Travel // Lake Garda with a One Year Old

August 17, 2020

Long term readers may remember our trip to Lake Garda last September when Freya was a tiny 8 week old baby {I blogged all about it here}. And last week, we went back there with our now one year old. We just loved that lake so much, it ticked so many holiday boxes for us and I already know we'll go back again. 

We didn't know if we'd get to travel this summer with Covid 19 and if we did - we thought we might drive to France or have a staycation. But when we started looking into it, with my parents who were also up for a trip after our family holiday had been cancelled earlier in June, we realised how expensive the ferry crossings were and how much accommodation was booked up - I guess as August is always a peak time for summer holidays regardless of the pandemic and then from lots of people not wanting to fly. The airbridges got announced and Italy had amazing flights to Milan and some of the lowest rates of infections in Europe. My parents had their trip back in May to Lake Garda cancelled and it was their 30th wedding anniversary which we all wanted to celebrate with them. So we went for it. I know that travel is not for everybody right now and everyone has a very different take on their level of risk during this time, so I'm really not writing this blog to try and justify our decision nor try to encourage anybody to go, a lot of people just wanted to hear about our experience of travel with Freya at this age and take inspiration for the future when everything will hopefully be back to normal? Here are some photos, although they're pretty much the same as last year I think albeit with a super grown up looking toddler?! plus some thoughts... 

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Details - We flew to Milan with Easyjet and picked up two hire cars. Last time we did it all on public transport as didn't want the hassle of carseats etc, plus Freya hated the car when she was tiny! But this time we hired a car seat from Inter-Rent online and it was all really easy. We rented an Airbnb {this one - it wasn't the most family friendly with so many stairs! But it was great value, available last minute plus had flexible cancellation up until a few days before which was important to us at this time with so many uncertainties}. It also had two kitchens so was perfect for us being able to do our own thing with my family. The location was amazing. We stayed in Pescheria again, our favourite town to base ourselves in on the lake and then it's really easy to get around - not to mention it has the best gelato shops and ease of two big supermarkets nearby as we wanted to mainly self cater. The only things to note were the stairs as I mentioned, we had to keep the kitchen/bedroom door shut to stop Freya constantly going up them when we were getting ready/cooking and the fact the free car park is a 10 minute walk away which means it's a bit of a long walk with a big shop/or you have to pull up unload it then drop the car back but that's really common not to have parking close by in Europe I guess. 

Travel during Covid-19; Italy felt really on top of things, as did Easyjet. It's incredible how so many companies/industries have suddenly had to adapt to this new normal. Masks are mandatory in the airports, any indoor public space/shops/cafes unless you're eating and on the plane, Freya didn't have to wear one as she's too young. There are lots of temperature checks and forms to fill out before you arrive in both Italy and the UK with your details for track/tracing purposes along with hand sanitiser, one way systems and social distancing. Freya had actually had her one year jabs just over a week before we flew and a temperature is a common side effect as the MMR part kicks into their systems, so I had a panicked trip to a mobile testing centre a couple of days before we flew to get us all tested - even though we knew it was from the jabs we just wanted to have that confirmation in case she had a temperature on the day or something - luckily it came back negative and really fast and as it happens she didn't get a temperature on the day anyway but wanted to be safe!

Travelling with a one year old; Freya was such a great little traveller but I'll be honest and say that this was our hardest trip away yet just because of the age that she's at and into everything/not yet walking but wanting to crawl everywhere or be carried and she's so heavy! And we hadn't been away since she was weaning properly so I had to think about meals for her. Of course, all of this is to say that it is such a privilege to be able to travel, but I know other parents will be interested to hear about the realities of travel. Travelling with a newborn/pre 6 months was SO so easy looking back! I think the mantra that most people say is think of it as parenting in another place rather than holidays like you used to know them, but it's so fun and lovely to go somewhere new and make memories and paddle in the lake and not have to worry about the day to day stresses back home. But yes there will still be teething pain with molars coming through! Freya also only really wanted me during that trip so I didn't get the break which I expected with so many of us to entertain her. But still, looking back we have such happy memories from that week and regardless of teething/how hard it is, it's always worth it in the end to get away - for us anyway.

