So as we get closer and closer to my due date – we’ve already begun making plans for life with baby, as a family of 5, (wow that feels and sounds weird!) We’ve been looking at tickets to go back to the US next summer to visit family and introduce our new baby girl. It’s hard to believe the boys haven’t been back to the US in over 2 yrs. That’s about half of “Peter Pan’s” life he’s now spent in London. In any case – I’ve been looking at getting 4 seats and then a bassinet seat for “Tinker Bell.” This would be her first flight and she’ll be around 6 months old.
I think the flight to the US is harder than the return, as the return is a night flight and heading out there it’s just a really really long day. I don’t know what kind of baby she’ll be yet, she could be mellow or this could be a real ordeal. I’m probably less anxious about flying with a baby this time around – but of course the fear still lingers. Not just – will she be ok, but, will she be ok enough not to really annoy all of the nearby passengers?
I’m not alone in my anxiety about this – I often think the anxiety parents feel as they fly with a baby, trying to keep it quiet etc, is worse than any annoyance felt by nearby passengers when it’s clear parents are doing their all to keep the baby quiet and resolve the situation if baby is fussy.
A few weeks back I was reading an article about some other parents who were flying for the first time with their new babies – and they created little goody bags to share with nearby passengers. It actually seemed to positively influence those nearby passengers. Not just the sweets to brighten their day – but clearly showing that these parents were anxious to try and do the right thing, to not inconvenience other passengers, and be sincere in their apologies if they did inconvenience them.
These new parents of twin gave people on the plane candy (and offered earplugs too!). It’s a bit unclear from the articles I read whether they gave these to the whole plane or just the people seated near them.
We’re twin baby boys on our first flight, and we’re only 14 weeks old! We’ll try to be on our best behavior, but we’d like to apologize in advance just in case we lose our cool, get scared, or our ears hurt. Our Mom and Dad (AKA our portable milk machine and our diaper changer) have ear plugs available if you need them. We are all sitting in 20E and 20F if you want to come by to get a pair.
We hope you have a great flight!”
The pre-apology goody bags came to public notice when a Reddit user on the flight who received one posted it on Reddit. ‘Brilliant and thoughtful parents handed these out to everyone on my flight,’ the appreciative traveler wrote on Reddit
The parents, Christina Diaz, 38, and Michael Rubinstein, 32, were flying with their 14-week-old twins Arrow and Jasper. The boys – didn’t even let out a murmur throughout the five-hour flight from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. making the pre-apology unnecessary. One fellow passenger reported, ”the parents were fantastic, and the kids were better than would be expected.”
What do you think of the pre-apology goody bags for fellow passengers? Good idea or bad? What would you do differently?
For some time, Beaufort House in Chelsea has been our go-to place when going out to eat with the kids. Their Brasserie is a large open room, tastefully decorated – and most importantly ringed with booth seats.Parents who are reading this – I think you’ll fully appreciate the strategic advantage of this. We put the boys in the middle, and my husband and I sit at the ends so there is no escape!
Fortunately the kids love eating there as well. We’re always warmly welcomed by the staff, while there are less kids there at dinner, other families have surely felt the warm welcome for families, as on Saturdays and Sundays this place is packed with families enjoying leisurely brunch/lunch etc. Hakim, the front of house Manager is extremely welcoming to kids and families and while the waitstaff has generally been different people each time we’ve visited they’ve all been very kind and great with the kids (and their needs for extra napkins and ketchup!)
From the kids perspective – they’ve enjoyed the tasty kids meals. The kid’s menu is a nicely designed menu/placemat with scenes of London. Each child gets their own menu/placemat as well as their own set of Beaufort House colored pencils with sharpeners. There’s enough to color to last the whole meal! On one visit, their delight – the boys were even given Beaufort House boys. This has happened once, so I’m not sure if it was a one off thing or not.
We found the kids meal prices reasonably priced and sized and includes dessert. (They were even running a kids eat free promo for a while, whose absence I miss!)
For adults I’ve been impressed with the creative menu, which seems to change frequently – and their cocktails are delicious.
While we’ve spent most of our time downstairs in the ground floor Brassierie, they do have a Member’s Club above.
This week, I was invited along with some other London Bloggers to come see the Member’s Club. The club is spread over several floors and while during the evenings it’s generally full with members and their guests – during the days they use the event spaces for kids parties! I think I’ve found our new birthday venue.
