Travel with Kids: 2007
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?
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
An Ipod video is a must when traveling with kids. This past summer we took our 4 yr old and 8 yr old on a 2 week adventure in France and allowed the kids to download all of their favorites shows to the Ipod. We picked up a dual headphone attachment at Radio Shack ($8.99). Could not have been better. On a train, in the hotel and they even prefered it to the movies on the plane. Not to mention that it was a nice addition for my wife and me to use to unwind before bed. Nothing like the Munsters to help put you to sleep.
Knoxville, TN USA Wed 11/14/2007
ideas for travelling with kids
We took a trip this summer to the UK with our two boys aged 7 and 10. These are great ages because they still love to be with parents, but aren't so wiggly all the time. Some ideas we found very helpful were:
(1) Take advantage of the children's packs at museums and historic sites. My kids had a fantastic time in Westminster Abbey finding all the items on the treasure hunt. I was the one who was most interested in seeing the site, so my husband took them around while I listened to the audio tour.
(2) Audio tours for the kids are also worth the money as they are not only interesting, but they let the kids feel independent in their sightseeing. They also allow you a few moments to learn and enjoy the sites too. Well worth the money.
(3) Homemade "I Spy" at the museums and sites is also a fun way to get the kids to enjoy themselves and learn when they start to get bored. Have the younger one's count how many babies they can find in all the paintings in the room, or dogs, or crowns, etc. We do that alot and it is quite of fun.
(4) If you stay a while in one place, local libraries often offer temporary passes to visitors. Even if the kids don't love reading, libraries offer a nice, kid friendly environment to be a local, and see what foreign books are like.
(5) Let the kids choose the things where you are most flexible. My son's almost always chose our lunch spots, stores we went into, etc. These were the things we cared least about, but the children were happy to make some of the decisions.
(6) Give them spending money ahead of time, in cash, and don't bail them out if they spend it all in one go!
(7) In addition to the above, we also told them ahead of time we would buy them a certain number books and a favorite type of toy. That gave them ease of mind for their own money spending.
NJ USA Wed 11/07/2007
Kids in Italy
Took a month long trip to Italy this past summer with 10 year, 5 year and 2 year old boys. We had an AMAZING time. Best advice, just go, the kids are so happy to be with you 24/7, don't worry about the food, we found everything, including skippy peanut butter. Rick's advice on avoiding lines, especially at the Coloseum and St. Marks was invaluable. We managed with our regular old stroller, don't buy anything new. Picnic a lot, we saw parts of towns (Assisi, San Gimignano, Cortona etc.)that most people don't slow down to enjoy. We would go on market days, and buy food from the vendors and find a park. Museum art searches, buy the guide or research beforehand, we would find art the boys needed to locate and would give them change! They loved it and now recognize and can tell me about various pieces. Most Italians we met loved the kids and went out of their way to accomadate them. I would stress less about the trip next time and just go! My kids loved Piazza Navona, Venice, San Gimignano and the little hill town we stayed in as home base, Bucine, at Villa Catola.
San Diego, CA USA Fri 10/12/2007
Hotels that will allow 5 in one room!
One of the hardest things for our family of 5 on a budget to arrange this past August in Italy was hotels that would put all of us in one room. Here are 3 places that did allow us to do so. Venice: Hotel Fontana - a very friendly place 2 minutes from Piazza San Marco Florence: Hotel Casci, on via Cavour (noted in Rick's book) Volterra: Villa Rioddi.
Toronto, Ont Canada Sat 09/15/2007
Remember What Your Kids Like
We live in the countryside outside a small town, and while we're at home, our favorite thing to do is to hike in nature. After visiting several cities in a row, when we were slogging along in a tourist crowd in York (seeing incredible architecture, etc) my youngest asked with a sad voice, "Is the whole trip going to be with so many people like this?" While traveling in Britain, the Big City/tourist crowds overwhelmed all of us, and the very best times our kids enjoyed were when we explored an unknown walking path or walked the walls of York.
Also, remember that some museums and sights might be an awful lot like home and might be unnecessary to visit. At home, we had just been to Greenfield Village & Henry Ford Museum, which has a lot of locomotives, etc. So the Railway Museum in York seemed like much the same thing to them. So don't be afraid to remove some "must see" attractions from your list!
Grove City, PA USA Wed 09/12/2007
Paris Museum Pass
Although most museums are free for kids, it was sometimes necessary to get our son a free ticket at the sales window (at the Notre Dame Crypt we all had to do so, even with a pass). At l'Arc de Triomphe, the employee manning the ticket sales exit got it for us, so we avoided the line.
FREMONT, ca USA Mon 09/10/2007
european / transatlantic travel
My son (now 12) and I just came back from his 7th trip to the US (first one was when he was 9 mos.) and we've done travelling within Europe as well. My biggest advice: involve your kid(s) in the planning! Rome was *his* idea.
Yep, he uses a Gameboy (with headphones) on the flights, in the car,etc. but we also have books on tapes for the rental cars, his CDs (we alternate). We pick sights we each want and negotiate. His picks have been everything from Catacombs to a Bird Sanctuary to Chuck E Cheese.
Allow rest and recharge time and remember that an afternoon at a hotel pool also counts as vacation time!
Using a souvenir budget for kids also works well, as long as you don't a) bail them out or b) say I told you so if the cheap stuff breaks. I do buy postcards and stamps for him to write to friends / family.
Try to have a good breakfast (not just sugary cereals and not too much fat) even if that means a cheese / milk supplement to the hotel breakfast and use (super)markets to add fruits / veggies / drinks. Carry a small sturdy plastic cup (I use a bathroom cup) and a small bottle (fits better under faucets where the tap water is safe).
I could give you so many tips about packing and strollers and whatever. I did it as a single mom and you can, too!
Rostock, Germany Tue 08/28/2007
Jon - email
Jon... just wondering if I could email you re your post and getting some extra advice on travelling with baby etc... can u email me on
Auckland, New Zealand Mon 08/27/2007
Our 2 Cents After Traveling With 12-Month Old
My wife, 12-month old son and I just returned from a 2 week trip to Ireland. Our tips for those contemplating traveling to Europe with a child of that age are as follows:
(1) Rent a house, villa, flat, etc as a home base. For 1 of our 2 weeks, we rented a house in County Kerry and used it as a home base. It was so much easier having a place where Connor could run around (or get up in the middle of the night) without disturbing anyone. Having a familiar place for Connor to come back to every night helped him adjust. I could go on, but for many, many reasons, if we had to do our trip again, we would rent a house for both weeks, becuase it just made everything so much easier.
(2) The hardest part of the trip was not the transatlantic flight but getting Connor to adjust to the time change once we were there. First couple of nights, he'd wake up at 11 p.m. or so and want to play for 3 hours. Not much you can do about that, but just be aware that it's going to take awhile for your child to adjust, and that in turn is going to make it harder for you to adjust as your child wakes you up first couple of nights there.
