Travel with Kids: 2005
How do you keep Junior happy on the long flight over? What are your favorite child-friendly attractions? How did you manage in hotels and with finding baby supplies on the road?
Car seats in Italy
We am planning on taking our 2 children (ages 4 and 6) to Italy for 3 weeks in June. We will be staying in a villa in Umbria and will be renting a car. I have been advised that both of my children will require booster seats and that the car rental company does not rent boosters. We are trying to pack light and would like to avoid having to bring our own boosters. Boosters are relatively cheap ($20-25) and I would like to try and pick a couple up in Florence when we arrive and just leave them behind when we fly back. Does anyone know of a place that might sell boosters or in the alternative, some other way we might fulfill the legal requirement.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma USA Wed 12/28/2005
Strollers - easist option is to buy a used one on Ebay for $20 or so & take it wioth you to Europe via the luggage hold. You wont be bothered about damage to it & best of all, you can leave it in Europe when you leave.These things ate TOUGH & even an older one will withstand a couple of weeks banging about / trips etc to Europe.The chancea are you will be doing ALOT of walking in Europe
USA Tue 12/20/2005
We are American's living in UK - Cotswold area. We have 3 children- 4, 6, 9. I highly reccomend any travel in Europe. We are so fortunate to be here for a long term vacation really. Every weekend is an adventure....Just in England there is more than we could do in years. My kids love the history and learning different languages. My best advice is PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! For us, eating is always the hardest chore. know the city your visiting and have several options. In England, many pubs will accept your pets, but not your children - even teens. Have an open mind and prepare your kids to be ready try new things. Yes, there are McDonalds - but the local pubs are so full of culture! There are so many hiden treasures for kids here. We are so fortunate to be able to open the world up to our children...
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK Mon 11/28/2005
We have lived in Europe for a year and a half, and have travelled all over Europe both during this time and before, with toddlers. My thoughts:
Strollers: We've got a Graco model with large wheels that we travel with. Our Kelty jogger/bike stroller is too big to travel with easily. Pros - less tiring (sometimes) with the huge amount of walking you'll do for larger toddlers. Serves double duty as a high chair in restaurants. The below-mentioned comment about sometimes being able to enjoy a quiet dinner while Jr sleeps. Cons - pushing up steep cobbled streets in places like Pienza is a chore (but not un-doable). Short Stairs (Venice and most city subways) are doable but require coordination between you and your spouse. Long stairs (Spanish steps in Rome, for example) - no thanks, but you often can find an elevator (including at the Spanish Steps). Getting on/off public transpo can be a chore, but we've never not been able to do it (and it provides a bubble of sorts against the pickpockets if you maneuver it correctly). May not fit in many restaurants (get one that folds easily and it's not a problem). If you go with a stroller, gate check it so that you get it as you step off the aircraft.
Kelty-style backpacks: Great for epic hikes with toddlers in the 12-18 month range. Your legs will get a workout and you'll get tired unless you routinely hike with a 20lb backpack. Pros: Lots of adjustments, ours has a rain hood, and it has plenty of pockets for diaper bag stuff. Cons: Bulky to pack. In the summer you can get heated up pretty quickly. Not suitable for infants who can't hold their head up.
Baby Bjorns: Don't have one. Can't say.
Slings: Superb for infants and even toddlers with the right model. Nothing to pack - takes up the same space as a shirt. Get a pattern that Dad won't look bad carrying, and you can swap the load. Cons: You get pretty heated up.
Greece Mon 11/28/2005
Travel with Kids
For Rob from Prince George, BC who called in on the Nov. 5th show: Rick's suggestion about the baby bed is priceless! I've traveled all over Germany/Austria/Switzerland and London with my daughter sleeping comfortably in her "crib". The thing folds up and fits nicely in the trunk of any car. An umbrella stroller is also a good investment. The tip on flying from Germany to Nice rather than driving is good. At almost $6 USD per gallon, driving can be more expensive than flying. You can fly from Stuttgart or Munich to Nice (Nizza in German) for around 50 EUR per person with dba https://www.flydba.com/ I don't know of any discount flights from Basel but from Hahn (near Frankfurt) I think Ryan Air is the discounter you're looking for. Happy Travels!
Munich, Germany Mon 11/21/2005
Pack v. Stroller
I think it's a matter of preference. We brought a stroller for our two year old on a two week trip to Europe this summer and there was not one day when we didn't use it. I couldn't have carried him in a pack on my back along with the baby bag, shopping bags, etc., so a stroller was better for us because both my spouse and I could take turns pushing it. We didn't bring a big one, it was an umbrella stroller with big wheels (the big wheel thing is true). We rented a car, so using the stroller was the same there as it is here: fold it up and stow it in the trunk. We only used public transportation a couple times, but it was true, getting the stroller up and down the escalator or stairs was a pain. We wheeled the stroller into restaurants and then folded it and put it on the floor, sometimes he even slept in it while we ate (which was REALLY nice for a rare relaxed dinner!). If you do take one, be sure to tell the agent at the airline check-in and get a tag for it!!! Our was misplaced by the airline because we hadn't properly checked it. As for packing light with a toddler, we brought only enough diapers to get us through the first couple days and then just bought more at supermarkets. Sippy cups, wipes, just about everything we needed we bought over there instead of lugging it with us. It is a good idea to bring a couple more T shirts and pants than you think you'll need, because kids seem to get dirty faster and you may need to change them a couple times a day. The other thing is, if you bring the pack and then decide you wished you had the stroller, you could just buy one there at a Monoprix or other discount store. Have a good trip!
USA Sun 11/20/2005
Stroller or back pack?
I will be travelling in the next couple of weeks to Paris and Eatern Europe with my wife and fifteen month old son. I have a couple of questions regarding the practicallity of dragging a stroller around Europe. First off, I've read that Rick recommends a stroller with big wheels for baby's comfort on rough cobble stone streets. I know the stroller will be a chore to carry from the plane and onto public transportation because our stroller with big wheels is just that, BIG . How do you guys pack for your children? If we bring the stroller will resturants not like this? I'm leaning more towards the kid back pack and carrying him mostly between the two of us. I want to pack light but can it be done with a toddler? Any recommendations are appreciated.
Charlotte, NC USA Sat 11/19/2005
Breastfeeding and Travel
After 7 years (so far) of travelling worldwide with kids as young as 1 week old, I just wanted to make a plug for breastfeeding infants - my kids are now older.
No problems with acceptance in most of the places we've travelled: Europe/US/Asia. No toting around bottle warmers, formula, or bottles. No trying to find bottled water in the middle of the night. Just a small blanket for modesty. Plus, it's perhaps the best pressure change remedy around for airline travel. A sling makes it even more convenient - you can even feed on the move, and most people don't even know the child is feeding (although I've had the slight embarassment of a friend peeking in the sling to see my child, just to realize he/she was having a snack).
I'm not a breastfeeding "militant," and recognize that it just doesn't work for some families, but it really worked well for us.
USA Sat 11/12/2005
Veni, vidi, potty
A tutti quanti:
We brought our 14 month old boy to Italy (Rome/Florence) and have the following hints or tips for you:
Rome: the old Roman walkways are made up of rounded slightly convex 2 x 2 (approx) stones that make you and your baby feel as if you are in a 4 X 4 SUV *all of the time*. This has a dual-effect: it can lull a baby to sleep as you enjoy your sites, but also wears on you after several days because the stress on your wrists, hands and forearms; they are disproportionately used to control the stroller in mildly perilous terrain. If you need a stroller (as most would) around this age, then just plan on taking some extra time to go around some places that are particularly rugged and some places you may have to just pass-up entirely since you cannot bring a stroller unless you are ok with going in 'shifts'.
Florence: reasonable easy even with a stroller. No major 'coulda woulda shoulda's involved here.
Needing formula beyond the one year level __at night__: my italian is beyond fluent, but I tell you I had the darndest time trying to find any place with formula. My confidence in my knowledge of Rome had a real ego-check when I could not easily find what I set-out to find. Plan ahead and bring powder=based formula. For the water addative, for those who don't trust the tap: don't use 'gassata' with it; use 'naturale'.
Flights: something the baby likes to drink as you ascend and descend for the various legs of your journey to help them with the air/ear pressure. While this 'seems to be' common sense, the more I travel the more I see many people do not do this.
I think people who love to travel internationally already have a sense of tolerance and acceptance that you have to have to enjoy yourself, but I am less sure that people are as prepared and as tolerant when things don't go as they feel they should be going for their children's needs. Planning ahead is everything. If you are reading this then you are already far ahead of most others'. Mr Steves' site and a polished 'Google' search are your best initial predeparture briefings.
Arlington, VA USA Mon 11/07/2005
Looking for good infant-friendly travel
We are looking for a good family trip with 3 adult couples and our 6 week old baby (the baby will be 6 weeks at that point). One suggestion was Greece and sailing in the islands, but I am a little nervous about getting on an off of a ship with a baby that small. We traveled with our 2 yr old when he was 6 weeks and it was just great.
Any suggestions on good spots would be great. The couples tend to be more interested in somewhat exotic spots. We will be travelling in June or July.
Ann Arbor, MI USA Sun 11/06/2005
Oops - missed that you were looking for a baby crib in Greece. Athens has good Western shopping - there are lots of Baby stores, or another good bet would be a Carrefour (French "Walmarte") or Praktiker (German low-end "Home Depot") which would have them. See if they might pick one up for you before you arrive - I'm sure it would be cheaper than renting or shipping one.
Greece Tue 11/01/2005
Kids in Greece
Regarding last two messages - Kids in Greece. We are Americans living in Greece with three kids 1-7yrs.
-Most hotels have baby cots available - it's possible that they will all be occupied, but unlikely. Ask for one in your reservation. Bring a favorite blanket and maybe a cover sheet (we've never needed the latter).
-Strollers work well in Athens. Get good at working together to get them up/down stairs. The major Metro stations have elevators, but they're tricky to find sometimes. There will be one elevator that goes from the street to ticket level, and then one to the train level. I use the escalators if they're working. Some the sights are pretty accessible by stroller, others may ask you to check it at the gate. We've used our Kelty backpack around Greece, but honestly it's awful big to travel with if your trip will include airplanes and taxis.
- Kid friendly hotels - Hotel King Jason is a few blocks away from the Metro and offers good-sized quad rooms for families at reasonable rates and a better breakfast than the higher-end Imperial just down the street. Best rates I've found there (and other hotels in Athens) is through www.cybertravelnetwork.com. Centro Residence Athens has been recommended by many of the families here, but I've never stayed there. You can do a search for them on the web - I don't think they have their own site.
Outside of Athens, there are many places where a stroller is relatively impractical and you'll wish for your Kelty. If your child is small enough, a Baby Bjorn or similar might be easier to travel with. Another great option is a sling - www.kangarookorner.com. We've used ours all over Europe, although he's gotten too big for our model now. They take 0 room to pack and are comfortable and secure once you figure out how to wear them. They make others now for bigger kids to ride in backpack style, but we haven't used them (seen it done plenty in other parts of the world, though).
- Finally, read to the kids about where they're going before you go. Check out the Sonlight homeschool curriculum for 1st/2nd grades for good book recommendations - www.sonlight.com - It will make it much more enjoyable for you and the kids to prepare in this manner (We can honestly say that we've never heard an "I'm bored" while on a visit around Europe, except before bed in the hotel room). Enjoy!
Temp in Greece Tue 11/01/2005
Travel w/ kids to Greece?
We are headed to Greece next year...with two kids...2 & 4. We need ideas-recommendations and help!
