Overpacking overthinker – Holidaying with a toddler…

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We did it. Our first family holiday abroad. Ottilie’s first time on a plane. And we chose to go to Mexico where the flight is a mere 10 hours +. Cue all of the horror stories from others! Anyways we booked it for two weeks and packed as though we were moving forever. Me that is, I did the packing! And although I tried really hard, I am an chronic overpacker, as well as an overthinker, and these two things resulted in every ‘what if’ you could think of, 3 big cases, a cabin case and a rucksack coming with us, oh and let’s not forget the trusty bumbag!

We’ve been to this resort before which is the main reason we chose to go back there. And my thinking behind going long haul is that in a few years when O is at school and we can only go away in half terms etc. We will be paying the same amount to go to just across the water to Spain, so I plan to get my monies worth now.

It was a big deal going on our first holiday abroad with Ottilie and I took a lot of ‘just-in-case’ items.  So I thought I would do a bit of a roundup of the things that really did earn their case space and a couple of bits (and it was only a couple) we could have left behind.

So drum roll please, my top 3 were….

Hippychick hip seat – we have had this for a while, a lovely friend got it for us. I think it’s kind of a love or hate item, but I seriously love it. It’s a structured seat which sits on your hip to give you a bit more freedom with your arms and less stress on your hip and back. It fastens with a large Velcro waist band and a large strap and clip. It is fully adjustable for the adult and the seat is a decent size for a baby or child between 6 and 36 months.

I used this multiple times a day. It takes seconds to put on and take off and you don’t need to fasten your babe in like you do with a carrier. In fact on that note, I only used our Tula at the airports not on the holiday at all. When they ask for ‘up’ you simply just pick them up and plonk them on. You have to hold them but with far more freedom and less strain.

The other thing I love is that it is so handy for breastfeeding when walking about or standing up. Our Babe is heavy I used it to place her bum and hips on. Again it takes the strain and gives you back an arm.

Next the Silvercross POP stroller – this stroller is pretty good. We took it to the gate on both flights and used a storage bag for the journey. The best parts about this stroller was the lay flat capability and the extended hood which had great coverage to keep our Babe out of the sun. To be honest we saw so many of these in the resort so a lot of people must think the same. We mainly used it to donkey all of our stuff to the pool and Ottilie was happy to sleep in it on the way back to our room and evenings – Bonus! It has since been on another two flights and is still fine. It is bigger than the little cabin ones but it is far more robust and Ottilie is already too heavy for some of those smaller ones anyway – not to mention they are so much more expensive. We got it from a website called Pramworld for £125 (this was on offer and was originally £175) and it was well worth the money.

iPad and Netflix – I know that is technically two things but that is all we used the iPad for so you’ll let me have them right? We loaded it up before we left and this definitely helped us through the flights. We used it whilst out there but it was more of a distraction for O when we were needing to get ready in the evenings. We also had a bit of rain so a few films were watched. And actually it was the first time O sat through a whole film from start to finish – Inside Out and The Secret Life of Pets if anyone is interested and yes we both loved them too! I also downloaded the app on my phone and had some bits downloaded on there too so we could use it in the airport, transfers if needed. We had Wi-Fi in our room and resort. But if you don’t, the download functionality with Netflix is great.

A few other bits which would definitely be on the list for next time too.

Clothing for me – The best item I had was a cropped tee for the plane. With a teething Babe and a 10 hour flight, being able to get to my milk-makers super easily was essential. I had my MilkMakingMama one which was just right. With a vest tucked in underneath. It was so easy to whip them out and also, when O had finished and fallen asleep, I just pulled it down over my boob (without the need to immediately clip my bra/pull vest up). Meaning I was fully covered until O woke up, and probably immediately wanted some more boub-boub anyway.

All the swimming costumes I had were regular swimming costumes, no zips or special breastfeeding friendly ones. Obviously it was a huge consideration when buying but I managed to get decent ones from Debenhams, and Primark and they all did the job just fine. On top of that, not one person really batted an eyelid when I was feeding and the locals in Mexico were not in the slightest bit bothered – but their breastfeeding rates far exceed ours in the UK so I am not surprised!

Night shirt – but not to sleep in. I just couldn’t find the pool cover up I was after, that needed to be functional and look alright around the pool. Ordinarily I would usually just wear a long t-shirt, but for feeding I needed something I didn’t have to pull all the way up. I just couldn’t find what I wanted in any ‘swimwear’ sections. So I bought a night shirt from Primark. Just like a long button up shirt. It was exactly what I needed so maybe take a look there if you cannot find what you want.  And even if I wasn’t feeding, it would be an option for me in the future. £8 from Primark.