(3) Because of point No. 2, I would not recommend taking a baby or toddler over to Europe for anything less than 2 weeks. Since it's going to take a while for them to adjust, it just doens't make sense to go over there for a short amount of time.
(4) Don't stay in a small hotel or B&B. Last 2 nights we stayed in a small B&B, and that was a big mistake. If your child wakes up in the middle of the night, you're going to wake everybody else up. Your tension level is also much higher in small B&B b/c you're constantly worrying about disrupting other travelers. While I'm normally not a big fan of staying in large American-style hotels while in Europe, with a baby over there that is what I would do.
Lastly, we had a great time with travelling with our child, and I would highly recommend it. It's a fantanstic way to get to meet locals. I can't count how many conversations we struck up with Irish mums as our 2 children were playing with one another. As everyone else on this board points out, just go into the trip knowing that your pace is going to be much different that when it was just you and your spouse traveling. If every day you can see one thing that you really wanted to see, then you're doing well.
Nashville, TN USA Sun 08/12/2007
stress free travel with kids
I have 3 boys and have trave led around the world with them many times. They started traveling as young as 4 months old. The key thing to do is to simplify and try to travel light. Most countries will have things that you may need if you forget to pack something. Most important thing to carry is medical info and medication for the emergency cold, fever, allergy. American children meds are most effective, easy to dispense and much cheaper than buying in Europe. Children's paperback books, coloring books and crayons are great to keep them busy on the plane & in the hotels/apartments. Don't go crazy in packing toys, have your children choose 3 toys each and have them carry them in their personal back packs. This makes them feel all grown up:) I recommend renting apts while travelling, it's cheaper and your kids can relax and hang out, and you can cook instead of going to restaurants...kids only lasts about 40 min. and especially in Italy, restaurants charge a cover charge even for kids. For any more advice, feel free to contact me.
Assisi, italy Thu 08/09/2007
Nice playground, Prague
Just returned from a trip to Germany/Czech Republic with our 4 and 1 year old and 2 year old cousin... now I fear nothing. Just wanted to mention a great playground just across the park from the main train station in Prague, safely fenced, has a security guard who doesn't allow people without kids in, and clean bathroom. Took the kids there while the two dads stood in line for reservations- very pleasant. Oh and the Maclaren Volo stroller is the best for travel.
USA Mon 08/06/2007
Travelling with Children
Travelled to Rome with our almost one year old daughter in May 2007. We loved it. She is a great little traveller and I hope this is the start of her journeys. We might have not been as fast getting around Rome but we did very well. We enjoyed just going for walks with her in the stroller. She even got us some fast ways to the Sistine Chapel while at the Vatican. A lot of people would stop and chat with us when they saw her. It was a lot of fun a little more work but well worth it. One of my favorite memories will be of us in the Square at the Pantheon one evening where she was dancing and signing to all the music and taking in all the nightlife. We also got great seats on the plane! I found a lot of help by using this site.
Yarmouth, NS USA Sat 08/04/2007
Give them some say
Been traveling to Europe with my son since he was 15 mo. He is now 17. We just returned from a trip that included my niece 8 and nephew 13, so that was quite the range of age. We took city tours on the bus so they saw the city and then gave them choices of what was important to them. Sometimes we split up and sometimes everyone got to experience those choices. They were all great travelers since we made the whole experience (trains, boats, busses, subways, etc.) an adventure.
Portland, OR USA Tue 07/31/2007
Flying with babies
Last Christmas we flew to England with our son who was a newborn at the time. (we were visiting family in the west country) Flying direct makes some of the travel a great deal easier. We flew with British Airways and I found everyone to be incredibly helpful. We had to call to reserve a bassinette and that was fairly easy to do. (and gives you bulkhead seating. Always a plus when flying coach) The flight attendants were attentive and assisted us with anything we needed. I think there was also the appeal of a new baby so everyone was keen to meet my son. If you nurse it makes take-off/landing a total breeze. (if you have some concerns about being bothered, I found everyone to be very supportive) My son slept through much of the flight. The best advice is to maybe skip a nap (if you can) the day of the flight and then they are more likely to sleep. British Airways also provides bottle-warming if that is a need. They also give out toys/activities.
seattle, WA USA Mon 07/30/2007
Where to go with 2yr old...
Thinking of travelling to Europe with our baby who will be 2 yrs old. Our journey is from NZ...24 hour journey YIKES! If we go we would base ourselves in 1 place for a week and do a couple of weeks. We have been trying to decide between:
1. Tuscany 2. Santorini/Ios 3. Eze, France 4. Switzerland
Of course would be great to see Paris and some time would have to spent in London.
Any ideas or advice? Which places would you pick over others? Any places you stayed that were great?
Auckland, USA Sat 07/21/2007
Following Rick's advice with a 10 month old
We're currently visiting France and Germany with our 10-month-old son. We managed to get over here with just what we carried on our backs. Now we're exploring the Brittany coast before heading over to Munich on a night train. Does anyone have any tips on nice places to visit in Paris with a baby?
Santa Cruz, CA USA Fri 07/20/2007
Dont take toddlers on Metro in Paris
If you are travelling with your toddler or with elderly people in Paris, do not use the metro. I was in Paris last spring and took the metro several times during rush hour, people squeezed onto the train, like sardines. It was extremely uncomfortable as I was not use strangers being in such close proximity. Couple of times, once I got off the train, I then realized that I was 4-5 stories underground. A tiny elevator would be in site but a long line of tourists had already accumulated around it. I ended up hiking up the steep stairs. I suggest that if you just want to hit the major attractions to take the water buses on the Sienne which stops at all the major attractions.
Boston, MA USA Thu 07/19/2007
Two activities for elementary schoolers
In Luzern, there's a great public recreation area just down the block from the Swiss Transportation Museum - LIDO. (If you take the boat to the museum, the boat docks right next to LIDO park). This has a large playground for kids, swimming pool (with fountains in the pool) and lakefront beach. Great place to spend on a hot day or if you want a break from hiking around or if your children want a playground. Also good for a family where not everyone wants to go the the Swiss museum; some can go to the park. Entry is 6CF for adults and 3CF for kids (6 & under free). Towel rental available as are lockers, changing areas and snack bar. Location is beautiful and park is well maintained.
In Germany, our son (age 7) loved Legoland. It is near the town of Ulm, with easy bus service to the park. Go early in the morning and sign up for "driving school". Kids learn the rules of the road, take their driving test and get a picture driver's license. They can then drive small toy cars on an enclosed track (landscaped to look like a real highway).
