W hen you’re a new parent, and you have the option of going on a holiday sans–baby a part of you really wants to say YES (in a party poppers and champagne-a-flowing kind of way) but then the maternal side as in the side that’s been virtually stuck to your baby like glue for months on end struggles with the ‘oh I’m gonna miss my baby so much, though’ separation anxiety of it all – and that was me when deciding if taking Costa to Melbourne was really going to be a good idea.
Needless to say we did but I knew that this experience could very well be the one that all other vacays hinged upon so I wanted to TRY and make this trip feel as much like a holiday as I could which meant making it as smooth and as enjoyable for all-3-of-us as I possibly could.
These were the ups and downs and ins and outs of taking our baby to Melbourne and back again but more importantly the ‘yeah that was a good call‘ aspects of the trip as well.
*Note: This is just what worked for us. Feel free to absorb or ignore whatever you like.
‘I mean really…how’s this gonna work?’ – A baby passport photo
Can you imagine trying to lie your baby down and keep them in one spot before getting them to give you their best ‘non-smiling non-frowning face’?
No neither could I but after much re positioning and fits of laughter we ‘got the shot‘ (these were just some testers – see I couldn’t even keep the camera straight!).
Tip: Shoot in a well lit area to avoid shadows but don’t be too hard on yourself. If you can clearly see all of babies face but it doesn’t pass the photo checker (Costa’s didn’t at first), keep trying and use your best judgement. Just make sure you have a decent camera and some time up your sleeve for a re-submit if needed. If in doubt though, just go pro.
‘Ahhh What should I take’ – On the Plane
Where we sat
We flew economy (of course :-). We paid an infant fare (but not for his own seat). We went through a travel agency so they requested a bassinet for us etc. We got one on the way back (with Emirates) but not on the way there (with Qantas) but we did have a spare seat between us both times (luck perhaps?) which made life sooo much easier.
We were seated at the very back, closest to the bathrooms (on the way there) and closest to the front meaning lots of leg room (on the way back) which made changes and little walks super easy (apart from when the line to the bathroom got busy).
Taking food for a baby on a plane
Note: Costa wasn’t quite 6 months when we went so this is what we took and how we took it (remembering he is on formula now):
- 2 x 250ml and 1 x 125ml baby bottles (empty at first)
- More than enough formula for a 3 hr plane journey (in a secure plastic container, with a scoop)
- 3 pouches of baby food (plus spoon/small plastic bowl)
- Plus, a bunch of nappies, wet wipes, a blanket, 3 favourite small toys, teething ring, pacifier and a couple of changes of clothes.
We kept all the food in a zipped thermo bag so it was easy to find if we needed to ‘present it’ to customs. We also wanted to have one bottle ready to go before take off, so once we’d passed all the check points, we were able to part-fill a bottle with boiling water at an airport cafe then purchase a bottle of water so that we were ‘ready-to-go’ with a bottle pre-take-off.
On asking for help
The cabin crew were super helpful on both flights (Qantas there, Emirates back) and we were able to have bottles filled and cleaned really easily on the flight. On the flight over, one air hostess offered to hold Costa a couple of times which was a nice little break for me 🙂
Where do I change baby?
The plane toilets have change stations (tables) that were located above the toilet. You pull them down and change as you would in a public (baby-friendly) toilet. It was a wee bit cramped but totally usable. The Emirates restrooms were pretty fancy (as in a spritz of perfume here and a dollop of hand lotion there – which is what I call fancy haha!)
Number of in-flight meltdowns
Ummm, thankfully just one (there) on take-off which was quickly diffused with a bottle and then there was one slightly longer mid-air meltdown (that had me sinking into my seat with shame) but it only lasted about 5 off-and-on minutes after which he fell to sleep (and I could breathe again!)
Most useful things:
- Having a bottle ready to go for take-off and landing (potential ear-popping material) and to soothe the odd tantrum.
