x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Travelling with Kids: New baby will cramp already precious luggage space

Motivated by survival instinct, my husband is obsessed with how to best stack luggage while travelling.

My husband is obsessed by luggage, or rather its size and how to stack it. Since he is the one who ends up carrying our bags, and probably doesn't relish the thought of staggering around holiday destinations looking like a human pyramid, it's not an entirely unreasonable preoccupation. Mention the words "car hire" and he will respond not with a question about cost or the ease of airport pick up, but what bag/car seat/pushchair combo would be his preference.

This winter, we're adding another baby girl to our family and I've already booked three air tickets back to London to tour the new addition. There are a number of things that I could worry about even now: whether the baby's new passport will arrive in time for our travels (I've left exactly six weeks from the estimated delivery date to the flight departure and the British Embassy's website says it takes at least six weeks); how easy it will be to add an infant ticket to our existing flight booking on British Airways; whether our desert-grown babies will surrender to colds and flu the minute we touch down at freezing, grey-skied Heathrow ...

What is my otherwise sane and laid-back husband worrying about? The boot capacity of a Citroen C4 Picasso versus a Vauxhall Zafira. Concern is catching so I've actually Googled photographs of car interiors to double check whether they are as capacious as the stats on the car makers' own websites suggest and looked up car reviews for helpful, boot-related comments.

Of course, all of the above is irrelevant because I've never actually been offered the car I went out of my way to hire but, rather, one in the "same class". This invariably means that it, too, has keyless entry but looks like it's been dropped on its backside from a great height. Cue a lot of gesticulating and eye-rolling in the airport car park as we mime cramming the pushchair into the back before driving away in a much less shiny but more practical model.

This time, it's going to be harder. We won't have the luxury of a split rear seat or piling half of the back with luggage; that spot will already be taken by a car seat and wailing baby.

And boy, how they wail. And that's my excuse for my own ridiculously obsessive behaviour. I can dimly remember how a lack of sleep thanks to round-the-clock feeds is the cause of tears, arguments and general madness. You'd think I might be more consumed with delivering a healthy child but, somehow, easing the equally real pain of travelling with tots is more immediately pressing.