This trip happened 4 months ago, and I’m just getting around to recapping it. We flew from Austin to Heathrow, then traveled to Liverpool, Edinburgh, and London before flying back home. Milo had just turned 4 months old. Nate and I have always known that we want to be able to travel with our kids, and everyone told us that it’s easier to do it before they’re crawling. So, we booked our flights soon after Milo was born and decided to do a trip with our baby! Nate’s parents came along too.
I’ll start by addressing the fact that we traveled on the brink of the COVID-19 outbreak. It was bad in Italy and China at the time, and there were a few cases in the States and the UK. People were “talking,” but I didn’t really know what was going on. I had just gone into the KVUE studios to do a live TV segment about where to eat during SXSW (it hadn’t been cancelled yet), and life felt pretty normal. We loaded up on lysol wipes, hand sanitizer, vitamin C, and packed our bags and headed out. However: if I understood then what I understand now about the virus, I wouldn’t have traveled. I just want to be super transparent about my faults here: I didn’t understand that I could carry and spread the virus without having any symptoms. Knowing what I know now, I don’t think that traveling in March was a wise choice. As the trip went on and we understood what was happening, we got the earliest flight back that we could, and we did a strict 14-day quarantine in our home in Austin. (More about that in part 2 of this recap!)
We traveled to the UK in the first week of March, right before all hell broke loose and the pandemic hit the UK and the States really hard. I didn’t share this recap right when we came home, because I wanted to be sensitive about not promoting traveling. But I’ve always known that I want to eventually document it on SoMuchLife.com because it was my first international trip with a baby, and I’ll never get to have that experience again. It was a big moment for me.
Does that make sense? I don’t believe that it was a wise decision for us to have traveled during the first week of March, and I understand better now than I did then. That being said, this trip did happen, and it’s the only “first trip” I’ll ever get to have with Milo. So I want to share some photos and thoughts about traveling with a little one because I learned SO much. I think that I learn best by doing, and in order to be someone who travels well with her kids I just need to practice it. This was the first pancake – some parts went well, and other parts were really tough. I’ll share honestly so that you know exactly what worked and what didn’t. No need for me to sugar coat anything, because traveling with babies is entirely different than traveling as a married couple!
And that was my mindset the entire time: this is going to be a different sort of trip than what I’m used to. Milo is a 4-month-old baby, so he’ll behave like a 4-month-old baby. And when I had that expectation, it was really fun and easy!
We headed to the Austin airport with our luggage, stroller, and cute baby boy! Nate and I have taken the overnight flight to London Heathrow twice before, which is why we picked it for our first trip over the pond with Milo.
We’re comfortable in London, understand the transportation system, and its a pretty quick nonstop flight to get there. We’re going to do a lot more international traveling with our family in the upcoming years, but for our first international trip with a baby, the UK was pretty easy.
^ If you’ve never been, the Austin airport is amazing! There are lots of local restaurants and it’s a really fun place to kill time. We stopped outside our gate at Parkside restaurant and pre-gamed the flight with an Electric Jellyfish IPA.
British Airways is amazing! We always love flying with them. Their nonstop flight from Austin to UK is super easy – it leaves around 7 pm and arrives in the UK the next morning.
^We booked a bulkhead seat (free to reserve if you’re traveling with a baby) and requested a bassinet. Milo slept beautifully in there.
^ The only bummer about the bassinet is that whenever there was the tiniest bit of turbulence and the fasten seatbelt sign was on, I was required to get him out…which would obviously wake him up. And then I’d have to get him to fall back asleep again. So the flight attendant would come by, wake me and Nate, I would get Milo out, we’d wait 30 minutes for the seatbelt sign to go off, and then I’d nurse him and put him back in the bassinet and shush him back to sleep. I typically get about 4-6 hours of sleep on this flight, but the seatbelt sign turned on twice during this time. We landed in London very ready for some coffee!
We made it! There were literally no lines at customs (or anywhere else…) so in that regard, this was a very easy trip. Nate’s parents had landed a few hours before us and were so excited to see the three of us when we landed.
^We got four coffees, picked up our mini van (#momgoals) at the airport and drove directly to Liverpool. Around lunchtime we stopped in the sweetest little town called Thame (just east of Oxford) to stop for a pint and some lunch.
^Smarts Fish and Chips was delicious! You know that feeling when you’re a little jet lagged and really excited to be somewhere new and food just taste SO good?