- Having a seat free between us (on the way there) and more leg room (on the way back) as Costa could stretch out. We requested a bassinet (and got one on the flight back) but I think for the flight there we may have just been lucky to not have a full plane.
- Taking a black breathable sarong-type scarf which I wore and then draped over my shoulder and Costa when he was sleeping (because it can get a bit noisy and distracting for a little person).
- Have a carry-on bag for baby things and then one for ‘your’ things which means you don’t have that ‘I thought you had it?‘ drama.
- Have extra food and supplies for the airport because you’re there for a fair bit beforehand too and make full use of the ‘parent’s
- If you can, plan your baby’s naps around your flight times i.e they’re awake in the terminal but ready for a nap on the flight type-of-thing.
- Our baby front pack was a great hands-free option that we took turns wearing while navigating the checkpoints either side of the flight.
Baby things we packed that were super handy:
Our Baby Bjorn Classic Carrier for absolute ease of baby carrying, OMRON in-ear thermometer (for easy temperature-checking) and our Merino Kids Go Go bag – which reduced the need for packing blankets and it gave him something familiar to sleep in). We took (and love) our baby monitor too but we didn’t actually need it as it was really easy to pop our heads in to the room at night and check on him given that we were in a one bedroom apartment.
We wanted to keep our packing to a minimum, so aside from on-the-flight food we packed baby clothes, a few care essentials, a few little toys etc and everything else we needed (aka baby food, formula etc) we purchased nearby at the local supermarket.
Compromises: The wait times were a little tricky with a baby who doesn’t like being too still. Namely, waiting in lines to check in (Joe waited while I took Costa for a walk and then Joe would text to say ‘come back’ and then we’d all check in that way). Also, get used to the odd stoney-faced gaze from a fellow passenger (maybe they were just tired?!?). I get it, I am ‘the one’ on your flight with a baby (therefore I could potentially be the one to blame for an unsettled flight) but yes, I sometimes felt burdened by the weight of an unspoken annoyance (maybe it was just my internal struggle in flying with a baby) but ah well, you learn to get over it and just ‘do you’.
‘Because a little bit of style never hurt either’ – What I wore and would wear again…
- A comfy, light and easy-dry top (because teething equals dribbles, yeap!). I’m wearing my building block tee and it passed the test.
- Linen pants are breathable (not always practical, but…). These are last season Glassons but these look good, as do these.
- Pockets are so handy for a Mum-on-the-go and a coatigan incorporates them in a stylishly warm way – great also for covering up spills. This was a circa 80s Etsy buy, but here is a snuggly alternative.
- A backpack instead of a handbag. It made carrying those little things easier knowing they wouldn’t slide off my shoulder with a baby. Mine is vintage, but I’m in love with this Smart Pack.
- A dark denim shirt is always a good thing because it looks effortless, wears well and is easy-clean (or easy-wipe!). Love this oversized version.
- A quick-dry beautifully stylish pair of black pants are essential. My Tidal Pants are my staple go-to. They combine comfort and style and I love a sophisticated drop-crotch!
- Aside from being very versatile, a leather jacket tends to add a certain edge to a plain outfit. For something a little more personalised this jacket combines just the right amount of tassle and suede.
- If a coatigan is too hot, swap it out for a lightweight kimono jacket, perfect for easy Spring and Summer style whilst travelling. For added uniqueness look for an interesting fabric or a fun (and timeless) print. Mine is vintage Etsy but I’d really love a denim version like this one or a Kimono crossed with a coatigan Ala this one.
Navigating and getting settled in – Melbourne
Getting to and from the airport
We ummed and ahh’d about taking our capsule but in the end we didn’t want the added hassle of lugging it around so we opted for a taxi service. I pre-booked a taxi fare in NZ (online) prior to our trip with a company that offered infant car seats and I’d suggest pre-booking over ‘winging it on arrival’ if you need this option.
Of the fares I was quoted, these guys were the cheapest (but also offered a lovely service) and I’d happily use them (and this option) again. We paid about $99 each way.