Stairs up to Members Club above the Brasserie (it’s over several floors)
Guests were served Mojitos, champagne and delicious appetizers like duck spring rolls, mini fish and chips, truffle arancini and decadent lemon meringue mini pies.
(Sadly I was unable to partake of the cocktails and pate, and some of the other tasty looking items because of my baby bump)
While you probably wouldn’t see those items on the menu for a kid’s party, the kids party menu and setup looks interesting, and seems like it would be nice for the parents accompanying them.
I’m glad I was invited along and get to check out the Member’s Club and hope to be back soon for future events. They had a children’s event over the summer with Pippa’s Poppets, and from speaking with Simon, one of the co-owners it looks like their planning on more family focused events during the daytime, which I think would be great and certainly look forward to.
For the neighborhood, I think their prices are pretty good for children’s parties. Here’s a photo of their brochure for the price list for kids parties (accurate as of this publication, but do ring them in case menu items or prices change in the future)
Have you been to a kids party here before? Or visited the Brasserie with kids? What did you think?
For another perspective on Beaufort House, read this blog post from Life At the Zoo, Beaufort House Chelsea – A Hidden Gem.
See what the Domestic Goddesque has to say about it here Domestic Goddesque, Cocktails at Beaufort House and also more reviews here at the Goodlife Bloggers , Beaufort House King’s Road Chelsea – yes please, thank you very much!
Beaufort House kids party menu
There’s been a lot of discussion in the news and online lately about whether children should be banned from certain flights or certain sections of flights. A recent Frommer’s article pondered
When it comes to red-eye flights, who has more rights — the crying baby and the parents, or the tired passenger who desperately wants to sleep?
When I read that I think – um hello, isn’t a baby a tired passenger too? Having regularly flown with babies and kids I know those kids are not on the airplane for free. Even if I do the the under 2 option of having a baby on my lap I still have to pay taxes etc. which on international flights still works out to a few hundred dollars.
Interestingly, reading the comments on that article – most of the people seem to acknowledge that just as frequently (if not more so) than encountering crying babies or poorly behaved children, there are poorly behaved adults.
This summer, Malaysia Airlines (www.malaysiaairlines.com) introduced a no-kids section some aircraft flying between Kuala Lumpur and London. And another Malaysian airline, AirAsia X (www.airasia.com), announced it would create a “quiet zone” in the first eight rows of the economy section of some aircraft starting early next year. Both moves seem designed to let passengers sleep on overnight flights.
As a Mom who frequently travels back and forth to the US (which means a day flight of 9 hrs to the US and a night flight of about the same back to the UK) I much prefer the night flight. It’s on the night flight flight that my kids sleep and don’t need to be kept busy for hours. I’d book night flights both ways if I could!
Some of the comments to the Frommer’s article raise the question:
Who would you rather sit next to — an unruly child or an unruly adult? (Feel free to share your opinions in the comment below.)
- “It’s a real dilemma. Except for the one time I flew and my daughter was 13 months and made some noise … they have always been good. I have been on some miserable flights with multiple crying infants but also some miserable flights with noisy drunk and not drunk adults. What can be done about them?” –RuthDunn
- I think there should be at least one airline that is totally “Kid Free.” Too many entitled and spoiled adults currently act out on flights, and additional screaming kids are just too much, thanks to parents that have chosen to ignore their kids and close their ears to the screaming and running around. I am not anti-kids, I am a pediatrician and I’ve witnessed it all way too many times…–Hula1
- …As for banning kids from certain flights, sections, etc, then what happens if there are earlier cancellations and the banned flight is the only rebooking option? Are parents with kids to be expected to endure extra-long delays and missed connections more than other travelers? Which will only serve to make the kids even worse behaved when they finally do get on a plane?–Njmomto
- I hate to agree to this but “child free” will not solve this problem. Most of us have been on flights where the “adults” act worse than children. Some decide to party all night long or have loud conversations…–darkside
- I think a better solution might be to have families with young children sit in a designated section of the plane.–Gwen Humphries
And then – what if they did actually designate a “family section” of the plane? If it’s anything like the family section on Eurostar, I’d do my best to avoid it. Would that mean I couldn’t fly on that flight if all the family seats were full even if other areas were empty? Or what about Business Class? When possible I’d prefer to fly there, and having paid the same as other passengers (since there are no children’s fares on airlines these days and certainly not for biz class) aren’t my children just as entitled to a peaceful journey as other passengers?