Merion,, PA USA Tue 07/10/2007
Kids on the Rhein
We just finished a weekend going up and down the Rhein with our 6 year old. Much of what we did came from the advice of the RS travel book. However, a few comments for those with kids...
if you need to travel upstream on the Rhein (south) think about taking the train (DB). A 30 minute train ride is a 3+ hour boat ride and the train is 1/5 the price. This can be a good situation if your kids won't have the stamina for a long boat ride.
We stayed two nights in St. Goar but on the second day we took the train to Rudesheim. And as Rick Steves says, it is touristy. But if you take the gondola up to the Neiderwald Denkmal monument the views are great and you can have a great kids day. Take the hike to the chair lift at Assmannshausen. There are castle views, a small castle to explore, an "enchanted cave" and a wildpark (animal park) to experience (1 Euro for a large amount of neatly packaged animal feed - very German!) It is also mostly Germans so it fits the backdoor aproach (in rudeshiem it is mostly tourists). If you are smarter then us, save time for a visit to one of the very cool restaurants / beirgartens in Assmannshausen. We then took the KD Boat downstream back to St. Goar. So we still got to watch Castles go by but at a pace more enjoyable then the slow plug upstream on a Rhein boat.
Lastly, there is a great Spielplatz (playground) at the base of Rheinfelds Castle in St. Goar and we give serious thumbs up to the Zoo in Koln. And on Mondays the Koln Zoo is discounted.
Kalamazoo, MI USA Tue 06/26/2007
Sterilizing Baby Bottles
Does anyone have any experience with how to sterilize baby bottles while travelling? I'm contemplating going to Paris this August with our son who will then be 4.5 mths old. How cumbersome is it?
Toronto, Canada Mon 06/18/2007
We just got back from a week in Turkey with our 6-month-old. Before arriving at the hotel we arranged for an electric kettle to be placed in our room. I washed the bottles with dish soap I'd brought and then boiled them in the kettle filled with bottled water. (I normally don't sterilize bottles at home, just run them through the dishwasher.)
USA Mon 06/18/2007
Child car seats in Germany
We have just returned from 2 weeks of driving around Germany and Italy with our kids (ages 4, 7 & 10), and the only car seat we used was for our 4 year old. We just brought the one she uses at home. If the 2 other kids were required to be in carseats, that's news to us!! No one at Hertz mentioned anything like that, and we didn't notice any older children riding in car seats.
By the way, we had a wonderful adventure, and if I can make any recommendations for Southern Germany or Lake Garda with kids, just ask!
Dallas, TX USA Fri 06/15/2007
Child car seats in Germany
We're taking our kids (7, 10 and 11) to Germany for three weeks in a rental car. My research indicates that we need car seats for all of them! Anybody have any experience with this?
Minneapolis, MN USA Wed 06/13/2007
a few things that helped us
I just got back from a trip to England and France with my 2-1/2-year-old daughter. My husband could not go with us. It was a great time, other than missing Daddy.
Stroller experience: We took our Jeep Liberty Urban Terrain stroller. Yes, it's big, and yes, it's heavy. It is also fantastic on rough cobblestones, and the space beneath holds lots of shopping bags, jackets, backpacks, etc. I was able to manage with it (and my daughter) in the Paris Metro and parks/famous sites by myself. Very, very often a passerby would offer assistance in carrying the stroller up or down stairs, but even all by myself, I could fold the stroller, tote it with one arm and have my daughter climb the stairs next to me. I am a short, physically unfit woman (weak and fat, unfortunately!), so if I can manage alone with this stroller, anyone can. It's not easy, but it is doable.
Church/museum experience: I have my daughter look for Baby Jesus in churches, and she knows to be quiet because the baby is sleeping. It gives me time to glance around beautiful churches. The only church I have found that does not have a Baby Jesus (or at least an Infant of Prague) is the lovely church at Les Invalides in Paris. She often points to churches and asks to "go see Baby Jesus," so it is a fun activity for her, too. As for museums, I only ventured into a few, and as soon as she got restive, I found us a place to sit outside with a drink or snack and then let her run around a bit after she had finished it. I did not have the leisurely museum experiences that childless tourists might have, but I did have the joy of seeing my daughter drink in shining suits of armor and beautiful paintings for a few minutes at least. She loved finding "puppy dogs" on some of the effigies in Westminster Abbey.
Playgrounds: The Princess Diana Memorial Playground in London was great fun for both of us. My daughter loved playing there. We also loved the Tuileries playground in Paris, though the carousel was her favorite. We went often enough that the man who sold tickets got to know my daughter by name and gave her several free rides and a piece of candy. There is also a small playground by the Musee de Cluny that looked just right for her age, but she was sleeping when we walked by it.
Changing diapers: My daughter's potty training is spotty, so we went with plain ol' diapers for the trip to avoid accidents. It worked great (though I hope we can get back to the potty now). The disabled-access restroom just inside the public toilets at the Jardin des Tuileries was one of the best we found in Paris. .40 Euros got us in, and it had a big shelf for changing, and it was clean. The attendant was very nice. Department stores had great changing facilities, we found, and if all else failed, I changed diapers on a public park bench, moving as fast as I could. No one batted an eye. I took diapers and wipes with us, figuring that every diaper we used gave us more space and less weight in our luggage for the flight home.
Flights: The flight over was a dream, as my daughter watched a couple of dvds on our portable player, put on her jammies, and slept for hours. Coming home was a bit trickier, as our seat did not have the power source our travel agent had promised us. With dvds not an option, I dug out my bag of toys and surprises, and the mini-slinky was by far her favorite. Stickers were also a hit, though I did have to peel them off of our seatback when we landed. Raisins and granola snacks, refills on milk and juice and water, color wonder markers and paper, books, small stuffed toys that I gave "voices" to, etc. all kept her well-behaved for that long flight home.
Calling home: I used a good pre-paid calling card to call my husband and my parents frequently. It was nice for me to hear their voices, but it was also nice for my daughter to get to hear their voices. She loved hearing Daddy, Grandma, and Grandpa, and she babbled happily to them over the phone. The last time we called my husband before we left Europe, she cuddled the receiver and said, "big hug!"
I'm sure there's more, but that's the gist of it our experience. People told me I was crazy to take my daughter to Europe by myself, but I didn't think the trip would be too hard. It was not. I got to see Europe at a different pace, from her eye level, and that was delightful. I also got to see how much people in other countries love children, as they gave my daughter candy and small gifts and smiled at her and were very kind to us both.
Dallas, TX USA Mon 06/11/2007
Travel with a 4-year old
We came back with many lessons; too many for one note so you may see more from me. We have traveled to Europe several times and the last time was when our daughter was an infant. Now she's 4. We began in Paris, rented a car and spent three weeks in France and Italy.
