First International Trip With Baby Part 2: Edinburgh and London

If you missed part 1 of this trip, click here to read! We traveled to the UK in March with our 4-month-old son, and I learned SO much about traveling with a baby. I’m eager to get to try it again (when the pandemic ends…) because I’ll know how to do a lot of things better the second time around. 

For instance, the biggest takeaway I had during this trip is that the hardest part about traveling with a baby is transitioning from one place to the next. Being on a long flight isn’t bad, but getting on and off the plane takes a lot of energy. Exploring a city with a stroller and a baby is fun, but moving from one city to the next is challenging. Checking into airbnbs, finding parking spots, loading and unloading the car, unpacking suitcases…these are things that are slight annoyances when I’m traveling with just Nate, but when we factored Milo into the mix they became HUGE time commitments. When this trip was over, I realized I planned way too many transitions. A big chunk of our trip was just spent transporting from one place to the next and getting settled in. Next time I travel with a baby, I have some ideas of how I can make it much easier on myself! 

Ok, but that’s for next time. For now, here’s a recap of the second part of our trip. We had just finished up the first 4 days in Liverpool, and then we loaded up in the rental van and headed up to Scotland. I really wanted to check off another country off my list on this trip, so we decided to go up to Edinburgh for a few days. 

We drove up to Edinburgh, and y’all! The Scottish countryside was SO beautiful! Green hills and sheep for days. It felt like the most cliché scenes from movies that take place in Scotland. I was the driver on this trip, so I was focusing on driving on the wrong side of the road the entire way. Quick note about driving in the UK: I would say that the hardest part wasn’t driving on the opposite side of the road than I’m used to, but driving from the opposite side of the car. I was sitting in what would be the passenger side back in the States, but driving from there. It was so bizarre! Every time we stopped for a bathroom break I’d come back to the car and walk to the wrong door. It was all so confusing. 

We made it to Edinburgh, found our flat, and got all checked in and settled.

^ This was our flat, and it was a really modern, comfortable, convenient place to stay. We could walk to the Royal Mile easily and we had a nice view of the Salisbury Crags. You can see it on airbnb here

After a full day of traveling, we were starving and so ready to get some dinner!

^ I wanted to be sure to try Haggis while we were in Scotland, so we went to Edinburgh’s oldest gastropub, The Doric. The downstairs bar was crowded, but they showed us to a table that was tucked away upstairs, and it was a quiet and easy place to enjoy dinner with the 5 of us. Getting the stroller up the tiny staircase was a struggle! But once we were upstairs, I was able to enjoy dinner and some real ale, nurse Milo, and get him to take a little nap. 

My mother-in-law went back to the flat to put Milo to bed while the rest of us went out to a distillery for a tour. We didn’t have this planned, and at the spur-of-the-moment this was the only one that was available late in the evening that was also walking distance…and it was just ok. It was a brand new place that was really modern. This is an example of how I’m learning that when I travel with a baby and a larger group, I really need to have everything planned out ahead of time. 

^ Good morning! Back out in Edinburgh for day 2. 

^ Just look at this little munchkin! We were going to the Edinburgh Castle and I didn’t want to have the stroller on the cobblestones, so I wore Milo for most of the day. 

^ The Royal Mile in Edinburgh is suuuuper touristy. It’s all bagpipes and kilts. I had a local explain it to me like this: it’s as if someone comes to visit Texas and assumes the entire state is all about cowboys and and western wear. So, it was fun to walk down the street and see the street performers and the sights, but it also felt a bit like Disney World. 

^ I mean, if Disney World had thousand-year-old castles.

^ We walked all the way down the Royal Mile to the Edinburgh Castle, and 11th-century castle with the most amazing views over the city! It was cold and windy up there and I loved spending the day wandering around with my fam. 

Milo napped on and off throughout the day. Nate and I took turns with him, and when he started to get fussy and hungry we stopped at the top of the castle for some afternoon tea so that I could have a quiet place indoors to nurse him. (Most of the castle is outdoors.) 

^ I love these sweet photos of Nate and Milo! 

 

^ After the Edinburgh Castle, Nate’s parents went back to the flat to rest while Nate and Milo and I wandered around Edinburgh for a bit longer. We walked, grabbed some food, and popped into a pub to warm up with a pint of beer. Apparently I don’t have any photos of that because I was too busy snapping pics of this adorable little Ewok baby. 

^ Reason number 4,563 I’m thankful for Nate’s parents: they were so gracious to stay at the apartment in the evenings so that Nate and I could enjoy going out to dinner together! We never would have been able to enjoy upscale dinners while also caring for Milo. We booked reservations at Timberyard.

^ I found this place through the 2020 Michelin Guide UK. It’s a modern rustic restaurant serving locally-sourced food and it was truly phenomenal. An absolutely stunning and unique restaurant, our server was so gracious and knowledgable, and every bite of food was something special. It was the perfect “last date night” for us to enjoy together. We didn’t realize it at the time, but this would be the last restaurant experience we’d have for months.   

^ We splurged on the tasting menu with wine parings, and I’m so happy we got to enjoy this night out together!

^ Ok, final day in Edinburgh! Are you ready?? This next part of our trip is bonkers. 