Clothing for O – Swim vest, this was worn every time in the pool and although it may be an obvious one, it just gave O so much confidence which grew as the holiday went on. Admittedly pink is not our colour but it is from Speedo and was £6 from T K Maxx so couldn’t pass up that bargain!

Aqua shoes – these were a must for us. We had soft ones which we borrowed from a friend for the pool and then ones with a rubber sole for the beach and sea. Next time I would just opt for the rubber soled ones and they were safer with wet feet running around the outside of the pool – why do kids want to run with wet feet?!? These were £6 new from EBay.

Reusable swim nappies – we used Bambino Mio same as our cloth nappies. We took 6 nappies and these have all been bought in the sales in supermarkets. They are easy to get on and off, have super cute designs and above all else they are much better for the planet and our Babes skin. £4-£6 in various supermarkets. Also available from Bambino Mio directly of course.

Over the head towels with hood – which to be honest Ottilie didn’t wear as towels but they were great for laying in the stroller on the way back to the room. The in between leg clasp went through the head hole meaning the stroller kept mostly dry with no need to dry and dress O, just undress again to bath her when we got back to the room.

Homemade insect repellent for Ottilie – we needed a repellent which was effective and could be used on an under two which we couldn’t find. So we made one with a base of witch hazel, some water and 70 drops essential oils. The combination of oils we used were lemon eucalyptus, lavender, citronella, basil, thyme, and a few others, we just searched on the internet to find a recipe. And we had most of the oils anyway as we use them in our diffuser. I must admit the smell wasn’t some delightful spa type experience but it also wasn’t awful and no worse than one you would buy. And more importantly than that, it worked!  Ottilie only got two bites (both at the same time) for the whole holiday (I got eaten alive however) so go us and our homemade selves!

The last couple of bits were the activities for O. I made a plane pack which consisted of all new bits with the exception of the colouring book and crayons. We use the Crayola twistable crayons which are amazing. They can’t be snapped, can be twisted away and are easy to hold for O. We got them in the sale in Tesco and took about 10 with us. We then had a couple of sticker books, some water colouring books – which we enjoyed more than O – and a miniature colouring book and scratch book. All barring the water book and crayons were from Tiger (or flying tiger as its now known) and cost between £1 – £3. I took it all in an expandable file with handles, also from Tiger, which was just the right size to slide into the rucksack and pull out on the plane.

I also took a small drawstring bag which I filled with a few of her favourite bits from home. Some Duplo, a couple of Schleich animals, and a couple of little wooden bits. Again this was easy to get out and hang on the seat in front of us on the plan just to delve into.   We took a couple of her favourite books – ideal for the room, around the pool and the evenings as well as the plane.

Lastly her fave stacking toy which proved to be so multifunctional. A set of 5 square pots which all fit inside one another so don’t take up much space at all in the case. They were a stacking toy in the room. We took them to the pool for water play. Used them for sandcastles at the beach. Collected things in them and used them as bath toys. They had so much use and I didn’t even realise their true potential until we got there. Brand Kid O and bought from TK Maxx £5.

A couple of things we could have left behind was the UV beach tent. It folded down (eventually after watching a YouTube video) so didn’t take up a huge amount of space but we just didn’t use it. We had canopied beds and only really went to the beach last thing in the day as I can’t cope with the sand being everywhere from the second you set foot on it!

An inflatable pool seat thing for O. She just wasn’t interested. In fact she was totally against going in it at all. She had been in one at a local pool here, but this was before she was walking about. This was a waste of money to even buy and took up quite a bit of case space and weight. I don’t even have a picture of it!

So that’s my little roundup done.

Just on the note of holidaying with a baby or toddler, I firmly believe you should do what you feel comfortable with.  If we had sought advice before booking, the horror stories of the flights and people’s opinion of Mexico would probably put us off of going long haul to that country.  But we did what we felt comfortable doing and the holiday was amazing. I find with all things ‘parenting’ you will get advice and opinions from every direction which contradict and conflict all over the place, so disregard them completely and do what you and your family want to do.

Happy travelling everyone.

WRITTEN BY ZOE HANSON FOR HER BLOG DAMSELDAMSELDAUGHTER.

YOU CAN FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM!

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