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Monday, 22 September 2014

my first hesitant steps of travel with a child

Frequently I read posts where others tell us that once we have children, travel should be calm, taken at a relaxing pace and as little done in a single day as possible, two pairs of hands preferably ideal and possibly the trips we might have longed for previously should wait until children are older.
Before I had my daughter I'd done relatively little travel alone, my grandma told me that the money that came to me when I was 18 was there for travelling something that I greeted with some horror as the idea of travelling alone didn't particuarly appeal. When I then became a mother 3 months prior to my 20th birthday it occured to me that if I travelled with my daughter then I'd no longer be alone, I disregarded that travelling with a baby was possibly harder than travelling alone and simply saw it as a way of fulfilling my grandma's wishes and seeing places that I'd always wanted to see.

My first trip away with my daughter when she was 6 months old was to New York, I remember my mother thinking I was mad as my daughter's passport arrived on the Wednesday and we flew out on the Saturday

I don't think that first flight could have gone much better than it did although she didn't sleep at all, we flew Virgin Atlantic, she as a lap infant who then sat in the sky cot and played happily with toys for apart from eating almost the entire flight, the only pain were the couple sitting next to us who had requested to move to the bulkhead after takeoff having already passed us so knew full well there was an infant seated there and then complained heavily about that very fact. The passenger on the opposite aisle of the bulkhead was happily the very opposite and came to tell me he was impressed with how well I was travelling on my own with an infant, sharing his own stories of travelling with children and offered to entertain my daughter while I went to the bathroom, I'd already understood it wasn't wise to ask such a favour of fellow passengers so much appreciated the offer.

The trip to New York went off very well, the only error on my part was making the decision to stay out at Newark Airport, while the hotel and the daily train travel came to less than I would have paid in NYC the hassle of travelling wasn't really worth it.
I was particuarly surprised with how helpful people were with the stroller (I deliberately invested in a lightweight maclaren before the trip) on the subway, I'd be warned that like London I'd likely be carrying the stroller myself, I'd travelled in London alone with a much heavier and bulkier pushchair so I wasn't particuarly bothered about doing the same in New York but I can't actually remember an occasion where somebody didn't stop and kindly offer to assist :-)

To be fair on this first trip, I did choose to take things at a gentle pace, mainly because I hadn't been to NYC at all and it was as new to me as to my then 6 month old, some people criticise those who plan their vacation around babies who won't remember anything of what happens but I enjoyed taking the opportunity to explore Central Park, learning a fair amount about living in NYC in one of it's playgrounds, enjoying a ride on the carousel, taking the free ferry to Staten Island and back again and enjoying the delights and shops of Manhattan including the ferris wheel in Toys R Us!

The flight home was equally calm as the flight out except for the having the water that I'd carefully prepared and was already contained within the baby bottles ready to have powder added as appropriate was confiscated at security at Newark, VS thankfully were very helpful and filled the bottles first with boiling water and then chilled them to an appropriate temperature during the flight, unlike the flight out where she didn't sleep at all, once having had milk she slept the entire flight back to London

The surprised ease of this trip gave me confidence to travel with a baby, while some people admitedly thought I was mad, it was others telling me how brave they thought I was to give it a go and they wouldn't dream of doing such a thing that got me realising that its all worth it