Monday, August 16, 2010

travelling 'alone' with a very little 'hip' from oz to the uk...yikes!

Travelling on that ridiculously long crazy flight from Australia to the UK is hard enough as a fully grown adult. Okay, so, the big decisions are; which film to watch, should you have another g&t, or perhaps a snooze...or should be really daring and just maybe, just that one more time, have another look at the inflight map AGAIN only 2 minutes since you last looked, and then find you still haven't left Australia...blimey! okay, it is really long and tedious. BUT when travelling with 'hips',...well you can forget the films/g&t/food/snooze/even the inflight map. And to add to that, try travelling ALONE with kids for 24 hours, and you'll be thinking that you won't even be able to go to the loo! Or can you? I travelled back to the UK by myself when my 'left' hip was just 6 months old, and to be totally honest, having experienced it since with both 'left' and 'right' hip, it was quite successful. My good friend Jo, has recently experienced the same journey, and she has kindly offered to share her 'journey' and very very handy tips with us. So here goes...Enjoy.

"Hubby and I are one of the many, many expat families living it up in Oz, so of course like many, when the kids start coming so too do the long trips ‘home’!.

My little hip is just eight months and as it was only the Nannies that had met her we thought it only fair to take her back to the UK to meet the Granddads! With money and work commitments in mind we agreed that it would be just hip and myself going when hip was 6 months (I must have been caught in a weak moment) and so began the months of trepidation about the trip (from me – hubby was planning how much rugby and beer he would consume in the month we were gone!) began. What was I going to do by myself, what if she cried the whole way, what if the trip mucked up her routine which I had worked so hard to develop! A few looked at me as if I was mad to tackle this on my own but most of my friends who had done the same said it was the best time to travel with a baby – it would be fine! Of course in my head it was going to be hell on earth – but it wasn’t, it was fine, yes we were tired, no hip’s routine wasn’t blown, we survived and are richer for it!

So on reflection what words of wisdom would I pass onto the next person………

I packed too much hand luggage on the way over – I didn’t really need the toys I packed, hip was just as happy playing with the plastic cup, the safety card and the airline gave out toys too.

One of the best things I had with me (not originally packed for this purpose!) was the neck pillow (one of the squidgy ones) When hip was having her solids I sat her on the seat and I knelt on the floor in front and the neck pillow was a great was to keep her propped up on the seat and stop her slumping or falling froward.

I took a dark pashmina, which was a great blanket for both of us but also light weight enough to drape over the bassinet to keep hip in the dark. I anchored it over the ‘wall’ and used the corner of the TV screen and used took pegs to weight it down so it didn’t slip off. It also provided good coverage for breastfeeding too.

I dressed 'hip' in ‘baby grows’ for the whole trip, so didn’t have to worry about losing socks, tops etc!

I accepted any and all offers for help! Several other passengers from the rows behind me took 'Hip' once they had had their food and I was getting mine so I could eat – and pee!! The stewards were more helpful on some legs of the flight but not so interested on others – don’t rely on them, but do smile nicely at your fellow passengers! And of course during service the stewards are busy anyway.

When I check in I requested my baggage be labelled priority so it came off first at the other end– the last thing you want to do when you arrive is be waiting for the last bag off! This is also a time to utilise your fellow passengers – it is pretty hard to lug a huge case off while hip is in the Baby Bjorn!

Speak of the Baby Bjorn – a god send for hands free travel.

The bassinet – well when 'Hip' was allowed to be in it (i.e. when the seatbelt sign was off) she slept fine – but even thought I pretended to be asleep when the sign came on they made a point of waking me to remove her. In the end I didn’t bother putting her in it at all and just let her sleep on me rather than disturbing her as it woke her up – but it was handy storage if nothing else – and you get the good seats so I will definitely book it again.

Once we were there, I followed 'Hips' home routine in local time and she didn’t suffer any crazy midnight waking – in fact she fared far better than me both going there and coming back. I took a blackout blind wherever I went which was a fantastic investment, especially for the UK where it stays light until 11pm in the summer!

I tried not to muck 'Hips' routine up more than 2 days in a row, so she didn’t get over tired and handled being handled very well!

These are the main tips I can think of that really helped me. But in the wise words of my good friend Jo “expect the worst, hope for the best” The trip was long, we were tired, but getting to introduce 'Hip' to the family was worth every moment of willing the time to go faster! Next time hubby will be joining me as 'Hip' will be mobile but it is true, 6 months is a good age to take them."H

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