This was going to be our first official weekend break to Birmingham to attend my husband’s co-workers wedding. This was the first official ‘test’ run for the big travel event that would be eventually travelling on a plane for 8 hours to America, we tested it with a four-hour train journey with two transfers.
Learning from the past weekend adventures we now feel confident about what makes travelling with a baby easy and a few things we would and wouldn’t need for future travelling as a family.
The Less Luggage The Better:
We brought in a total of three pieces of luggage for our weekend trip.
Small Roller Suitcase:
In this, we packed all our clothes, shoes, toiletries, and anything we bought from the trip. We packed our wedding outfits and travelling clothes, sleepsuits, vest and two extra outfits for Weston. I packed heels and wore my converse, while my husband wore his black dress shoes throughout the trip as he found them comfortable (crazy man).
My wedding outfit; £5 on SALE red romper from H&M
Husbands: Next black trousers, Dress shirt and tie from JC Pennys (purchased back in the states) and we have no idea where he got his comfortable black dress shoes.
Weston’s: £10 NEXT
A Backpack; We transferred my purse diaper bag to a backpack to make things more hands-free…especially since we decided to take the pram/stroller.
We packed a whole bag of nappies/diapers * in which we went through and on Saturday my husband had to taxi to the nearest Morrison’s to purchase more*, wipes, changing mat,nappy/diaper bags, toys, muslin cloths, bibs, iPad, chargers and carried around any snacks we purchased. This was kept with us by our seats on the train and we put everything else stored away.
This was a great debate! After reading countless blogs I decided that bringing my Moby Wrap and holding Weston in this would make less luggage and less worry about having to find a lift in train and underground stations. But last-minute my husband decided he wouldn’t mind holding the pram/stroller. Well by the end of the trip he finally admitted I was right. After folding it up and putting it together countless times…trying to find a place on the train for the pram to be…not to mention trying to move through the narrow isles to get to our seat. his is the one item we defiantly will leave behind next time as we only used it at the wedding when we sat down to our meal, and when we took a stroll through London on our way travelling back home.
My wrap was borrowed from a friend, but you can buy yours on AMAZON;
When I wanted to go hands-free on the train with the sling, Weston sat comfortably and I could eat and go on my phone while Weston sat on my lap and played with his toys, or he would sleep and I could continue sitting without having to worry about holding him. The only issue is when Weston starts to crawl or walkabout when he is a few months older and being stationary on the train or plane with the sling would be difficult. However, I do believe when travelling between stations or walking the sling is very helpful and will make hands more usable for extra luggage and less worry about breaking down a pram/stroller.
Thankfully, when travelling back to the states, my family will have a pram/stroller and car seat for us to use so we will not have to worry about bringing this item. This will make less of a worry for our family and make travelling with Weston less stressful.
Train Travel- Better than Driving:
Food Carts & Privacy for Breastfeeding
Weston is still breastfed and I loved that I could easily breastfeed, be discrete and most importantly be comfortable on the train.
We had first-class tickets, so most of the fast trains came with a meal and beverage service included and eating while travelling is much easier and comfortable on a train than in a car.
Passengers are not stuck to one seat
Unlike being confined to your seat on an aeroplane or car, travelling by train allowed us to get up and move around as we pleased. When Weston got upset, we walked with him in his sling and he would calm down. He loved people watching as well.
Many of the trains had several empty seats, so it gave us lots of space to move around. We were travelling with items – stroller, luggage, and backpack – so it was nice to offload our items on a different seat and not feel cramped.
Being on the train also meant that Weston did not need to be stuck in his car seat. He never sleeps long in his car seat and rarely lasts longer than 15 minutes before he freaks out.
See the countryside and stop at different train stations
Weston loved to snuggle up to one of us and look out the window to watch the countryside pass by. The movement kept him interested and it had a calming effect on him – he often fell asleep once the train got moving.
Time seemed to fly by as we passed through countrysides, open fields, mountains and old villages. Had we not been on a train, we never would have seen these places and we would not have enjoyed the journey as much.
No maps, no parking, no stress
We sometimes make the mistake of only comparing train travel to aeroplane flights; when in reality, renting a car is another viable transportation option.
