Having a baby makes you look at the world in a new way. This includes many profound aspects of life such as your relationships with others, your future aspirations and priorities. You also consider travel in a new way. Places that you may have visited before or travel choices that you previously thought of as very natural, become foreign. “How do I do this again, and how do I do it with a baby”, you hear your mind wondering.
I’m not a stranger to travelling on Eurostar. When I just started going out with my boyfriend at the time, husband at present, he lived in Paris for the best part of a year. At least a couple of times a month, I was whizzing under the channel to reach the French capital and soak up on the charms of Parisian weekends. Life was pretty sweet, and now I know, oh so uncomplicated.
Returning to the present day, we now have a beautiful 8-month old son, who within his short life has already done quite a bit of travel. As I’m still on maternity leave and have a chance to do some spontaneous things before being tied to a work schedule, we decided to travel to Paris, just me and my baby! I have a very good friend living there so our plan became to take the Eurostar from London to Paris and stay with her for three nights.
Simple plans can quickly become unsurmountable hurdles when you are a mother. Particularly as new mums we want to be prepared for everything and often play out the worst case scenarios in our heads. This often makes us hesitant to travel too. In this post I wanted to share some of my experiences on Eurostar that made it easy to travel from London to Paris. I hope these tips help you out!
- Book special assistance before you travel
When you travel with a child, Eurostar offers special assistance service for free. This means that a personal assistant meets you at the check-in desk and helps you all the way up to the train. Our very friendly assistant took us past the security control queues, carried all our bags and ensured that we were able to board ahead of everyone else. This meant no queuing or bag carrying. When we arrived to Paris, another assistant was waiting for us by the door and carried our bags to a taxi. What could be easier!
- Be prepared that Eurostar waiting area isn’t geared towards babies
The captive audience of Eurostar isn’t mummies like me with their little bundles of joy, but business travellers or couples on their city break. You do find decent baby changing facilities in the waiting area, but I was surprised to find out that there are no other basics such as highchairs. I ended up feeding Hugo at Starbucks in the St Pancras station before the check in because they had highchairs. I did mention this as an improvement area to the Eurostar staff, so who knows, maybe next time this will be resolved.
- Try to have access to Eurostar business lounge
Ok, this is not available for you just because you have a baby, but Eurostar Carte Blanche and American Express Platinum card provide access to the Eurostar business lounge. The serious business man in his grey suit may not be so pleased to see you with your little one but you will be happy to provide a less hectic environment for your baby and more comfortable seating for yourself, perhaps even to enjoy a glass of something. American Express Platinum can be worth the investment also because it gives you access to airport lounges in almost every destination and has a very good travel insurance policy.
- Bring a baby carrier
Eurostar trains don’t have space for unfolded strollers and pushchairs so you will need to pack yours amongst the luggage holds. As you will need to carry your baby inside the train, it’s useful to bring your carrier which can also work out as a place for your baby to nap.
- Bring extras of your baby essentials
When travelling it’s always useful to be prepared for delays and plans not coming together as you had hoped. With a baby this becomes even more important, so make sure that you have extras of milk, nappies, change of clothes and baby food.
In Paris you can easily stock up on baby essentials as many of the same brands can be bought on both sides of the channel. You can save some space in your luggage by popping in a store once you have reached your hotel or other accommodation.
With a little bit of practical preparation, the just over 2-hour train ride to Paris went very smoothly with little Hugo napping about half of it and bouncing up and down on my lap the other half. Whereas before I would have got very bored even on a short journey, I now had constant entertainment from my son.
As the train started to slow down and the lights of Gare Du Nord became visible, I couldn’t stop having on my mind flashbacks to my previous encounters with this station. Times when I had my boyfriend waiting for me at the arrivals. Times when I had arrived there in my business suit for work. Now I was entering the station in my newly found identity as a mummy, but I wasn’t surprised to feel that this life was pretty sweet too!
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