This weekend we attended S’s grandfather’s stone setting. This meant being in Glasgow on Sunday afternoon. We live in South London, so this meant a fair amount of travelling with our three month old daughter. Though we were initially nervous about making the journey with a three month old it was absolutely fine (even pleasant, dare I say!), so I thought I would share our experience.
Our original plan was to fly up on the Sunday morning, then back again on Sunday evening, as we wouldn’t have time to take the long train back from Glasgow to London on the Sunday evening. However, the more we looked into flights the more it seemed unfeasible – in classic new parent style, we had managed to leave all the booking to the last minute, and the only flights we could find leaving that morning were at an ungodly hour from an airport far away. We are also not hugely keen on flying short distances if at all avoidable.
We decided to try and make the journey as easy as possible for ourselves by splitting it over two days, getting the train up on Saturday, staying in a hotel, and then flying back on the Sunday evening after the ceremony.
I hate crossing London with the pram on my own (escalators, eek!) but doing the journey with S is a doddle. We crossed London to get to Euston, where we stocked up on M&S food for lunch and a Saturday paper – surely the perk of any train journey. We did have an incident whereby the Two Together Railcard was left at home, leading to a frantic dash to take photo-booth pics and get a new railcard made in the 20 minutes before our train left, but thankfully we just made it and we were on our way.
We decided to book first class train tickets as the journey is a long one, and we thought it would give us more space. Although I was slightly worried about spending five hours in a fairly confined space with F, my fears were totally unfounded and she was wonderful. Mesmerised by the countryside whizzing past the windows, she had a lovely time and even managed a couple of naps. I love doing long journeys by train and this has reassured me that they are absolutely doable – in fact, really pleasant – with a baby in tow.
We are co-sleeping with Frida, which meant that we had to find a hotel to stay with a kingsize bed so that we could all sleep comfortably. We booked a room at Hotel Indigo which was mercifully close to the train station and rocked up looking slightly haggard, as we’d walked in the pouring rain that we were shockingly badly prepared for (hello flip flops). The lovely man at reception was very taken with F (who reminded him of his own daughter) and decided to upgrade our room for free to a superking. Best customer service ever.
We had to take a cab a couple of times, so rather than booking one with a carseat which would also have to fit the
tank buggy, we booked a Glaswegian black cab which you can roll the pram into and put the brake on. This was slightly nerve-wreaking as I found the first driver we had absolutely terrifying – gesticulating wildly and rambling like someone who had just done a line of coke – but actually a very convenient way to get around. I will bear this in mind if I’m ever stuck in London too.
I was absolutely dreading flying with F, but again the experience was so much better than I had feared. I think this was in part due to it being an internal flight so everyone seemed much more relaxed. No one made a fuss about us bringing the buggy, the seats weren’t as cramped as I had convinced myself they would be, and I don’t think F’s ears hurt her.
I was also worried because we were flying at “witching hour”, ie. early evening when F basically wants to lie in my lap and nuzzle up to me and breastfeed at her leisure. She was also pretty overtired at this point as she hadn’t napped much all day and had seen lots of new people, but somehow she coped beautifully (copious breastfeeding / boob sucking probably helped!).
It’s worth remembering that if you’re taking hand luggage only, the changing bag will count as one piece, so pack light. We took more for F than we did for the both of us!
To pram or not to pram?
We decided after much deliberation to take the buggy with us. Although we were not really looking forward to having to wait around at baggage reclaim at the end of our flight, the idea of doing two days of travel with just a sling made us both very nervous as Frida doesn’t much like being in it at the moment, preferring to look out. It was absolutely the right decision as she was able to nap in it and keep dry from the lovely Scottish rain, and it also meant we were able to put all our bags in the pram (thanks to the massive UPPAbaby basket).
We decided to take the pram without a carry case – we didn’t fancy forking out almost £100 for one – but I think if we have to fly again we will buy one as it would be far more expensive were it to break!
Some travel tips
Here are a few tips for anyone thinking of undertaking a similar journey with a baby:
1. Pack multiple outfit changes (which can be adapted for the changeable British weather) in resealable sandwich bags. This means that if there is a poo “incident” in one outfit you can easily find another in the changing bag and put the dirty clothes straight into a sealable bag, minimising unplesant smells and leaks.
2. If you are flying try and breastfeed your baby as much as possible, particularly during take-off and landing, as the sucking will help their ears. I’m sure this would also work with a bottle or a dummy. And don’t forget sucking sweets for yourself!
3. Look into first-class upgrades – they can be quite cheap and the extra space is definitely worth the money when travelling with a small baby. Having a table seat is especially helpful if you want to avoid the manky train baby-change facilities – we bypassed them and changed her at our table, far less revolting!
4. Keep a baby blanket to hand. Very useful for the changing temperatures as you go from street to cab to train to plane, and also wonderful as a makeshift headrest / arm prop for feeding your baby.
5. Give yourself plenty of time to do anything. As any new parent will be aware, babies have a special knack for needing to eat / be changed / be picked up and held on your shoulder and sung to in exactly the right way just as you’re about to do something. I have found it’s far better to have an extra ten minute wait than to be needlessly rushing and stressed that we’ll miss our train / flight / event.
I would love to know if you have any tips that I’ve missed!