Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Travelling with babies. My top tips from experience so far

We've been to France twice on the ferry, and to Portugal by plane with Lydia so far as well as a fair few car journeys in her 6.5months on the planet. Here are my top tips so far based on a fair amount of Google research and then my own experience.

  1. Manage your expectations. Weekends and holidays don't feel much different apart from week days (from hopefully better food and weather) as the mummying doesn't stop. The pace is much slower than pre-baby holidays, don't try and cram all the sight seeing or beach lazing in as babies will eat up all your time just like they do at home. I usually read about 4 books on a week's holiday as I love reading, but I just about managed one in a whole week. If you go with this in mind, you won't feel disappointed.
  2. It's worth getting a self-catered apartment or house so you have somewhere to sit in the evenings without waking the baby, especially of travelling with friends and family. Otherwise one of you has to go to bed when the baby goes to bed in the hotel room - you might want to do that if you're catching up on sleep of course! With an older child it can be nice for them to have their own room if that's what they do at home as well, so you don't disturb them when you go to bed. We manage fine with her in the room when we're away so far.
  3. Get a cheap second hand lie flat umbrella stroller/buggy from FB Marketplace or Gumtree for holidays if you're worries about your nice one getting trashed on the plane or get a stroller bag. This can also be handy for UK trips away in the car as they can take less space than a standard buggy in a car boot if you need to take lots of stuff. I got one on FB marketplace for £15.
  4. Lots of airlines let you take two bits of baby kit for free like a carseat and a buggy on top of your luggage allowance. Check to see what's covered. 
  5. It's worth contacting your accommodation to see if they can supply highchairs or travel cots to avoid having to take your own even if they don't mention anything on their website or brochure as it saves taking your own.
  6.  Overnight ferries with a cabin are awesome with littles as they can travel in their PJs and you can put them to bed as soon as you get on board. We've paid for £5.00 to hire a travel cot from Britanny Ferries each time as it saves us having to unpack the car to get ours our when we're on the boat. We just take the baby, the nappy bag and a rucksack with PJs and washstuff for us all, a change of baby clothes, clean pants and socks for us and a blanket
  7. Top tip for any journey is but 3 or 4 wet wipes in a ziplock bag and then put that and a nappy inside a nappy bag so you can just grab one of those rather than the whole nappy bag if on a plane or train. This also worked well when we went to a friends wedding.
  8. If it's a hot day and your baby is travelling in the car in a single layer of clothing, it's worth sticking a muslin under their bum to catch any poosplosions - something I learnt the hard way.
  9. Definitely worth paying for speedy boarding or similar on airplanes and allocated seating near the toilets to help get settled before everyone gets on board and to make nappy changes easier.
  10. Check with airport transfers and hire car companies about whether car seats are included, and if not, take your own that can be fitted without Isofix. You can get covers to go over them to help protect them in the aircraft.
  11. Portugual was a great holiday location as the Portuguese on the whole seem to love babies. Like cross the street to talk to a baby love babies. All the staff in the museums and on the boat tours etc were chatting away to her. And the supermarkets stock everything you might need. We saw babies of all ages out late for dinner and no one batted an eyelid at breastfeeding in public.
  12. No issues with breastfeeding in public in rural Normandy either.

How far in advance can you apply for Tax Free Childcare in the UK?

I've had a good old Google trying to find the answer to this question as I like to have things planned in advance. We're currently trying to finalise our childcare arrangements for when I return to work, and I know the UK Government helpfully gives you up to £500 every three months towards childcare if you pay into their system and then use it to pay registered child care providers.

But in all the bumpf, I couldn't find the answer to the question, how far in advance can you apply for Tax Free Childcare.

So I gave it a go in Tom's name today. Here's the answer I got:

You're not eligible if your partner is on maternity or paternity leave for all the children you're applying for, unless your partner is due to start back at work within the next 31 days.

So there you have it. You can't apply for Tax Free Childcare until 31 days before the date you or your partner are due to start back after maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave.

Hope that helps someone else out there!