Take the drama out of jetting-off with our Life + Style Contributor Lucy Felton’s expert tips and tricks to make holidaying with little people a breeze. Let the adventure begin…
Thrilled to say hi, let me introduce myself… I’m Lucy Felton, Alex and Alexa’s Life & Style Contributor, a fashion journalist turned lifestyle blogger at The Lucy Edit, wife, mum of two (one of each – Hector, 2, Hadley, 9 months) and lover of chocolate, décor and buying hordes of magazines I inevitably never get to read!
Just like you guys, I’m a mother trying to juggle it all, stay sane and pretend I’ve got all bases covered when I’m generally having a meltdown on the inside and dropping plates left, right and centre. I never get to go to the bathroom alone anymore and can’t remember the last cup of tea I drank hot but would I change it? Of course not! As I navigate the chaos that is life with two under three, I’m here sharing my motherhood journey with you all. Expect plenty of baby hacks, parenting tips and postpartum advice.
OK, I’m going to level with you guys. I’ve literally been on what feels like a runaway train to the land of kiddy-chaos since I last checked in with you all. In a blink of an eye, my newborn Hadley is nine months old, she has not one, but two, front teeth, (vicious little things) is cruising along anything in her reach and sleeping through the night (does a little happy dance). The two year old, Hector, is… well, being very two. I remember thinking to myself ‘how bad can the terrible two’s really be?’ Oh, how foolish of me. The two’s are about as gruelling as the four month sleep regression and as demanding as the 24-48 hours right after they get their vaccines… everyday! Don’t even get me started on the mess they can make in record breaking time either. No really, it’s an art form. The house is getting torn apart piece by piece and the mountain of toys and games is in disarray. It definitely feels like I’m navigating a very tricky phase indeed.
So what do you do when you’re drowning in nappies, weaning recipes and a washing machine that’s stuck on repeat? Well, you book yourself a little trip away to recharge the batteries and inject some fun into the routine, of course. The destination: Greece. The mission: to get two adults and two children there in one piece. To be fair, nothing could be as hard as asking a four month-old baby to stay in the same spot, keep their eyes open and resist a meltdown while mum steals a photo the passport office would approve. If you get that bit right, you’re well away, mamas. Armed with baby passports, a family friendly hotel booking (with Instagram-worthy cocktails because we were sure going to need them) and a positive mental attitude towards getting on an actual plane with actual babies, we were off. But I’ve got to lay all my cards on the table, it wasn’t before a heck of a lot of organising and packing, because these kids don’t exactly travel light do they? The car is fit-to-burst for an overnighter at the in-law’s, so I knew if there was any chance of cramming two weeks of nappies, baby milk, snacks and more into her 10kg and his 20kg, then I needed to be strict and systematic in my approach. It’s a bit like packing your hospital bag, you’ve just got to dive in and whittle down exactly what’s necessary, what can be left at home and what’s going to be the difference between a mediocre and a mega holiday.
As we hit the tarmac in Greece with our brood, convoy of prams and luggage, I could feel my shoulders instantly dropping. There’s no better tonic for a depleted mama than some sunshine, a change of scene and a daily breakfast buffet. So wash aside any ‘can we do this doubts’ and book now, because when they’re giggling away in the surf and tearing around the hotel lobby like it’s luxury soft play, you’ll be glad you did.
Travelling With Tots: Mama Essentials and Hacks
Build Their Beach Kit
Focus your efforts right here because their beach and pool uniform is probably the most important thing you’ll take. They’ll spend so much time in swimmers and swim-nappies so go to town with bold shorts and cossies. Mini Rodini’s parrot swim shorts are pure happiness (and ocean-friendly too, made mainly from recycled abandoned fishing nets) while the tropical delights of Billieblush’s and MC2 St Barth’s swim collections are knock-out. A rash vest or all-in-one rash suit takes the worry out of those scorching midday rays. Top with sunglasses, sun hats and sandals to protect tiny eyes/heads/feet from the burning sun and sand. We took a flotation vest, arm bands and swim rings too and used them all on repeat. With inflatables, find something versatile – two blow-up dinghies came up trumps for sailing across the pool, creating cosy beds for beach naps and comfy holding pens in the hotel room.
Large muslins are great for crawling babies – lay them out inbetween sunbeds on the beach. Which reminds me, take a cushioned playmat for the hotel room too. Most are stone floors and tumbling babies need that soft landing. When it comes to toys and books don’t take away anything really precious or that can’t be easily replaced. I lost count of how many rubber ducks and bath time flamingos we lost on the beach! A bucket and spade, watering can and stacking cups are musts for sand and water fun. Check out Playmobil’s genius Sand collection – Hector and Hadley loved the Excavator and it has a nifty long bendy flag so that you can always locate it when buried in the sand.