The hardest thing is – for those rare exceptions when your child is crying, from the discomfort of ear pressure due to altitude, over-tiredness or whatever else, you as the parent are generally trying to do your best to comfort and care for your child and quiet them down and are oh-so anxiously sensitive to the noise or disturbance you’re causing and are already feeling horrible about it. I think you as the parent almost feel worse about the whole thing!
Personally, I’ve found a brilliant solution for dealing with noise from other passengers – whatever their age. Noise canceling headphones. If you want to sleep on an airplane and or not be disturbed by other passengers I highly recommend you get a pair – it’s so worth it! It blocks out other people’s baby screams just as well as the person next to you snoring loudly.
So what do you think? Should there be adults only flights and or family sections on airplanes?
When we lived in the US in Chicago, we’d regularly go visit my family in Michigan. Most of the time we’d take the car but sometimes the train. Now that we live in London, we regularly visit my in-laws in Belgium and take the train too. While we live in London and they in Antwerp, it’s faster for us to go visit them by train than the similar trip back in the US.
We take the Eurostar from London to Brussels and then from Brussels either we take an intercity train to Antwerp or we get picked up by car. I prefer taking the Eurostar to flying as it’s less hassle than flying, we can move about, there are no seatbelts and the kids have a view of the countryside, towns and other activity out the window. Having now travelled regularly with the kids via Eurostar I have learned a few things I thought I’d share.
Booking your tickets
If you think you’ll be going on more than 1 Eurostar trip in a year, sign up for their free Loyalty Programs like their Eurostar Plus Points. With Eurostar Plus Points, when you book your travel online through their website you earn 1 point for every £1 you spend and when you’ve earned 300 points you’ll get a £20 e-voucher. You can sign up the whole family into 1 joint account and the points will accrue quickly. With 4 of us traveling it only takes 1-2 trips before we get a voucher, which we then use towards our next trip.
We usually book online at Eurostar.com however, if you need to book only one leg of your journey with children, you won’t be able to book that online and you will need to give them a call. For the most part, ticket prices online are similar to what they offer you on the phone, we have found a few times it’s actually been about £10 cheaper over the phone, but then we can’t use the voucher.
When booking your tickets, remember that children 4 and under can travel for free, however, this does mean they won’t be allocated a seat. In the past we’ve booked 3 seats facing each other around a table, leaving the blocked in window seat free for booking and keeping our fingers crossed that no-one would book it so we could use it for our “free” child. This strategy has only worked out for us about 50% of the time.
When booking your seats – you have several options. Your first choice is class of service, Standard, Standard Premier and Business Premier. We’ll be focusing on Standard.
Within Standard class, when selecting your seats, if you speak to the customer service reps on the phone – they will recommend the “Family Section” to you. Don’t take those seats!!! Trust me you don’t want them, and here’s why… The “Family Section” is a closed off section of the carriage. Sure that’s great for containing kids, except it also traps in the food and other smells of your traveling companion. It’s a small boxed in area. Even then, just like other areas of the train there are people constantly walking through to get to the loo or bar buffet car, so the advantage of containment is lost. Finally – there is only a short stumpy side table. So if you have more than 1 child get ready for a fight for who gets it and don’t count on being able to fit coloring books or other activities on it because it’s too small. Also – this area is generally packed with other families, many of whom are also taking advantage of the 4 and under free – so be prepared for a generally packed and crazy area full of kids. For the same price – sit elsewhere. We made the mistake of sitting here once on the advice of Customer Service reps – never again!
Compare this “Family Section” seat with it’s dinky side table to a regular 4 seat configuration with table.
If you or your children get car-sick or motion-sickness take note of which way your seats are facing when making your booking. You’ll be able to see which direction the seats face when you select your seats online. Seats facing forward on a journey to Paris/Brussels will be facing backwards on the return journey.
However, on rare occasions this may change.
If you’re planning to rely on videos to keep the kids occupied or need to bring your laptop with you, UK and European power points are available in coaches 5 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 -11 – 12 – 14.
Once you’ve selected your seats you can choose to print your tickets at home, or have them mailed to you (for a fee). We choose to print our own.
