We’re just back from our first holiday with baby Reggie, and I’m happy to say, we had a great time! We went to Sardinia for our baby’s first holiday, and I learned a lot. Here are a few tips to help your baby’s first trip go as smoothly as possible.
I agonised for many evenings over what to take on our first holiday with baby Reggie. Obviously there’s so much online about travelling with a baby and baby’s first holiday, but none of what I read really resonated with me. As all parents know, every baby is very different.
I read a lot, thought a lot and ended up going with the (informed) flow. I also learned a lot and made a few mistakes which I’ll rectify next time.
I wanted to share what I’ve learned about baby’s first holiday abroad to help you plan yours.
Top tips for your first holiday with baby
Taking your first trip with your baby? Here’s all the advice you need!
1. Your hotel choice is everything
There wasn’t much online about our hotel, which was really annoying. I read every Tripadvisor review, and booking review and easyJet review too, but I just couldn’t find out whether we were going to have a microwave or not. In hindsight, I could’ve just phoned.
Reading every review ever really paid off though. I knew everything there was about that hotel, including the very important fact that if we had a junior suite, which we did, we had free entry to the spa. No one else seemed to know this, and the spa was ours alone for the week.
But, more usefully for your baby’s first holiday, questions to ask of your hotel include:
- Do you need to bring a travel cot?
- Will there be a microwave?
- Are there any baby or kids clubs?
- Is there a fridge in your room?
I spent hours researching hotels, too much time in fact that they started to blur. Take notes as you go, so you can come back to the ones you like.
My approach to choosing a hotel for my first holiday with baby Reggie was to find somewhere where if we were just stuck in the hotel room, because of him, we’d be ok. This was why we were in a junior suite.
Next thought was that if we managed to leave the hotel room (of course we did!) then we’d be ok if we were just stuck in the hotel. The Grand Baia Hotel where we stayed, had 3 pools, a spa and three restaurants. Yes, that would be fine!
Next was if we managed to leave the hotel, there was stuff nearby we could do.
After much research EasyJet holidays ended up being the cheapest, about £350 cheaper than LoveHolidays AND included transfer and baggage. Amazing deal. We paid £1268 for a junior suite, half board, transfers, 2x23kg luggage and 3 small bags on the plane. This was the price for Reggie to sit on my knee rather than his own seat.
2. Have a ‘luxury’ fund
I spent money on things I wouldn’t normally on my first holiday with baby. Stuff that I wouldn’t normally shell out for – expensive meet and greet parking for example – just made life easier. Whether it’s hotels the night before, fancy transfers or extra seats, see if you can put a bit of money aside to make your life easier when you’re travelling with a baby for the first time.
3. Look for ideal flight times
One of the big reasons for us choosing Sardinia was the fact that both flights were around midday. Perfect for us. We didn’t need to stress, or hang around, or stay in hotels. And on leaving day we didn’t feel like we were hanging around, yet we didn’t feel rushed either.
4. Choose your destination wisely
One of the most wonderful things about Italy, which I hadn’t even fathomed before was that you could drink the water. This made sterilising so much easier. Before I knew this I was thinking we were going to have to buy expensive bottled water (with a low sodium count) as soon as we got there. Big points for Italy for this.
We also wanted somewhere friendly, with great food, where I hadn’t been before and a few things to do – but not so many we felt the pressure to sightsee or fill our days. This was meant to be a relaxing holiday, and a chance to get abroad with our baby.
Sardinia fit the bill perfectly.
5. Think about the weather
I also wanted to go to Sardinia for our first holiday with baby as it was predicted to be around 25C in May – perfect. In fact it ended up being around 35, which was a bit too hot for all of us to be honest. I guess because it was the end of May.
I’d strongly recommend you think about the weather when you’re looking at where to go for the first time with your baby. They’re not good with heat!
6. Think about airports
Southampton Airport would’ve been much easier for us, but flights from there are limited and more expensive. Gatwick is only one hour 15 away and an easy train ride, but with all our stuff and the fact we hadn’t taken Reggie on a train yet, we drove. It seemed to take ages. For various reasons it ended up taking me about two hours to drive there, which added to the stress.