Boston, MA USA Fri 10/28/2005
Temporary crib needed in Athens
In April, My husband, my daughter(she'll be 18mo then) and I will be traveling for 10 days to Europe. The first two days will be a long layover in London and then the next 8 will be in Athens, Greece. I'm wondering about weather or not to bring our travel crib. I have read that most hotels can provide a crib so I'll be checking into that for the two nights in London. The problem is that when we are in Athens we will be staying with friends in their apartment. They don't have kids so they won't have access to things like this. Does anyone have any suggestions about how we can get or rent a travel crib cheap in Athens? I'd really rather not purchase one just for eight days or even have to schlep it along. We are trying to minimize what we are bringing...The Jeep Stroller that's great for "off road", and has storage underneith (we also have the Kelty convertable stroller & back pack but neither of us want to have to wear her and when it's a stroller she can't recline to sleep) NO car seat since we can rent one with the car if we need to... she's too big now for the snuggly and the sling has never felt good for us...so that leaves us with the travel crib need. I'd really rather leave it at home but she needs some sort of crib to contain her when she gets up and we're still asleep, she's very quiet about waking up. Anyway any suggestions about getting a temporary crib in Athens would be great. Thanks!
Portland, OR USA Tue 10/25/2005
ITALY WITH KIDS
We went to Italy last March with my 3 yr. old and 7 yr. old daughters and had a GREAT TIME. We packed lightly and wore layers of clothing to keep us warm. We just wash our clothes every 2 days and we had no problem with it. Be prepared for some change in your itinerary and learn to derive some positive aspects out of negative occurences. My family wanted desperately to ride the gondola which was gonna be the highlight of our trip to Venice. However, it snowed on the days that we were there and all the rides were cancelled. St. mark's Square was covered with snow. It made headline in Italy as this occurrence was rare. My kids ended up playing in St. Mark's Square and making snowman. They love it. We're all freezing but had so much fun throwing snowballs and had the best Hot Cocoa afterwards. Before leaving US, I borrowed some books from the library containing paintings from the museum were planning to visit. My kids and I looked at it and create an interesting story about it. When we finally get to these museums, specifically the Uffizi, I immediately purchase the guidebook which serves as my souvenir and also as part of the game "I SPY". They would simply look at the pitures in the book and try to find it in the room. This kept my kids interested in visiting the museums. As a reward for behaving they get to pick a tacky cheap souvenirs from the giftshop at the end of the tour. However, when they get tired, I always have the 99cents activity books for them to do instead. My daughters love to draw so having papers and pencils is a must. HAPPY TRAVELS.
CHICAGO,IL, 60477 USA Sat 10/01/2005
Italy with bambino
We spent a month in Italy when my son (now 5) was 10 months old and it was great! Now we're thinking about going back with all three of our kids--5,3, and 2. A few things we learned the first time around:
1. Benadryl works great! Blake slept almost the entire flight to Rome (evening flight)and was rested enough to be cheerful on another 2-hr. leg to Sicily. If you can, request the bulkhead seating, as there is way more leg room for the kids to stretch out. Also, this next time I will DEFINITELY get my kids their OWN seats... including the baby! The more space you can get, the better off you are.
2. We brought a bunch of small NEW toys to play with on the flight (it's amazing what you can get at the dollar store!) and gave him something new every hour.
3. The biggest adjustment, aside from the time change, was the food. He wasn't eating what his body was used to and ended up with horrible diahrreah for more than a week. So next time I will be sure to bring some snacks and small food items that are familiar to the kids, as well as kids tummy medicine and plenty of diaper cream. Diapers are pretty easy to find, even in smaller more remote areas, so just pack enough to get you through the first few days.
4. Don't skip naps! A well-rested child=a well-behaved child. Traveling with kids means you have to be flexible. Drop whatever you're doing after lunch, head back to the hotel and crash out for a few hours. It'll do you good, too!
5. If you're renting a car, be aware that most car rental places in Europe have car seats available for rent. Arrange it in advance so you won't have to hassle with bringing one. Also, most of the hotels and B&Bs we stayed at had cribs, so double check before you pack your portacrib.
6. If you have a baby or toddler with you, invest in a good backpack carrier. We got a Kelty Outback and it was the best $200 we ever spent. Our airline somehow lost the umbrella stroller we checked at the gate, so we ended up with just the backpack and no stroller...but considering all the bumpy cobblestone streets, all the stairs, narrow passageways, crowded city streets and tiny shops, we never would have used it anyway.
7. Finally, one thing we are considering this time is bringing our nanny with us for the sole purpose of helping out with the kids. A plane ticket and food costs are well worth the extra hand--and the ability to go out sometimes WITHOUT the kids. If you know a responsible teenager, it might be worth looking into for some extra sanity on your trip.
BTW - Italy was a wonderful place to be with a kid! Highly recommended!
Detroit, MI USA Thu 09/29/2005
Travel with Toddler in Europe: Part II
More recommendations for travel with toddler in Europe continued. TRANSPORTATION & PLAYGROUNDS: We traveled on planes, trains, buses in cities, trams, underground metro, taxi, and by car (local friends driving, not us). Our friends had a car seat for us installed already since they knew we were coming. Don't bring a car seat unless you are really set on doing a car trip with your toddler. Roads are difficult to drive on near & in cities, street parking near impossible in big cities, and road signs can be difficult to read. I was in a major accident in Switzerland when I was a kid, because my father couldn't understand what a construction sign in German & several people almost died including my mother from a head-on autobaun collision. Trains are much safer options. If a threat of train strike arises, rent a car in Europe if necessary, & car seats can be requested from the car rental agency. Toddler size car seats are heavy & difficult to haul around. TIPS FOR PLANE TRAVEL: our toddler slept about 75% of the time on a plane because everyone else was sleeping. We brought lots of formula in the dispensers but was disappointed that United Airlines wouldn't bring him any food even though we asked and had paid for a seat for him on our return flight. KLM brought out food & baby food for him on our departure flight. We do always travel with a tomato, banana, crackers & grapes that we cut as we go so they are fresh. We tried walking him up & down aisles for exercise but it becomes habitual & tots will want to do that non-stop. Instead we flew business class, got him his own seat next to window, and it allowed some room for him to climb up on the seat & back down again for exercise. TOYS FOR AIRPLANES & TRAINS: In the bathroom on planes are little paper cups & we grabbed 6 of them & built pyramids & he spent lots of time stacking them. New toys are the ones tots will play with most, not old ones. I also bought some German & French speaking push-button toys by VTech that sing songs & he loved those. Don't bother bringing a DVD player for a toddler since that is something for older kids about 3+ who can sit still long enough to watch. OTHER TRAVEL TIPS: We still use a binky for our tot when he needs calming along with binky straps. We also gave him 1/2 dose of Infant Tylenol before each major journey & we've learned from prior experience that really helps. DIAPER CHANGES ON PLANES: we did these on floor of plane since our tot is 33" tall & wouldn't fit on the fold down changing table available in the airplane bathrooms, but they do have changing tables in the bathrooms for normal sized babies & tots. CITY TRAINS: Travel guide books always seem to emphasize taking underground transportation, especially for Paris. IN PARIS: AVOID METRO TRAINS & TAKE THE BABY FRIENDLY BUSES. I did the Metro once with my toddler alone & it was a lot of work during rush hour and there were no elevators. Travel guides usually fail to mention that baby friendly buses with stroller (pousette) parking spots. The buses in Paris are easy to get a stroller on & off since they ride only about 6"-8" inches off the ground. You just lean your stroller back, take the whole stroller on, & park in the Pousette parking spot that has little fold down seats for you to sit. A bus map is at every bus stop & you can easily find your route to where you need to go plus get a city tour in at same time which is much more fun than the Metro. Allow 30 minutes to go clear across the city. We wanted to also try the Batobuses in Paris but didn't get to that (these are the boat ride buses that stop at key destinations on the Seine & sounded like fun). I'd like to know if the Batobus is stroller friendly from someone who has tried them. IN PARIS, TAKE YOUR TODDLER TO THE PLAYGROUND AT FORUM DES HALLES. It's fully enclosed, no big kids, perfect for 1-3 year olds. Next door is another fully enclosed playground for older kids, more like a mini-theme park, that was closed when we were there. Avoid playgrounds on Wednesdays (overrun since kids off from school, many of them as old as 12). Note that in Paris, the Luxembourg Garden playground is dangerous & inappropriate for toddlers since there are very large structures & much older kids in the playground (nominal fee for entrance, but best for kids over 5+). I spoke with locals asking them about the Jardin d'Acclimation out at the Bois, but they said only appropriate for bigger kids too, not tots. In AMSTERDAM: The trams were the way to get around, easy like Paris buses & also had stroller parking spots & easy on and off access. BEST PLAYGROUND IN AMSTERDAM: big playground in central Vodelpark & is also fully enclosed with water play, etc. OTHER TODDLER ATTRACTION IN AMSTERDAM: Arboretum & butterfly display at the botanical gardens. We also visited Cologne, Germany & were taken by friends that lived there to a park & playground that ran along the Rhine, but it was not enclosed and structures weren't updated, so can't recommend. OTHER NOTE: In Europe, note that many playgrounds have old structures such as slides that make you land on your rear on the ground. Be prepared for wood splinters since most structures are made from wood & steel, etc. Average playground consists of teeter totter, slides, sand pits & spring coil ride-ons. You will see parents smoking while watching their children at the playgrounds.
San Francisco, CA USA Tue 09/27/2005
Travel with Toddler in Europe: Stuff to Pack
Here's some things I learned from our 3 weeks traveling in Europe (Germany, France & Netherlands). WHAT TO PACK: 1) Diapers: Pampers swaddlers, cruisers, etc are easy to find in small & big towns there so just pack enough to last about 2-3 days until you find a pharmacy or supermarket. I had e-mailed Pampers asking about availability with no response, so we ended carrying a heavy duffle with 3 weeks worth of diapers! 2) Diaper liners: They give you a little extra time when needed between diaper changes, like when on crowded trains, etc. available at Babies R Us 3) Formula: If your baby needs Soy formula like our does, take your own. We couldn't find Soy Milk or Soy Formula anywhere & our toddler is lactose intolerant. We ran out of the 3-week supply we had taken just shy of the last 2 days of our trip. Take extra formula since babies & toddler need to drink more when traveling. Empty the formula from cans into Ziplock bags, press air out, seal & then put Ziplock into another Ziplock. We had no spills or leaks this way. Regular milk based formula is available in these countries, stages 1 & 2, at the supermarkets so you can buy there. 4) Take roll of 1" strapping tape (with some mini blunt tip scissors) + roll of tearable packing tape. We used the strapping tape to secure windows, faucets on bidets, convenience bars, safes, etc., & the packing tape to cover outlets, etc. plus comes in handy when shipping things home. 5) Toys: no more than fit into a gallon size ziplock + a small inflatable beach ball for parks. 6) Handwash supplies: pack a clothing line with S-hooks that are big enough to fit over showerhead & shower curtain rod since suction cups won't hold most of time + Woolite packettes. 7) Clothing: 2 toddler outfits for each 1 of your outfits. 8) An umbrella stroller with 6" wheels & sun cover (we like the Silver Cross Micro). 9) A rain cover for stroller. 10) Ziplock full of ziplocks. 11) Munchkin or Sassy pre-measured containers for formula. 12) Plastic tupperware-type containers (2) for tomatoes, grapes, etc. 13) Bottle brush & small plastic container of dish soap. 14) First Aid kit: pack your own, don't buy pre-made. Need Bandaids, antiseptic wipes, neosporin, thermometer + infant Tylenol. 15) Rubber stopper for bathtubs & sinks (flat style universal) because many drains without working drainstoppers. 16) Diaper bag: I like the see-through mesh bag from Container Store for $12.99 that stands on it's own & hangs perfectly on back of stroller. 17) Separate backpack/purse for Mom. Don't combine your stuff with baby stuff in diaper bag. Keep your stuff on your back. I started out with a sling messanger bag & it proved too heavy on the trip so bought a small purse/backpack when there which freed up my hands better & balanced the weight better. STUFF NOT TO TAKE: 1) Backpack Carrier unless you do many reps over 50lbs at the gym on the upper body machines (I do 15-30 & can't carry my toddler more than 15 minutes in a backpack carrier without exhaustion). 2) Inflatable bathtub. We never used ours since the European bath tubs are so big we can just get in the tub with our toddler & tubs are easy to get at hotels (we stayed in 1-5 star hotels). 3) Clip-on highchair like Me-Too. Sorry this items doesn't work at restaurants or cafes in these countries where little pedestal tables are the norm. We used the umbrella stroller instead right at our tables (usually seated outside). If toddler big enough, try using a restraint belt in regular chair. 4) Too many toys (more than fit into gallon ziplock). You may want to buy some there (we sure did). 5) Supply of diapers for entire trip. Buy them there but have at least a few days worth on hand. The boxes have weights in Kilos but the sizes are familar with 1-6 stages (we have been on stage 5 for long time now). 6) Too many clothes: biggest problem causing heavy suitcases. Pack as if going for 4 days even if a 3 week trip. Wash at the end of 4 days. Toddler gets 8 outfits, you get 4.