^Our third time to the UK together! We stopped in Thame on a whim…none of us had ever heard of it before or knew anything about it. But it was on the drive to Liverpool, and we were hungry, and it turned out to be a really lovely little town. If we didn’t have such a long drive that day I would have loved to wander around a bit more.
^ We did stop at a teeny pub (with the craziest ceiling!) for a quick pint. Milo wanted a snack, too. 😉 I love that I could find cask ale at around 3.5% abv and enjoy a half pour and still be able to nurse Milo.
^We ducked into The Woodworks on the way back to the car to get a filter coffee for the road. I was the driver for this trip. I’m a little bit bossy, and I have a good sense of direction, so Nate and I decided it was best if I would be the sole person to have to learn to drive on the opposite side of the road.
^Diaper change for the baby, and then we were back on the road! No pics from the rest of the day, but we drove drove drove all the way to Liverpool, checked into our beautiful Airbnb, and I sent Nate out to grab some dinner while I got Milo all unpacked and set up for bed.
Spoiler…he didn’t sleep well on this trip. 🙂
^ Milo didn’t like the travel basinet I had packed, so he ended up in bed with us most nights. At 4 months old, he was a great little sleeper at home – usually making it 8-9 hours at a time. But on this trip Milo woke up all the time in the middle of the night (he’d only give us an hour or two of sleep at a time.) Nate’s dad is an early riser, so around 5 or 6 am I’d hand Milo off to him and Nate and I would get a couple more hours of uninterrupted sleep.
^ Our flat was lovely. (We booked this one on airbnb.) It had this beautiful balcony that looked out over the harbor, and if it wasn’t March and cold/windy we would have had that door wide open the entire time.
^ Day 1 in Liverpool! Our flat was right next to the Royal Albert Docks, a hub for tourism in Liverpool.
^ First stop: coffee. (Duh – did you read how little sleep we got on this trip?!) Ryde reminded me of Flat Track in Austin, Texas. It’s a coffee shop + bicycle shop and was absolutely adorable.
Liverpool is a fascinating city. Obviously, it’s known for being the hometown of the Beatles. It’s also a HUGE sports hub (Nate is a big Liverpool FC fan!) and it’s known for being the biggest England port involved in the transatlantic slave trade. We had limited time, but there was a lot to soak up.
^ But first…food. We grabbed some pies at Pie Port to start the day. Cask ale and toasty pies consumed in cold, windy weather is a killer combo.
^ It was cold!! I forgot how cold it was until I started typing this up, but we were bundled up every day. I got Milo a little snow suit that was easy to pop on over his outfits, and he was all snuggled up in his stroller as we wandered around the city. We stopped at the Merseyside Maritime Museum on the first day. Nate and I are the type of people who LOVE going into museums when we travel…for one hour, tops. 😉
^ We toured Anfield! Nate’s parents (bless them!) took Milo man back to the airbnb for his nap while we took a bus to the stadium. I think Nate was in heaven. 🙂 I’m not a the same superfan level as Nate, but I’ve watched enough soccer on Sunday mornings at home in Austin to appreciate seeing this amazing stadium in real life! It was really cool to be there. Someday I hope we get to watch a game.
PS: I bought this North Face coat to bring on the trip with me, and I wore it every day! It was warm enough to block out the blustery winds, waterproof when it rained, and it has a nice, sleek fit. I feel like I turn into a marshmallow in most warm coats, but this one is pretty trim.
^We had an extra baby-free hour before dinner, so we wandered down the street and grabbed a few pints of beer. I love traveling with this man of mine!
^Milo and his grandparents met us at dinner. We at Indian food at Mowgli’s Street Food and it was fantastic! Hands down my favorite meal while we were in Liverpool. It was a really cute restaurant, too. Typically when we travel, Nate and I eat on a whim and don’t plan very much, unless it’s a formal meal where we need a reservation. But for this trip, since we were traveling with four adults plus a baby, I made dinner reservations for nearly every single night. I booked them early (around 5:30 pm) so that I could get Milo back home to bed, and I always mentioned in the reservation that we’d have a baby stroller with us so that I could get an end table with enough room for our Vista. It was a very different type of trip than I’m used to – and honestly I missed being able to just run around and pick restaurants based on what I was in the mood for that day. But as long as I’m traveling with kids, I think that I’ll be planning ahead and making reservations, because it just made things SO much easier.
