It’s been almost a year since our last blog and we’re happy to be back. Over the last year, we’ve been busy with pregnancy, professional exams, work and of course our new baby boy – Sam.
Travel has always been important to us, and we wanted Sam to experience this as soon as possible, so that it would become part of his world too. For our first family trip with our new baby (2 months old at the time), we decided to test the waters, with a road trip to the Lake District, where we stayed for 3 nights over Father’s Day weekend.
Packing for a road trip
Packing for a trip has always been a bugbear of mine, and now with a baby, the task had become greater! It wouldn’t be the end of the world if we’d forgotten something at home, as we weren’t exactly going to a remote island. However, travelling with a baby for the first time was already going to be a slow process, and we didn’t want to have reason to add additional stops by having to go shopping along the way! So, to make sure we remembered to pack all the important items (for us and baby), we made a categorized list (as I tend to do when we pack for holidays). This also means that we don’t leave anything behind on the way back.
- Deena’s red bag: In this I packed all my clothes/toiletries as well as Sam’s clothes, nappies, spare blankets. I used packing cubes to separate our things, and allow easy access.
- Jonny’s backpack: Just as well men don’t pack much – all of Jonny’s clothes and toiletries fit in here.
- Deena’s black backpack: I used this as my ‘handbag’ on the trip.
- Sam’s changing backpack: This held the same items it usually does when we take him out: few nappies, changing mat, wipes, nappy bags, 2 spare outfits, spare socks, mitts and hat, blanket, selection of toys and a nursing scarf. We also kept a tub of sunscreen and a carton of pre-made formula with bottle (just in case).
- Travel cot and mattress: The travel cot collapsed into a tall parcel on wheels, which meant we could easily transport it. The extra mattress was in its own bag which handily had a pouch on either side of it, where we packed the bedding for it.
- Cool bag: As we weren’t sure what food (if any) would be available at the cottage, we took our own breakfast food items, fruit, milk.
- Ergobaby Carrier (in bag): We were hoping we would be able to take Sam for a walk in this, however he is still to develop a liking for it.
- Car seat: with spare toys attached to it
- Nursing pillow: Handy to have not just for feeding Sam on new furniture, but also as a seat for him.
- Miscellaneous plastic bags: Walking shoes, waterproof jackets
Also in the car boot is the pram chassis with carry cot.
Having the ability to over pack is exactly why road trips with a baby are great!
As we expected to spend some time indoors, either due to baby troubles or the weather, we preferred to have the space and freedom of a self catered property rather than a hotel. This also meant we could have the kitchen space for meal preps (yes we were aiming to be properly domestic on this trip), and could have breakfast in our pyjamas whenever we wanted.
We weren’t mixed or bottle feeding at this time, but if we were, it’s always handy to have a kitchen to prepare bottles.
We found this lovely, cosy AirBnb cottage in Kendal that was exactly what we were looking for. The large bay windows overlooked a farm, where we could watch cows, sheep, cats and pheasants. The cottage was next to the landlord’s house but due to its position, we didn’t have to worry about disturbing others with Sam’s cries. Having a front and back garden meant lots of walking space to settle Sam, and also to allow him lots of new things and animals to discover.
We chose Kendal as we hadn’t visited this part of the Lake District before. The Airbnb was just a 15 minute drive to Windermere, which meant it was a good base to explore a few different places if we had the chance.
Day 1 – Journey There
We left home just before noon, and it took us around 4 hours to drive the 140 miles to Kendal. It was around Sam’s nap time when we left home, so he fell asleep for the first leg of the journey without much trouble. As he started to stir and wake up around 2 hours later, we stopped at services to get lunch and feed him. As Sam is fully breastfed, we didn’t have to pack much for his feeding, apart from 1 bottle of ready-made formula that could keep at room temperature and didn’t need refrigerated (unless opened). This was just for emergency in case I wasn’t able to feed him myself for whatever reason. Breastfeeding him also gave us the convenience of being able to feed him anywhere.
