through the safety check as we were traveling with a baby. The crew was very accommodating in helping us prepare bottles for Hugo.

Keeping the baby calm: Hugo was super exited once we arrived to the airport. In certain spots there were a lot of people and there were twinkle lights and music everywhere, so he was incredibly entertained. Hugo shows his excitement by screaming, which is not very pleasant to the ears 😉 We searched for an isolated spot in the airport to wait for our plane and this really helped calming Hugo down.

Don’t stress: To be honest, I felt a bit embarrassed traveling with a baby on a plane at the first opportunity that arises during a pandemic. We had to wear face masks during the whole flight, something Hugo doesn’t like as it hinders him connecting. It was quite busy in the plane, so it also felt like I was exposing him to a COVID risk and I felt a bit guilty tagging him along in my indulgences. Luckily, we were treated super nicely by the crew and the other passengers. Everybody loved receiving a smile from Hugo and lots of kids came to say hi. Unfortunately, I am always thinking about what other people think of me (and end up doing exactly what I want anyway), so being received kindly on the plane helped me relax during the flight. I think this level of relaxation helped Hugo relax too, as he slept through a large part of the flight. Hugo was sleeping on our laps, so every time he would turn we could easily give him his pacifier and this helped him stay asleep. So in the end, I worried with no reason at all.

Rent a big car: We received an upgrade of our car for a small fee and we were very happy that we rented a bigger car. Traveling with a baby you need a stroller and it really helps if you have a comfortable car transporting all the baby items and your own luggage. I don’t know how we would have been able to do that with a small car.

Rent baby items: If you travel by plane you are only able to check in one item for your baby (for free), this can be a car seat, foldable stroller or a bag of luggage. As Hugo cannot sit up straight independently, we couldn’t bring a foldable stroller, so we decided to rent one on Lanzarote instead. You will be surprised how much you can rent on a holiday island if you do a quick google search. Easy hire 365 brought a stroller to our holiday villa and we were also able to rent a baby gym, which I personally find a life saver.

Hire an apartment: Usually I don’t cook when I am traveling, but with a baby I prefer to have an accommodation with cooking facilities. Hugo usually goes to bed between 7-8PM, so that is the time that we needed to be back at the accommodation. If you have a little kitchen, it is also much easier to prepare baby food (you don’t want to bring a kettle). Our holiday villa was well equipped, with a couch for lounging and two bathrooms so we wouldn’t wake Hugo when going to the toilet or showering. He even had a separate room where the owner put his baby bed, overall: very comfortable.

How we experienced our holiday

I absolutely loved traveling with Hugo as his excitement brought such a new dimension to traveling. Hugo is the kindest and happiest baby, always smiling, and this attracted very nice reactions everywhere we went. We had so many funny moments with waiters who tried to entertain Hugo or get a laugh out of him, these little moments really make your day. Very often, I was super proud of how Hugo was enjoying himself and adjusting to the Spanish way of life.

Of course, traveling with a baby required a much slower pace than traveling as a couple. We usually had a lazy breakfast and then allowed Hugo some time to sleep. After his morning sleep we would start our sightseeing. Or in the case that we needed to drive for over an hour, we would leave right after breakfast and let him sleep in the car. I mainly found it difficult to do many short visits to sights, as this didn’t allow him enough time to sleep in the car. He would have just fallen asleep and would wake up grumpy if we would do that. So we picked a main activity for the day and would do a long lunch afterwards, during which Hugo would often sleep in his stroller.

Hielke and I love taking a dip when we are near water, but that required more planning with little Huug. On Lanzarote you can find many beautiful beaches and rock pools and we just brought Hugo along. We would always bring an umbrella, so we could create shade for him. He absolutely loved people watching on the beach, so we will definitely do a beach day again soon. We just had to make sure that he didn’t overstimulate, causing him to lose too much sleep.

The aftermath: what we would do differently

We ended up losing quite some sleep after this holiday, because Hugo caught a cold. We think this happened on the plane back to the Netherlands, as it was incredibly hot on this plane and we turned up the blower. Learn from this mistake: never turn up the blower no matter how much you are heating up… We had to deal with a loss of sleep for about 10 days after the holiday, something that probably would not have happened if we would have traveled with the van as we can adjust the climate pretty well in the van.

Our return flight was scheduled for 8PM, which meant we would be in Schiphol at 1AM CET. I thought this would be perfect as Hugo would probably sleep the whole flight. He did indeed sleep this whole flight, but because of the late flight and some delays we didn’t get home until 4AM. Of course Hugo was wide awake at 7AM, because he slept the whole night, causing us to be incredibly tired for days. With a little baby it is impossible to catch up on sleep. If you could time your flight differently, I would absolutely recommend to do so, but you just don’t always have influence on this.

I absolutely loved our first foreign travel adventure as a little family and would definitely do this again. Over the next months, we hope to mainly travel by van, as the van is specifically designed to travel with Hugo. But if the COVID crisis dies down even more, I do hope to catch a plane to a sunny destination again to celebrate my birthday in Autumn.

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