Lily was just over 8 months when we decided to take her on holiday… And not just on a little break, but a full-on snowboarding holiday to the Alps. Taking her to visit her great grandma in Weymouth was strenuous enough, and that was just a weekend on the coast. Now we had to factor in flights, airport security, airport transfers, baggage limits… and being in another country! Gone are the days when I just travelled around with a backpack and a board bag…
I’m one for lists, and as soon as we found out we were going, I was unable to sleep until I’d written lists for my clothes, snowboarding clothing, equipment, baby clothes, toys, accessories, hand luggage, food, nappies… and everything else we could possibly need for her usual daily routine, not to mention reading every website on security allowances for bottles, and working out how to fit everything (including snowboard equipment) into our 23kg baggage allowance.
But then the week before we flew, I was already having sleepless nights… I’d had to disrupt my packing schedule with a new list – by including an overnight bag too, which would then have contents needing to be reintegrated back into the original list system!!
We wouldn’t fit two snowboard bags, a suitcase, 2 backpacks, a trunkie, a pram, a car seat, two adults, and a baby into a Ford Focus, so a train journey to my parents’ near Gatwick meant I had to pre-pack everything and make my way by train with a holdall and the pram (and baby!) to Croydon. Mentally, this threw me, as extra nights away, and splitting the luggage meant my lists were no longer in order… and I could only reorganise things again the morning of the flight! **Cue stress overload!**
But thankfully things worked out in the end, and 10 days later I’m back on a train home (still no room in the Focus!) after an amazing week in the mountains, with Lily fast asleep in her pram, and all my luggage (and man!) safely in Leicester waiting for us. So here’s what happened…
We booked with BA thanks to their 23kg baggage allowance for a snowboard and for a baby, so no extras to pay, and an extra bag for the little one. We also were allowed to take the pram to the gate, and an extra car seat if we wished, but we didn’t need this with not needing a car for the week and our transfers abroad providing a car seat. It worked out £217rtn from Gatwick to Geneva for three of us, with the baby on my knee, two snowboard bags, a suitcase, a pram, and three lots of handluggage.
The UK airport transfers
With three board bags, five cases, 5 bags, six adults, a baby, a pram, and a car seat, it was near impossible to get to the airport in a standard taxi, so we booked in advance a taxi which provided a trailer and a baby car seat, making our journey to/from the airport far less stressful – and meant we didn’t need to take the car seat with us abroad.
In Geneva we had prearranged a transfer van through the chalet compant from the airport to our chalet door, who were aware of our luggage (and can deal with it as standard!) And provided a car seat for Lily. With just an hour and a half transfer, Lily drank some milk and slept the whole way!
Bottles were the main issue, but after alot of research online, it was actually far easier than we thought. We bought a Trunkie in the sale and filled one half with her toys, books and nappy essentials, and the other with three clear plastic bags containing her empty bottles, sterile water with powder pots, and a mix of both mine and Lily’s gels and liquids (including a sachet of Ella’s food). This meant at the security gate I could just put my own backpack through without even needing to open it, and put her 3 clear bags onto the security belt. They did a quick test of her milk, and a swab on her pram, and thanks to the fast family lane at Gatwick, we were through super quick, in plenty time for breakfast at Spoons!
We weren’t going to buy a Trunkie for a few more years but with it easily opening out into two sections we realised it was the easiest thing to organise all her bottles etc to get through security without having to mess around inside a bigger bag. It also fits neatly under the pram which helped at the airport!
On the plane
We were allowed first on the plane, and thankfully we didn’t need the hundreds of just-in-case toys I’d packed in her hand luggage – she seemed far more occupied by the airline safety card and various magazines in the front pocket, and was distracted by various air hostesses cooing over her, then (awkwardly) fell asleep 10 mins before landing. She had a slight 2-second-grizzle when her foot caught the metal seatbelt buckle, but aside from that just seemed completely oblivious to being on a plane, let alone the altitude. I think we were quite lucky because a few other babies really struggled, and Dr Google had shared equal horror stories of babies struggling with altitude. Water, milk, and other distractions were on hand in our bag, but the safety card seemed to be enough for her.
On the return journey she decided to poop about 5 mins before takeoff, then the drinks trolley meant it was too difficult to make it to the toilets to change her, but we finally made it to the pull down changing table, and despite the vibrations confusing her a bit, the challenge I think was more on me to change the poopy nappy in such a small area without causing mass destruction! Again, she fell asleep just before landing, which wasn’t ideal but it was a relief to land after sleepless nights worrying about flights.
Luggage for the week
Lists, lists, lists… and I’m glad I kept them for the week as I needed the reminder at the end of the week to what we’d packed, to make sure we’d not forgotten anything! We were also about 10kg lighter on the way home thanks to the lack of milk powders, food sachets, nappies, wetwipes, and other paraphernalia we get through in a week with a baby!
Aside from her usual clothing, necessary toys, favourite books, bottles, foods, nappies etc etc, I also brought her sleeping bag, bedtime blanket and bedsheet with us to help her not feel so strange at bedtime. They were ones she’d used for the previous few days so smelt like home and she didn’t seem to notice the difference.
We also stuck to her usual bedtime routine and took her inflatable bath, duck, and bedtime lotions with her to seem less strange to her. The first night she slept better than she’d done in a long time – I’m guessing a mixture of the long journey and the mountain air helped, but her teething issues did make things more challenging later in the week. Calpol helped this a bit, but at least it was the teeth rather than the bedtime routine.
We also were thankful we took her baby monitor so we could put her to bed before we had dinner (we usually have an early dinner but were tied to chalet times here) so we could keep an eye on her while we all ate with everyone else, rather than having to keep her distracted and awake through her tiredness while we ate, which is the mistake we made on the first night!
For Lily’s first holiday we chose somewhere we not only had been to before, and knew it wasn’t too long a transfer, but were lucky enough to know the people who owned the chalets. This helped me relax my nerves a little but I do know for a fact that they provide the same amazing service to all families, as we’d recommended them to other friends with their families, who have all gone back to stay with them again.
They provided an awesome highchair in the chalet, a travel cot, and even super kindly made some extra mashed sweet potatoes and other veges for her when we were there. Having a fridge there meant we were also fully stocked with natural yoghurts and bananas for her too, so mealtimes were super smooth. Not only that but I think the mountain air made her hungry as she ate more than she’d ever done before – amazing as we’d been struggling with some mealtimes recently!
Having a chalet also meant on rainy days and down times we had a place to relax with a lovely living room and a place to spread all her toys out. She seemed unphased about being in a strange place as it was so comfortable, and she loved being out on the balcony watching the mountain people, scenery and traffic go by!
I can’t thank Treeline Chalets enough for helping us give Lily such a fantastic week away. We loved having a beautiful place to take her for walks, and taking the baby carrier meant she got to see some amazing scenery at the lake too. We were truly looked after and although we did over pack, I think it was more for my own mental-wellbeing to know we had EVERYTHING in case ANYTHING went wrong.
Hopefully on her next holiday abroad she’ll be no longer on milk, so multiple bottles, steriliser bags, powders, flask, powder dispensers and everything else you need with this will not be needed, leaving plenty more space for everything else we probably won’t need 🙂