San Francisco, CA USA Mon 09/26/2005
Teach a kid Geography - Send a Postcard
Teach a kid Geography - Send a Postcard
An elementary school Geography class at Littlerock Elementary School (in Littlerock Washington) is hoping that you can help their kids learn about different places in the world by sending them a postcard from your trip. As a part of their "Passport Club" they learn about different cities in different countries by the postcards they receive from all over the world.
If you want to take the time to send them a postcard from somewhere on your trip, please do. Here is their address:
P.O. Box C
Littlerock, WA 98556
I know they would appreciate it. And it might be fun for you to do as well!! Be creative, teach the kids a little something about Roman history or a mountain range etc.
USA Tue 09/20/2005
Abby - Car Seat on Plane
We flew in July with our two year old to Scandinavia. We did not use a car seat on the plane. He had his own seat and we used the regular seat belt to buckle him in. He weighs about 29 pounds and we were able to adjust the seat belt firmly around him, even when he was sleeping. We had no problems. There were several toddlers on our flight and none were in car seats. I was really nervous about flying with him, but the sheer novelty of being in an airplane was almost enough to keep him entertained the whole (9 hour!) trip. Bring a bunch of small toys and snacks, and bring one out at a time to keep your little one entertained.
MA USA Thu 09/08/2005
Travel with young children
RE: Travel to Italy. I spent the month of May in Italy with my 3 children - ages 5, 3 and 1. A fabulous country to travel in with children. Locals are very friendly towards children. Just don't try to take your family into a nice quiet restaurant for dinner, etc. Be extra sensitive towards other travelers- if the kids get noisy - it is time to make a quick exit (leave the museum, shop, etc.) There are many playgrounds in Italy - take your two year old. You will meet fun local people and let your little one have some play time. RE: flight over - I don't put my little ones in carseats. I figure if we crash...well, we are all going to go together. Some do not agree w/me, but I've traveled to Europe now 7 times w/kids and I prefer not to take carseats on board w/me. I end up holding my children because they behave best out of their car seats for such a long stretch. It's up to you...but the extra space w/out carseat is nice when trying to rest w/a little one asleep in your arms. Maybe your child will sit just fine for 8 hrs. in car seat...but that is not what works for my family. (I have not flown BA, sorry.) Don't travel w/out some type of DVD, Video Now player, etc. for your toddler. (Not to sound rude, but I get really annoyed when I have prepared and purchased things for my kids to do on the plane only to have other children peek over the seats, come stand in aisle next to us, etc. to be entertained- sorry, but taking care of your own children on the plane is the parent's job - not the person across the aisle.) Be prepared and you will be rewarded. DVD cost should not be a factor, as you can find models for under $100. It is well worth every penny! You can also purchase extra batteries for DVD - ask at your retail store... can provide you with hours of entertainment for kids. I don't rely on the in-flight entertainment because you never know if they will have something your child will watch or not. A portable DVD is great to travel w/on train and in rental cars too. One last thing... give your children some type of medication to help them sleep (Benedryl, Nighttime Pedia Care, etc). Just make sure in advance before trip that it works for your child. Good luck!
Utah USA Tue 09/06/2005
Italy with 2 infant/toddler
HI, WE are taking a 5 month old and a two year old to Italy next month. any tips or suggestions? I am real nervous about the 2 yr old. Does airline offer car seat and would you recommend it. We are flying BA. Thanks!
Philadelphia, PA USA Wed 08/31/2005
Europe with 10 year old
We just returned from a 22 day trip. Highlights for my son were: Princess Diana park in London on arrival day to stretch out after the flight. The Victoria & Albert- especially the cast replica room. THe British Museum mummies. Playmobil land just outside Nurnberg. Pompeii - with a book with clear overleafs to show before & after.
Seattle, WA USA Wed 08/24/2005
Sparkles hotel Blackpool UK
we stayed at Sparkles hotel August 2005.this is a stunning hotel , Mrs Sparkles has put a lot of hard work and imagination in to creating lots of themed rooms.we stayed in the ruined castle suite, large master bedroom,excellent childrens room with toys, costumes and a huge bathroom with shower and a whirlpool bath. Sparkles is only a 2 minuite walk from the pleasure beach theme park and other attractions.also mrs sparkles aranges a very good over night secure parking for the duration of your stay should you require it priced at £22 for monday to friday. Mrs Sparkles takes the children for breakfast and play after giving us adults a break and also panto and puppet shows in the evening, if you like to impress your family then Sparkles is the place to stay. thanks Mrs Sparkles you made our holiday extra special , Rich ,Louise, Kiera, Kai & Brogen from Long Eaton Nottingham.
nottingham, UK Sun 08/14/2005
Kid friendly hotel in Blackpool, UK
We spent 3 nights at the Sparkles Hotel in Blackpool, the kids loved it! Each morning, Mrs. Sparkles takes the kids down for breakfast and playtime, and each evening she had them do a pantomine or puppet show. She is a lot of fun, and my 9 year old boy said the playtimes were his favorite activity of the whole trip, other than the rides at Blackpool :-) The location is great for Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the Sandcastle water park ,and the South pier, and is close to the Blackpool South train station. Check it out at www.sparkles.co.uk
Fremont, CA USA Sun 07/31/2005
Eurail a rip-off for kids?
Before purchasing your Eurail pass in North America, make sure that your kids wouldn't travel for free on the trains in the particular European countries you'll be visiting. I made the mistake of purchasing Eurail Passes for our 5 and 9 year old children (for Benelux and Germany), which is half the price of a full adult rail pass. Upon arrival in Europe, I found out that our kids would normally travel for free with an adult on any Belgian or German train, and travel in the Netherlands for only 2 Euro! Needless to say, Eurail will be hearing from me requesting a refund for the price of my kids' rail passes!
Vancouver, BC Canada Fri 07/29/2005
Finland - Amazingly Child Friendly!
We have just returned from two weeks in Finland with a couple days in Iceland. I have been to Finland before, but this was the first time with our toddler, who is almost 3. It was his first time flying, and he was the best little traveler. I cannot recommed the Video Now Jr. enough!!!! Not only did it occupy him on the plane until he fell asleep, but it also kept him entertained during a long cross-country drive and through several leisurely dinners (which we enjoyed tremendously!) Also, the travel-size Magna Doodle was a good toy. The Finns are very accomodating to children. Every single public bathroom we visited, even at the smallest roadside cafe, had a potty in the women's bathroom. In the summer, Finns practically live outside in the nice weather. We dined outside at several upscale restaurants and people enjoyed their meals while their children ate and then played nearby. One of the restaurants had a big wooden seesaw for kids and other places had a toybox or two. Diapers, wipes, sippy cups, etc. were easily available in all sizes, but more expensive than here. The only item we could not find were overnight diapers, which are great for plane or car trips. We had a very busy schedule visiting family all over the country, but I found that the schedule was bearable for our toddler as long as we planned one activity just for him each day. Several days we visited local playgrounds for an hour or so, two days we played on lakeside beaches, etc. In Naantali, outside of Turku, is Moominworld, which is a theme park based on the popular Finnish children's characters, the Moomins. In the middle of summer, it was swarming with toddlers and frazzled parents, but our little boy absolutely loved it. Other things that worked well: Scandinavian breakfasts were generally lavish buffets with meats, cheese, hearty rye bread, cereals, fruit, good yogurt, etc. I would pack him several snacks from the buffet to last throughout the day, as food, even in supermarkets, is pricey there. We rented student apartments in summer hostels in Naantali and Helsinki. The rooms, although spare, were always clean and sheets, towels, pots, pans, dinnerware, etc. were provided. Definitely better to have a kitchen when traveling with children. Also, all the places we booked provided us with a Pack and Play for him which were longer then the ones we have here (as a previous poster mentioned!), so he could sleep comfortably. The only worrying thing was that there were no screens on the windows (anywhere) and it was a hot two weeks, so I did worry about him wandering at night and falling out the windows. Other than that, no problems! So, go to Finland with your small children!
MA USA Thu 07/28/2005
Travel with kids... DO IT!
We've been traveling with kids for over 6 years - my wife traveled from Alaska to Northern Italy when our oldest was 10 months old to meet me at the end of a deployment. She fell in love with gelato (well, all of us did), and became our goodwill ambassador with the locals.
We've now lived in Greece for a year, since our youngest (we now have three kids from 1 to 7 yrs) was 2 months old, and continue to travel extensively throughout Europe and the US. Some lessons we've learned:
1. Many European carriers, including AlItalia, do not allow car seats, even airline approved seats, even if you've purchased a separate ticket for the child. We have, through friendly/polite resolve, convinced them (most of the time) to allow us to use the seats in flight. However, for takeoff/landing, they require you to use an "infant belt" - the seatbelt demonstrator - looped through your own lap belt and then around the child. Ridiculous, but true. Ask for a bassinet seat, and you can at least have somewhere for the child to sleep. We will not fly these carriers anymore between Europe and the US, but have little/no choice intra Europe.
2. Baby slings are THE HEAT. My wife bought one for our youngest, in a "more masculine" pattern so that I can wear it without too many funny looks. They are great for airline flights with infants (see 1 above). In Assisi last year, my wife became an object of interest for a tour group when the guide pointed out that one of the frescoes depicted Mary carrying Jesus in a similar sling during the flight to Egypt. They also allow "covert" breastfeeding about anywhere.
3. Strollers, as many have pointed out, are not as good as backpacks in many places. On our first trip to Italy, we had nothing but the stroller for our daughter, and took it to Venice! We got very good at carrying it over all the stepped bridges. We've got a Kelty backpack with sunshade and detachable packs on it that works just great.
4. Teach your kids the basics of the language before you go - kids are already (usually) goodwill magnets in Europe, but even more when they pop out with a loud "euxaristo!" or "grazie!" (Thank you!)
5. For that matter, study the area you're going to with your kids before you go - get them excited. Besides, you'll get more out of the experience because you'll know more. We've found that Usborne's "Ancient Greece" book for kids has been one of the best helps for the entire family here - it gives a concise and easy-to-understand background for wherever we visit, plus a great set of internet links for more indepth research.
6. You can never have enough books, pens, paper, or crayons.
7. Be reasonable - kids won't make it through the entire Louvre in one day. But why would you want to do that, even without kids? See a few sights, then enjoy a relaxing afternoon picnic at the park with bread, cheese, and wine (juice for the kids).
8. In some parts of Europe, especially Greece, fruit juice and cold milk is not available at restaurants. If you'd prefer your kids not fill up on Fanta or Coke, just stop by a kiosk or store and pick up drinks for the kids before you go. We've never had so much as a sour look from waiters when we do this.
9. Keep kids hydrated, and teach them to drink water. Kids sometimes aren't good at recognizing that they need to drink. BTW - breastfeeding is sure a lot easier than carting formula (spoken by a man, of course).
10. Having traveled solo and with my wife before kids, I can say that travel with kids takes more thought and preparation, but is incredibly rewarding. Sure, we treasure the few opportunities to get away by ourselves, but we wouldn't trade our kid travel experiences (most of them, anyhow) for anything! We think our kids would say the same, and will be blessed by the experiences as they grow older.
