You just need to say that you are travelling with a baby and instantly every one says, 'Oh good luck! Are you worried about it?' but it doesn't have to be the nightmare that everyone imagines it to be.
Unless of course you are on the way to the airport and your car breaks down. Which is exactly what happened to us and set the tone for the rest of the day.
Because of this I may not be the best to offer advice but maybe my experience will help!
Leave Plenty of Time
I know that this sounds obvious but we left the usual two hours to check in, have a mooch around duty free and saunter down to the gate. BUT IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. Maybe it was just bad luck but it took us longer to check in because we had more labels to attach to the pram and car seat (plus the conveyor belt broke down)
We then had to go through a different security queue at security because we had the pram, so we were in the same situation as all the other parents so it took forever. You automatically walk slower too as running with a baby is near impossible so make sure you leave as much time as possible.
Don't Book a Window Seat
It seems like pregnancy me thought, 'Oh how lovely it will be to sit with my baby by the window, they can look out at the clouds and I can get some good pictures in as well'. WHAT WAS I THINKING?! Mum me knows that being able to quickly stand to settle her is the priority and the aisle seat is the best way to do this. See also, sit as close to the front of the plane as possible to be close to the toilet/exit. Oh and one more thing, she never even looked out of the bloody window!
Check Airline Allowances
We flew with EasyJet who allow you to take on two bits of baby luggage (car seat/ travel cot/ pram etc). They also let you take a changing bag if your child is under 2 as additional hand luggage, so if you are really clever about packing you can take quite a bit of luggage with you without having to necessarily pay for it all. We decided to take the pram wheels and the car sear as our two items. I deliberated taking the 'pram' bit but decided that Rosie was able to sleep in her car seat whilst we were out and about for a week.
Clear the Pram
If you decide to take the pram, do yourself and everyone else a favour and clear out the basket at the bottom before you get to the airport. There is nothing more stress inducing than trying to get everything out into a tray at security whilst a queue builds behind you. The pram was taken off me and wheeled through at security at Gatwick but coming home we had to fold it down and send it through x-ray which meant we nearly missed our plane as every other parent was trying to clear the pram to be able to collapse it down. It's also worth noting that if they have a favourite toy this has to go through the x-ray so try and turn it in to a game, think 'Look he's going on an adventure!' so avoid meltdowns when the favourite toy is taken off them.
Take a Baby Carrier
You are able to wheel your pram right up to the gate where they will take it off you and stow as hold luggage but you won't get this back when you disembark so it's worth taking a baby carrier so you can go hands free until you pick up the pram at baggage reclaim. It doesn't even need to be a full carrier, a sling would be fine but you'll be thankful when you are trying to take all your hand luggage and you don't have to worry about holding a baby too.
Who knew that there was a baby changing table in those tiny toilets?! It's amazing the things you don't even notice when you aren't looking out for them but I'm glad they do have them. Not so glad about the tiny space to change the baby in though. At least she isn't that wriggly yet! Leigh and I tag teamed, I went to the toilet, then took Rosie in - changed her, and then Leigh went. It meant that we all got up together and annoyed the aisle seat less.
We all know how frustrating it is when you are trying to get something out of your bag when it's tucked under the seat in front, the tray table is down with drinks on top and there's barely any leg room. Now try and get things with a fussy, wiggly baby in these conditions and it's near impossible. SO even if it means that everyone has to stand and wait a little bit longer whilst you get sorted make sure that you have everything that you need to hand whether it be a bottle, dummy, toy or muslin BEFORE you sit down and you'll find it's a lot less stressful.
Luggage Pick Up
This may be obvious but it wasn't to us and we stood by the conveyor belt for a good 15 minutes after our luggage arrived waiting for our pram wheels and car seat only to realise that it was sitting in a separate section at the airport. So if you don't see your baby items immediately don't panic, it may be that they have been left in the oversized luggage section.
Bonus Packing List
I've had a few people ask what we packed for Rosie so thought I would include a list below (this packing is for a weeks stay for a 5 month old baby):
1 x pack 54 nappies
1 x Wet wipes
2 x Nappy bags
Baby Calpol (in case she started teething)
Baby Thermometer (in case she got sick)
2 favourite toys
Outfit for everyday plus 3 spares
Also 1 no sleeve, short sleeve and long sleeve white bodygrow
1.5 tog Sleepbag
1 short sleeve/1 long sleeve sleepsuit
2 x Socks
2 x Sunhat
2 x Swimsuits (You could also take a wetsuit)
2 x Large muslin
2 x Small muslin
Mini baby wash
Pack of swimming nappies
Breast pump, one bottle, plus some storage bags
I hope the above offers some help if you are planning on travelling with a baby. Have I missed anything or are there any tips you have to share for the next time we go abroad? Leave a comment if so.