- Playgrounds are everywhere. Find and use them! In Paris, they're tucked all over the place. In Venice, there's a big one hidden just off Lista DiSpagna by the train station. The coolest pictures we have are of our daughter making new friends regardless of the language barrier; 4-year old girls all scream.
- Our daughter is a fussy eater (although she tried - and liked - calamari on her own). France had childrens menus and we ordered a lot of hot dogs, I regret to say. In Italy, we ordered "spaghetti al burro" or "spaghetti bianco" - pasta without red sauce. Some places would also let us order a "mezzo piatto" - a half plate that was more than enough for the kid.
- I'm proud, but not boastful, that we only went to one McDonalds. That was to get Chicken McNuggets while we drove across southern France. The best thing - straws!. We grabbed a handful for the glove compartment so that wherever we stopped she could have an orange juice or milk without spilling. (The word for straw in French is something like "pie". I can still not remember what is in Italian. My hand gestures are not something I would like to see on film...)
Teach your kid to "camp out". Please don't call the child welfare authorities on me. But, particularly in Italy, per-person charges make triple rooms hard to find. Several times, hotels squeezed us in by giving us some extra blankets to make a bed on the (clean) floor or by wheeling a crib in. Our daughter was horrified to see the crib, but we took the mattress and pillows out to make a "bed" on the floor and called it "camping out". She was thrilled and we got the room for the price of a double.
- Good bribes: Everywhere are these giant gumball machines with Hello Kitty or Pooh figurines inside plastic balls. They cost a Euro. We started promising a ball if our daughter would try one new food. Middling success. The other? Gelato is everywhere. Keep the scoops small. We found carousels everywhere. Most have paintings of local scenes on the panels above. You can tell your kid, "That's what we're going to see!" France has a great scam going. Most tourist sights have a machine somewhere that sell souvenier gold medals for E2. We now have a small collection that will be a great reminder of our trip.
There was no way that we could visit the great cities - Paris, Florence, Venice - and tour all of the great chrches and museums. We didn't try. For one thing, we chose two countries we've been to before so if we missed the Uffizi, well.. The tradeoff is that we spent that time hanging with other families. And I have film and memories of our daughter chasing pigeons in Piazza San Marco as the evening church bells ring.
Portland, OR USA Sun 06/10/2007
Germany with a 'tween and teen
We travelled to Germany July 2006 with our kids ages 10 and 17. Here are the highlights: Rothenburg-- the entire town is wonderful. Walk the wall and take the night watchman's tour. Munich-- we toured the BMW plant, which the kids enjoyed (you must arrange for this in advance. This can be done through the BMW website). From Munich, we took Mikes Bike Tours to Neuschwanstein. This tour is great with kids. It wasn't too heavy on the history, had optional hiking, swimming, and biking and even a luge ride after the castle. From there, we went to St. Goar. Rent some bikes, and take the ferry to Bacharach-- then bike back to St. Goar (it's mostly downhill this way!) Even our teenager loved this. Also, highly recommend Boppard by ferry. The chairlift is fun, and there are beautiful views from the restaurant at the top. Then we drove on to Burg Eltz, which is well worth seeing. Trier was wonderful history, but not much English was available. In general, we stayed in all of Rick's recommended accomodations (mostly small B&B's). Take the trains at least once. Use the U-Bahn in Munich. Eat at places off the beaten path (much better and cheaper!). The little things to remember to bring: travel alarm clock (many of the small places didn't have clocks); small travel soaps; washcloths. Feel free to e-mail me-- this is a wonderful trip, and I could write on and on...
Palm Coast, FL USA Sat 05/26/2007
Strollers-umbrella or jogger
For strollers do you recommend sticking with a smaller "umbrella" type stroller? I was wondering how that would do on the cobblestones in the older sections of town. We have a jogging stroller that I use at home almost exclusively since my other stroller got killed on our last flight. It folds pretty small and handles stairs pretty well.
IN USA Wed 05/23/2007
pacifiers, strollers and such
When we evacuated from New Orleans after Katrina, we decided that Europe would be a lot more fun than sitting in my mother's house watching CNN. We went to Germany to stay with my brother south of Frankfurt, while taking satellite trips with a 2 1/2 year old and a 4 1/2 year old in tow. What an experience! Some general thoughts. If your child likes a particular type of pacifier, stock up before you go. My daughter had a difficult time without the one she was used to. Sippy cups are good too. Also, because we had it with us when we evacuated, we took the giant double stroller that we were using most often. We generally liked to travel with it in the states because we can pile bags under and on top, etc. Not a great idea for Europe. In Paris, especially, the metro was the biggest problem. Very few escalators or elevators. That meant carrying the stroller (and sometimes a sleeping child as well) up lots of stairs. But I DO recommend a small stroller, because it is nice to stroll around while the child sleeps. Walking so much is hard on the little ones! Having said all of this, I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. Our kids love to travel, and we are planning a 3 week trip to Italy this summer now that they are 4 and 7. They are well prepared. Have fun everyone!
New Orleans, LA USA Wed 05/16/2007
RE: flying with toddlers
plan to ask this same question on Monday of our pediatrician; it's been over a year since our last overnight flight. For the daytime flights, little toys (surprises) are great. But wrap them, if only in the Sunday comics, to lengthen their distractive powers. :)
St. Louis, MO USA Tue 05/15/2007
tips for travel with 3-year-old
My mom and I just spent a week in Germany with my 3-year-old son.
I brought lots of distractions for the plane, but fortunately didn't need many of them! He did sleep a lot -- and our Delta flights (a 767) had TV screens on the backs of the seats where you could choose your own movies in coach!!! AWESOME!!! We also brought a portable DVD player -- soooo valuable!! ;) The other activities actually worked great for train rides in Germany & for restaurants: stickers, coloring book, mini magnadoodle, mini play dohs, slinky, inflatable beach ball (for outdoors, of course), etc.
I brought along a travel bed for him. It's called a Peapod Plus. And it's a pop-up tent with an air mattress. It comes with a little sleeping bag and a hand pump to inflate the mattress (which takes a little bit of work -- but I did it multiple times by myself & survived). You can shut all the flaps on the tent & it blocks out the light. So we were able to stay up much later than my son without disrupting him by having the lights on. I was worried about him getting out in the night, since there wasn't a latch on the room door & he could have gone out into the hallway by himself while we were sound asleep. So I brought along a diaper pin to secure the zipper shut, just in case. It was fairly lightweight & came in its own bag, so I checked it on our flight like a suitcase. Then I could just hang it over the stroller handles to go through the subway, etc. It was a lifesaver for me!! Another thing I could NOT have lived without (particularly since he was often extra hyper from exhaustion & restaurants take longer in Europe) was the First Years On-The-Go Booster Seat. It folds up very small & is lightweight. If he's strapped in, he does fine! :)
I also brought disposable sippy cups. We were always just given a regular glass in restaurants, which would not have worked for us. There were usually some kids choices on the menus though, which were great.