Larissa, Thessaly Greece Thu 07/28/2005
Traveling with a 2 year old
We just returned from a 2 week trip through Austria, Germany, and Switerland with a 2 year old. I found this board helpful when I was trying to get tips on how to keep our little one occupied, so I thought I would add my two cents. Traveling at night was wonderful! She slept 5 1/2 hours of the 8 hour flight, so night travel is great if possible. We traveled with a group of family members so there were plenty of people of help keep her entertained and watch her if my husband and I wanted to go out for a bit. Somone had previously recommended the VideoNow Jr. by Playskool, which I want to echo my praises to. It was wonderful on the plane, the car rides, or in the hotel. It is pretty inexpensive and the disks are kid friendly and educational with things like Seasame Street. On the plane I took lots of little things to keep her occupied like stickers, crayons and coloring books, two cheap matchbox cars, a pack of ABC cards which she just enjoyed stacking and holding. We also took some books with. You would be amazed at what you can find at the Dollar Store! Something we also did was take one of her favorite CD's with. This was so helpful in the car - especially on a day when there was lots of driving. The places we stayed provided us with a pack and play for her to sleep in. This was great as we did not have to get a bigger room with another bed which would have been more money. The length was much longer than our PacNPlays here in the US, so it was great for a 2 year old's height! We took her umbrella stroller and gate checked it a the airport. It was really nice to have because we had several layovers. This helped confine her during busy times in the airport. Another helpful tip - we took her down to an empty waiting area and let her run around during one of the layovers. This not only helped tire her out, but let her excercise her legs a bit. We also took a backpack carrier. This was very helpful during some of our hiking where it would not have been safe for her to run around. She was in it and loved it, and even fell asleep in it a few times. If they are tired - they'll sleep anywhere! We rented a carseat from the car rental place. This was one thing we didn't have to contend with(bringing our own carseat)! Another thing we did was to get her a small backpack. She took ownership in it and enjoyed carrying it around during our flights over. It also helped consolidate things nicely when we were driving - all of her toys were in one location. Overall, traveling with a toddler can be quite fun and it helps if you are prepared. It is awesome to see them interact with other children and they don't even speak the same language! They don't need to! Isn't that great!
M-town, PA USA Tue 07/26/2005
Infant Formula - how to pack?
Need to travel on business within Europe for 3 weeks with a 15mo old toddler who is dependant on soy-based formula. I'm trying to figure out how to pack his formula (he has to have soy-based which isn't readily available in Europe). Someone said the cans can explode. Freezer Ziplocs are too flimsy. Will security be alarmed to see large quanitites of white powder in our suitcases & carry-ons? Should we cut the labels off the cans & attach? What kind of container would work without tearing, breaking or exploding?
San Francisco, CA USA Mon 07/25/2005
Spain with 6-month-old
Spain was a wonderful place to travel with our 6-month-old! Everyone was super friendly to our little party-it was kind of like traveling with a rock star! I'm so glad I brought our portable high chair that clamps onto tables. We used it at least once a day.
For baby supplies, check out the pharmacies. They tend to have a better selection of baby stuff than supermarkets. However, we cound find almost no baby food without added sugar, salt, oils or meat. Flynn ended up eating a lot of new things, (like baby food with ham) but luckily did fine with it. One thing: if your baby is allergic to wheat, bring your own rice cereal as it is impossible to find cereal without wheat.
Jennifer (below) is right-people do look at you a little funny when you have your baby in a sling-it's much less common than the Baby Bjorn, (the locals push their kids around in strollers that are like nurseries on wheels). In Spain, the only other people I noticed using a sling were Gypsies, which could account for the extra glances we received.
All in all, we had a great time traveling in Spain with our son and would highly recommend doing so.
Genoa, NV USA Sun 07/24/2005
Shopping with Children
We found a good solution when travelling for a month with our three and five year olds in France. Whenever we went into the store, the children were rewarded with the change from all purchases if they had excellent store behaviors. Using Euros some coinage was returned on every purchase. Each of the kids had their own change purse that they collected their money in and could use to purchase whatever they wanted. Chocolates an hour before dinner, postcards, toys, whatever -- we were all on vacation and house rules didn't apply.
I also provided incentives of 1 Euro everytime they received a compliment in public. The kids had their own money to spend, made interesting choices, and we were never hounded with "I want that!"
They were amazing travelers, used their limited French when entering stores, and were also rewarded by polite behavior.
Seattle, WA USA Sat 07/23/2005
Europe with a 5-month old
I second Michelle's suggestion (below) to use a baby sling in Europe. We just returned from two weeks in France with our five-month-old son. Although people usually did a double-take when they saw the baby in the sling, they always commented on how snug, comfortable, and practical it appears. It is! The sling is particularly useful when shopping or walking in crowded areas because it allows me to move quickly and easily around obstacles. For long walks/hikes, however, we prefer to switch to the Baby Bjorn for back support. The sling also doubled as a sheet on the plane and a blanket for picnics and playing on the ground.
If you're traveling with an infant, ask about reserving a bassinet for the plane. It attaches to the bulkhead and can hold a baby up to 26 inches/20 pounds. However, be sure to bring a blanket or a baby sleep sack, because the plane got very cold (on both flights).
Finally, we bought a changing pad at Target that has pockets for about three diapers, wipes, and trash bags. (Cost about $10.) It's much easier to grab this and head to the tiny plane bathroom for changes than bringing the entire diaper bag along. We actually brought an extra to leave behind for my sister-in-law, who hasn't been able to find anything like it in France.
Mankato, MN USA Fri 07/15/2005
Toddlers in Italy
We just returned from two weeks in Italy & 4 days in Switzerland with our 3-year old. We packed light -- two RS travelpacks and one daypack for the three of us. This worked extremely well, and next time we'll take even less stuff. (Don't let anyone tell you that you can't pack light if you are traveling with small kids!) The Italian and Swiss people were absolutely wonderful to Quinn (with the exception of the little Siennese boy who *bit* him, but that could have happened anywhere). My suggestion, though, is to TAKE DIAPER WIPES for your infant/toddler if you use them at home. Diapers were readily available, but we must have visited at least 7 stores, including a couple of American-style supermarkets, before we found diaper wipes.
Ithaca, NY USA Sat 07/02/2005
Infant to Toddler Tips
We've been to Europe 3 times with our 2.5 yr old, and have learned a few things. First, the flights go smoothly as long as we give him constant attention rather than trying to watch the in-flight movies. Walk up and down the aisle a few times with him. Second, a great help is the ultrapasteurized milk that is widely available. It doesn't need to be refrigerated until it's opened, so you can carry it with you and keep a stock in your room. I just recently found this in the US, too -- in the juice box aisle. Third, don't overload your schedule, and don't get disappointed if you don't see everything. Just pick a few highlights and leave lots of free time. Fourth, know your child's weight in kg so you can buy the right diapers.
Houston, TX USA Thu 06/30/2005
Also adding that we went to Paris when first daughter was 2
We had a great time there as well. We rented an apartment in Paris that we found on vrbo.com (also where we found the cottage in Ireland). I think with toddlers a place you can cook/eat some meals/pack a picnic is essential. My daughter LOVED the subway. She also loved all of the carousels throughout Paris, particularly the one in the Luxembourg gardens, as well as the pond for sailing boats. We went after Christmas for New Years and the city was just even more beautiful. Everyone was nice to her. The Rodin museum is a great museum to take the kids b/c virtually all of the sculptures are outside in the garden, so they can get down and play. We used the backpack carrier almost exclusively in Paris. The subways are impossible to negotiate with a stroller, too many stairs. We also took RIck's suggestion and took the train out of the city to Chartres. Our daughter loved the train ride, but fell asleep for much of the tour of the cathedral, which was actually great for us. Two keys to success travelling with young children: ice cream and souvenirs!
Oh, I almost forgot the most important thing that I did not read about in any guidebook. If you travel in Paris with a young child (not sure of the age but it included our 26 month old) you do NOT have to wait in any lines to get into museums!!!! This is huge. We got in line at the d'Orsay which was three or four blocks from the entrance when a worker came along and escorted us to the front of the line. We had the same experience at the Louvre and later learned that this is true throughout Paris.
Baltimore , MD USA Thu 06/30/2005
We just returned from Ireland with our 15 mos and 4.5 year olds
They both did wonderfully! For the flight over they both slept. We purchased a seperate seat for the 15 mos. We flew into Dublin and stayed at a B&B south of Dublin that offered a family room. We were attending a birthday party in that town. We then headed west, stopping at the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary on our way. We rented a self catering cottage in a small town in County Kerry cottagemaryrose.com It was ideal. My 4 year old daughter LOVED playing snow white, sweeping the cottage floor and hanging out the half door. The cottage was close to Killarney National Park, Ring of Kerry and not too far to the start of the drive of the Dingle Peninsula. We took a day trip down to Kinsale. I would skip this with kids. My husband wanted to go as his family is from this area. The sidewalks were very narrow and it was hard to negotiate with the kids and not a lot to see and do, really. We also took a ride across the Shannon on the ferry recommended in Rick's book and drove onto the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. We overpacked for the 15 mos old in that we took the stroller, which we used extensively, and the back pack carrier. I think we used the back pack only twice, as I also had my sling which was much easier to use to carrier her around the castles and such. The kids LOVED Muckross House and traditional farms in Killarney National Park. Definitely a hightlight of our trip. The 4 year old also loved the National Folk Theater Siamsa Tire in Tralee. Both highlights of our trip. This show is NOT River Dance, its more traditional and expressive, the songs are in Gaelic, and it was beautiful and moving. My 4 year old was by far the youngest there but she behaved beautifully. You may want to buy tickets a head, we were a little early, thankfully for the show and there were only a handful of seats available. The Irish love kids. Everyone was great to our kids. They were welcomed everywhere. It was a magical, wonderful family vacation. On our way home we were approached to voluntarily get bumped from our flight. We agreed which put us in first class for our return flight and netted us $600 each in air vouchers. We are actively planning our next trip! On the flight home, the 4 year old watched movies on the lap top, the 15 mos slept a few hours, was entertained by her sister and did fuss for a few minutes, but really they did quite well and were complimented by other travellers.
Baltimore, MD USA Thu 06/30/2005
London with kids
In London, our children loved the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens (tube: Nottinghill Gate). It has a Peter Pan theme, complete with pirate ship and rope rigging that the kids can climb. They also went wild over the Imperial War Museum. Skip Hamley's--Walmart is soooo much cheaper.
Alpharetta, G USA Thu 06/30/2005
Just back from Denmark with our toddler
We had a wonderful trip to Denmark with our 22-month old son. We bought a used portable DVD player off the web to entertain our son on the flights, and that worked great. We had lots of snacks on hand and that helped. My one suggestion would be to verify what type of food the airline orders for your toddler. Because our son was under two both Delta and Air France served him a "special" meal of baby food. He hasn't eaten baby food in months and wouldn't touch anything but the applesauce. The flight attendants apologized and said this was a common problem. Make sure your child get's a child's meal, not an infant meal! We were able to stay in places that had access to kitchens, and that was wonderful and almost necessary. We brought along an umbrella stroller and that worked fine for our son. He even thought going over the cobblestone was fun!
We tried to break up the day so that if we went to a museum he had time afterwards to run around outside. He absolutely LOVED Legoland and Tivoli, so I would suggest one day in a local theme park, even if it wouldn't be your first pick. Our day in Legoland actually ended up being a favorite because he enjoyed it so much. We also found that our son thought public transportation was the best, and he just loved riding the trains, boats and buses.
After a week we were all ready to come home, so that was about the right length of time for us and for our son.
Don't stay home if you have a toddler. Think of it as an adventure, and be sure to take your camcorder because they won't remember the trip when they're older. My son loves watching the video of our trip.
