Essentials for travelling with a baby

Gift Ideas for Travelling Mamas and Babies

I won’t claim to be an expert but I’ve travelled with Evie a fair few times in her 8 months on earth so I like to think I’m at least a little bit of a pro when it comes to travelling with a baby. We’ve been on all sorts of adventures from train and plane rides to road trips and cruises and now we sail through customs (mostly) stress free!

With Christmas coming up I thought it was a good time to share some things I’ve found super useful when travelling. I’ve included a whole different range of ideas from the essentials and the practicals to some that are just plain cute and simply needed.

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A Blissful Baby Friendly Holiday with Tots To Travel

Going away with a baby was always going to be more stressful and manic than when it was just the two of us and even though we’d already taken Evie to Paris when she was just nine weeks old, our trip to Mallorca would be her first flight, her first beach holiday and her first taste of the summer sun.

I’m not usually much of a worrier but it can be a bit daunting when you have to remember to pack different factor sun creams for all three of you, swimwear for every occasion (one to keep baby warm, another to keep baby protected from the sun and one to keep any leaks out), plus a pram, travel cot, car seat and the kitchen sink.

Enter Tots to Travel who seriously made our trip so much smoother and stress free, not only by sending us to a brilliant baby friendly destination (although it was still hard to pick where because they have so many dreamy ones to choose from) but also by providing anything we could possibly have needed when going away with a little one.

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Paris with a baby

Adventures in Paris With a Baby: Evie’s First Trip

Having had some serious travel withdrawals due to not being away since September, I was desperate for a break as soon as our little adventurer arrived. Plus I think it was well deserved after, ya know, pushing a tiny human out!

For our very first trip with our little adventurer we wanted somewhere that wasn’t too far away which was easy to get to, and so Paris seemed like the perfect choice. Despite it being so close to London we hadn’t been in 12 years and it’s somewhere I had been wanting to return to for such a long time. The bonus of taking the Eurostar over flying sealed the deal, so we took the plunge and booked our first trip for when Evie was just 9 weeks old.

So many people had told us this is the easiest time to travel with a baby, when they’re tiny and can’t walk around yet and don’t do much apart from eat and sleep, and they were totally right. But a lot of people had also said that Paris is not a good place to go with a baby and hopefully this post will prove that I don’t agree with these people at all! Paris is a great idea with a baby!

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Guide to Las Vegas

The Non-Gambler’s Guide to Las Vegas

If you read my previous post on 5 reasons to love fabulous Las Vegas you can probably tell just how much I loved the city.  There is so much to keep anyone entertained and I don’t just mean whiling away the hours gambling.  We did spend a bit of time in the casinos where I will admit that I had absolutely no clue what I was doing.  Playing a game of Snap is about as far as my card skills go!  After a while of watching others in a state of utter confusion, Mr Ayla eventually taught me how to play Blackjack and I actually found myself having some fun!  I was very happy with my $5 winnings thank you very much.

But I was surprised at how much there is to do in Las Vegas for the non-gamblers who, like me, want to spend more time seeing the city rather than being stuck inside a bright, smoky casino with no idea what time of day or night it is, and these were the things that made me and the city such fabulous but unexpected friends.

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London Gatwick airport parking

Airport Parking Made Easy with Purple Parking

Airport parking is never something that is high on my radar when booking a trip.  I’m much more interested in researching our new destination, scoping out sights off the beaten track and the best viewpoints in the city, or finding a cosy airport hotel to stay in before an early morning flight.  So usually we simply opt for one of the cheaper parking options.  Yes, the car parks always seem to be down the most difficult to find country lanes and there is the annoyance of a 15/20 minute bus ride to the airport, but I would rather save that extra bit of money for eating as much of the local food as I can once we’ve left London (and our car) behind.

But on our recent trip to Turkey, we tried out the meet and greet service at Gatwick airport courtesy of Purple Parking and I think it may have just swayed me into paying that little bit extra in the future.

There was no bickering as we tried to figure out where the car park was, no checking the car in, no waiting around for the next shuttle bus and no extra journey to the airport.  We simply drove straight to the drop off point right outside Gatwick’s south terminal and, with a quick phone call to Purple Parking to let them know we were there, a few minutes later a friendly chauffeur came to meet us, checked our details and then whisked our car away.

London Gatwick airport parking

I was left thinking that surely there was something else we needed to do.  But nope – it really was as easy as that and we wandered the few steps into the airport without any stress or worry and, least of all, not a single bit of rushing about.

London Gatwick airport parking

After a sunny and relaxing break in Turkey, returning to the airport would have been nice and easy if it hadn’t been for someone (not mentioning any names – but it wasn’t me) leaving our tablet in security on the way out.  This meant that when we arrived back at Gatwick airport just after midnight, we had the hassle of changing terminals and making our way to lost property (and paying a ridiculous £20 lost property admin fee in the process).

With a quick phone call, Purple Parking were extremely helpful in meeting us with the car at whichever terminal was easiest for us and, just a few minutes later, we could see the Purple Parking chauffeur in his snazzy purple jacket along with our car already sitting and waiting for us as soon as we stepped out of the airport doors.