^ We packed up, checked out of the airbnb, and got on our train to London. And I just want to be clear about something: this morning was exhausting and there were so many logistics! After getting Milo nursed and dressed and ready to go, we packed up our luggage and followed the checklist of items to complete before checking out of the airbnb and turning in the keys. I had turned in the rental car the day before, so we had to figure out how to get from the apartment to the train station. We had too much luggage to walk a mile with all of it, but we couldn’t Uber because Milo’s carseat was turned in the day before with the car rental. So we packed up, waited outside with all the luggage while we called an Uber, and loaded the suitcases in the back. Nate’s parents took the Uber while Nate and I pushed the stroller to get to the train station. We walked the stroller to the train, then Nate stayed there while I went back upstairs to find the Uber with my in-laws in it to help them bring the luggage down to the train. Then when the train came, we accidentally loaded everything into the wrong car and had to unload all of it, walk 10 cars down the track, and re-load everything. We found our seats on the train and wiped everything down with Lysol wipes, and fell into our train seats in complete fatigue, ready to start our day of traveling.

I’m just sharing all of that because I know that I’ve personally read lots of travel recaps from bloggers who travel with their kids, and it will say something like, “on Tuesday we left Edinburgh and went to London!” And I think, oh, that’s easy enough to leave one city and go to the next. But in reality, it is SO much work to move from one city to the next! I’m sure there are lots of little tips and tricks that could have made this easier, baby travel gear I could buy, etc, but it’s also just a really high-energy part of the trip. 

^ But the train ride was beautiful! We went right by the ocean. 

^ It was a 5.5-hour train ride, and Milo napped for about 30 minutes. I happened to capture it. 🙂 We took turns standing up with him. 

^ And we consumed lots of coffee on the train.

^ And we eventually made it to rainy London and got checked into our flat! (Again…it was a long, high-energy process, but I’ll spare you all the boring logistics this time.) 

^ Woohoo! SO excited to be inside a Fullers pub with fresh pours of London Pride and a giant Sunday roast on the way. 

^ Yum. The four of us all ordered the Sunday roast.  

^ Milo man was such a trooper during this long day of traveling!

^ It was cold and rainy outside, and we were hunkered down in this cozy upstairs nook at the pub.

^ Right after I took this picture, I checked my phone and saw that I had a text from British Airways saying that our flight home had been cancelled. We were originally planning on staying in London for 4 days, but new travel restrictions had just been put into place and we quickly realized that things were only going to get worse. We needed to get back home ASAP. Aaaand the next 48 hours were completely insane.

All of the flights back to Austin were cancelled due to the new travel restrictions that were put in place. (Austin’s airport didn’t have a screening process for people arriving from the UK to check for COVID, so we had to go through Dallas instead.) We spent the next few hours on the phone with the airline figuring out the soonest flight we could get, and it was the next morning at 9 am. Nate’s parents were able to change their flight back to Denver. It was a bit demoralizing to realize that after our long travel day from Edinburgh -> London we weren’t going to be able to rest at all. We got just a couple hours of sleep before waking up at 3 am to pack everything up and  get on the flight back home. 

Getting from our flat to Heathrow was such an adventure! We didn’t have time to book a car service, Ubers weren’t an option because we didn’t have a carseat, and the underground station with handicap elevators for the stroller was locked when we arrived. (Eventually it opened, but yikes! I was so on edge that morning!) Because we had to change from British Airways to American Airlines, Nate and I got the last available seats and were placed in different rows of the plane. God bless the sweet employee at the front gate who managed to get us not only sitting together, but also booked us an entire row of 4 seats to ourselves. We didn’t have a bassinet bulkhead seat for the flight home, but having the extra space to spread out was helpful.

Milo behaved exactly like a 4-month-old does and cried on and off for the entire flight home.

We made it to DFW (which was completely empty! We were watching horror stories on the news of people standing in lines at airports for 20 hours.) My sister volunteered to drive us straight to Austin that night so that we could quarantine. She drove us straight from the Dallas airport to the Austin airport so that we could pick up our parked car, and then we went home, ordered a large pepperoni pizza from Homeslice, and collapsed into bed. 

^ Milo man had no idea how stressful that past 48 hours had been. 

Here’s the thing: the ending of this trip was INSANE, but I’m so proud of how Nate and I handled it. It was stressful and chaotic, but we both kept a calm demeanor. The airport was full of employees who were literally yelling at each other, worried travelers running around, and crying kids. At 4-months old, Milo was able to copy my energy levels: when I got agitated, he would get fussy and mad, but when I stayed calm and happy, he would be chill and nap better. Nate and I worked as a team to keep things fun and calm and happy for him, and honestly I don’t think he had any clue that anything bad was happening at all.  

There were obviously a lot of mistakes made on this first international trip with my baby. Now that it’s over, I know that I could have made the trip a lot easier by traveling with a Doona instead of a Vista stroller, staying in one city instead of three, and not moving around so much. But I’m really thankful for all of the memories we made on this trip (as crazy as the were!!) and for the lessons learned. Like I mentioned in this post, I’m going to learn by doing, not by reading instructions, and I think I had to take this trip in order to know how to do it better next time. My goal is to become a well-oiled machine when it comes to international travel. I know I’ll get there eventually. 

That was our UK trip! Haha! Insane. And so very memorable. 

PS: Read all of my travel recaps here

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9 months ago

[…] than mourning the epic global trips that can’t be (phew, but I’m thankful I snuck in that international trip with my baby in early 2020!), I’m choosing to get excited about something else: day trips from Austin! […]

SI-Ya Ray
8 months ago

Kelsey that is so insane and beautiful! Learning lessons for forever is like saying crazy shit happens but it was an experience I grew from. Love your nature. Also, I completely feel the “you’re feelings affect the child”. I’ve read about it before and I’m already preparing for our future little one by trying to stay peaceful yet acknowledging my feelings so they aren’t buried. It’s crazy how even preparing for motherhood you start to feel what to prepare for.

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