And then because we travelled in May 2022, at a time when the airports were short staffed in England, there was delays both going and coming back. All this added up to a long travel time this side, which seemed uneccessary.
Next time I go abroad I’ll look at Southampton Airport again, although I know I’ll probably be swayed by the cheaper prices at Gatwick.
7. Carefully curate your packing list
Look at my packing list for travelling with babies. It works and I’ll be consulting it in the future for trips. I spent a lot of time on it!
Essentially, as long as you have the feeding and sterilising situation sorted, and then sleeping and pooping, you’ll be alright. You’ve got to remember that women have babies all over the world, and so they’ll have what they need in the shops.
If it’s your first holiday with baby it’s perfectly normal to worry, but unless you’re going to somewhere totally off grid, they will have shops!
8. Think about booking half board
It was only £10 more to book half board at our hotel so we went for it. That way there was always back up if we didn’t succeed out.
I mean, this should have been an insight into the terrible food we were about to be served. In my defence though, there were meant to be three restaurants open and because we were low season, it was just the one. Unfortunately it also only opened at 7:30pm which is Reggie’s bed time. The food at our hotel was a huge let down on our trip to Sardinia, but that’s another story.
I do still recommend booking half board though. Then, at least if your baby has some sort of melt down, you’ll still get dinner. It also meant it was a quick in and out, which also suited us.
9. Book the baby a seat if you can
We booked our holiday as a package with easyJet holidays. I didn’t realise at the time that I could’ve phoned and got him a seat. Seeing as it was already £25 for me to have him on my lap, both ways, it would only have been another £50 for him to have space.
It worked out fine for us as unfortunately so many people missed the flight because of delays at the airport that we had a whole row on what was meant to be a fully booked flight on the way.
On the way back Ben had got the attention of the air steward and when we were sat next to someone, he actually offered us an entire row. If you’ve got a wiggly baby, just having that extra seat is an absolute godsend in coping with the claustrophobia of aeroplanes.
10. Assess whether you need to take a car seat
We did take the car seat, but I’m not sure it was entirely necessary. I mean, it was great to have a seat we trusted for the 15-minute transfer, and the day we hired a car – but car rental companies will have their own if you don’t want the drama of taking your own.
If it’s your first holiday with baby, maybe take it and then you can assess for yourself.
11. ‘Use’ your baby
Let the staff know you’re travelling with a baby and you can go ahead in the queues from start to finish. This was great, especially with the mad queues at Gatwick.
Also, as I mentioned above, let the plane staff know you’d like a row if there’s one going spare.
12. Pack sunsafe outfits
I very nearly spent £30 on one at Boden but found some great ones at Asda for a third of that. Always get the hat too. And obviously pack the sun cream. We use this one from Child’s Farm.
13. Book a hotel with a good (private!) transfer time
Always go for a private transfer, baby or not. Travelling to every hotel on the way to yours is horrible when you’re just desperate to get the holiday started.
If you’re travelling with a baby for the first time then I’d recommend getting a hotel with a short transfer time so you can get settled in as soon as possible after the flight lands.
14. Take doctor and hospital numbers
Make sure you know how to access medical care abroad if you need it. Just write down the numbers, or ask at reception when you get there.
15. If you don’t have space, leave the nappies
We packed so many nappies. Every baby packing list tips post I read said not to worry about them, and that you can pick them up there but we decided to take them anyway. Turns out they were right.
There was no need to weigh ourselves down with 60 nappies and we couldn’t easily picked them up at Lidl or Euro Spin when we were there. Lesson learned.
16. Take enough milks though
Same for milks, although we didn’t pack enough. We were just short and we were worried about delays on the way back so we went on the hunt in the local town. We found Aptimil in the second shop we went in, which although Reggie is on the SMA we knew he’d tried before and they’d be fine.
I would’ve rather known we’d be ok.