Packing for your trip
Pack lightly! Remember you’ll be dragging your suitcases and children through the terminals, security etc and then have limited space once on the train. We generally give each child a backpack to carry in which are their snacks and activities for the train. We each then take a suitcase (2 people sharing per suitcase). While there is a bar buffet on the train, it’s generally pricey and has not the healthiest selection of snacks (Pringles, candy bars, fizzy drinks, wine & beer etc ). So, think ahead, pack some water, juice boxes, crackers and fruit, or whatever snacks you and the kids prefer. Each seat has it’s own small litter bin so you’ll be able to get rid of wrappers etc. Again don’t go overboard, most of the trips aren’t that long, you will have to carry it and you can always get more on the train or in the station if necessary.
For keeping the kids busy on the trip, we generally have 1 handheld gaming system, then some other coloring or sticker book activities. (Cheap ones we can toss when we get to our destination). Try and get something that’s all in one like a sticker book.
The Eurostar Terminal
Generally you’ll want to arrive at the Terminal about an hour early. When you first arrive you can go through the automated turnstiles or if you’re a family group or have lots of bags, you can go to the manned desks. There they will check your ticket and send you through to security.
At security – it’s the x-ray machine for your bags and metal detectors you walk through which is standard at most airports now. Be prepared to remove your coat or sweater and make sure you and the children have nothing metal in their pockets. I do the shakedown on my kids and am surprised by the coins, cars and other things they seem to have collected in their pockets.
Once through security you need to pass through passport control before you arrive in the waiting area of the terminal. Here there are limited selections for food or drink or magazines etc. (generally 1-2 shops vs the many found in the main train terminal). About 10-15 minutes before your departure time, they announce the boarding of your train and allow you to board.
On the Train
Once on the train at the end of each carriage are large racks for suitcases (make sure yours is labelled) and over your seat are smaller shelves for coats, purses and smaller bags. Quickly get the kids out of the aisle and into their seats as many people are still trying to get to their seats and through the aisle.
Beware if you are traveling with a child with an ear infection. When you go through tunnels, or even the Chunnel (Chanel Tunnel) there is pressurization of the ears much like you’d find when flying. You can try relieving the pressure by popping your ears, chewing gum, swallowing or yawning. If you know in advance it’s a problem for you and or your kids, there are ear plug valves that can help regulate pressure. (The brand we’ve used was called Earplanes and they come in kid and adult sizes).
At the end of each carriage is a WC or loo. Although it’s a tight squeeze we do accompany the children to the loo. In the loo there is a toilet and sink, the controls for both are found by pressing buttons on the floor. (You’ll need to step on them, my 4 and 6 year old aren’t heavy enough or don’t have enough leg strength to do it) While there doesn’t seem to be room to change a baby’s diaper in the WC there is a baby changing station in carriage 18 or you could just do it on your seat.
So these are some of the things we’ve learned – but I’d love to hear if you have any tips for Eurostar Travel. Please leave them in the comments below.
Travelling with Car Seats doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare. Our boys each started travelling with us at around 6 weeks of age. Since then we’ve been going non-stop. Amazingly, babies come with a bunch of stuff! Who knew?
One of the things we found most challenging if it wasn’t a road-trip was what to do with our car seats?
When we first flew from Chicago to Belgium with both of the boys to visit their Grandparents – the Grandparents were confused about why we wanted to either bring carseats – or have them borrow a set. Why couldn’t the kids just take the 45min journey from the airport in our arms? *Sigh*
So we’ve found whether it’s visiting in-laws, or flying and renting a car, often it’s easiest to take our car seats and booster seats along with us.
Different airlines have various rules about 1. if the carseat can come on-board, and 2. if sent as luggage, whether there is a charge or not. It’s best to call the airline ahead of time to get that info. Even if you have that info – don’t be surprised if you get a different answer from the the ticket agent and then again at the check-in desk at your gate. If possible come prepared with a printed copy of the airline’s policy from their website. It will be harder for the airline employee to argue with their company’s publicly printed policy.
So if you are bring your carseat along on vacation with you here are several things to keep in mind.
It doesn’t matter how expensive and amazing the carseat is – expect it to be handled like a sack of rubbish. So, being armed with this knowledge in advance, take necessary precautions, because as I’m sure you know carseats aren’t cheap!