^ Haha, and dinners were always a bit funny. Nate and I are both foodies, so our trips are pretty food-centric. We love long, lazy dinners while we travel, and we taste and savor and sip and swirl and talk about the food. I always photograph it, we compare it to other food we’ve tried, and it’s a really fun part of our relationship. Aaaand I think it’s safe to say that those types of meals won’t exist when we’re dining with a baby. Sometimes Milo would be happy in his stroller for 10-20 minutes at a time so we could all eat. Sometimes he’d be super fussy and we’d take turns standing up with him. Other times he just wanted to sit on my lap and be snuggled or nursed. Every night was a bit different, and again, I just had to go into this with the expectation that the point of this trip was NOT to relax. Haha.
^But look how cute he is trying on daddy’s new LFC hat?
^Post-dinner we had time to stop for a quick pint before getting Milo back home to bed.
Nate and I spent two days at the BeerX conference. It’s a giant craft brewing conference in the UK that has a big emphasis on cask ale. Nate’s been interested in this for years. It’s his hobby and his passion, and he was eager to get to Liverpool to attend.
^Basically two straight days of drinking cask ale, learning about this old world style of serving beer, attending conferences, and basically geeking out about all things craft beer.
^ I drink a lot of craft beer in Austin and I know that beer scene well. I do not know the UK craft beer scene very well, and so there were a lot of breweries and beers that I had never heard of and got to taste for the first time. SO much fun.
^ Ha! I remember we attended this one session that was a beer pairing with food from Bundobust, and we assumed it would be little tastes of food. So we bought some lunch, ate that, and then attended this session with basically 5 full servings of food. Those okra fries in the photo above were the little “snack” before everything else came out. We were so stuffed.
^ Meanwhile, Milo enjoyed exploring Liverpool with his grandparents! We picked an airbnb that was about a 10 minute walk from the conference, so I would walk home twice in the middle of the day to nurse Milo.
^ This was the view on my walk home from the conference. See that building in the very top right corner of the photo? That was our airbnb.
^ And there it is on the left.
^ I’m so glad we brought our full-size stroller on this trip! It was a hassle to transport, but once we were in place it was a great place for Milo to be able to nap while we were out and about. And now that I know how amazing it is to have all that storage while I’m walking around, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back. I might be that mama with a 15-year-old son who’s just pushing an empty stroller around when she travels to hold all the crap we accumulate throughout the day.
^Days 2 and 3 were spent at the BeerX Conference, but I snuck in a little sightseeing when I could! I went into the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool. The Royal Albert Docks were one of the biggest slave-trading ports in England.
^Milo’s (obviously) not old enough to grasp history, but when he is, I will prioritize helping him understanding both the good and the bad parts of history in the cities that we visit. The International Slavery Museum wasn’t a “fun” part of travel, just in the same way the visiting WWII concentration camps in Germany isn’t “fun.” But it’s important.
^ But for this trip, our biggest goal was just trying to convince our 4-month-old to give us a few hours of sleep. 😉
^ On the final night in Liverpool, Nate’s parents were feeling tired and they volunteered to stay in with Milo so we could go out for a baby-free night. Their help made this the perfect transitional trip for me! I learned a lot about the changes that are coming up in the next decade of traveling with kids, but I also got to enjoy a few nights of going out with Nate and enjoying our “old” way of traveling.
^ Love him so much!
^ Remember in early 2020 when I was eating nothing but burgers in Austin in order to write this? Well, someone reached out on instagram and said that while I was in Liverpool, I needed to check out Almost Famous burgers.
^ HELLO. I mean, yes. Delicious. Amazing. Giant. Juicy. Drippy. Burgers. If we had these in Austin I’d be telling all of you to go try them right now.
^ And a few more stops at pubs. It started POURING rain on this night, so we ducked inside the coziest pub and enjoyed a couple half pours of cask ale. Half pours are way more fun for me because I get to try more beers.
^ This place was teeny tiny and so quaint, and Nate specifically wanted to go here to try one of the Timothy Taylor beers on cask that’s harder to find.
^ Cheers to beers in one of my favorite places!
After four nights and three days in Liverpool, we packed up, loaded up the car, and checked out of the airbnb.
^ Quick stop at Fandisha for some coffee and pastries before hitting the road and driving north. Next stop: Scotland!!
PS: You can read all my travel recaps here.
PSS: This trip to Miami was my first trip I took after Milo was born. He was 2 months old and stayed home with Nate while I went to celebrate my friend’s 30th birthday.