London Gatwick airport parking

At this time of the morning when I had to be up for work in six hours, we were so grateful that there was no waiting around for a shuttle bus and hauling our bags about, no bus ride full of crying children and tired adults, and no having to wait in line to collect the keys to our car.  This was by far the easiest and most convenient airport parking we have ever had and, as the Purple Parking representative handed our keys over to us, it couldn’t have been any more welcome.

Have you tried a handy meet and greet airport parking? Let me know what you thought in the comments below or at:

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Big thanks to Purple Parking for taking care of our car while we were off relaxing on holiday!

Need an airport hotel?  Take a look at my favourites at Gatwick airport:

The Perfect Way to Start a Holiday: Bloc Hotel Gatwick

Smart Luxury at Yotel London Gatwick

What to do in Amsterdam

A Weekend Guide to Amsterdam

A breezy one hour flight and we were in Amsterdam, somewhere that had seemed to evade our travel radar so far.  With such cheap and easy flights from the UK, it was the perfect destination for a short weekend break over the May bank holiday and I always welcome the chance for us to explore a new part of Europe.

There isn’t actually a huge amount of sightseeing to do in Amsterdam which made for a wonderfully chilled weekend break.  We spent most of it simply wandering around, taking in the enchanting canals bursting with colourful flowers, and satisfying our bellies with as much food as possible.  We decided to stay on our feet to explore rather than hop on a bike as the city is so full of cyclists – there are more bikes than there are people in Amsterdam (true story) – and the speed they flew past over the narrow cobblestone roads had me fearing for my life when I was on the pavement let alone actually being on one of the bikes myself!  Instead, we picked up our I amsterdam card which includes tram, bus and metro rides, as well as a host of free and discounted sights and tours, and worked our way around the city with a combination of public transport and the simple wearing out of our feet.

If you’re planning a weekend in Amsterdam and want to know exactly what you should see and do then look no further as I’ve highlighted all the best bits here including the tastiest foods and the quirkiest activities!

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road trip to grand canyon

A Quirky Road Trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

As much as I hated leaving the fabulous city of Las Vegas behind, it was onto our next adventure.  The 4 and a half hour drive to the Grand Canyon was pretty smooth sailing – aside from Mr Ayla having a slight panic at having to drive out of the busy city, in an automatic, on the other side of the road, amidst 4 lanes of crazy Vegas traffic.  After Googling which pedal was which (don’t judge – we drive manuals at home and neither of us know much about cars!) we were on our way with our ultimate road trip album blaring out of the CD player.

Despite being quite a long drive there were plenty of places to stop off along the way and the Hoover Dam was the first place on our itinerary.  We’d left Vegas a little later than we’d intended (possibly due to too many cocktails the night before) so by the time we made the short 45 minute drive there, it was already packed full of tourists.  We decided not to do a tour but instead just drove across the dam itself and ogled at the size of it before taking a few snaps and carrying on with the journey.

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Essentials for an American road trip

10 Essentials for an American Road Trip

There is nothing quite like the feeling of setting out in your car on an epic road trip, the back seat piled with bags, blankets and snacks, Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way” playing in the background, and your favourite travel buddy sitting beside you.  Whether we’re exploring somewhere completely new and having to learn the rules of the road in a different country, or just going on a short weekend break closer to home, road trips are one of my favourite ways to travel.  Being able to stop wherever and whenever we want, having no obligations or time limits, and just enjoying the freedom of an open road.

Our great American adventure is only a day off now (eeek!!), and while we may not have actually been on our American road trip yet, we have been on a fair few in the past, from roadtrippin’ South Africa’s scenic Garden Route to driving around the pretty Cotswolds.

So these are my 10 essentials that are needed for a great road trip, with a few that will give us those extra American feels as we’re cruising along Route 66.

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Reasons to travel with someone you love

10 Reasons To Travel With Someone You Love

As Valentine’s Day is almost upon us and love is in the air, I thought I would share some reasons why I love travelling with Mr Ayla so much.  I spend so many hours at home just staring at our giant world map on the wall, amazed at all the pins in the places we’ve been, wondering where we’re going to discover next, and I wouldn’t want to fill up my map with anyone else.

I applaud those people who travel solo but it’s just not for me.  I once took a flight from London to Edinburgh – yes, only an hour long – and it just felt so strange.  I had no one to excitedly make my way to the airport with, no one to point to things out of the plane window, and no one to help me lift my heavy hand luggage into the overhead compartment.  Sigh.

After 12 years of exploring the world together, Mr Ayla is my favourite travel companion.  I wouldn’t want to go anywhere without him and here’s 10 reasons why…

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Drinks around the world

Drinking Our Way Around The World

It’s no secret that I love a fruity cocktail. In fact most of my family and friends will forever relate the Piña Colada song to me because every time a cocktail, pineapple, or just a drink in general is mentioned, I start singing the tune – with Hawaiian style dance moves included of course. Yes, I like Piña Colada.

As it’s almost Christmas and I’m sure the celebrations are already in full swing, I thought I would add to the festivities by sharing some of the best and most popular drinks from around the world that we’ve come across on our travels. They’re not all cocktails – I promise – and they’re not all alcoholic. Unfortunately, Piña Colada isn’t on this list (sigh) because I’ve not yet been to Puerto Rico, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying what the rest of the world has to offer.

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