NC USA Fri 05/11/2007
3-year-old in Munich
My 3-year-old son's favorite activity in Munich was the Deutsches Museum!!! He LOVED the big boats & planes -- and the "Kinderreich" - Kids' Kingdom with a sea of blocks!!! :) He also enjoyed the glockenspiel & seeing the Neuschwanstein castle, although he did not like the tour! ;) We took relatively short train rides and usually ate breakfast on the train -- which helped pass the time & keep him from getting too hyper. He also LOVED wienerschnitzel!
NC USA Fri 05/11/2007
Toddler distraction of flights
For those of you who have already made a long flight, I'd love to hear some tips for keeping a toddler entertained. Our son will be about 2 1/2 by the time we get our trip to Italy in and I plan to fly at night if at all possible. However, you know how best made plans go.
He's a great traveler, having already been from Miami to Indiana at 3 weeks, on flights to Jamaica at 11 months and we just finished a 14 day 9 state road trip last weekend. Yesterday he threw a fit because he wanted to get in the car and "GO!" LOL My kind of kid!
Anyway, any plane suggestions or great places to stay would be appreciated. I'm looking at several days near Rome or Tuscany and then some time in Cinque Terre although I've heard that CT isn't great for small children. Thanks!
IN USA Wed 05/09/2007
Daytrip to Venice with Kids?
We are taking our 3 kids ages 4, 7 & 10 to the Lake Garda region of Italy in a few weeks. Would it be insane to try to do a sidetrip to Venice one day? We realize we'd never get to see it all, but we also don't know when the next time we'd be that close to Venice again. Wouldn't that be better than a day at Gardaland? Any advice? Thanks.
Dallas, TX USA Wed 05/02/2007
re: how young is too young?
The earlier you start traveling with your children, the better able they are to handle foreign travel. We brought our then-one-year-old son to Wales and Scotland, where he was the key to smiles, great service, oohs and aahs, and many offers of help, etc. He loved every minute and we look over the pictures about once a month, even though he doesn't remember the actual trip. We continue to travel extensively with him, and are off to Spain next month. I'd love to tell you that he's a genius or super-special, but the truth is, he's just used to travel. At almost 4, he's had input on what we'll do and see (thanks, Rick Steves videos!) and our plans simply take things more slowly than we did pre-Ian; house rental instead of hotels, one region in 2 weeks instead of 3 countries in 2 weeks. So basically, my advice is GO FOR IT! :)
St. Louis, MO USA Mon 04/30/2007
Travel tips with kids
We just returned from a European trip with our two children, ages 6 and 8. We brought an Mp3 player loaded with podcast stories (free on iTunes) and music, and it was a lifesaver for our youngest on long train rides. We also packed a lightweight, sturdy bag, which was used constantly to ferry groceries, snacks on trains, and laundry. Packing light really made our trip more pleasant!
Kennebunk, ME USA Sat 04/28/2007
Italian for kids: Colors (video)
My daughter Silvia, 6, has started a new mini-video series about Italian language lessons for kids. This episode is about naming the colors in Italian. Enjoy!
Bellevue, WA USA Thu 04/26/2007
Creativity and travel with kids
I think a lot of traveling with your kids is knowing your kids and planning your trip with that in mind. We were recently in Rome with our 9 year old daughter and 7 year old son. She's adaptable and curious, he's the model of inertia and would rather stay home - but that's not an option. So you allow them to bring something from home that they can retreat to when needed (e.g. Gameboy or DVDs) and plan a low density trip (tell yourself that you'll make sure to come back again, so you don't need to see everything). Also, engage them at their level all the time. I decided we would do one art museum in Rome - Galleria Borghese. It's small and we'd only be able to stay 2 hours. I thought beforehand we might last one, but we stayed almost the full two. We're not art historians at all, but my husband had the kids look at the art works and find things and think about symbolism and many other vehicles to keep them interested. It helped us too! We all tried to count the exotic animals in one room. It's great when your 1st grader remembers the story of David and Goliath when viewing a Bernini sculpture - at some level, he gets it. Just remember too, that every culture has kid friendly food - e.g. gelato and pizza. Splurge while you can.
Nottingham, UK Tue 04/10/2007
How young is too young?
I don't think any age is "too young" - but it is about managing expectations. The flight from the the US' or Canada's East Coast is very doable with a small toddler, and Paris is a great, child-friendly destination. We've been twice - once at 4 months old and another at 5 years. The biggest difference is that at 4 months, she could ride in the sling and had absolutely no opinions other than she looooved mom and dad. At five, they're involved in planning and day-to-day decision making, which is fine also.
I will say that we got her used to the proper etiquette and fun things about visiting museums at an early age, and she still loves visiting museums wherever we go.
If you like, you can take a look at my blog post on what we did with our five year old in Paris to get some ideas on what to do with a toddler. I would personally recommend Parc de la Villette and running her ragged in the Luxembourg gardens playground. http://happyjetbaby.blogspot.com/search/label/Paris%20with%20Kids
USA Fri 04/06/2007
Italy safety tips for kids (video)
I've asked my daughter Silvia (6) to share on camera some tips and simple Italian phrases that kids may learn ahead of their trip to Italy. They may come handy especially if you worry about losing your kids in crowded tourist places.
Bellevue, WA USA Fri 03/30/2007
Replying to How Young is Too Young?
Elaine, it depends on so many things, but the fact that you're seasoned travelers and already familiar with Paris would certainly make it easier to bring a young child. We haven't taken our almost-4-year-old daughter overseas yet, but she's been on many domestic trips (including three cross-country flights) and done very well. The thing is, it's really easy to travel with a kid who's not yet walking -- the challenge comes during the toddler years, when they're mobile but not yet quite clued in enough to avoid running out into traffic, etc. Also, from my personal experience: a baby sleeps on planes; a toddler may or may not; a pre-schooler is old enough to watch videos and not get too dreadfully restless unless you're talking about a super-long flight.
A pre-schooler is also old enough to remember where she's been, which I guess is more in line with your question. My daughter doesn't remember any trips from before she turned two and a half, and she only has a very vague memory of that one. By the time she was three and a half, she was remembering our trips well. That's not to say that a younger child doesn't benefit from seeing new places and people, even if she doesn't have a specific memory of doing so. New environments are always stimulating.
My recommendation would be to go ahead and take the kid with you -- even an infant, provided you have all the logistics (stroller, crib, whatever) planned for in advance -- but seriously revise your expectations of what traveling will be like, especially once the kid is walking. The toddler years are highly exploratory and you will spend much of your "vacation" time making sure that he or she hasn't got away from you, isn't touching or trying to eat something disgusting from the sidewalk, etc.
