Simon was asked to speak at a conference in Barcelona for work. This left me with 2 options:
a) I stay at home with a baby for a week moping around, feeling like I’m missing out and struggling alone
b) We go to Barcelona too!!!
I decided to tag along and it was the best holiday ever! I had been so anxious but I really needn’t have worried. We had a great time! Here are my tips for a great holiday with a 9 month old:
If your baby doesn’t already nap in a pushchair then make sure you get some practise naps in. That way you can enjoy sightseeing all day and dinners late out at restaurants while the baby sleeps. The baby snoozeshade really helps! We also practised Roo napping on my lap as our flight was right on his nap time. This had the added benefit of me being forced to relax regularly the week before we left! On the flight he slept on my lap no problem.
Throw the schedule out the window
It’s a holiday! We completely ignored any routine Roo had. He ate when it was convenient for me and slept in his pram whenever he wanted to. I was with Roo alone most of the holiday, so feeding him while on public transport etc just wasn’t going to happen. He had to be flexible- otherwise I wouldn’t have seen anything!
Allow for one crawling ‘experience’ every day
Each day I tried to find somewhere that Reuben could crawl around. Unfortunately the parks in Barcelona didn’t have much grass so it was mainly museums. Reuben loved these times and it was great to have the mindset that this was ‘baby time’. If he wanted to sit and play with some dangly strings for 20 minutes then that was fine- this was his holiday too. The best places for crawling in Barcelona were the aquarium (at 6pm it was empty), maritime museum and Museo Blau. I have heard that Cosmo Caixa (science museum) also has great floors. The zoo actually had nowhere that I would consider safe or clean enough for crawlers.
Book a hotel with a huge bed
We had a cot in our room but Roo only slept in it a couple of nights. But that wasn’t a problem at all because we ha a HUGE bed! It was amazing! We all slept in it very comfortably, which meant Roo slept through the night and there was no bedtime battle. The huge bed also made a great impromptu soft play area! I really, really, really want a bigger bed at home now.
Take a baby carrier
I regret not taking ours. Our pram was NOT given to us at the gates when we disembarked the plane, and it was a long walk to baggage claims. Also Roo was spending a lot of each day in a pushchair and I think that it would have been good for him to have a bit of variation as he was in a cheap stroller rather than his comfy travel system.
Find a supermarket and buy local
Pampers in Spanish is Dodot. Stock up on snacks etc when you arrive.
Take your EHIC card
Ours didn’t arrive in time and as luck would have it Reuben ended up in hospital with an allergy induced fever. If you are in that situation then it’s fine – there’s a number you can call and you ask for a PRC to be emailed to the hospital. However if you haven’t applied for an EHIC card in the first place then I have no idea what happens. Possibly you may have to pay and then claim it back. Ouch.
Take a couple of toys
Kinda obvious but I guess it can get forgotten. Take a couple of favourites and a couple of new toys. Our best bring along was the Tomy Hide and Squeak eggs. They pack into a tiny space but turn into lots of pieces. We also brought Ewan the dream sheep and a mat for him to play on (that he didn’t stay on at all!). Our hotel room floor was dirty when we arrived – one wipe made a wet wipe completely black! So before I let Roo crawl around I demanded it be cleaned. This is especially essential for a baby who is allergic to so much.
Relax about the flight
I was so nervous and anxious before we left but I needn’t have been. Luckily our flight was less than 2 hours but the plane was fully booked so Roo was on my lap the entire time. Yes, Reuben cried on the plane but only for about 5 minutes and you know what – no one noticed! Everyone was wearing noise cancelling headphones and either working or watching films. The airplane noise seemed to actually relax him and there were plenty of people to flirt with so he didn’t need much entertainment. He napped on both flights as on the way out it was during nap time and on the way back we didn’t let him have his morning nap so by the time we flew he was exhausted. There were also some great bonuses to having a baby – speedy check in and VIP security was the best! You are allowed to take milk and water to make up bottles. We also took loads of baby food in hand luggage and it wasn’t a problem.
Think about milk
With Reuben on very special prescribed milk I took 5 cans, even though I knew we only needed 2. It just seemed far too likely that we could end up in hospital and our stay would be lengthened. We also took a washing up bowl, sponge and Milton tablets so that washing bottles was easy and could be done in the room. Finally, make sure the room you are in has a kettle – we heard from reception staff that the water was fine to drink but a waiter told us it wasn’t. At least with a kettle we could be sure.
Overall what I think I learned from this trip is that stepping outside of your comfort zone can be extremely scary, but with a little preparation and confidence the rewards are huge. And let’s face it – when you become a mum a holiday is even more important!