My husband and I have always enjoyed travelling, and pregnancy didn't stop us from enjoying the Eastern USA. But we also took our "bump" to destinations closer to home, such as Croatia, Venice and Lake Garda. So right from the start it was clear to us that our little sweetheart would accompany us on all our travels.
Our Alma had seen a lot of the world even before she was one year old. We drove to Croatia and spent a winter holiday in Bavaria. We flew to the Dominican Republic and spent a few weeks in Mauritius.
When we drove to Croatia, our daughter was about 6 months old, a lovely age for travelling, because at that age children are still very undemanding. Some (breast) milk, lots of cuddles, and they're perfectly happy. Croatia is brilliant for travelling with a baby. The small coves and fine pebbly beaches offer a lot of natural shade, and the climate is very pleasant. And you don't have to worry about children shovelling sand into their mouths!
After a short while, we decided to leave the buggy in the apartment and use the baby carrier instead. Other parents were struggling to pull their buggy across the beach, and trying to climb the steps to the Old Town with child, beach tent and cool bag in their arms. Thanks to the baby carrier, we were so flexible that we no longer had to think twice about whether or not we could take a trip to the Plitvice Lakes. Narrow pathways and large numbers of visitors would have made this trip impossible with a buggy.
To gradually get our daughter used to other travel destinations we booked our first package holiday, in the Dominican Republic. By then, Alma was no longer just breastfed but had solids at midday and at tea time. We took some jars of baby food with us from Germany, and some dried foods to add water to – well, in fact we took a whole suitcase, plus some pots of fruit purée for snacks, because you never know. Since Alma was still only about 9 months at this point, the dishes on the buffet were still too spicy for her. However, there was a lot of fresh fruit, and I got a bit carried away with the idea of "takeaway baby food", and brought half of it back home with me! As is usual in the Dominican Republic, our hotel was part of a very big complex. We were taken from our room to the beach in a kind of golf caddy. It only took a few minutes, but at 9 months our daughter was extremely fidgety, which made travelling in a vehicle without doors or seatbelts a rather stressful experience.
On the second day, I took our daughter in the carrier and we were able to relax during our drive to the beach, without worrying about her falling out of the vehicle. Alma didn't particularly like the Caribbean beach and started to cry loudly as soon as her feet touched the sand – luckily, perhaps, as then we didn't have to do this trip very often. We weren't that interested in the various excursions on offer, either. With a baby who is just learning to walk by holding onto things, spending an entire day on a boat would probably have been more of a trial than a pleasure. We made the best of it and spent two relaxing weeks by the pool and – unlike the other hotel guests – we didn't get bitten by sand flies.
The 6-hour time difference was no problem for our daughter – unlike us. Of course, she was carried a lot and was able to have a little nap at any time. By the pool, she simply fell asleep on the sunbed whenever she was too tired. Unfortunately, in the hotel we could still hear the lively goings-on in the evening which – funnily enough – always seemed to happen just as Alma wanted to (ought to) go to sleep ). Being in a "strange" bed as well, there was absolutely no chance of her nodding off. So I put her in the carrier, covered her head as much as possible and saw how it gradually calmed her down, so that she finally fell asleep.
A while later we flew to Mauritius and this time we were confident enough to plan our holiday individually as usual, despite the baby.
Since the first flight had been no problem whatsoever, we felt confident about doing another long-haul flight. The doctor recommended that I breastfeed our daughter or give her a bottle during take-off and landing, to prevent pressure in her ears. Because it was a long flight I took a bottle of water, two jars of food – not home-made, because the jars have to be securely sealed – two fruit purées, some bananas, a pack of rusks, a dry bread roll, etc. As I said before, you never know. We had to show the jars and bottles to airport security, but we were able to take them on board in our hand luggage with no problem. The formula was already in portions, and the crew immediately asked me if I needed some warm water to make it up with. I was even offered baby food, as they always have some in reserve.
We had booked our seats in the row just behind the toilets, as you can attach baby beds there. And there's so much legroom that children have room to play. And don't worry, there weren't any unpleasant odours! Just the noise of people constantly opening and shutting the doors was a bit annoying. Of course, Alma was very excited by the loud noises and all the people. In the bed provided by the airline, she wouldn't close her eyes at all. Fortunately, I had the carrier in my hand luggage and made use of it. I walked up and down the aisle and observed other parents whose arms were getting heavy from all the carrying and rocking. Being snuggled up to me and having her head "shielded", Alma quickly calmed down and then slept for almost the whole flight.
The holiday in Mauritius was the most relaxing of all. We rented a little house where I could prepare all the baby food myself, thank God – I even cooked meals myself twice! Freshly picked ingredients and locally prepared fruit were for sale everywhere along the beach, and large supermarkets also offered an enormous choice of ready-made baby food, formula, nappies, etc. of all brands. We didn't have to stick to rigid breakfast and buffet times and were able to start the day just as and when we wanted. Mauritius is a safe place to holiday in, the crime rate is low, so it's fine to plan your own trips. We left the buggy at home and carried Alma – who was now 11 months old – all the time. What paths there were were very narrow and would have been very difficult with a buggy. We visited the Ganga Talao, the largest Hindu pilgrimage site outside India. So obviously this temple has a lot of visitors. With my baby in the carrier, I was able to keep my arm protectively around her even in the crowd, and enjoy the scenery. There were several hundred steps to climb before we could view the temple from above. Without the carrier, we would never have been able to enjoy this amazing view.
Some of the beaches in Mauritius are several miles long. There isn't always shade, depending on the beach and the position of the sun. Palms provided some natural shade, of course, but they also bore countless ripe coconuts. Not the kind of place you'd like to hang around! We therefore often walked quite a distance to find a suitable spot. I wouldn't have liked to drag or carry a buggy across that fine sand. In Mauritius, the sea is wonderfully clear with gentle waves. Our Alma loved splashing about in the shallow water. Suddenly, she also liked sand .
Despite an air temperature of 32 degrees Celsius, neither I nor our daughter were too hot in the carrier on any of our holidays.