We intend to take our daughter to London next year and we just understand in advance that we will be doing fewer and different sorts of things at a slower pace than we might otherwise do, and that's okay. And it's also a good idea for each parent to get a "free" half-day by him- or herself, while the other parent takes the kid to a park or someplace fun. Or consider traveling with another family with a small child. Some friends of ours took their 18-month-old to England and Scotland, with another child of the same age, and so the kids had playmates and were entertained.
Richmond, VA USA Wed 03/28/2007
Summer travel in Spain/Portugal with 9 year old son
My husband and I are planning to take my 9 year old to Spain and Portugal this summer and would love to hear about any hotels, restaurants or sites that other parents have used successfully. Also, what is the best way to travel around the country and where is the best place to rent a car? We both speak Spanish but this is our first trip with our son overseas.... we were planning a combination of both car for short distances and train to get to major cities quickly.....we only have about 2-1/2 weeks in total.
editor's note: All questions must be posted to Travelers Helpline
Chicago, IL USA Wed 03/28/2007
4 or 5 in a room
We take our kids to Europe almost every year (starting when they were 2)and have found that chains are the worst sort of hotel to accomodate a family together. We have had much better luck with traditional hotels by emailing and asking for a "family room," 2 connected rooms, or a family apartment. These are almost never mentioned on the websites-you just have to email and ask. List all 3 in your request and see what happens. I would say 50% of the time, I get an affirmative reply. We have ended up in all sorts of fun and creative arrangements, including apartment-type "rooms" with more beds than we could use! The prices are usually reasonable, too--less than 2 rooms. In Spain specifically, ask for a duplex rooom. That means "double double," often a large bedroom with a loft for the kids. We stayed in them all over Spain and it was perfect.
Don't ask for a suite. In Europe, that usually means just a really big double room without any extra beds.
Sammamish, USA Wed 03/28/2007
How young is too young?
Just want to know what everyone's thoughts are on how soon you'd travel after having a child -- in other words, how young is too young to not make the trip worth it.
My husband and I are avid travellers expecting our first child any time now. We're thinking Paris will be our next trip as a family when they're 2 yrs old as its very familiar for us and its one of the shorter flights from where we live in Canada.
If anyone has any suggestions, would love to hear from you.
Toronto, Canada Tue 03/27/2007
The best time in my opinion would be April - June or September-October
USA Mon 03/26/2007
Also, if you can squeeze the 4 and 5 year olds in a bed together or with an adult, you can more easily find places willing to let you take just one room. If you email them and ask them (tell them the ages of the kids), they will work with you most of the time.
BE Mon 03/26/2007
Time travel to GB with tots
Thanks for your suggestions. What is Flat Stanley?
DFW, TX USA Mon 03/26/2007
Hotel rooms for family of 5
Go to www.bookings.net or www.booking.com and you can search for European hotels by city. If you select the option to search for FAMILY rooms, hotel suites / apartments will be listed. We are a family of 4 and there ARE places out there but you must search them out. Five people gets a bit more difficult but good luck!
Overijse, BE BE Mon 03/26/2007
Hotels for families of 5??
Family of 5 going to Paris, Rome, Barcelona, and London in 2008. Are there any hotels (chains even) that will take families of 5 without splitting into 2 rooms. Our kids are only 4,5, and 8.
editors note: All questions must be posted to Travelers Helpline
Tuscaloosa, AL USA Sat 03/24/2007
We've just returned from a wonderful week-long Paris trip with our 9 and 11 year olds. We found Rick's audiotours (available at iTunes for free) were great - great tours, but also great at keeping us together. We took two iPods and used splitters so that we could have two listeners per iPod. We put one adult and one child per iPod - ensuring that we wouldn't lose our children in the Louvre or in Historic Paris!
The tours are basically the same as the printed tours in Rick's book, but they may be slightly more updated. It did help to have the printed version along to refer to walking directions.
We also took Rick's book to Kinko's and had it spiral bound (about $5). Then we could lay the book flat - a great improvement.
Sugar Land, TX USA Mon 03/19/2007
Munich for families
I am an American living in Munich and wanted to pass along details for a little known biergarten that might be of interest, Milch-Häusl. It happens to be a favorite of ours: http://www.milchhaeusl.de/ It is actually a playground that adjoins a small biergarten kiosk in the English Garden. The food is all "Bio" (organic) and it is well worth checking out. They offer a wider menu than you might expect from a small place and also offer *free* WiFi. You can take your cup of coffee to the spielplatz (playground) along with your laptop and check your email while the kids play.
I would also recommend the Hirshau biergarten which is a beautiful bike ride and a lovely walk from central Munich but it will require about a half hour to get there on foot. If you rent bikes it is a great place to pass a few hours while the kids run off steam on the fantastic playground. http://www.hirschau-muenchen.de/
Finally, my best rainy day tip for parents visiting Munich with young kids is to visit the Hofbraukeller http://www.hofbraeukeller.de/(not the same as the infamous Hofbrauhaus but the same brand of beer). It is located near the Max-Webber-Platz U-Bahn stop (U4/U5) and offers free childcare in the playroom and a no smoking section for parents. In the winter months everything on the menu is 5 Euros! It is a traditional beer hall with Bavarian food and quite a bit of history, but a bit quieter than the Hofbrauhaus and more fun for the younger set. Although I will also add that my children love the Hofbrauhaus for the rowdy atmosphere and the oompah band. The attendants supervising the children at Hofbraukeller appreciate a small tip when you leave. Also note that the playroom is not open in the summer months when the outdoor biergarten is in full swing. The Hofbraukeller does offer a children's menu that would satisfy most American tastes for reasonable prices. Happy travels!
Munich, Germany Tue 03/13/2007
This might be a little late - I am responding to the question about CAR CHARGERS ....
DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT / THEM!
We have the similiar problem - we live in Europe but travel to the States every year - so we use car chargers not only for the children's gameboys, but the portable DVD, camera, and cell phone ... the investment has been well worth it - we've never damaged any of our equipment, and find the handful of extra cables easier to deal with then the plug in coverters. I have the car chargers in my car when not travelling so I also get use out of them back home.
My tip - wrap-mark each cable with a piece of colored electrical tape and store in a large ziploc or soft lunchbox - along with any other 'extras' like smartcards & gameboy games. I love the soft lunchboxes - usually store and transport the phone, camera & gameboys - also use the 'pocket' to store extra DVD films.
Most European cars have 2 chargers - mine has 3 my husband's car has 4.
Enjoy your trip.
Erpel , GERMANY/USA Sat 03/10/2007
I'm looking for a working farm in so. Ireland to stay in, late Aug., traveling with my 12 yr. old daughter who'd lie sheep, cows, etc.
