As any skier or snowboarder knows, the time from leaving home to actually getting on the slope is full of excitement and anticipation. But with lots of extra luggage to get safely to the resort, long transfers, more frequent delays and the inevitable first morning scramble to get kit and lift passes, it can also be frustrating and tiring. Now try doing all that travelling with a baby on a winter sports holiday…..
Pre-departure our flat was divided into different packing zones: baby food, baby bottles, baby clothes, baby toys, baby toiletries, baby nappies, baby medicines (just in case), baby sleep stuff, baby outdoor kit, baby day bag and a small corner for everything else (including snowboard and snowboard kit for me, skis and ski gear for my wife).
We felt that as many ski resorts have only small, expensive supermarkets, it would be too risky to expect them to have the right size nappies and the food for a 7-month-old, so we decided to take it all with us. Buying baby food in pouches rather than jars saved on weight and they proved easier to pack – and some nappy brands take up a lot less space than others, so it’s worth shopping around.
With everything packed, a quick check on the scales showed we would be within 1kg of Thomson Airways’ generous 75kg allowance. This included 20kg each for my wife and I, 10kg for the little man, 15kg board bag, and 5kg hand luggage each plus a pushchair – which is not counted in the weight allowance. My main concern was with one of us having to push the buggy, the other would have a lot of luggage to handle…
Arriving at Gatwick, we had booked a meet-and-greet service to collect the car. It was only a few pounds more expensive, but well worth it compared to getting the bus transfer from the car park with all of our luggage and a baby. A trolley made the luggage easy to handle through the check-in process, even with the board bag precariously balanced on top.
Check-in went smoothly, the security check not so: During the journey the baby would need feeding, so we had bottles of milk and pouches of food that were over the 100ml liquid limit. Thanks to this we were put in a ‘special assistance’ queue. Which sounds good, but is basically a queue full of families that moves extra slow as each taste their liquids to prove them harmless. All the while they are juggling babies, taking belts and shoes off, and dismantling pushchairs to fit through the scanner.
Once through, and despite a 30-min delay, we didn’t have long to wait before called to the gate and we were then boarding the plane. A feed during taxiing meant the little man fell asleep before take off and stayed that way until we started to descend. My top tip when travelling with a baby would be to try to book flights at times close to when your child has a nap, as a sleeping baby on a flight is a delight!
On arrival, Champery Airport was so small that passport control, luggage collection and customs all happen over less space than Gatwick has filled with shops selling ties. So we were soon picking up our luggage, however a lack or trolleys made things difficult. Fortunately Crystal Ski reps were on hand to help us with our bags to the waiting coach transfer.
The transfer was a bit longer than expected, as we had to change buses. But the Crystal Ski reps again helped with the bags without being asked, and they made something that was difficult for us much easier.
On arrival at the Terra Nova hotel other guests kindly let us check in first, so we were soon in our room with the little man asleep in the cot provided. As we arrived after dinner, food had been left out. Naturally we ate our fill and hit the sack in preparation for an early start the next day.
At breakfast the next morning lift passes were delivered by the Crystal Ski reps, and those with hire gear were able to collect it from within the hotel any time after 8:30. The next step was to drop our 7-month-old in the crèche: we had booked all day Pepi Penguin Club with Crystal Ski, which was again located in our hotel.
Registration was quick and leaving him with strangers for the first time was made easy by the lovely staff. We hit the slopes not long after the lifts opened and much earlier on the first day then on previous holidays – despite travelling with a baby on a winter sports holiday.