x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Travels with Charlie

If you've never travelled with a child, you may not want to know how the word "travel" takes on a whole new connotation.

I am never travelling with my child again. Ever. Holidays and outings will, in future, be limited to any geographical location that takes less than 20 minutes to get to by car from my front door. We have journeyed back to the UK to visit relatives for a week. Making it from A to B required the full spectrum of transportation from trains to planes to automobiles. Nightmare. My husband, Charlie and I travelled on virtually every mode available. I exaggerate, obviously. We didn't do a tram or a penny farthing. Nevertheless, my stress levels were at an all-time high throughout the whole of our seven-day "holiday".

Just a short time ago, in my pre-motherhood era, travelling was associated with romantic getaways and city breaks with the girls. My biggest stress back then involved long-haul flights where the main difficulty amounted to trying to make it to the bathroom in time to brush my teeth before the captain switched on the seat belt signs for the final descent. I would arrive at my destination feeling slightly jaded but still exuding a degree of glamour through a fresh application of lip gloss.

My recent trip was a sharp contrast. I disembarked after the seven-hour flight feeling completely exhausted and with a fresh application of vomit smeared down my right trouser leg. Not an ounce of glamour. One hundred per cent Mama. During the flight, my nine-month-old son had two screaming fits, went through three changes of clothes, six changes of nappies and threw up every spoonful of food that passed through his lips. Oh joy.

There was a slight silver lining, though, in that I was so busy looking after Charlie I only had time to eat half a bagel throughout the whole flight. Great for the diet. My husband was equally stressed. I heard him later complaining to my brother-in-law that he'd only had time to watch one episode of The Simpsons during the entire journey. Poor love. Flying isn't the only part of travelling that is stressful with a baby in tow. Lengthy car journeys have to come a close second. Trapped in a confined space, jammed in the back next to a frustrated child who hates being strapped in a car seat is not my idea of a dream getaway. When we were in the UK we planned, rather unwisely, a 240km drive down the motorway to visit the in-laws. It was supposed to be a leisurely day trip but I ended up taking a suitcase just to accommodate the necessities for the journey.

I spent the first torturous hour struggling to entertain my little boy with a variety of toys that were promptly thrown onto the floor and landed inconveniently underneath the front car seat. To add to my woes, halfway down the motorway I realised I had made two big errors: 1) We were still in the car during lunchtime and I had brought a spaghetti bolognese for Charlie's meal. 2) I had forgotten to pack the nappies. We did a pit stop at a service station and I emerged from the car covered in meat sauce. I then had to hunt down another mother with a child of similar age and, rather embarrassingly, ask for a spare nappy. Never again.

I got out my map when we arrived back in Abu Dhabi to try and pinpoint an ideal location for our next holiday. Between Two Bridges, here we come.