Gone are the days of skipping out the door with a lightly packed weekend bag and returning feeling rested and refreshed. Instead, we travel heavy, laden down with travel cots, nappies, bottles, formula powder, baby clothes, toys, the buggy, the baby and, in our case, a dog, its basket and its food. The evacuation of Dunkirk took less planning.
So how to survive, pack and prepare?
1. Be organised
Militant efficiency, a strong back and an ability to balance various travel arrangements with nap and feed times will work in your favour here. Getting onto a train with a hungry or over-tired baby, ten suitcases (and in my case, a dog straining at the leash) is no fun at all. Your fellow passengers won’t thank you either.
2. Call in advance
Ringing ahead to find out the sleeping arrangements and plans for the weekend and any kit your hosts may have already is never a bad idea. That way if it’s a cold house, you can bring an extra blanket; a light room, you can bring a black-out blind; and if they already have a cot, you needn’t lug yours. When it comes to babies, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
3. Never leave the planning and packing to a man
Their tiny brains simply can’t cope. My husband has managed to leave the formula powder behind twice, despite it being left next to his suitcase along with a note not to forget it and the key to the car on top of it. As I say, tiny brains.
There’s no such thing as travelling light with a baby, so you may as well travel heavy.
4. Make a baby packing list
You will forget something without one. Give it to your husband if you are brave enough to leave him in charge and remember, if it makes your life easier to have the bouncy chair or the white noise machine or whatever other absurd item you depend on for sanity, just pack it in along with everything else. There’s no such thing as travelling light with a baby, so you may as well travel heavy.
5. Get a car
If you don’t have one already and have any intention of leaving home ever again, you are going to need one. Forget any sporty number you may have had in mind. These days, the bigger the boot, the better the car.
MY ESSENTIAL BABY PACKING LIST
(nb Martha is eight months – you’ll need to adapt it to the age of your baby)
Portable formula dispenser (for giving milk on the go without carting around a whole tub)
Bottle steriliser or Milton sterilising tablets (if required)
Bowls with lids for on-the-go feeding (if you’re at this stage)
Ready-prepared food pouches or jars (to give on the move if necessary)
Snacks (whatever makes your child most happy – you’re on holiday remember)
Bumbo/high chair (if required)
Bouncy chair/ play mat/ somewhere for them to “be”
Moisturiser/ baby oil (for the full spa experience)
Bath seat if you use one
Sleeping bag or muslin
Travel cot sheet
Baby monitor (both parts!)
Blackout blind – I can’t tell you how good these things are
Dummies (if required)
Long or short sleeved vests
Dribble bibs (if required)
Shoes (if required)
Wellies (if required)
Jacket/snow suit/waterproof trousers (if required)
Hat/gloves (if required)
Sling/ carrier/ rucksack