USA Fri 03/09/2007
Movies for Kids to watch - Europe
We are going to Italy at the end of the month and we just rented the Theif Lord last night. It's a kids movie set in Italy with lots of scenery (and not too painful for adults to watch) Oh, and the new James Bond movie has great Italy scenery also, but a bit violent.
Kirkland, WA USA Sat 03/03/2007
My son will be bringing his gameboy to Italy. We will be renting a car, and I was wondering if I will be able to charge his gameboy with the car charger, or if european cars are different than ours. I don't want to break his gameboy. He would be devastated. Thanks for any advise.
USA Mon 02/26/2007
For Nancy on time to travel to the UK
Nancy, We have pulled our son our of school (now almost age 7) each October to visit family in the UK. We love going at this time of year and have surprisingly had the best weather at that time of year (vs. trips we've even made in the summer). It's off season rates for renting a cottage and there aren't any crowds. We make arrangements with the teachers to take work with us and he usually keeps a travel journal. It's such an educational experience, no one has ever questioned our taking him our of school. Our youngest will be in school this fall, too, so we'll be pulling two out this time, but it's worth it! Suggest a fun, educational project to the teachers and I'm sure you won't have a problem! Does your school do Flat Stanley? Always a fun project for the kids.
Eagle, CO USA Sat 02/24/2007
Time Travel to UK
When is the best time to take a 6 and 4 year old to southern England and southern Wales? I hesitate to go during the school year, but airfares are ridiculous. My 5 year old would like to meet her new penpals and I want them to get the most out of their travels together. I am doing the research a year in advance. Thanks!
P.S. I'll keep a "traveling with tots" journal to share our experiences and advice once we return.
DFW, TX USA Fri 02/23/2007
highchair, stroller, packpack for baby issue
Highchair/stroller issue while in Italy. We used 'the First Years' portable high chair. It folds up to about 12x10 inches! We loved it. As for the stroller, well we went with Chicco brand as well as the baby/laptop backpack(REI) We traveled from Como to Almafi and didn't miss a beat! Italians seem to just love kids so 'no worries'!
Sacramento, ca USA Tue 02/20/2007
Family B&Bs in the UK
Our family (two parents/three teens) stayed comfortably at Six Mary's Place (Edinburgh), Castle Guest House (Dover), Ensley House (Stratford-Upon-Avon) and Lawn Guest House (Gatwick). All were clean, safe, friendly and well priced for their area. Each had an ensuite room that slept 5, Full English breakfast and restaurants within walking distance.
Huntsville, AL USA Mon 02/19/2007
Family Rooms in Munich
A good bet for trying to find a family room in Munich (or anywhere else in Germany) is www.hotel.de. This site (in English or German) allows you to search specifically for family rooms, unlike most hotel search sites.
Berlin, Germany Sun 02/18/2007
Quads in Paris
We also had trouble finding a place to stay in Paris with our 2 kids (5 and 3). A decent hotel that had quads in Paria was Hotel Innova on Boulevard Pasteur. Their sister hotel also has quads, but it's further out from the center of the city.
Berlin, Germany Sun 02/18/2007
Movies for kids to watch prior to trip to Europe
My daughter is taking her three children to Europe for two months this summer. The older kids are 11 and 8 and I was wondering if anyone had some great ideas as to what movies they could watch that would pique their interest in Europe. I've thought of The Sound of Music and they have watched the Diary of Ann Frank. I'm just at a loss for others at this time.
Ft, Lauderdale, FL USA Fri 02/16/2007
Teens traveling in Great Briatin
We traveled to England, Scotland and Ireland with three teens last summer. Each person in the family got to pick out one thing that they really wanted to see or do on the trip. The teens could travel in London on their own some because the transit is so nice. Even when we were with them I let them lead and figure out the maps, buses and trains. The family rooms at the HI hostels were great in the countryside. They all really loved searching for Harry Potter movie sites. Their favorite was Alnwick Castle.
Austin, TX USA Sun 02/11/2007
I second the other Kelly's idea, and not just because I like her name. But I must add that there are many sites with home rentals in any area in Europe. Try putting the name of your region and "house rental" or "villas" and you'll come up with sites galore, even in spots that don't have much on VRBO.com. Always ask for a reference before sending a deposit, though!
St. Louis, MO USA Mon 02/05/2007
Accommodations with Children
We are planning to travel to Paris, Venice & Rome in the fall with our 3 daughters ages 8, 5, and 1 1/2 years. For our trip we are planning to use VRBO.com for our accommodations, it stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner. We have used them before with good success. I've found a place to stay outside of Paris (20 min. train ride) for $500 for 7 nights, one outside of Venice (50 min. train ride) for $350 for 7 nights, and one inside of Rome for $450 for 7 nights. They all have kitchens, baths, internet, laundry, etc...So I thought this may be helpful to other people wondering where/how to stay with children. You may have to search to find low prices, but there are inexpensive ones to be found! Good luck & happy travels to everyone!
Lebanon, MO USA Sun 02/04/2007
Quad rooms in Paris
While it's not the "Rick Steves" way, our best luck in Paris for nice big rooms with room for four people has been with Holiday Inn. The La Villette location is especially good with this, though it is a ways out and you'll spend 30 minutes by metro/RER getting into the center. The fact that kids stay free, even in Europe, can actually make this option cost-effective. I hope you find something more unique, however! :)
St. Louis, MO USA Sun 02/04/2007
Re: homeschool kids long-stay
Carrie, I don't know if you'll be taking the kids through Britain on your trip, but my favorite (free!) place for kids to learn is the Museum of Welsh Life outside Cardiff, Wales. Good for you for taking the kids to "live" in Europe for a while. Do check out Take the Kids to Europe, which greatly advocates trips like yours, and has great advice for families going to Europe for an extended period of time.
St. Louis, MO USA Sun 02/04/2007
Thanks to all re:tween travel
Thanks to Everyone who offered the suggestions on taking a tween to Europe. He is very excited and I am setting the ground rules on the video game usage (ie he can play it at the hotel only and it stays there when we are out and about.)I have given him a copy of Europe thru the backdoor and although he admitted to skipping the "old people parts", he has the packing list memorized! Thanks again! Tina
las vegas, NV USA Sat 02/03/2007
taking a stroller to Europe
Taking a stroller is a must! The light umbrella strollers can easily navigate cobbletones - just make sure you spend a little extra on a solidly built one that can take the bumps. I've traveled with my kids repeatedly when they were little - one trip was 2 months long and they were 2.5 years and another 8 months. I used a backpack for the baby and an umbrella stroller for the toddler, but used the stroller for the baby when the toddler wanted to walk. It was a total lifesaver. I used it again when they were sliglhtly older, and I used it on the first trip when the first child was 4 months old! I have used the website familytravelforum.com for tips over the years - lots of product reviews that are helpful, along with destination info.
