I have a whole new appreciation for traveling about with a baby. Whereas in the States, one can get by with a load of stuff in the car, a huge diaper bag, and maybe a small fold-out stroller, here in Scotland (at least for us with train travel and such) it is the total opposite. Everything you bring, you carry on your back. And when traveling by train for day trips anywhere, you only want to bring the absolute necessities. More on what we deem necessities in a bit. :)
Anyhow, I have found that most of Britain is quite understanding when it comes to babies and traveling. Probably because most parents have been in your shoes, so they understand a bit more. Here's what I've discovered:
1. It's pushchair friendly. You'll be walking everywhere, and there is generally space for this. Lifts are nearly everywhere, which is also great for taking a pushchair. The only exception to this is the subway, so if you plan on taking the subway, make sure you can fold and unfold your pushchair up without any issue. I split my time in town about 50/50 between using the pushchair and our Solly Wrap. I LOVE our Solly Wrap and if it's just going to be me in town, I wear her. It's just much easier, she generally sleeps in it, and I'm hands free. Plus the added bonus of not having to worry about people touching her... (Me? Germaphobe? Oh yeah!) I also have a heavier duty sling, but I'm getting as much use out of our wrap as possible before moving onto the sling. Edinburgh is not nearly as pushchair friendly. Lifts are in most buildings, but not all. Not to mention, the many stairwells around the Royal Mile, which make taking a pushchair difficult. Basically, everywhere you go in Edinburgh is going to be uphill, at least one way, so be prepared.
2. Baby changing rooms are nearly everywhere, and there are several nursing rooms as well. My favourites? The one in Princes' Square and the one in John Lewis (both on Buchanan Street). In Edinburgh, I prefer to utilize the nursing room in Boots and the one in House of Fraser (if you can find it! Next to the women's bathrooms on the 3rd (??) floor.) A funny thing I've noticed as an American, is that the baby changing rooms are not always in the bathroom, but rather in a separate room which is lovely sometimes, but not if you're also hoping to utilize the toilet. And bathroom stalls here are MUCH smaller than in America. So, don't attempt to bring a pushchair in. It really won't fit. I promise.
3. Nursing a child under the age of two in Scotland is permitted anywhere and safeguarded by the Equality Act. This means, no one can tell you to move somewhere else to feed your baby or else they are committing a criminal offense. While personally, I stay pretty private while feeding my baby, it is a relief to know that I have the law on my side as I feed my child.
4. Glasgow has some great baby friendly restaurants. Our favourites are Paesanos Pizza (it's perfect because it's loud so no one is going to hear your baby cry and it has great, speedy service when it comes to bringing out your pizzas. It IS busy, but we like to go during the off peak times as do many other families with babies). We also love Nicks Deli up on Byers Rd, mostly because we're in there pretty frequently and the owner LOVES babies and she'll often take Georgie up and down the restaurant to meet customers. Also, fancy a movie with your under-one-year-old? The Grosvenor in Ashton Lane has a Watch With Baby on most Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Tea and movie included in the price of £6. In Edinburgh, I usually grab a snack at the Elephant House (yes, that Elephant House, the birthplace of Harry Potter... I like their shortbreads in the shape of an elephant, what can I say?). I haven't done much eating out in Edinburgh to determine the most baby friendly restaurants there.
Now, necessities. What do I feel is a "must have" for traveling around Scotland with my baby? I am a light packer; I never used to be but it was either that, or feel like a turtle with everything on my back. Sure, I will probably need something at some point that I don't have. But, there are shops all around me and if I have to buy something, I can. So, without further ado, here is what I always carry with me.
1. diapers & wipes (duh)
2. A spare change of clothes for Georgie.
3. A blanket
4. A dummy (pacifier)
5. A toy (but only if we're in the pram)
Yup, that's it. I can even still use my normal purse because I put everything in separate bags, inside a larger bag and plop it all into my bag and off we go! And yes, I may have had to buy a new outfit for her (and me) on one occasion, but honestly that is rare and hopefully, it stays that way!
In closing, I'm hoping to do a bit more of how we travel about with baby, since we do plan our trips around her these days. We haven't flown with her yet (still sorting out some documentation) but all trips (including day trips and the eventual trips to London) are definitely more of an adventure with her around! And lucky for us, she's a fantastic wee traveler, which makes her a joy to travel with!