West Valley City, UT USA Wed 06/29/2005
Hello all, My ten year old sister want to have a few pen-pals from around the world to write too. I haven't a clue as to where to start looking . I have search countless websites and most of them only cater to ages 13 and older. If for any chance you have any information I would really appeciate this .. Happy travels......
new york City, NY USA Wed 06/22/2005
Playmobil Funpark is Awesome
Just back from Germany with our 4yo son....Playmobil was amazing!! Imagine kids playing on lifesized playmobil castles and parate ships. Very cool. Plan a long day and reward your kids for their patience with all of those "boring" cathedrals and galleries. Plus, its all active play (no rides) so they really can blow off steam.
Rochester, MN USA Tue 06/21/2005
Wendy - toddler tips
Someone on either this board of the "Help" board had suggested to me to wrap up the goodies individually too, but then someone else suggested that this may not be a good idea since airport security may not allow wrapped items to pass through security. Maybe someone else here can add their two cents? Also, if you don't want to spend $$$ on a DVD player, Walmart carries a great little product for toddlers called a Video Now Jr., for about $50, plus about $8-$10 per video. They do Sesame St., Dora, Clifford, all the usual suspects. Either Fisher Price or Playskool makes it, can't remember which. I'm also bringing stickers, washable crayons, finger puppets, what else???
MA USA Mon 06/20/2005
Wrap It Up and Backpack for Toddler
I have a 2 yr. old, going to Germany, Austria and Hungary for 18 days. Any suggestions for the goody-bag? ALSO, WE ARE PLANNING TO WRAP THE GOODIES INDIVIDUALLY IN WRAPPING PAPER TO GIVE HER ADDITIONAL SOMETHING TO DO. We were also able to find a tiny backpack with an attached baby at CVS drugstore. It can hold a few snacks, juice, crayons, clay and maybe a small writing pad. She seems to like the backpack (think Dora!). We are considering a portable DVD player for the entire stay to keep her content after long walking days. Is it worth the hassle?
Wendy T. - Fla - Munich
Merritt Island, florida USA Mon 06/20/2005
I suppose the whole world is a danger-zone for those little daredevils, so one place seems to make as much sense as the next, though I wouldn't take a toddler to Venice.
One of my favorite little towns, which is slightly off the beaten path, is Orta San Giulio. It's a great little village on Lago d'Orta, up on the western fringe of the lakes area. Great town, great sights, lots of great walking to do. The main piazza is on the water, but the piazza is huge and it's easy to keep your distance from the water's edge. You can probably find a good deal on a private flat or house online, and there are some decent hotels as well. We coasted into town a day earlier than our hotel reservation and found a vacant flat at a dirt-cheap price, because the owner hadn't been expecting to fill it and had other guests coming in five days. It was huge, very nice, terrific view of the lake, with a kitchen, and we stayed there the whole time.
But nowhere I've been strikes me as particularly toddler-friendly. Good luck finding a destination.
Missoula, MT USA Sat 06/18/2005
Any recommendations for beautiful and relaxing European destinations that are toddler-friendly? We are planning a two-week vacation this fall with our son, who will be 16 months old. Two years ago (sans baby) we spent time in the Cinque Terre and absolutely loved the slow pace, small-town/community feel, ability to walk everywhere and playing on the beach. We would love to go somewhere new, but with similar attributes. Any recommendations?
Liz Melching Colclazier
Beaverton, OR USA Thu 06/16/2005
NH Hotels in Munich
Hi, We are heading to Germany in December. We arrive in Munich the 4th and will have our 2 yr old with us. We are seeing the NH hotels all around in Munich. We stayed in one in Utrecht, The Netherlands last year with him, and it was great for getting him and us over the Jetlag! Has anyone been in any of these in Munich? We are staying in Gerberhaus in Rothenburg (Rick's reco) and then with friends in Regensburg and then back to Munich for a few days. We are also considering the Jederman. Any advice/comments would be great! Thanks! Julie
Chicago, IL USA Wed 06/15/2005
My son just turned five months and has spent almost half his short life on the road (so far Mexico and USA). Next we leave for Spain for just over three weeks. The one item that has proven most useful during our travels is the baby sling. Not only is it more comfortable than the Baby Bjorn, but as my son grows I can put him in different positions in the sling, so I don't have a huge lump always on my chest-very useful when trying to eat with a sleeping baby attached to you. The sling is lightweight, doubles as a burp cloth or blanket and even has a roomy pocket. Best of all, wherever we go, my son feels safe and secure cuddled up next to me. I found mine at Zolowear.com. Happy Travels!
Genoa, nv USA Sun 06/12/2005
I already e-mailed our friends off to Italy, but I thought I'd share my find with the board. Someone on one of these boards (this one or different subject) said to get a Kelty Convertible (backpack to stroller). I was doubtful on how well that would work. Well, I went to www.kelty.com. I studied its features. Then I looked up a local dealer, put it on, and I fell in love. I also got 2004's so I got about half off. This thing is amazing. It weighs 10 lbs only. You can cruise along using it as a stroller. When you decide to wear it as a pack, you put the handle down, cover the wheels, and put it on (your full, normal, carrier support). I was so thankful to find this. In my experience, strollers were only good in certain large cities lacking cobblestones, and I am going to be in mulptiple areas. Oh and it has a storage net beneath the seat of your child (when you convert to the pack from stroler you do NOT need to remove anything. There are accesories you can buy to attach (like a sun/ rainhood and bags that attach to the carrier). So I am seconding what someone else already said--the Kelty Convertible is a terrific travel option! (Yes, my husband said ANOTHER stroler/ carrier/ backpack thing when I brought it home until he saw it convert... Then he said "cool")
Plano, TX USA Sat 06/04/2005
We're planning a trip to Scandinavia this summer with our 2 year old. We are taking a stroller, but not an umbrella stroller. I doubt the advantages of taking an umbrella stroller to Europe because, as you say, they wheels are not good on cobblestones or uneven ground. They are lightweight, but there is no basket to hold items (jackets, snacks, purchases) and the child can't nap in them as they don't recline. I'm planning to take our regular stroller, a Chico London. It's smaller than a full size stroller, has sturdy wheels, light (I can collapse and lift it with one hand) and folds easily, has a decent size basket underneath and it reclines to three positions so our little guy can nap. I think that is essential, since your schedules and body clocks will probably be "off" and you never know when he'll want to sleep and you may be miles from your hotel. Also, in past trips, spouse and I have enjoyed several well-timed meals at outdoor cafes while little guy is sleeping in the stroller next to us (of course we feed him later!!!) I have thought about the backpack, but spouse has a bad back and it wouold be too heavy for me. Have fun!
MA USA Sat 06/04/2005
Italy: Rome and Elba - stroller or backpack or both?
Hello travelling parents of toddlers! My husband and I are taking a trip to Italy in a few weeks and I am wondering if we should bring the umbrella stroller or the backpack for our 22 month old. I was thinking that the backpack would be great for Elba and while in Rome for visiting the Colosseum and Forum, while the stroller would be great for museums in Rome and for general walking around. But, do we need both, or can we get by with just one? I've heard the umbrella strollers are terrible on the cobblestones. Thanks for your help!
Sutton, MA USA Wed 06/01/2005
Budapest Baths--baby allowed in?
Ahh! I came on here with a question!! I was wondering--anyone know of age restrictions at the different Budapest baths? I want to take my son--who will be 2 into the baths with me. Does anyone know? I've been to all the specific websites. Thanks! Jayme
Plano, TX USA Fri 05/27/2005
Babies go places and so will you
I have never liked children screaming--who does? That said--children cry if they are tired or frustrated. Adults who get mad that children are on flights need to get over themselves. The children have just as much right to be there. They can cry. They are allowed. They do eventually stop you know. These babies will be the very ones who will be putting in their tax dollars that will keep the country running when we are all retired. Thank their parents that these babies/ toddlers/ children will be enlightened and well-traveled. Babies cry, but I have not heard one yet that did not eventually stop. The worst passengers? Men (it's usually men anyways with broad shoulders) whose broad shoulder require they take up the armrest, teenagers or anyone who blasts music on their headphones (and unlike babies, this annoying background bass NEVER stops unless annoying person is eating), the kid who is never ever reprimanded for kicking seats, throwing things, etc by his parents (you know kids old enough to be reprimanded), the businessman who puts both his laptop and carry-on in the abovehead compartment for the benefits of stretching his legs instead of placing one under the seat in front of him and thereby letting his co-passengers get their suitcase up there, and finally the worst offender: the guy who complains about the kids loudly and verbally to anyone within earshot. That guy is louder and ruder then any innocent baby.
My 12 month old happily trekked through a 5 hour flight in the USA. The captain of the aircraft saw us collapsing our stroller right before we boarded. He came out and insisted on doing it for me. He then insisted on placing our carry-ons on board. Then he insisted on carrying on my son! He sat in the spare seat beside us as the rest of the passengers boarded talking to my baby. We never met a stranger, my son and I, on the whole trip. And we also look forward to my son's first transatlantic flight next May. He'll be two--he's literally going to his Oma's (grandmother's) house. What is someone going to tell me? That my son should not go see his grandma until he's 6? Seriously? Always pack two things: a sense of adventure and a sense of humor. You'll find both qualities easily lend themselves well to the feelings of compassion. The next time a baby is crying and you are close by--help the mother or father. Was it your job? No. But hey you met new people, offered an innocent (you know, the baby) a smile, and saw a bit more of the world's people. And is that not the point of travel anyway?
Best to all on their journeys,
Plano, TX USA Fri 05/27/2005
Family First Aid Kit
Here is my suggested Family First Aid Kit, mentioned in a previous post and often requested since:
Vitamins, and extra Vit C, for everyone-take these religiously before and during your trip, and you might not need all of the following;
Acetaminophen(Tylenol) in appropriate doses for adults and kids(remember, infant's and children's liquid are NOT interchangeable-they are different concentrations). If shopping for this overseas, it may be called paracetamol;Ibuprofen for adults and children who can take it(those wth bleeding disorders cannot) for injuries, sore ankles from cobblestones or toohthache(remember, with an injury, you should take it around the clock for inflammation, not just when it hurts);
WI USA Wed 05/18/2005
Switzerland with a one year old!
Traveling in Switzerland with our one-year-old son proved to be a joy. He served as a great icebreaker with other tourists and locals alike.
A few tips and tricks:
1. Because our son is allergic to perfumes and detergents, we packed a king-sized set of sheets which nicely fit over every bed we slept in (including the round bed at the Murtenhof in Murten!). I also packed plain terrycloth bibs which he wore at mealtime, and we then moistened and used to wipe his face. I packed 4 old towels (one for each hotel stay) and left them behind as we used them, since they never had time to dry.
2. I recommend buying a child's harness with leash, even though it looks funny to walk your child like a pet. Because he had freedom to run around, he was happy, and I didn't have to worry about him running into traffic, etc.
3. If you have the Swisspass, it only costs $10 SF (less than $9 USD) to send bags ahead by train to a future destination. We packed one large suitcase for all three of us and then downloaded two days worth of clothes to backpacks and sent the suitcase on. Such freedom! But be warned: It does take 2 days to get bags from one place to another.
I would be happy to answer any questions others have. Feel free to email.
Amy Sir Louis
Barberton, OH USA Tue 05/17/2005
Traveling to Italy with Preschoolers
We just returned from 14 days in Italy with our twin 3 year olds. If you are thinking of taking small children to Italy I say do it! WE had a wonderful time. The locals were so kind to our kids, often feeding them candy and bread and talking to them.
We rented apartments which I highly reccomend. Car seats were readily available at the car rental agencies when we did rent a car. The airplane flight was the only challenge, and it is only a small part of the trip. Pack fun activities and new toys for the kids. Also you can ask your dr for a prescription to help calm your children, but try it before you go. In our case our son got almost too tired to sleep with it.
