Italy is one of the classic destinations for the UK and the rest of Europe to head to for some pristine, low volume creeking with plenty of granite and bedrock to keep you entertained. This year was a bit different than all of the other times I have been there … because it was my first trip since becoming a mother. Luckily, I met my husband through boating and so we are both motivated to make our boating arrangements work with the little one.
As a result of a terrible (dry) winter in the UK, and a pregnancy, I had only really dabbled in boating at Hurley and at Lee Valley. So I was a little nervous about this trip, but I got such a buzz from being on the river again. Italy was perfect for easing me back into being on the river, a bit of push, but not too much. Leading a few new visitors to the region down some of the classics like the Egua and Sermenza really gave me a confidence boost, and gave me back the kayaking LOVE!
We took it in turns to paddle and hang out with the little one, which was the perfect combination particularly as my fitness levels were down given the break, so it gave me a day to recover each time. Best of all, they had Prosecco on tap … boating, baby, pizza, Prosecco, sunshine = a little piece of heaven.
Top tips for boating trips with a baby
- Go somewhere familiar – for your first trip, go somewhere you know. The familiarity will be good for planning how it will work with the baby, and also for getting your confidence back.
- Drive – if you think that you need a lot of equipment when you go boating, then that gets taken to a whole new level with a little one! We took a van and filled it with baby things. The built-in cot took a bit of getting used to on the first few nights, but was a super secure place for our little man. One of the biggest life-savers was the awning – I don’t know what I would have done without our big block of shade!
- Work out a system – we had a clear system of taking turns, one day I would kayak, the next day I would look after the baby. Initially, we thought that it might work to take the baby out and about so that the non-kayaker could help with shuttles, but the first try immediately told us that it wasn’t going to work. From then on we decided that the person looking after the baby would stay at the campsite with the baby.
- Go somewhere busy or with a group – we picked the Gene17 Val Sesia Festival – which meant there were absolutely tons of other folks around go boating with.
- Relax – you’re on holiday! Chill out, and don’t worry too much about how the baby will get on. Our little one absolutely loved being outside and meeting lots of kayaking folks.