The airport/sleep - I carried her in our Ergo carrier {this one} through the airport so that we could be hands free and I wanted her close to me as she was pretty tired/the airport is a bit of a crazy place if you've woken up early. Our flight was at 7am so we woke her up to leave our house at 4.30am - we booked a taxi who stored our carseat for us whilst we were away {so many things you realise as a parent come back to carseats!} - and we gave her some breakfast at the airport. Luckily the timings then meant she was due a nap and slept on me for some of the flight, I fed her and wrapped a snuggly cardigan around us both. We made this a 3 nap day with the early start, normally she's on 2 naps, and she then slept in the car on the drive from Milan to Pescheria before having a short nap in her buggy later that day and then going to bed at her normal time. 

The flight - Previously when we've flown with Freya she was at an age where she'd sit on our laps as she was so small and didn't need much entertaining. This time was a different story but as always, it was so much better than I had prepared myself for. The flight is only 2 hours and she slept for some of it going out, then enjoyed looking out the window/eating snacks/reading books and looking around. On the way home, she miraculously fell asleep on me again after I had to walk to the back of the plane with her in the ergo and white noise playing. I had loaded up my iPad with Hey Duggee and some cBeebies games to play which I thought she would have been more interested in than she was. I think we forget that travel is so exciting to babies and even playing with the seatbelt is a fun toy!

Travel essentials - We took the Babyzen Yo-Yo {ad/PR product last year} which is just such a brilliant invention. It folds up small and pushes like a dream. We've added this sheepskin liner to it to keep her cool in the summer, and this wheel along bag which attaches to the back which was game changing for this trip for schlepping everything out with us each day. 

This gate buggy bag was amazing for filling with extra nappies/travel high chair/the buggy etc as one of our infant bulky items. 

We couldn't have been without this snoozeshade for the buggy for making it dark/cutting out the sun for naps, we've used it for over a year now. Just take a peg with you to cover the little window at the top of the yoyo!

And this trip we also bought this travel cot snoozeshade as we shared a room with Freya and didn't want to have to stumble around in the dark when she was asleep. It keeps mosquitoes out too. We took a travelcot with us as the other luggage allowance for an infant seat.

We took our travel baby monitor with us which worked well in the apartment if we were downstairs when she was napping or the first part of when she'd gone to bed. 

We took a few small travel appropriate toys with us - these animal wooden stackers were lovely and even my brother & Ben enjoyed playing with them ha, a ball and a couple of soft toys. But I guess as you know, anything that's not a toy or the stairs is always more appealing than any of the best toys for a one year old! She also loved looking out of the balcony and waving to people which was cute.

Lake Garda - is really really family friendly. The Italians love a bambino! And every restaurant has high chairs, even the slightly fancy place where you wouldn't imagine that children would be allowed. The food is amazing, we ate out a few times but I prepped snacks and meals for Freya each day {just throwing together easy stuff like spinach gnocchi/beans/tuna/bread/fruit/tomatoes etc to save on any big cooking} so that we always had something balanced for her and ready rather than having to wait in a restaurant. She also wanted a lot more milk last week with that new tooth and I guess the heat too! We love how buggy friendly it is with long paths all around the lake going from town to town with beaches along the way, that's something you don't often get in Europe. 

To get around you can either drive or get the ferry - there are temperature checks and masks compulsory on the ferries. 

We drove to Verona on one of the rainy days, it's just half an hour away and such a beautiful city to wander around. And eat amazing pizza and gelato - Peperino and Venchi. 

Lots of photos as ever below if you're interested! Such a gorgeous week away that we all appreciated more than ever.

R <3 xx 

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