Eugene, OR USA Mon 05/16/2005
Great Transportation Deals for Kids
I wanted to point out a couple of great deals for train travel in Europe if you are thinking of taking your kids.
One is the Swiss Rail Pass. Kids 16 and under (or under 16?) are free. You buy your rail pass and be sure to request a family travel card to fill out for your child. Just show it to the conductor along with your ticket. This is better than Eurail where they are half price. I think my son was free on most of the high mountain lifts with that card too.
Also, there is a TEE Rail Alliance family card that lets children travel free with their parents or grandparents on any Cross-border route between Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I learned of this in Switzerland when I was buying a ticket to Salzburg at a station and the EXTREMELY helpful lady at the desk handed it to me to fill out. I could then use it on our next ticket from Salzburg to Munich. I was just working with Euraide to see if they could get one for me before I depart, but that's not possible. So, I did some research and learned that even the child's couchette would be free as long as the parent pays for one. AWESOME deal. I am going to wait until my arrival in Switzerland and book my ticket from Swizerland to Vienna after I get there. Hope 4 days in advance will be enough to get the couchettes, but it's worth a gamble.
I am sure there are more great deals out there, but these are two of my favorites.
GA USA Sat 05/07/2005
7 Week old in France
My husband and I took our 7 week old daughter to France last summer for three weeks and LOVED it. We backpacked Europe the summer before and decided to rent a car with the baby (good idea)!! Our trip was wonderful- people were SOOOO nice and the best part was- no one cared if i nursed her in public and i was changing poopy pants in PARIS instead of boring old Portland Oregon!!!!!Europeans love kids and will welcome you if you bring yours!
Hillsboro, Or USA Wed 05/04/2005
Kids and Athens
We are just ending 4 years in England and have taken our kids (now 11 year old twins) to Scotland, Wales, France and Germany plus Egypt, Greece, and India. Their favorite trips are ones when we traveled with other families - Intrepid Travel based out of Australia has some great family trips - that's how we did 2 weeks in India. In Greece we shared a rented villa (found online) for a week with another family about an hour outside of Athens, then spent the last 2 nights in Athens (at hotel recommended by Rick) and had a great time walking everywhere - lots to see! Our kids had studied the Greeks in school (British) so acted as our tour guides! We're now planning a farewell 30 day eurail trip - either Italy-southern France-Spain, or Eastern Europe - have your same question about what the kids will enjoy in Eastern Europe.
American living in England, USA Thu 04/21/2005
Legoland for older child
I also took my 11 year old son in May 2003. He still likes Legos at 13, so it was right up his alley. I signed him up for a workshop where they kids built their own robots and competed. He liked that and we were both impressed by the display of European landmarks built of legos. He enjoyed a treehouse-like fort thing and played a long time, and also drove the cars for a license. Don't go for the rides though. Very tame by US standards. My son and I agreed that he was at the upper age for the park. He did wish there were some older looking kids there as he is very tall and towered over everyone.
GA USA Mon 04/18/2005
Athens and Kids??
I never see any comments on traveling with kids to Athens. In fact, Rick doesn't seem to have a guidebook on Athens (or a DVD). Is that because Athens (or Athens with kids) is a bad idea?
aubrey, TX USA Sun 04/17/2005
Travel with kids, special needs
Last summer, my husband and I took our two boys (7 and almost 5 yers old) to Europe (2 wks France, then Switzerland, Austria and Germany) for one month. We had also travelled to France in 2000 for 2 weeks, when they were 3 and 9 months of age.
Do not be afraid to travel with kids, even if they have food allergies and medical issues (as long as they are stable). My youngest is 5, and has allergies to egg and milk, and a rare inflammatory condition that requires him to take a daily injection of medication that must be refrigerated, or on ice.
Yes, at first I thought, "Am I insane to do this?" but decided life needs to be lived, and when we booked our trip, I also bought us all very inexpensive insurance through AAA for cancellation, medical and evacuation, etc. For all 4 of us I spent $117 total, and never needed it. If you bought it within 10 days of booking your flight, pre-existing conditions were covered, so that was also a reason I got it. I also took an extensive collection of medications, since he has a lot of things that can happen, and having a few things on hand makes a big difference.
We had a small fridge (honor bar) in our room in Paris, and asked that we could take the stuff out to use it for our son's medications, and they were nice to let us. I shopped for picnics a lot, and found tons of wonderful soy products at Monoprix, and restaurants all over Europe were very kind about allergies. No need for the epipen occured, or any other reactions, but we were careful, and if in doubt, avoided something. I did have translated note cards in various languages with my son's allergy info on it, but we were able to communicate weel enough with the restaurants to get by most places. We learned necessary phrases.
For the medication when we did not have a fridge (most of the time), but had brought a small, collapsible cooler with us, with his medications, etc from home.
We had no trouble getting ice in France, and French speaking Switzerland, but after that, it was a big challenge! Sometimes we bought ice pops, frozen fruits, etc as a last resort.
However, we were thankful that Mc Donald's is everywhere, and Burger King too, since they ALWAYS have ice, in any country, and would give us tons for FREE when we asked for it for our son's medication. I would insist on paying, or give a tip, but they were never wanting it at all. I have a new respect for these chains now, and a gratitude for their pervasive appearance around the world that I never had before! Fish markets had ice (from the clean ice, not from the fishy stuff).
I will not bore you with too much tips, but must dos are:
Germany: Rothenburg, do the Night watchman tour, and the Christmas store, and the torture museum (for older kids). We stayed at the Gasthof zur Goldenen Rose (in Rick Steves book), and loved it!
Dinkelsbuhl: Go during the Kinderzeche festival in July. It was incredible, and one of our highlights. All in German, and few non-Germans, but 100% authentic! We had a view of the shows and dancing from our room at the Gashof Goldner Hirsch, and it was very inexpensive, with breakfast included.Good playground outside the walls, and Museum of the 3rd Dimension was fun during a downpour of rain.
Playmobil FunPark : Best Kid's Amusement park for only $5.50 Euros a person! (The only one we did in Europe since we could go to Disneyland or Legoland in CA) It is about 1 hour from Rothenburg, outside Nurnburg, and has a water play area, and tons of stuff to do. It is and active play park, not rides, based on all the kids toys, such as a huge Playmobil Castle to climb up; pirate ships to go up masts, steer etc; rafts to punt; Jungle areas, and a gold mine area to dig for treasure in the sand (fake gold and some small stones like amithyst, etc). My kids loved this, and said "It was like I was a real Playmobil guy" The Cafeteria is good, and they can get a little fun meal with a playmobil toy for around 3 Euros. Go to www.playmobilusa.com website for info, directions and click on Funparks Germany. This was also a place where we were a rare English-speaking family, and that was great!
Neushwanstein Castle was fun, and we stayed in Reutte, at Pension Hohenrainer, a R.S. book pick, and it was wonderful.
Salzburg, Austrai: We did the Panorama tour of "The Sound of Music" and had a great time, did the luge, etc, and saw a lot more than we thought. We love the movie, so this was a must-do, but if your kids don't care for the show, they will still have fun!
Lauterbrunnen, Switz: Valley Hostel is awesome! Thanks again Rick! Nice kitchens and fridge space too!
Colmar, France is worth seeing more than the Black Forest nearby, but that is our opinion.
Tour de France: If you are in France in July, please try to find a place to see a stage finish for an incredible experience! Get there early, and go to all the free booths for kids along the route finish area, and also try to catch as many freebie souvenirs that are tossed to the crowds from the caravan that comes through before the race finish. We all got hats, tote bags, tons of kids stuff, and candy, etc.
Warning: This is a crazy showing of the French people leaving all their good manners at home, truly you have to be a real contender to catch and keep the good prizes! Even if you step on it, someone will try to get it out from under your feet, or grab it from your hands! It was still worth it, but I was the one that was the "swag catcher" in the group, while my husband and kids watched me fight off the others, and hold our good view of the race! I am generally not a competitive type of person, but my children's desires for freebies was my motivation to catch and keep hold of them for my kids. (They had tried, but got scared) It brought out my "Inner Lioness" Great way to get lots of cool stuff ! We even got filmed for OLN TV's roadside tour, and family back home taped us on TV! (I was not catching swag at that moment, sparing me the embarassment of that on tape!)
French Alps: Totally could have spent two weeks there! We loved the hiking, my husband and his dad did a lot of cycling (following the routes from the Tour de France) and it is gorgeous! The mineral and animal museum was a good rainy day stop in the area, I cannot remember which town, but there are brochures for everything at any tourist booth. We mostly met up with French people on Holiday, which was great for us to have the kids use some of their French.
We had a short term lease of a Diesel minivan from Renault, and it was great. We wished we could have brought the van home (way out of our budget).. It came with free GPS (a godsend) which spoke in a proper British lady voice, and it was always right, so we named the van Hermoine, (a la Harry Potter stories). The kids were enchanted with this "talking car" that got us everywhere, once we picked it up outside Paris, and our youngest cried when we had to leave "her" and still talks about it. The milage was great, due to the diesel.
I hope this info helps someone out there, or motivates someone to go that was thinking that they shouldn't, or couldn't due to their childs special needs. We also took a stroller for our son to use when he got too tired, due to his syndrome. I love traveling with the kids, it is more fun to see their reaction to things, and people treated them so well.
We did give incentive points towards souvenir money whenever they used polite, native language to people, and got compliments for it. People love it when they see kids saying Merci, or Guten Tag and trying to order food in the language of their country. My kids also loved learning the languages, and had favorite phases. We also bought some French kids CDs in France to play in the car, and that added to the fun and learning.
Travel is one of the best educational things you can do for your children, think of it that way, and make it a priority. We are not rich, but used lots of flight miles, and stayed cheaply at low budget, but clean and nice ETAP, Formule 1 and places in Rick Steves. Many places had complimentary breakfasts, and we picniced a lot. We did not spend more than if we had roamed America, in fact, maybe less, since our stays at hotels like ETAP were cheap, about 27-40 Euro a night, per room.
Good luck, Karen Durrant
San Francisco, CA USA Sun 04/10/2005
Take the Kids to Europe!
J.N., congratulations on your next trip! It will be entirely different than travel as a couple-in a positive way!! Kids open doors; they make you accessible and normal-after all,European people live in families, not tour groups. Most European museums and transport have child rates(often free)for kids up through the teens(as opposed to the US's 12 and under-who knows a 12-year-old that even vaguely resembles an adult?)
A few plane tips:
WI USA Fri 04/08/2005
Baby and Toddlers in Italy
Regarding taking a baby to Italy, diapers are sold in pharmacies (farmacia). I think 7 months old is a great age to go to Italy. Baby is very portable and easily entertained at that age. My dh and I took a trip to Italy pre-kids and I having been planning another trip ever since. We may actually get to take that trip this year. Our kids will be 5 and 2. Any toddler tips anyone has would be appreciated. I have already gained so much from reading the tips listed here. I've actually been reading them off and on for the past 4 years! We recently flew on a shorter trip and both our kids did great. I know overseas will be a bit more challenging though. Italy is wonderful and the Italian people love children. I can't wait to take my bambini there!
OK USA Thu 04/07/2005
ERGO baby carrier
We travel extensively in Europe since we have lived here for 2 years. We take our now-24 month old everywhere. My big tip is to bring a stroller and a baby carrier. We looked forever to find a replacement for our Baby Bjorn once our daughter turned 1 and I finally found it in the ERGO Baby carrier (offered online). It has been a godsend since it folds up neatly and fits in your bag, backpack, or under your stroller. The other baby backpacks have frames and are very bulky which this is not. I haven't found another like it. So many museums don't allow strollers and this backpack can be used from birth - age 3 or 4 depending on the size of your child, and on the FRONT AND BACK! Also my husband loves the pouch that hooks on to the backpack's waist straps that we use to hold valuables, etc. It's a bit tacky looking but hey, we're tourists!
originally Wash. DC now Germany, DC USA Thu 04/07/2005
Before & after with a 3-year old
Consider this a "before" snapshot: I have 7 gray hairs on the left temple, 4 gray hairs on the right.After poring over this and other boards about travelling with a kid, we've designed this itinerary:
a) Meet hubby & 3-year old son in Milan airport. (I will be in Stockholm on business the 10 days prior to our vacation.)
