Going on holiday with a newborn and a toddler is not a holiday. It’s basically all the stresses, lack of sleep, need for wine, washing, chances of a divorce – doubled. In a hot country. So you are sweating more when you are muttering under your breath: “for fuck's sake". So my tips for going abroad with 2 under 2 are simply...
1. Don’t do it.
It would be like War and Peace if I wrote down the things that went tits up on this holiday. In a very short nutshell I’ll give you a brief rundown. Couldn’t book Elijah on to our flight as flights had changed to a different airline so had to cancel original flight and rebook, told we would be reimbursed, this has not happened so going through a complaint procedure as owed almost £2,000. UNBELIEVABLE. As you can imagine this was not a good start to the holiday. When my parents got there a day before and picked up the hire car, there were no car seats in it. Told they weren’t sure whether there were any available despite booking a car with two car seats, so they had to cancel and go to another provider which cost more money. (There is a theme here). I had to sit next to random strangers on the flights as there was only one infant oxygen mask per row with the airline we were flying with. So having to whack my boob out next to a stranger (always a man) was slightly uncomfortable but my husband made it better by shouting: “go on man, just get them out...” On the day of the wedding me, my dad, husband and kids got completely lost in the car and drove around Porto for over an hour (kids screaming obviously) while sweating in a bridesmaid’s dress wanting to bang my husband and dads' heads together. It was a fucking nightmare. And the list goes on. Honestly those tit bits only touch the sides! So as you can imagine if someone asks would you recommend going abroad with 2 under 2 I would say NO. I think if everything went right it would still be stressful but I think as long as you are aware that it might be slightly challenging and not go to plan – you'll be fine. And probably not helped that I was 8 weeks post-partum, hormonal and I'm a ‘bit’ of a stress head anyway. I think the heat as well, it wasn’t a pool holiday and they are still too young to be out in the sun with limited shade so when we tried to venture out to look around Porto with a double buggy, cobbled streets on quite a hot day – it was always going to end up close to divorce. But not to panic people who have booked to go away – we were lucky to be treat so well by all the airline staff and other passengers too. On one of the flights a couple I sat next to offered to take Elijah while I got myself sorted and the lovely old man put my backpack on my back which made me almost cry. And we can sit and laugh about it now...kind of. And it was my brother's wedding and they had an amazing day so that is all that really matters. Just well aware you can never call it a holiday when you have kids!! Even though they actually were pretty fantastic. Though we have decided to explore the UK (which to be fair isn't too shabby) for our holidays until kids are a bit older....
I said I would write a few tips to anyone flying with 2 under 2 so here it goes...
1. Don’t do it.
2. Joke! If you can, try to just have one flight each way. We had to do Newcastle to Amsterdam. Amsterdam to Porto. And same coming back. It wasn't awful (Amsterdam had a great baby room with little private pods with seats and a cot in) but having to entertain a toddler in an airport for 4 hours is challenging and would have been easier if just one flight.
3. Find out about oxygen masks so you are at least prepared not to be sitting all together, rather than having a meltdown the night before as ‘someone I know' did...
4. I know this is hard but try and avoid an early morning flight as it just adds even more to the exhaustion you are already feeling. Our flight out was at 6am so had to lift kids out of bed at 3am. To be fair kids were amazing but you are needing coffee on a drip.
5. If you are having to get up early – or flight is late at night, pack the car in advance and literally the last thing to do is to get kids out of bed and straight in car. We kept them in their pj's until we got to Amsterdam.
6. I was surprised how much food I could take through (thanks to everyone’s advice!). Packed lunch, fruit pouches (any liquids I kept in a clear bag and some airports test apparently)...we just packed some oat bars, crisps, yog and fruit pouches and chocolate buttons for emergencies as we got sandwiches free on plane and wasn’t a long flight. I would definitely pack more food than you think you need!
7. To keep Rafe entertained I went to Aldi and bought a handful of cheap books and also sticker books which he loves. I also bought an aeroplane book which I gave to him before we flew to try and explain where we were going. None of the new things I gave until on the plane. Also bought some headphones and downloaded some of his fave programmes on to our iPad. Try to limit screen time normally but in reality iPads are a lifesaver and would stick a 70 inch plasma in front if him if stopped him having a tantrum on the plane. Other people recommended buying some bargain toys/puzzles too which is a great idea.
8. On take off I breastfed Elijah and with Rafe we bought some milk at the airport and popped in his bottle and also some juice for other flights. To be honest we never had any problems with ears popping.
9. We were lucky the boys didn’t really cry which was what I was stressed about but at the end of the day if they cry, it is understandable and we found people kind and helpful rather than knobs.
10. As much as I may have painted a bad picture, it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be. (Maybe for us haha...) Rafe was so excited most the time and Elijah didn’t have a clue what was going on.
11. Take advantage of any free alcoholic drinks on the flighy I wish I did.
12. Try and enjoy it. It's an adventure for them – and for you. Even though there are a few hold on to your pants what the fuck have we done moments.
So probably not ground breaking tips but if we can survive it and still come back married, there is hope for everyone. Oh and take photos! I’m all for living in the moment and may have wanted to wipe certain moments from my mind but I hardly took any photos which is a shame as was our first family ‘holiday’ as a four.
I feel like this post could go on for looonnggg time and haven’t even touched on other things that went Pete Tong while away, or the fact Elijah is like Rafe and loves a good 30 minute nap (if he has one), I’m going to be walking the streets for miles aren’t I? Cracked bedtime for one night at least. Felt like a Queen. Might never recreate that magic again but it was a fucking moment I tell you. Oh and Rafe has started to get really hands on with Elijah and ended up scratching him, although didn't mean too. So it’s like a wrestling match now when I’m feeding Elijah. Oh and first week back at nursery - guess who has a cold? FML. But will save all that till next week!
Till next time,
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.