We took the little cartons of milk as well as our Tommee Tippee machine. It’s just more cost effective, and I feel like he likes the milk out of the machine better. We wanted the cartons for days that we’d be out. This worked well for us and I’d do it again.
Top tip: you can order the little SMA cartons to Boots airside at Gatwick, so you don’t have to deal with the drama of taking them to the airport and getting them scanned. I’m actually glad we didn’t do this as we never would’ve had time to pick them up with all the queues at Gatwick. But, it’s a good tip for the future!
17. Think about how you’ll sterilise
We had been using this Tommee Tippee steriliser in the microwave but we didn’t know if we’d have a microwave on holiday. So, we used this. The Milton steriliser takes cold water and Milton sterilising tablets. So much easier and will be great for our festivals too.
18. Remember to have fun
You’re meant to enjoy a holidays. Make sure to carve out a little time to have fun, either off by yourself, or together.
19. Print everything
It’s so much easier in the airport to have bits of paper rather than trying to find info on your phone while trying to look after your baby at the same time. Printing things for the airport is basically why I have a printer at all.
20. Use meet and greet parking for ease
This was only my second time using this. I first used it at Heathrow when we went to Canada in October when I was pregnant. God it’s good.
This meant we didn’t have the faff of getting the train, or of getting shuttle buses. Blummin expensive though – paid over £150 for a week at Gatwick.
I’m glad we did this for our first holiday with baby Reggie, but next time I’ll just get the train.
21. Be in good time and stay calm
It’s the panic that stresses you out. Add an extra hour if you can, and stay calm through the airport and on and off the flight. Practice active breathing and read through these travel affirmations to calm you down. I make a concious effort to take my time in moving round the airport and flights. I noticed people getting really stressed out and there’s really no need, unless you’re late of course.
Be early, be calm, and enjoy the experience and the new situations and sights your baby is going to see.
22. Take their favourite toys
At this stage Reggie is happy with his teething Sophie giraffe and his Lamaze firefly. Take a select few of the favourites and make sure they’re tied on with something so they don’t get dropped on the plane or airport floor.
23. Don’t worry about others on the flight
Amazing how having a baby makes you so focused on them and their wellbeing, you really don’t care about what others think of you where you did before.
I could see the looks when Ben and I sat down with Reggie, especially on the way home. Jokes on them because Reggie was happy and content on both flights, despite them being late and messing up our carefully timed feeds.
If any fellow passengers had said anything negative I would’ve slapped them down. Not really. Just checking if you’re still reading.
23. Just relax
Not every second has to be a cultural experience. If you want to spend the day hanging out in the hotel, do so. This was quite a hard concept for me to grasp. For over five years almost every holiday I’ve been on has been an opportunity to collect stories, photos and advice for this blog. I knew that I didn’t want to be off making videos and taking pictures on this holiday, it was for us three.
I loved doing nothing (for the hour a day Reggie didn’t need me!).
24. Replicate home as much as possible
Take bed sheets he’s been using a few nights, bring those toys, any fragrance you use at home and lighting too. We’ve got two of these USB colour changing lights and they were brilliant on holiday.
25. Change them before the flights, and pack spare clothes
Oh Reggie did a rotter within about 20 minutes of take off on the way there. I had already changed him just before we got on, but still.
Thankfully I’d packed an excessive amount of extra clothes as his went straight in that plane toilet bin. The pull down changing table in the toilet on the easyJet flight was not big enough for him to lay out, and it was a battle to keep him from rolling off while I tried to clear up the mess. Try to do what you can to avoid this!
Your first holiday with baby
Going on your first holiday with baby can be stressful, both in the run up and the actual event, but I think it’s really important that if you want to do it, and you have the means, you go.
Babies are so adaptable, and when they’re young, portable too.
We overpacked on everything except for milk, but that’s fine. We’ve learned lots for our next trip, and it’s given both of us the confidence to go on holiday with baby Reggie in the future again.
I really loved showing him the plane, the beaches, opening him up to new experiences and enjoying them with him. I can’t wait to take him on his second holiday ASAP!