Ithaca, NY USA Mon 04/04/2005
notepad and pencils!
We just returned from 3 weeks in Italy with our 5 and 7 year old boys. We went all over the country. What saved us the most was notepads and pencils. These were great for sketching the Sistine Chapel, drawing the pigeons in St. Marks Square, keeping a journal, and taking a "man in the street" poll about favorite gelato flavors! Also most of the tobacco shops and supermarkets carry "kindereggs"--a small chocolate eggshell with a toy inside. They cost less than 1 euro and really were a great reward for good behavior.
San Diego, CA USA Sat 04/02/2005
Long flight w/ toddler- try this!
Portable DVD players batteries don't last long enough (avg. 3.5 hrs battery) for many flights - but I just found a great thing for toddlers! It is called a "Video Now Jr" color personal video player by Playschool. It only plays a certain type of DVD (sold alongside players)- such as Dora, Sesame Street, etc. - but all proven toddler favorites. This is a great option because the player takes three "AAA" batteries - which you can take extras and replace easily on the plane! There is even an earphone jack - so as not to disturb other travelers. They are on sale now on most websites (or big box discount stores - where I bought mine) for $59.00. I read comments from people who had purchased these online - pretty good reviews overall- and people mentioned using them on planes w/great success. These are really worth looking at - I will still take a portable DVD player, but this will be yet another distraction (w/extra batteries) for a long flight!
UT USA Mon 03/28/2005
Disneyland Paris is a different breed of park than those in California or Florida. Prepare yourself for some differences in procedures and attitudes.
First of all, the lockers inside the park don't work. If you want to store something, the bag storage is next to Guest Relations to the right of the entrance gates BEFORE you enter the park with your tickets. (If you forget, you have to get your hand stamped, leave the park, and then get in line to re-enter.) It is 2.5 Euros per bag, and safe to do. You can return to get something out of your bag with no charge.
Very few employees speak English. We had to use more of our rudimentary French in Disneyland than everywhere else in Paris combined. This will not change, so don't expect it to before your trip there.
Expect line-jumpers at the attractions. And anywhere the line space at an attraction widens, the crowd pushes up to fill it in rather than keeping the line intact through it.
The Fast Pass system to avoid waiting in line for some of the larger attractions works differently from the U.S. parks. Crowds push up to the fast pass dispensers rather than wait in lines. Sometimes the cast members dispense the fast passes rather than make you scan your park ticket to get one. If so, you can get another attraction's fast pass immediately rather than waiting for an hour. The fast passes here are for a half-hour time period rather than an hour in the U.S. parks. And unlike the U.S., this time period was strictly enforced at some rides. The cast members at Indiana Jones would not let us in after that half-hour time period had elapsed. The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad cast members did. Plan your movements out and don't a chance on missing your fast pass time.
The Lion King show tickets were handed out at Videopolis a couple of hours after the park opened. A long line develops quickly. One person can get tickets for your entire party, and you don't need to have your park pass with you. The English version tickets were all dispensed quickly. We saw the French version, which was a lot of fun. Only the spoken parts were in French, anyway - a small portion. The well-known songs are in English no matter which show you see. Also, this is more like the Broadway show than the Lion King show at Orlando's Animal Kingdom.
Phantom Manor is a lot scarier than the Haunted Mansions in the U.S. Small children will be frightened.
The food prices and quality are often complained about, but are pretty much comparable to the U.S. parks. We had no problems with it.
All in all, we found the rides to be slightly better than their U.S. counterparts, and the lines and cast member attitudes to be worse.
Orlando, FL USA Mon 03/28/2005
Legoland, London and 10 yr old
My husband and son (11 years old) went to Legoland at Windsor in June 04 and it was definitely the highlight of our son's trip. He loved it, and never once said that he felt too old. He loved getting his "drivers license" while he was there. He also enjoyed quite a few of the London Walks walking tours. He liked walking near the guides (we were never very far back) and they were always wonderful to the kids in the group.
We all enjoyed the brass rubbings at St Martins in the field church, and now we have the framed rubbings hanging in our home.Have fun on your trip.
Kingston, On Can Thu 03/24/2005
Paris with young children
We just finished a 5-day trip to Paris with our 3.5 year old daughter. I highly recommend that people travelling to paris with their children make a stop at Jardin d'Acclimation (Metro stop: Sablons on the 1 line) and Cite des Enfants. Jardin d'Acclimatin is a wonderful amusement park with rides and games (each ride and game requires a ticket, which costs about 2,5 Euro, less if bought in bulk) as well as a petting zoo and a play area with sand, slides, swings and all manner of stuff to climb on and in. The toilets are kid-sized, which was a big hit with my daughter. The entrance fee is low, but the games and rides really add up. Do not get off at Porte Maillot Metro stop! There is no way for pedestrians to get across the road. The guidebook we used suggested we get off there and ride the miniature train to the park, but if we'd set foot in the road we would have been killed. There are no crosswalks and no traffic lights. Cite des Enfants is housed within a larger science and industry museum complex. Metro stop is on the 7 line, Porte de la Villette. There are separate areas for ages 3-5 and 5-12. Call ahead for reservations as only a set number of children are allowed in for each 90 minute session, or stop by early on and use the automated ticket machines to get your tickets for a future session. We took the train to Paris from our current home in Germany -- a 6 hour journey. A hand puppet kept the Little Miss entertained and upbeat. We also brought 2 books to read to her if she needed to calm down, and plenty of snacks and water. Paris has tons of child-friendly areas. I woud not recommend bringing any kind of stroller if you are going to use the Metro at all. A backpack for toddlers and preschoolers or a frontpack or sling for infants is a better choice. We planned each day to include an activity for our daughter, to offset her boredom during the adult-interest museums. We stayed in Hotel Carofftel near Rue Mouffetard and there was a wonderful market nearby as well as a playground in a churchyard. We went everyday so she could run around with other children.
APO, AE USA Thu 03/24/2005
Legoland is great!
To woman from Powder Springs who was worried that Legoland was too young for her 10 year old: if he is into Legos, he will LOVE Legoland. I took my son to Legoland in Denmark in June (he's 8), and it was fabulous. Sure, the rides are kind of wimpy in general, there are a couple that are extreme, but it is a fascinating place. My son still talks about it, and it was his favorite part of the entire trip.
Atlanta, GA USA Mon 03/21/2005
Wipes for day travel
The next time you start packing for a trip, ask friends with young children to save any diaper wipe samples that come in the mail or free with other baby items. Some diaper wipe companies will also send a sample and coupons if you ask. The big box is okay for your hotel room, but during the day, the samples can be used for many types of clean-ups. Wipes in a sandwich bag are okay, but will dry up quickly if you don't get the zipper closed completely.
Weatherford, TX USA Thu 03/17/2005
Packin' Pull-Ups (babies & toddlers)
As everyone knows, when your child need to "go", there's never a place nearby, or the lines are long. My husband and I have started carrying "pull-ups" for our girls. Once a baby reaches the minimum weight, it doesn't matter if they haven't started training, or if a toddler has finished training. Pull-ups are easy to pack (have your toddler keep her own backpack with 2+ in it for day trips)and thinner. When the urge hits, you can quickly pull down their pants and put one on. My 3 year old know that it doesn't make her a baby and that when she's finished, her regular undies can go back on. With an untrained baby, check the pull-up often because they aren't meant to hold as much as a diaper. Also, be sure to get the kind that tear easily at the sides (for messy clean ups or difficult to remove clothes).
Weatherford, TX USA Thu 03/17/2005
Flying with infants
Travel with kids? Great way to go. When our twins were infants, people would cringe when we cacme on board. No one would talk to us until the plane touched down and then we would hear "how cute they were" during the flight. Our secret? I would pack a dozen foam ear plugs (individual packets) figuring if the kids got fussy I could pass them out to other passengers. Best of all, never had to use them! Luck favors the prepared.
USA Thu 03/10/2005
Peaceful trip with kids
Europe is a great place for families! Millions of Europeans travel there with families each year. (If travelers want to escape children, they should go to an adult resort.) In 2000, we took our then 9 and 7-year olds for a two-month trip all over Europe. Their behavior was exemplary. How'd we do it? 2 ways--
1) We recognized that we'd have to incorporate things they'd enjoy, ie. Legoland and DisneyParis and then take a slower pace than we'd normally do. We managed to see every museum we wanted to as well. (Children misbehave when they're expected exclusively to do adult-oriented things or keep an adult schedule.)
2) Bribery. The kids earned their spending money by getting compliments on their behavior. Every time a waiter, hotel worker, or fellow traveler commented on their good behavior (or cuteness), they'd get about $2.00 local currency. I recall one time I had a conversation (in French) with two retired French women on a train from Toulouse to Carcassonne. The ladies were so impressed that my children could quietly entertain themselves by playing cards or reading. After the conversation, my children asked what we had talked about, then went "Cha-ching."
If children start to misbehave, take a break, take a nap, spend time in a park, etc.--Also, allow children to spend their money on whatever they want. Don't force them to pick "cultural" souvenirs. We made this mistake a few times. Who cares if they buy American toys? If you really want them to buy something to prove they were there, buy it for them.
Salem, OR USA Sat 03/05/2005
Kid's Birthday in London
Our family is going to London in May and while we are there our son will have his 10th birthday. We are looking for something to do to make his birthday special (not just the normal sightseeing). We thought about Legoland but that seems to be more suitable for younger children. I was wondering how the other amusement parks compare to parks like Six Flags. Any ideas on how to have a great 10th bday in London?
Powder Springs, GA USA Fri 03/04/2005
EVERYONE has the right to travel - Be more tolerant please!
In rebuttal to John's comments re:my posting - What I am saying is that EVERYONE has the right to travel- regardless of AGE, INCOME, GENDER, etc. It is not your place to tell someone to stay home- just because of what you think. If you do not like being around the coach-class travelers who may or may not have children (Trust me - I fly coach) is to stay in the sections where adults tend to sit- business or first class.
You do not know how many families flying to Europe are actually flying to see family members, return to military bases, or are flying to funerals and are already having a difficult time. There are many reasons for families to go to Europe and you should not be judgemental or critical regarding their circumstances. Maybe they have saved for years to take the trip of a lifetime - who knows. When I was still flying - I felt very sorry for many families while I was working. Often when families would board a plane with children and they would get the "cold shoulder" from everyone around them - before the flight even took off! I have seen more eyes roll over this issue than you can imagine- many had nothing but looks of disgust from other travelers on the entire flight. Please have more more tolerance for everyone -including traveling families. I am sure that EVERYONE who is traveling will appreciate it - and as a fellow Rick Steves traveler- I am sure that he would too. Be more tolerant.
I am really discouraged that this graffiti wall has turned into a debate on whether people should even take their kids to Europe. I hope that it can actually turn back into a helpful forum once again for families searching for help - let's drop the criticism and get back to helpful advice. Thank you kindly.
Salem, OR USA Wed 03/02/2005
Taking Kids/Infants to Europe
Regarding the prior postings about crying babies, unruly children, etc. There is a big difference in taking an infant or toddler to Europe versus taking a child ages 5 & up. I have been traveling with my kids since they were 1 month old (ususally 4-5 hour flight to see family on the opposite coast). I am a big supporter of "take your kids to Europe" and have posted many times with hopefully helpful hints. Having said that, I can honestly say that travel only truly became easy and fun once my youngest hit the age of 5. We did not do the overnight flights to Europe till he was 9 and his sister was 11. I'm not saying you can't travel with an infant/toddler but I remember well the 4 1/2 hour flight with the 1 year old wriggling in my arms the entire time only to fall asleep the minute we touched down. The only time that was worse was trying to keep the active 2 year old in his car seat (and yes, I played, sang, read, etc.). I can't imagine having taken them on a longer flight. One other aside - for all our Europe trips I gather my skymiles and use them to upgrade the entire family to Delta's Business Elite. The first time we flew the flight attendants seemed maybe a bit surprised to see an average family in the "first class" section but they were also so incredibly nice to my kids. Starting the trip off without having to be squished in the coach section probably did wonders for my kids who were old enough to be very content to sit, sleep, and be quiet.
