In June 2017, we went on our first summer vacation together with our 9-month old baby boy, Marios to Costa Brava in Spain.
Preparing for our trip was exciting but also daunting. What once was so easy to organize, now seemed complicated. There are so many different things for young parents to consider that they might even be tempted to cancel the vacation altogether. But there is no need to do that if you just organize everything on time.
Based on my experience, here are a few tips I have to share with you:
1) Make a list
My hubby is a pro when it comes to lists and even though I was making fun of him in the very beginning, I have now become addicted as well. It’s so easy to pack everything you need if you already have created a comprehensive list. Then you just have to cross every single item that goes into the suitcase and you are ready in no time. I also like to use categories such as clothes/bath time/food etc. so that it’s easier not to forget anything.
Do also make a list of any items you will need at your destination such as a crib, high chair, boiler, microwave, blender and a stove to cook baby meals and make sure they will be provided at the place you are staying.
2) Do your shopping
Make sure you have bought the items you need in advance so you don’t have to stress about finding them at the last minute. For example, it might be a good idea to buy powder milk in case you can’t find the same brand where you are going, (or have enough supplies for the first days until you get your bearings at your destination) sunscreen, mosquito repellent, swimsuit, hat and even a few toys for the sea.
3) Prepare for the day of the trip
We went to Costa Brava by car but no matter how you travel the same principles apply: think in advance of what you will need on the day of the trip and pack accordingly.
Food: have everything you need with you and leave behind whatever you can easily find on the road.
Clothes: have some extra clothes handy in case you need them, not only for your baby but also for you.
Toys: it’s always wise to have a few toys with you, preferably the less bulky ones, so that you can keep your little ones entertained when they start to get bored. Remember though that sometimes the most interesting toys, are not toys.
Diapers and wet wipes: I usually take about 10-15 diapers with me for a day of travelling but it really depends on your baby’s needs.
Think of what else you might need on the road. For example, in our case, we went to Spain from Lausanne by car as I mentioned before and the trip was pretty long: 10 hours driving including stops. We stopped on the road a few times to feed Marios and our picnic blanket was very useful as we could leave him on the ground and stretch a bit while playing around.
4) Think of your first night away
What we hadn’t considered was what we would eat ourselves while reaching our destination. Our Airbnb apartment was in the middle of nowhere and we arrived quite late so there wasn’t any grocery shop open to buy something to cook. Our only option was to go to the nearby restaurant for dinner and this wasn’t ideal because our baby boy was already too tired and personally, I would rather bathe him and put him to sleep. As it turns out, he looked rather happy to be playing around on the ground and interacting with Spanish people while we were dining on some paella and octopus, but still, it was a bit stressful.
5) Leave your laptop at home
It might be the second time that I manage to do this but it was such a wise decision. We wouldn’t have time –or better, the energy- to open our laptops anyway but not taking them with us in the first place was very liberating. Of course, mobile phones are always a great distraction but not when you don’t have an internet connection – and we didn’t have this either.
6) Have an open plan
Babies are so often unpredictable and it helps to acknowledge this reality and keep an open plan, always ready to adapt. For example, one day we thought we would put Marios to sleep in his stroller and then we could have lunch by the sea but, unfortunately, he couldn’t fall asleep although he seemed tired, maybe because it was a very warm day. We didn’t stress too much about it and decided to leave, as we knew he would sleep in the car –which he did- and had a big, yummy salad back at our apartment instead.
7) Search for the family-friendly places
While in Tossa de Mar, a wonderful Costa Brava resort, we went to Can Pini restaurant which was family-friendly and really enjoyed our time there with Marios. We were so pleased that we returned two days after for another dinner. They had high chairs for babies, a kid’s menu, and even brought bread, chips, and plastic glass for our baby without us asking for it. The staff was very friendly and the toilettes had a baby change table. Baby-friendly places like this one are bound to make your experience so much better.
8) Have fun with your kid
That’s why you are going on vacation, right? So sit back, relax and have fun no matter what.
9) Know where to go in case of an emergency
We didn’t manage to do this on this occasion. But for next time we go on a family vacation, it will be a priority. Search for the nearest hospital or the nearby medical centre, just in case. Better to be prepared than stressing out during an emergency.
10) Create memories
Vacation pass by so quickly. You blink and it’s over. They become happy memories. Take some photos or videos and once back at home, create a photo album or a short video to remember the good times of your travels. Don’t leave it for later, you will never get around to doing it.
Do you have any other travel tips for young parents? Share them below!
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