Think Pick ‘n’ Mix Wardrobe
Rather than packing in outfits, pack pieces that can be switched and styled in a pick ‘n’ mix approach. That way, you’ll need half the amount of items and gain double the chance of keeping some of it clean and spill-free. Start with the basics – t-shirts, vests, shorts, throw-on dresses for the girls and smart-casual collars for the boys. Add in a few hero pieces you can pull out for family suppers and trips out of the hotel. Maybe a preppy shirt or little romper in a knock-out print. A little smock top and bloomers set like How To Kiss A Frog’s giraffe print cuties offers up endless outfit options when split up and styled with other tops and bottoms. Don’t forget the sweatshirts and zip up hoodies for sundown on the beach and nights out snoozing in the prams. When it comes to footwear, save packing space and zone in on day-to-night style’s like Timberland’s Nubble leather sandals. Perfect for beachcombing and kids discos alike.
Get Stroller Savvy
Lightweight strollers are everything. Shop around and invest in the lightest and smallest-fold you can find for your budget. Many collapse down into cabin-approved dimensions now, which means you can take them onboard the plane with you. A real treat when trying to juggle sleeping babies/hand luggage/airport security queues in the middle of the night. If you are taking something more robust, most airlines will let you keep them right up to the gate. Tie a bright ribbon around the handle to set yours apart from the rest, it will make it so much easier to spot when they load them in a pile by baggage reclaim. Don’t forget to label up with luggage tags, just like your suitcases. Sun parasols come in really handy on holiday because you can’t always be in a shady spot, find something that clips onto your frame well and won’t fly off in the wind. Mosquito nets are also a great idea, pick up a universal one big enough to stretch over two prams at night.
To the Airport!
Each airport and airline has individual rules about travelling with babies and what food and milk can be taken through security, so always check on their website for specifics. It’s well worth making the most of order-to-store services, the Boots at London Gatwick offers click and collect, so you can order and pick up all your formula, baby food and toddler snacks from the store once past the security gates.
Of course you can pack supplies in your luggage, but it does take a bit of the worry away knowing you’ve got some on you, just in case. You are also allowed to carry enough baby milk and food for your flight and transfers through the security gate. Split nappies and wipes between cases and have a well-stocked supply on you too so that you’re covered if anything goes wrong. Check ahead if the airport has any designated kids zones that you can make the most of when waiting to board.
SOS! On the Plane Kit
Pack a rucksack specifically for the kids with some flight-friendly toys and a few new surprises too. Inside put a colouring book and crayons. Some stickers. Their favourite comforter. I also kept back some extra little presents in my bag, like mini toy cars, sweets and a magazine for tricky moments when distraction was needed. Divide their toys, games and teethers into see-through zip-top cosmetics bags to keep everything neatly together and also easily accessible.
You can then grab one for each scenario – we always took the colouring pouch to breakfast with us, for example. Make sure you take a blanket for each baby on the plane and always do a last minute nappy change at the gate before boarding, it might just see you through the flight – anything to avoid using the tiny changing tables in the plane loos!
Milk and Mealtimes
If you’re formula feeding, take a travel kettle for the room. We used ours all of the time for sterilising and making up bottles, but also to clean sippy cups, water bottles and feeding utensils. Which you’ll also need to take, by the way, unless your bubbas are old enough to use adult cutlery. Take their catch-all feeding bibs and flannels to cut the mess at mealtimes and throw everything you’ll need to take out to restaurants into one sandwich bag so that it’s always ready to go. In fact, take loads of sandwich bags and zip wallets, they are so useful! A couple of small lunchboxes will come in handy for grabbing mid-morning snack supplies at breakfast. Remember, your usual nappy bag will end up strew across the hotel room anyway, so pick out a fave beach bag and pile it all in, then keep it high out of reach from the little ones, (I used the top shelf of a wardrobe) to make getting out of the room a smoother process.
Sun Cream (and Everything Inbetween)
Don’t expect to find a huge array of specialist kids sun creams out there, it’s not worth the risk. Stock up on sun lotion, after sun and sun protection for their lips. A tube of aloe vera will calm any heat rash or agitated skin. Don’t be caught out without baby paracetamol, ibuprofen and a thermometer because when that fever hits, you’ll be set. Pop Savlon, Sudocrem, plasters and hand sanitiser in your beach bag with the nappies and wipes. Rehydration salts are well worth carrying too.
Where are you all holidaying this summer? Are you jetting off or staycationing? How do you plan on keeping the summer stretch fun and not frazzled? Get in touch and let me know in the comments below, it’s always so good to hear from all of the amazing Alex and Alexa mamas out there. You can find lots more fashion, baby and parenting over at my blog The Lucy Edit and Instagram @thelucyedit Stop by and get involved in the conversation.
Love the Look
How to Kiss a Frog
White Giraffe Izy Set