Atlanta, GA USA Wed 03/02/2005
What narrowminded comments by the person from Salem, OR. According to these comments, if you are not rich enough to fly first class you should stay home? Sounds similar to "Some of my best friends are..." or "If they don't like it they should go back to..." Look, in the most simple terms, parents have a responsibility not only while in the airplane but on the ground for the behavior of their children. Bring games, talk to them about travel and courtesy before leaving home, understand that many others don't think your child is charming. On a plane most want quiet time, a screaming child makes that impossible; in a museum most want to admire the displays, a whining child makes that difficult. All the opponents here are asking for is simple thoughtfulness from the parents: don't bring the child if they cannot be respectful of others and be responsible for their actions.
Salt Lake City, UT USA Tue 03/01/2005
Great Place for Kids
Guten tag! I am 12 years old. Last year, my family went on a trip to Europe, and the main part of the trip was in Germany. My favorite city was St. Goar on the Rhine River. Two things that were good for kids, in my opinion, are:
1) The Rheinfels Castle; it was very fun to explore the ruins and we spent 4 hours there
Kansas City, KS USA Tue 02/22/2005
Traveling with a toddler
My wife and I took our 20-month old little boy to Vienna and Budapest in early September 04 for his 2nd trip to Europe. It does take some additional planning and packing versus traveling without kids, but it definitely worth it. We have fantastic memories and stories.
As with our previous trip to Europe and several stateside trips, I took our Kelty Kids Convertible Backpack Carrier/Stroller to travel with him. You can use it as a stroller then collapse the wheels and handle and use it as a backpack baby carrier.
I used it to carry him on my back for the bulk of the trip, and we saw a lot. It makes it much easier to cross streets quickly and easily, go up and down stairs, get on and off the subways, etc. We can basically go anywhere we want with him on my back. We traveled all over Vienna and Budapest with no problems.
I was really amazed at how nice Europeans are to couples with kids. Europeans have generally always been really nice and polite before we had our little boy, but on the two trips that we have now taken him, they are nicer than ever. We got more smiles than I would have ever expected everywhere we went. The older ladies working in the museums in Budapest were incredibly nice. People on subways, trains, trams, and everywhere would smile at him. He was a real icebreaker.
One thing that I definitely recommend is an occasional stop at a park to let them play. Both Vienna and Budapest have a number of small parks that we could let him play at a couple of times a day between museums. It appears that these parks are where all of the locals who live in apartments take their kids to play. The small park at Karlsplatz in Vienna was particularly nice. A 15 ? 30 minute stop at a park a couple of times a day goes a long ways to keep him happy and plus gave us a chance to interact with other locals with young kids. It was really a lot of fun.
Eating out was a particular challenge as he often got fussy and ready to run around after about 15 minutes at a restaurant. European restaurants aren?t particularly quick which is part of their charm, but that doesn?t work well when your little boy is ready to go and run around and you haven?t even got your drinks yet. Buying food at a kiosk or an imbis though and having a small picnic somewhere does help to overcome this. Also getting your food to go and taking it back to the hotel room also helps. You can also keep an eye out for restaurants that are frequented by other locals with families. The Wienerwald near our hotel in Vienna often had families with other little kids making as much noise as our own so I didn?t feel so bad. Also, I really hate to say this, but American fast-food restaurants such as McDonalds or Burger King are good choices that I wouldn?t normally recommend. They are full of locals with kids as well, and they are quick.
The plane ride there was fine as it was an overnight flight, and he slept most of the way. On the way back was a bit of a challenge, but we made it. It is 9 hours, and it does have to end sooner or later. He slept 5 of the 9 hours so it really just left 4 hours to keep him entertained. Crayons, little toys, and books help.
I can?t say that he enjoyed the museums, churches, and the architecture, but he really enjoyed seeing all of the people and the watching the world go by.
It was a really great adventure, and we would definitely do it all over again.
Edmond, OK USA Mon 02/21/2005
Travel with a 7 month old.
PA--Another tip--I can't remember the name, but there's an over the counter ear drops if I could've afforded it I would paid for a seat and brought her car seat, but if you have others to help hold it wouldn't be so bad. I had a cloth baby sling and she slept the whole way, but she got heavy.
southern Alberta, Canada Sun 02/20/2005
Italy - babies
I haven't taken an infant to Italy, but I've read of many people who have. All have reported that their infant was the center of a great deal of positive attention. Many people travel to Italy with their families, both to meet relatives and to sightsee.
Canada Sat 02/19/2005
Traveling Italy with a baby
Planning on traveling to Italy with a seven month old. Is this a bad idea? Any helpful hints about air travel, buying food, and diapers is appreciated. Will have seven other family members with me to help. Thanks.
PA USA Wed 02/09/2005
the only kids tours in italy and rome
we discovered the kids tour of rome. angeltoursrome.com are the only co in italy that deal with children specially and they speak native english. they were also excellent with the teens. if you go with the kids let the angel guides do all the work, its better for them if you just observe, but the kids tour is good for adults to.bob
rome, dublin USA Sat 01/29/2005
One way to help minimize problems when traveling with young children is to readjust your expectations and priorities. This doesn't mean you must postpone Europe and only go to Disneyland. It does mean taking into consideration your child's limit for adult sightseeing, especially the go-go attitude of having to see all the major sights of your chosen destination. I have posted before that travels with children should include:
Atlanta, GA USA Mon 01/24/2005
Italy Grand Tour
My husband and I took our two boys ages 6 and 4 to Italy in March 2004. Our family has done a great deal of traveling in Central and South America, but this was our first experience with Europe. We spent 16 days in Italy. We flew into Venice for 4 days, took the train to Florence for 6 days, spent 3 days in Rome and then spent 2 days in Capri. Our last day was spent in Naples from which we departed back to the US.
We learned a lot from this trip. The first is that we planned too much. Our boys loved Venice and we could have spent a week there alone. It is such a great city to walk. We felt totally safe. The water taxis were both fun and easy to use, and the food was fantastic. The open air markets were beautiful, and finding glorious pastries and pannini in little tucked away shops made picnicing easy. A great pair of walking shoes is a must for all members of the family. Though all of the Italian mothers seemed to manage just fine in their stelletos walking on the cobblestones, I was thankful for my good ol' Nikes.
We stayed about 25-30 minutes outside of Florence in Montecatini at a B&B called Casa Diletta. This was a beautiful home on an olive grove operated by a delightful woman named Tiziana and her two teenage daughters. Our boys loved running through the olive grove and were sufficiently spoiled by Tiziana and the two girls. We highly reccomend renting a car in Tuscany. We stayed in one place and then took day trips from there. Here are our must do's and don't in Tuscany.
1) Must visit Cinque Tierre. There is a fantastic, but moderately difficult hiking trail that connects the five little villages on the Italian Riveria. We spent the day there, but would probably spend at least two if we returned.
2) Sienna was fantastic and I would return in a heartbeat. We had the best food in Italy here. The beautiful Piazza was perfect for pinicing and enjoying gellatos. Parking in Sienna is extremely difficult and I would reccomend taking a train there if possible. The boys enjoyed a tour of the catacombs here. A little creepy, but very cool!
3) Pisa. Yes it is touristy, but you can't miss it.
Here are some of our regret:
1) Florence. With young children, Florence is very overwhelming and not very much fun. We waited in long lines for museums and other sights, and then the kids were exhausted by the time we actually got in. It is my opinion that kids have to be at least in Jr High to appreciate the experience.
2) Though I loved Casa Diletta, I think next time I will chose a place in between Florence and Sienna and make our trip to Cinque Tierre a separate stay. The wine country is beautiful and our family had a great time just driving through it and hopping out of the car when the mood struck us.
Rome was fantastic but we definately did not plan enough time there. You could spend two weeks in Rome alone. The food was great and the subway system and public transportation is easy and cheap to use. Pick pockets in Rome are pervasive. Keep backpacks on your front and use money belts to keep valuables in. Plan to only do one or two major sites per day. Our boys loved the Colloseum and Bourgese (spelling) gardens. A warning about going to the Cathedral. Every third Sunday is free day and the admission fee is dropped. We happened to be there on this Sunday and there was a three hour wait to get in. Go on a weekday instead.
Thgouh we found some neat experiences and the best pizza in Naples, we probably wouldn't return until the kids are a little older. Pompeii sounded very neat, but we just didn't have the time. The city is bustling like Rome and you have to be very wary of street scammers who will try and sell you something and then when you hand them your money, they simply take off. My suggestion is not to buy anything from a street vendor. There are plently of little stores selling the same stuff. We found a cool tour of the aquifer under the city. At one point we all had to carry candles and squeeze through tight spaces. Our boys loved this. Bring a coat because it gets chilly down there.
I don't think that we would do Capri again with the kids. It is very expensive and very spread out. The island is basically a cliff and the boys got exhausted walking from place to place. It was also too cold during the end of March and the B&B we stayed at did not offer any of the services listed on its website because it was low season. They still charged us full price.
If you love cappucinos and great house wine, you will love Italy. If you get the house wine, in most restaurants, you only pay for the amount of wine you drink. If you only finish half the bottle, that is what you pay for. As far as coffee goes, even McDonalds has fantastic cappucinos and espresso. Tired families BEWARE. You will ALWAYS pay almost double for your food and beverages if you choose to sit down at a table. Take your food to go and find a bench to sit on for lunch. There are lots of places to cop a squat for free. In addition, all restaurants charge a cover charge, called a coperta, for each person, icluding children. This usually is between 1 and 3 Euros per person. This usually does not include the tip for the server. Add all of these extra fees into your dining budget.
All of the places we stayed at advertised breakfast as included in the room rate. In Italy, breakfast is usually coffee or espresso, hot cocoa, pastries, yogurt, and Nutella. It is not eggs and bacon and the typical breakfast we would find at an American Bed and Breakfast.
Everyone we met in Italy was very friendly and nice. I am fluent in Spanish which I thought would help me in Italy. Except for being able to read signage, the pronunciation was so different that I ended up speaking English almost exclusively. Most people, except for those in very rural Tuscany spoke enough English to help us out.
Overall, Italy was a great first experience in Europe. We are now in the planning stage for a trip to Germany this spring. There is nothing like travel to broaden the minds of adults and children alike. We have found all of our experiences life changing. Happy and safe travels to all!
Minneapolis, MN USA Fri 01/07/2005
Ireland - A Great European "Primer" for Kids
Last year, we took our 7-year-old son to Ireland and we all had the time of our lives! Ireland is a great intro to Europe (different currency, historic sites, different language), without the chaos that accompanies some of standard European sites (Paris, Berlin, Prague, etc.)
Not only are the Irish people friendly and famously talkative, but they genuinely love kids. We met so many people who were willing to do "a little extra" for him - from inviting him in to their living rooms to watch "The Simpsons" (ah, international culture) to bandaging a scrape on his leg.
Add to the list the endless rocky fields, ruined castles, mountains, beaches, etc. to explore and clamber around in (at little or no cost, to boot), and you've got a great place to take an active kid.
A couple of thing that we packed to make his trip more memorable: a journal that he could write and draw his impressions in, and a bunch of little Hot Wheels cars that he could trade with other kids he met up with at the B&Bs and elsewhere.
We can hardly wait to show him the Europe we've seen when we do "Grand Tour" in a few years,but we'd really rather wait until he actually appreciates the import of what he's seeing. Until then, Ireland worked for us!