Where we stayed
Air BNB, simply because I love a ‘home away from home’ style of accommodation. For ease of getting around, we wanted to be based centrally and I wanted to find an apartment (and owner) that was also baby-friendly.
We hit the jackpot with this apartment aptly named ‘Quintessential Laneway Living’.
Why we loved it (generally speaking):
- One amazing and kid-friendly apartment owner.
- It was a beautiful characterful apartment overlooking Flinders Station.
- Super handy, located down a laneway, close to Flinders Lane.
- Yummy ‘laneway’ eateries as soon as you step out the door.
- We were central and could walk everywhere easily from here.
- Secure with key card access.
Why we loved it (from a parent perspective):
- Charmaine (the host) was so accommodating/understanding/quick to respond to messages and thoughtful.
- She offered us the use of a portacot and feeding seat
- Due to her amazingness, we were able to arrange drop-off of our baby hire gear prior to our arrival.
- Supermarkets (for nappies, baby food, etc) were 2 mins walk away.
- Our home-base was close to get back to (if a baby meltdown ensued).
Compromises: Being smack bang in the city and in an apartment block meant there’s a bit more noise at night (both outside and within) etc but apparently not enough to wake our baby (phew!). I thought this was a fair compromise given how handy everything was!
On hiring baby gear and travelling light!
Again, we didn’t want to lug around a pram (or risk it getting lost or damaged) in-flight so I arranged to hire baby gear.
This was really only possible because our host was happy to help so I researched a few baby hire places before settling on Beba Baby.
The gear was delivered the day before we arrived and picked up on the morning before we left.
What we hired:
Compromises: Pickups on Sundays were tricky as we had no control over the pickup time and therefore had to make use of the gear while we had it. Also Beba Baby’s best form of contact was via email as their number wasn’t phone-able from within NZ (bugger). Again, we didn’t mind either of these things because ultimately I’d give them 5 stars but I thought I’d mention it.
Did we get any sleep with a baby in a strange place?
Despite the noise of being in the central city, yes we did. Perhaps it could have gone either way (he was teething a little) but we were ok. Costa’s sleeping and naps were very similar to how they are here and despite the 2 hour time difference sticking to them wasn’t too bad. We weren’t sure how he’d go sleeping in a portacot either but he was good and the Go Go bag was a nice and familiar element for him which helped.
What we saw:
We stuck pretty close to our apartment and walked everywhere with our pram. We explored laneways and the big shopping centres and strolled along the river. If we were there for longer we would definitely explore a bit more (or even potentially hire a car) but for a short stay, it was nice to just do as we pleased and so we stuck to walking, shopping and visiting cafes in the heart of the city.
Things I loved:
Getting a little bit of shopping in even thought I couldn’t ‘dawdle’ with both a baby and hubby waiting on me ?. These places/things stuck with me:
- Larry Clothing on Collins Street because it spoke to my vintage-loving heart
- In the big malls I enjoyed Sheike. It’s nice to find a chains store that I wasn’t familiar with so I bought a few funky things here (including a tropical jumpsuit…Say what? I knooow!).
- Pat and Stick’s homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches (Caramel Pecan to be precise). If you know of any sold here, you know what to do…
- Doughnut Time. As I’m partial to a good doughnut and we were located right near one.
- A lovely little Italian restaurant on Degraves Street. Currently trying to remember the name, sorry TBC.
And there you have it….a mammoth collection of tips from a couple of first-timers but I know that if and when we travel again, be that overseas or anywhere with a wee one I have a handy post to refer to (and that you can refer to too as well, if it helps).
And, if you haven’t already guessed, the trip went so well that while we haven’t got another planned anytime soon we will definitely be less scared of travelling with our little guy in the future.
Do you know someone who might find this helpful or do you have some helpful extras to add? Feel free to pass on the info and make this a reaaaaallly helpful post!
Thanks for reading too (if you managed it to the end…)