Madness! That’s what we’re told, right? Travelling with a baby is too much hard work and with a toddler too, well that’s just a recipe for disaster.
Our first trip with both of our mini-explorers was in December to Poland. We spent a few days in Krakow, mainly for the Christmas markets, and a few days in Zakopane, for the alpine experience.
For the non-parents, Nova was two years old and for the fellow parents who still count ages in months, he was 25-months old. Our latest arrival, Kit, had just turned three-months old and it was her first overseas trip.
First time round when I said I’d still travel with a baby people doubted me and told me otherwise (you can recap in this Thanks, but No Thanks post). Second time round, I found that no one really said much about the fact I was taking my newborn overseas. I guess the countless trips we took with Nova pretty much put an end to that.
This time round the main question seemed to be ‘why Poland?’. At first I thought it was a joke. Why not? Why go to any country? Turns out that most of those people just didn’t really know what it has to offer and I guess that was the appeal for us. It was somewhere in Europe that we hadn’t been, the flights were cheap, the flight time is quite short (a key factor for our first trip with a newborn, especially one with colic!) and we figured it would have a festive feel thanks to the cold temperatures and Christmas market.
FYI If you’re not familiar with colic, it’s described as incessant crying for three hours or more at a time, usually at least a few times a week, that feeding/cuddles etc are unable to soothe. So yeah, it’s intense! I’ll be writing more about travelling with a colicky baby in a separate post.
Flying with a baby and a toddler
I’m not going to lie, I was worried about flying with Kit. Not enough to stop me travelling, but the thought of taking a colicky baby on a plane, whilst wrangling a lively toddler didn’t fill me with excitement.
Thankfully she was a dreamboat. The other passengers not so much, but oh well. The row to our right and the two rows in front of us all turned to stare as we boarded the plane. Normally people look away when they catch your eye, but not this lot. They didn’t even seem to blink.
Our mini-explorers were quiet and well behaved, yet the passengers fixated on us as we balanced babies, toddlers, coats and bags. I love exploring cold places, but man is it annoying having to take bulky jumpers, padded coats, hats and gloves. If it was just me and Jay we’d probably shove our coats in our luggage, but with young kids you just can’t do that. The dash to the transfer bus, the walk to the plane and the wait on the stairs in blustery winds and drizzly rain is a recipe for a cold.
I wanted to say something to the gawkers, as my return stare didn’t do much, but Jay managed to be the calm adult and distract me (much like I’d distract Nova, ha!). I felt for my little boy. Now that he’s a bit older, he was really aware of the stares too and would often drop his head and sheepishly look from me to them. It made me feel uncomfortable, so it must have been horrible for him.
Travelling with two is definitely harder than just the one, but that’s obvious really. With one child it meant that one of us could have a break, but now with two it usually means that we each have a child at all times. There is no respite, but that’s just like our day to day life now really. In my opinion if you’re going to have your hands full, you may as well have a pretty and/or exciting backdrop, i.e. another city!
It was a trip of firsts in more way than one. Our boarding passes were in Jay’s back pocket and whilst carrying Nova and all our stuff they slipped out without us knowing, well until we heard our names echoing through the airport speakers! So lesson learned; next time I’ll keep all the passports and paperwork in my little crossover bag and on me at all times.
In terms of other logistics, we paid a little bit more to have onsite parking at the airport, which meant we didn’t have to faff with a long walk or transfer bus. We decided this was the way forward with Nova, let alone two kids. In future, I think it’d be worth paying a bit more to skip the security queues too. We had to wait ages on the way out and it was painful.
Out and About with Both
We took a carrier for Kit and a stroller for Nova. He doesn’t really go in one at home, but we knew we’d be doing a lot of walking so he might be tempted and that if he didn’t go in it, Kit could. Nova was in it loads.
With all the walking it was a bit exhausting carrying Kit for such long periods and next time I’d be tempted to buy a second-hand double stroller to take with us. That said, she was very snug and content being carried.
Krakow was pretty flat so we had no issues pushing the stroller. However, our accommodation and a lot of the restaurants had loads of stairs. Most of the time we ate out we had to leave the stroller on a different floor and hope that it would still be there when we left. I’ll share more about family travel in Poland in a separate post.
I was glad that I was in the middle seat, rather than the aisle, whilst I fed Kit. As much as I’m used to breastfeeding and think it’s a natural thing to do, I still wouldn’t say that I enjoy lifting my top up in public (not that you can really see anything).
I know everyone says that you have to feed your baby during take-off and landing to avoid upsetting them, but just like Nova, Kit didn’t have an issue. She didn’t need feeding during all of those times, but she was happy.
Kit slept in our room in a travel cot in both Krakow and Zakopane, so no issues there really either.
This was the first time that Nova has flown since turning two. He’s had his own seat before when we paid for one, but because of his age he had to sit in a car seat (you can recap if it was worth it in this post). This time round he had his own seat just like us.
The extra space was welcomed by all of us and he enjoyed having his own one. It took a little persuasion to get him to stay seated with the belt on, but overall it worked.
Nova doesn’t nap at home, unless he’s in the car. He never has and it’s frustrating. Supposedly he just lies down at nursery and goes to sleep for an hour or two when he’s there, but not for me. Ever.
On the flight home it was pretty empty so we had an extra seat. He was able to lay across the two, with his head on my lap and within five minutes he was fast asleep. We were shocked, but oh so relieved. I had suspected food poisoning for our journey home and almost had to stay at the airport, so to say I was pleased he went to sleep was an understatement!
When he was awake he liked watching movies on his tablet, playing with a new toy that had come ‘free’ with a magazine – have you seen the price of those things? Extortionate! Oh and eating snacks. All of the snacks. I had packed familiar and new, healthy and naughty snacks and double the amount I’d normally ration, but he still got through them. What can I say? He has the Taylor appetite.
In Krakow he had his own double bed in a separate room. It took him a little while to settle, but that’s the same as at home. In Zakopane we were all in one big room. He had the double pullout sofa and that just didn’t really work. I’d take Kit in the lobby whilst Jay got him down, but it was just a bit tricky all being together (as you can see from my tired face in the pic below).
We arrived in Poland late in the evening and in all honesty the next day was just a nightmare. They’d gone to bed late and obviously any routine or normality was out the window. I think all of the travelling made Nova deliriously tired and the excitement of everything fuelled his madness. We spent the day trying not to lose our tempers (and failing) and looking at each other with a ‘what the F have we done?’ face.
Thankfully the rest of the trip was so much better. It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep and proper meals can do. I’m still not convinced that a city break is an ideal escape for a toddler – too many people, not enough freedom etc. However, a few weeks have passed since we went and just from looking at the photos the stresses and struggles seem really minor. I can’t really remember them that well and I look at the photos with a happy smile, but again, perhaps that’s for another post.
Yeah, we were knackered afterwards but the good times definitely made it worth it. It did make me realise that for the amount of effort it is to travel with two so young the trip should be really worthwhile (i.e. somewhere that we’re really keen to visit) and for a decent chunk of time. I was so glad that we had a five days, rather than a rushed weekend.
Onwards and upwards to our next adventures as a family of four!