We only had to stop once on our way there, as he was able to fall asleep again after his feed. I sat in the back with him the entire journey to make sure he was okay, and also to have someone there to distract him in case he started to get sick of being in the car seat.
The First Evening
We decided to stay in on the first evening so that we could get settled in and Sam could get used to his new surroundings. It had been a long car journey for Sam’s first time, and it was important to set him free to kick about and relax.
We spent the evening unpacking, setting up Sam’s travel cot, and cooking our meal preps which would be dinner for 2 nights – with the plan of eating out on one night.
Sam’s first night was very disturbed. He kept waking through the night, much more frequently than usual and had to keep being comforted. Eventually we had to co-sleep with him as it was the only way to get him down and get enough rest. Thankfully, this was just the case for the first night.
Day 2 – Father’s Day
The following day was Jonny’s first Father’s Day, and Sam was ready with his surprise for daddy (with a little help from me). After breakfast in pyjamas, and (what felt like) hours of getting an upset Sam to settle, we headed out for our first walk.
Miles without Stiles is a list of 48 walking routes in the Lake District that are easily accessible for pushchair and wheelchair users. So, if you’re visiting with a baby or toddler, these walks give you something active to do without worrying about the difficulty level.
Travelling with a baby means everything takes twice as long (if not longer), and plans will often change or be cancelled. So don’t expect to make a lot of plans for one day – we decided on 1-2 activities. We started with walk #40 – Staveley Riverside, as it was close to drive to, and a very short simple walk for for the rainy day we had.
Head towards the Hawkshead Brewary if you need a rest stop. There is a cafe with baby changing facilities and seating that overlooks the river. However, this was quite busy on the day so we had lunch at a different cafe, which Sam slept through.
Following the Staveley walk, the sun decided to shine again after a heavy downpour that had us cut the walk short and head back to the car. It was still early in the afternoon and Sam had fallen asleep again after a feed in the car. So, we decided to head to the water front at Windermere, that we had frequented many times before Sam.
We found out about a lovely Thai restaurant through leaflets left in the cottage, and being lovers of Thai food, decided that was going to be our Father’s Day dinner. As Sam tends to be his fussiest in the evening and also starts cluster feeding then, instead of dining in the restaurant, we decided to order a takeaway from there and utilise the lovely bay window dinner table again.
Sam, very kindly, decided to finally take a cat nap and allow us some mummy-daddy time to enjoy our absolutely delicious meal.
On our final full day, we headed on a different Miles without Stiles route – #13 – Tarn Hows. This is a 1.8 mile circular walk surrounding a beautiful tarn (which is a lake in the hills formed in the hollow left by a glacier). The path was smooth, and had some benches along the way. The car park had toilets and an ice cream van. There is a fee for parking here.
We started the walk with Sam being quiet and settled – he enjoyed watching the trees and clouds. The walk was very scenic with lovely views of the tarn and tree lined islands over it. Pushing his pram over some of the very slight gradient also got our heart racing (nice to fit in a bit of cardio). However, towards the end of the walk, he started to get really unsettled and we had to power walk the way back to the car park.
This was the only activity we ended up doing that day and just took it easy for the rest of the day.
The Return Home
After checking out, we decided to cram in another visit before the drive back home.
We discovered Sizergh (Sy-zer) Castle & Gardens after spotting a brown tourist sign whilst driving. It is a medieval stately home with a luscious garden and surrounding estate. If you had the time, you could spend an entire day visiting the castle and exploring the garden. We only paid to visit the gardens (£8) and skipped on the castle (£12).
The Rock Garden exhibited a stunning collection of plants, herbs, flowers – the perfect garden to take a stroll through on a nice day. There are benches, some of which are sheltered, giving you somewhere to feed a baby if you need to.
We weren’t aware of this at the time, but apparently you can hire a baby sling or hip carrying infant seats here.
And that’s how Sam enjoyed his first road trip with mummy and daddy. We think he coped really well with all the driving and walking around, as well as staying in a new environment. We felt the Lake District was the ideal place to go as it was far away enough from home to feel like we were going somewhere but not too far a drive to make it all manageable.