However, we don’t like fumbling over road maps and arguing over the TOM TOM. Securing a parking spot in European cities can also be a challenge and parking can be very costly, so the thought of departing and arriving from a centrally located station is quite appealing (most hotels in Europe are located within walking distance to a train station and our case we had a shuttle).
Trains are also a heck of a lot faster and don’t require you to stop for fuel.
Change travel plans easily, without penalty
This recent trip we wanted to head back earlier than our we originally booked. Nothing major, but we needed to adjust departure times to accommodate changes in our itinerary. Babies don’t always follow the game plan, so flexibility is very important.
Because we had the Virgin Trains pass, we didn’t need to worry about it all. As long as the train did not require a reservation, we simply took whatever train we wanted.
There were no additional costs for changing trains, no phone calls or cancellation procedures, no hassle.
No airport security
Now, take that awful experience that you’ve sadly become familiar with and amplify it 10 times – that’s how much airport security sucks when you’re travelling with a baby.
Train travel is a much different experience. Having no security meant we boarded the train within minutes – no hassle, no stress – perfect for baby travel.
Leaving at 8:45 am my father in law gave us a lift to the train station and kept Weston’s car seat for when he picked us up Sunday night. After a transfer and an underground tube, we arrived at Birmingham International. We wanted to take some time before we headed to check-in at the hotel and went to visit Resorts World where we did some shopping at the outlet mall and ordered some yummy lunch at the Sky Bar. Later, we walked back to the airport and caught our shuttle bus to the hotel. The wedding was taking place at the Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport over the weekend and we were staying two nights. At arrival, we were sad to find out the pool was closed and we were looking forward to taking Weston swimming. Unfortunately, there were no other options as far as entertainment because we were far away from anything and instead we had a nice cosy movie night and bath before the wedding in the morning. We co-slept in the hotel bed and never needed a hotel cot/playpen which made it feel even more like home. It eliminates the need for a hotel cot and makes things much easier for midnight feedings.
Breakfast. Yummy. The Holiday Inn had a great spread for breakfast and many options. Sweet and Savory. My husband opted for cooked breakfast both mornings, while I had a mix but enjoyed the selection of fruit, bread and cold meats. Boobie milk for Weston.
Then it was back to the room to get ready.
I like how to Brits do weddings! They make a whole day out of it! Usually, in America, we have couples getting married at around 4 pm and having a reception afterwards til about 1/2 am. In England, they are up at 8 am….out the door and the ceremony at 11 am, a three-course lunch, speeches, a two/three-hour break to take pictures and have a drink, and by 7 pm they had a dance/reception with a buffet and cake. I was so impressed with how wonderful this wedding was. The highlights for me was defiantly the announcement that the bride was expecting (previously had bets going with my husband as I had a feeling about it) the Elvis impersonator from the brides’ fathers speech, photo booth, and dancing to my husbands and I first dance song from our wedding at the reception with Weston between us. Weston fell asleep in his sling at the reception and we enjoyed the fun from the back away from the speakers and he was out cold after the long day.
Yummy breakfast again, and an early head starts back to the station.
On the way home, we decided to stop in London and take a 40-minute walk to London Liverpool to get the train home. We took the pram/stroller and enjoyed trying to navigate Google Maps back to the station and defiantly took us a lot longer but enjoyed the sights and the off beaten path discovering new places.
We finally arrived at London Liverpool and absolutely starving. We decided on Ed’s Diner and ordered a root beer and two burgers with a side of fries. Then we killed some time in Lush and spoiled Weston with a Baby Robot Bath bomb and a Shakra bomb for myself.
Lastly before boarding our train we got Krispy Creme doughnuts the American kind…Rocky Road, Hershey’s Cookies and Creme, and Pecan Pie. Whoever said you can’t have American things abroad was wrong. It seems everywhere you go there are some options for us Americans and we don’t have to be too homesick.
All in all. Great trip. I really would like to take another trip to London and would likely not bring the pram/stroller if I don’t plan on walking 40 minutes through London.
We are so lucky to not live far from London and plan on taking Weston to the wonderful museums, art galleries, and hopefully the West End when he is a bit older.
As a family, we learned a lot about travelling with Weston and how easy we could make it be and how anyone with a baby shouldn’t be afraid to travel. Weston ever cried or got upset during the trip because he was attached to me and I responded very quickly and felt really in tune with his needs.