With an entire new part of the country to explore, we’re hoping to get away a lot over summer. Little day trips to the coast, the occasional weekend away. I just love having something to count down to and plan for!
I’ve been bookmarking some cute hotels and cottages for upcoming trips, the kind of places that feel like a home away from home. We love a lowkey cottage, or a boutique hotel – the kind of places we loved before we had a baby.
I find these trips pretty stress-free even with a wee one; we can load up the car, do a food shop en route, and have a pretty chilled night away just the three of us. It’s the kind of thing I imagined doing when I was pregnant, so it feels special (and triumphant!) to be living out my coastal mama life.
Our recent trip to Rye was a really lovely trip to do with a baby so I thought I’d share some tips for an overnight stay with a little one. We stayed at The George which was just dreamy – the beautiful reception rooms were like baby sensory, and they were so accommodating of Dahlia. We really loved our stay there!
Jord and I haven’t had to change the way we live our life too much since having Dahlia (except a few tweaks), we still love to travel and go out to nice restaurants, stop for pub lunches or get fish and chips on the beach – although Dahlia is still quite wee so it’s easier than older/multiple kids!
It’s always good to check beforehand if the hotel you’re staying at is baby-friendly and can provide a travel cot. Most are fine to put one in the room (occasionally they’ll ask you to bring your own cot sheet) and will usually make sure you have an extra towel and a blanket too.
We do have our travel cot should we need it – the Joie Cot FYI, highly recommend, but to save the faff we usually try to make sure the hotel has one we can borrow. Then we just pack Dahlia’s sleeping bag and we’re all set.
If we have space and are going for more than one night, I will occasionally take a few extras like our Hatch Sound Machine (it means I don’t have to sacrifice my phone!), and maybe the baby monitor if we’re in separate rooms (we have this Nooie one and it’s a great affordable option!) but otherwise we don’t need much else. We can usually bathe her in the bath or I’ll take her in the shower with me, and she’s usually okay to be popped down on the floor or in her travel cot to play while we get ready in the mornings.
It can be hard to pack light with a baby, especially as there are so many “what ifs” involved! I tend to pack the essentials (sleeping bag, sleep suits, nappies, wipes, bib, pouches, snacks, spoons) in the main suitcase or weekend bag we share and then keep a bag in the car for extras should we need them. We don’t tend to move this bag from the car so we have it wherever we go – it has things like extra sleep suits and an extra outfit, a pack of nappies and some food pouches etc. too. It’s little things like this that give you peace of mind when you’re trying to leave and wondering if you have everything!
The Pram Conundrum
I find with the sort of trips that involve lots of walking, the carrier works best (especially for cobbled streets!) – one of us carries the babe, the other takes the change bag. We have the BabyZen YoYo which is compact and great for little cafés and side-streets, but not ideal for cobbles and rough ground. We usually pack a carrier and our pram and switch between them depending on what we’re doing (and which one Dahlia has decided she will nap in that week!)
For us, this is always the trickiest part of travelling with a small person, when we first started weaning I found it all a bit overwhelming trying to work out when and where to feed her.
For dinner, we go early! Ideally around 5/6pm. It sounds a bit of a buzzkill but you always, always get a booking (even in popular places!) and it means you can be back for bedtime. Jord and I will always find a way to please everyone – even if that means we have a late lunch and feed Dahlia separately back in the hotel room later, or order a late room service once she’s in bed. As long as we’re all fed and happy, I don’t worry too much about how we manage it.
I always pack a pouch (like the Ella’s Kitchen ones) for Dahlia (usually a beige one for less mess!) and then give her bits of our dinner. I always think the social element of her eating with us, chatting to other diners etc. outweighs the probably-not-great nutritional value. Something’s gotta give!
I also usually take a banana/something else I know she will eat that isn’t too messy, along with her bib, a couple of spoons and her water bottle. And then wipes. Lots of wipes. Having worked in hospitality for many years, you will always find me crawling under the table cleaning up after my baby! It’s a humbling experience.
I have learnt to just deal with whatever we’re faced with when it comes to eating out at restaurants. The other day we turned up for a late lunch somewhere and they didn’t have a high chair (the first time this has happened!) so we just sat her on our knee and made the most of it. Another time Dahlia shrieked and laughed her way through a whole breakfast – the other diners were good about it but I did feel a bit *aware* of my noisy (but happy!) child. You have to roll with the punches I guess.
We always try and plan any travel around Dahlia’s naps, so she sleeps in the car and wakes up when we get there. If it’s a long drive, we’ll set off in time for her first nap, stop for a break/lunch when she wakes up and then finish the drive in time for her second nap. It usually makes the drive pretty pain-free!
For bedtimes, if you’re sharing a hotel room it can be a bit of a slog having to be quiet once the baby is asleep but we tend to watch a film with the sound on low/have a bath/read/order room service. Again, not quite the vibe we’re used to but I don’t hate it! I think as far as sacrifices go, having a lowkey night in with your other half isn’t exactly a tough one.
For us, one night off our typical routine doesn’t change too much in the grand scheme of things. If she goes to bed a bit later, or doesn’t stick to her usual schedule, we find she gets back in to the swing of things pretty quickly once we’re home and in a familiar setting. We deal with it on a case-by-case basis, sometimes she will sleep in her pram on the move and other times it will need to be in the carrier or the cot. Again, we just roll with it!
I think the most important thing is to just take a few deep breaths if needed and try to make the most of it. There will always be a missed nap, a lost hat, a less than ideal nights sleep, but you may as well be somewhere nice than stuck at home.
I hope these tips help you feel a bit more confident booking a quiet trip away with your wee one – I’m hoping we’re still able to travel when Dahlia is older, although I can just tell we’re going to have our hands full with her once she’s more mobile!
What are your top tips for travelling with a baby?
*This is just my own experience and tips, please don’t feel any sort of way if you do things differently. We’re all out here trying our best! However, I’d love you to share some of your own advice in the comments.