It has been some time since my last piece of babbling, so here’s to another one, hopefully this may be more helpful to some…
I recently travelled to Mauritius and Dubai for ten nights with my little crew. The preparation for the travels took longer than the actual trip itself. Here’s my top 10 must-dos including some must-have’s that I found incredibly helpful when travelling with my squad.
- Make Some Important Calls
I’m not talking about calling friends to brag about going away, that can wait but at least one month before your trip, ensure that you have contacted the airline(s) and the hotel(s). I found making them aware that you are travelling with babies eases any anticipation but more importantly prepares you for the actual trip itself. I flew with Emirates and they were incredibly helpful. We were able to reserve particular seats on the plane, those with a little bit more legroom and we could also request a bassinet for Leela. As well as providing parents with extra luggage allowance, you’re able to wheel your tots in their buggy around the duty free area, right up to the plane. Some airlines also provide parents with buggies which are available at the gate. This made travelling so much easier, especially when trying to catch that connecting flight! So calling the airline, simply prepares both you and them for your travels.
By calling the hotel, I could request a carrycot for both kids. A lot of hotels assume that one may be old enough to sleep on a bed and another in a cot, so I find clarification is always better. Communication also allowed us to get an upgrade on the room!
- Write List(s)
To me, this is a no-brainer. Lists are simply my way of organising every aspect of my life. There is nothing quite as satisfying as ticking an item off! Planning a holiday, however, involves a number of lists. I made a list of things to purchase and pack. My kids like most, spend their life eating, playing and annoying me. Now whether you’re travelling by plane, car, bus or train, there is a point where you realise that you have an expectation for that child to sit still for a period longer than an hour. My flight was a total of 14 hours and consisted of one transit. The list I had to prepare was ‘HOW AM I GOING TO ENTERTAIN THESE LITTLE PEOPLE?’
- Order A Few Must-Haves
This follows on from number two and is essential for the journey. Even the in-flight entertainment wasn’t enough for Reeyan. Most parents have an Ipad and if I hadn’t done my reading, Reeyan would have pestered many fellow passengers with continuous episodes of ‘Bing’….. “round the corner not far away, bing has had a busy day…” It can drive even the sanest into despair. So I called on Amazon and added ‘Headphones for toddlers’ to my search bar. “How else could I entertain a two year old?” I wondered and so the following was bought:
- Play dough
- Colouring book
Despite being given some of these lovely things on the flight from the emirates staff, I found that there was nothing quite like mummy, literally, pulling these out of the bag. I could use it for rewarding good behaviour and I could put it way for correcting bad.
- Packing The Essentials EARLY
Packing the essentials is probably the most unhelpful subheading I could come up with for number four but it’s in my top 10. It needs to be done at least one week before your travels as anything later means that you are at risk of forgetting something! I know we live in a time where anything can be bought wherever in the world, but believe me when I say packing early makes everything easier…and yes if you noticed at number two, I had a list for this too.
- Get Familiar With Child Facilities From Day One
This perhaps is one (of many) mistake we made. It was during the penultimate day of the holiday when we found out the hotel had a huge, fully equipped (with both toys and staff) play area. Such a shame as the kids loved it and so did we. They were able run wild, burning all that kiddie energy and finally flaking off into dreamland reasonably early that evening.
We were lucky enough to be in an all-inclusive hotel, which offered a wide range of food at the buffet. However, I also regretted not making the very most of it! Again only towards the end of the trip did we realise that they offered take away boxes which we could have filled up and taken with us during out travels – ‘duh’.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Break The Routine
A regimental routine at home happens to be what gets me through a day with my toddlers. Since the birth of Reeyan I have stuck to the ‘R’ word like glue, until, that is, I went on holiday. By all means, I still kept their nap and bedtimes but I wasn’t as disciplined as I am at home. I realised by breaking a few moulds, the kids demonstrated that they are indeed adaptable to whatever situation I put them in.
I am quite conscious of the kids having their own cot and bedroom. In the hotel in Mauritius, the kids had to share a room (so I was worried about one waking the other up). On the first night, they slept right through and on the second, third…you get the gist. The kids were still able to stick to their routine even if it was broken during the trip and this is by far the greatest reward of a meticulous routine at home (and for those who wonder what that entails – check out my blog on ‘The R word’)
- Get Away
It is your goddamn trip too! And you have every right to spend at least a few hours even a day or two, away from the kids with no guilt entailed. We called on the in-house babysitters and boy did we run to the bar that evening. I found it slightly disappointing that actually nothing changes whilst you’re away. The same demands are there, so as you would usually plan a date night at home, the same applies whilst you’re away. I also found the spa a great get away!
- Eat and Drink Well
Just like home, it is so easy to get enveloped with just caring for the kids and eating their leftovers. Whilst on holiday, I found that I needed more energy to keep up with them especially in that heat! I made it a point to keep eating and drinking well (the rum cocktails were the best!) and to highlight the same point again – It is your goddamn holiday too!
- Plan The Dreaded
You will have to come home at some point – it is inevitable. Cramming the suitcase the morning before the flight home was a distant memory when we were ‘kid-free’. As well as packing our suitcases ‘earlyish’, I had to ensure that the hand luggage was adequately packed. That meant making sure all the ‘entertaining Reeyan’ necessities were there.
There is nothing quite like home! You’ll be so exhausted you’ll be wanting to plan some deserved rest bite from your deserved rest bite!
So let’s summarise, prepare for your travels by calling the airline and hotel a good month before you travel. Write yourself a great list, this will highlight what essentials you need to buy. Pack early! To avoid any disappointment – get familiar with all child facilities early. If your child is in a great routine already, don’t be afraid to break it! Have some ‘you’ time, making the most of the facilities dedicated to relaxation. Keep your energy levels up, staying hydrated and again making the most of all the food and drink the hotel has to offer. Finally plan the inevitable, pack early and when you make it home – plan that next trip!