If you are going to take your carseat onto the plane – remember you’ll need to carry it throughout the airport. Also remember you’ll be dragging child, carry-on, purse and any other sticky stuff your child hands you. Thinking about this in advance – it may be good to take something that will help you carry the carseat. While you could take the low-tech option of strapping it to your carry-on while you stroll with a ropes or cords – you may want to consider something specifically designed to carry a large car seat. Strangely – I’ve found not so many options for sale here in the UK so I’ll share some of my favorite American options – which you can order online.
1. Think of it as like a carseat “dolly” or cart. Britax offers their own version – to go along with Britax car-seats, but other brands also come highly rated. (cost is about $60 USD)
2. Throw it over your shoulder. Whether you’re attaching it to your bag, or on your bag – there are options to either carry it in a bag, or back-packs specifically designed to carry your large car seat. My favorite option for this is the “Pac Back” (cost is about $30 USD)
3. Strap the car-seat to your rolling suitcase. Special clips have been designed for that. (No need to resort to ropes or bungee cords). (Cost is about $15 USD)
If you are checking your carseat – consider purchasing a carseat cover. While you can purchase one of these new, depending upon how frequently you think you’ll use it, this is one item that can be purchased lightly used on Ebay that will yield a considerable savings!
While I wouldn’t normally recommend purchasing a car-seat used, if you are travelling and need a booster seat for your child – think about buying a set you could leave or discard at your destination.
On our recent ski trip with the kids to Switzerland – we were told that it would be 10GBP ($16 USD) per day, per child to rent booster seats. That means it would cost approximately 140 GBP ($224 USD) for 2 children to have booster seats for the week which I think you’ll agree with me is pretty outrageous!
While I do understand the dangers of purchasing a second hand car-seat and fully support not buying a used car seat for the following reasons:
- you don’t know how old it is
- you don’t know its history
- you don’t know if it’s been in an accident
In my personal opinion (of which you should make your own informed choices and I’m certainly no expert on the subject) I’m ok with second hand booster seats.
Here’s why in my opinion I’m ok with it – for booster seats, the point isn’t to protect the child from impact etc, it’s to boost them up higher in the seat so that the seat belt can fit them properly. The child needs to continue to use the booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt lies correctly across the child’s chest and lap. The belt should sit comfortably across the lap, hitting the upper thighs, and the chest strap should cross the child from the shoulder and not the neck.
So for our recent trip to Switzerland – what I did was purchase 2 used Britax booster seats from Ebay (3GBP each) and throw them in a plastic carry-all which we checked as part of our baggage allowance. We then had 2 booster seats there at the airport ready to use when we arrived to pick up our rental car, which we had no trouble leaving behind. (Especially since on the way back our baggage increased with purchases, souvenirs etc. )
These certainly aren’t the only options – and I’d love to hear your ideas on how you all have managed travelling with car seats. I’d love to hear about your experiences and any tips or advice you have to share!
So, as added incentive I’m creating a giveaway for a “Pac Back” car seat carrier giveaway!
Please share your ideas and or experience in the comments below – and you’ll be entered to win a new “Pac Back”
About the Pac Back: Conveniently transport your car seat from one place to another while keeping your hands free. Designed by a mother who frequently travels with her children, the Pac Back is an easy-to-use car seat carrier system. Lightweight and durable, this innovative carrier is manufactured from materials that are built to last: tough, high-density nylon with heavy gauge shoulder straps. A padded waist strap, padded hip protectors and soft padded lumbar support provide comfort while carrying. The Pac Back fits all car and booster seats.
It has numerous positive reviews on Amazon (which is why I bought it in the first place )
“The Pac Back made it possible to carry the car seats and still have both hands free. ” quote from Amazon review
Only persons residing in United Kingdom who are at least 18 years of age can enter.
Giveaway Entry Period Starts
May 6th, 2012 @ 06:30 am (BST)
Giveaway Entry Period Ends
May 15, 2012 @ 09:00 pm (BST)
- Only those over 18, who reside in the UK may enter.
- Entrants must be over the age of 18
- Entrants must be based within the UK
- 1 winner will be selected at random to win a prize
- Entrants must comment on this blog post to qualify for entry
Entrants can enter the Sweepstakes for free by emailing transatlanticmom @ gmail (dot) com and requesting details about alternate registration.
(disclosure – I purchased this item, its new, never used – we ended up not taking the train trip we’d intended for it then the boys grew out of car-seats and on to booster seats. I have been in no way compensated by this post by any of the brands or products mentioned.)