Seattle, WA USA Fri 02/02/2007
Hotels with children
We are bringing our 4 year old and 8 year old with us to Paris this year, and we are looking for suggestions for a nice, but reasonably priced place to stay. I haven't had much luck finding anything larger than a triple room. Ideally, we'd like to be in the rue Cler area. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Knoxville, TN USA Thu 02/01/2007
places Teens will love
We are taking our home school teens to Europe for 3 months. any suggestions such as manufacturing tours, living history, plays, favorite locations. We have a car.
harbor springs, mi USA Thu 02/01/2007
Stroller for 4-year-old?
Planning a 2-week trip to Andalucia in May; we'll be renting a house, but taking day-trips to cities and sites (Seville, Granada, Gib., etc.)
Does anyone have experience with a (just turned) 4 year-old on this type of trip? Is bringing our umbrella stroller a total waste, as my husband says, or will it save us enough to bring it along? He claims he'll carry our son on his shoulders when he gets tired, but won't that be a lot of the time? We are training our son to walk more (we walk for exercise and he must walk for part of every session!)
Thank you so much for your help!
St. Louis, MO USA Mon 01/29/2007
Tweens and More
You must read Take your Kids to Europe. I've found it such an excellent reference that I plan to purchase it. All the info has been dead on. Best wishes, I don't have a Tween yet, but I do understand the video gaming! I guess the thing to remember is that you're going to be together a lot. And without private spaces. So, let them retreat into the gaming world for a bit of privacy. Set ground rules--use it on flights, train, and never in museums, at the table when eating, or anywhere that it would be disrespectful to the people who call these countries home.
USA Thu 01/25/2007
More help for Tween
Tina - thought I'd also add some of the things my kids have enjoyed in the places you mention:
London - the London Eye (big ferris wheel), Tower of London, seeing a show, hop-on/off double decker bus for traveling, climbing to the top of St. Pauls, Dali Museum (not sure if this is a permanent place or if was a special exhibit but my son LOVED seeing the weird Dali stuff), Madame Tussaud's wax museum (my husband thought it would be a big waste of time but we all ended up enjoying it). My son did not find the British Museum as interesting as the adults did.
Paris - catacombs (HIGHLIGHT of Paris for my son), the eiffel tower, Versailles, Musee D'Orsay over the Louvre any time.
Italy - my son's favorite place - we plan to return this year, he will be 17. Not sure where you will be in Italy, but he liked: Venice - just everything about Venice, wanted to take the "secret passage tour" of Doges palace but wasn't able to do so, loved the pigeons in St. Mark's square; Rome - climbing to the top of St. Peters (as you can tell, we always find something to climb), The Colosseum, food and wine. Florence - loved seeing The David, tolerated Ufizzi - liked the Tuscan countryside more than Florence itself. Is looking forward this trip to seeing Pompeii.
Also, since your nephew likes visuals (i.e. video games) what about prepping him with some great movies - Gladiator (even though it is rated R), a national geographic special titled In the Shadow of Vesuvius, too many movies set in England/London to mention (including of course Harry Potter).
One last thing, if you are set on bringing the playstation - be tolerant when actually traveling (in car, train) if he is gaming instead of looking at the scenery - used to drive my husband crazy that my son spent so much time reading in the car instead of "looking around". Build in time each day to go back to the hotel to refresh - nap or play games. The games otherwise are, of course, left in the hotel for the sightseeing portion of your day. Make sure he understands this ahead of time so if he is afraid that the game will be stolen from the hotel room then maybe he should not bring it with him at all...
Atlanta, GA USA Wed 01/24/2007
Travel with 'Tween
Well, first, I guess it is safe to assume that he WANTS to go? In that case, I would definately get some travel books or brochures, or find some sites on the net and go over them with him. Try to find some things that appeal to him.
Then, you need to do some negotiating: show him some places that YOU want to see, but also let him choose some sights/activities. Make a pact that each will be tolerant of the other's wishes. If he knows ahead of time that he will get to do some things he wants to do, then he should be tolerant of the things that you want to see, even if they are not particularly interesting to him.
If he chooses to play his video game while you are "doing your thing," don't fret about it. It's easy to think that he is missing something important, but forcing things on kids rarely works.
Hope this helps.
Richmond, Virgin USA Wed 01/24/2007
Help for Tween Boy in Europe
Tina - sorry, but I do think the first step in getting your nephew to look at Europe is to take away the playstation option. The way you approach this is that the entire trip is "something out of the ordinary" - in other words you will be doing thing you don't normally do - like play on your independent videogame console.
So the Europe trip becomes a whole series of doing things you don't do at home - eating different foods including many treats/sweets throughout the day, speaking a different language, trying the wine (yes, I suggest a sip for even a 12 year old), watching "local" television-we had great family experiences watching British TV. You too should look for things you might not usually do on your "adult" travels - outdoor activities including bike rides, swimming, easy hikes - would be high on my list for a 12 year old boy. Also- don't know if you would feel safe doing this with your newphew, but when my kids were that age I allowed them to "wander" a bit by themselves - something we did not do at home. For instance we would send them to the gelato shop that was a block from our hotel, or allow them to look at shops in the square while we sat with an espresso. They enjoyed more independence in the pedestrian friendly streets than they had at home.
And finally - for the trip over, your newphew should sleep as much as possible - we use OTC drugs (benadryl or dramamine). I also let my 11 year old son bring as many books as he would carry himself in his backpack. He took 14 for a 3 week trip and went through them all, and no, this is not what he normally does at home!
Atlanta, GA USA Wed 01/24/2007
travel with 'tween in Europe
I will be traveling alone with my 12 year old nephew in April to London, Paris, and Italy. He is addicted to video games and I am worried that he will have no interest in the sites I usually see (I can spend days at the Louvre) any suggestions on getting an almost teen to look at Europe and not his playstation (and no leaving it at home is not an option with a 15 hour trip over from Vegas). Thanks
Las Vegas, NV USA Tue 01/23/2007
As a frequent user of cheap airlines I have been forced to reconsider Ryanair as a mode of transport.
Recently they bought in an extra charge for passengers who wish to pre-board. If you don't pay you don't get on first - and that includes families with small children.
The last trip we made, I was informed of this new ruling at check in, and told that small children and their parents would not be given priority. With two small children aged 6 and 5 who we were not happy to have sitting with strangers, we were very worried.
Sure enough when we had negotiated the scrum there were no seats left together. The hostess informed me that she hates this new policy and attempted to get passengers to move to accommodate another family and ourselves who were left with the last of the seats which were single and far apart.
A family with older teenage kids generously split up to free up three seats together. As the other family had a 3 year-old we had no option but to let them take them. The rest of the adult passengers could not seem to bear to move to help us. One told the hostess she had paid to preboard and be able to sit with her partner and would not be moving. When I tried to (politely) reason with them, and begged them to move to help us we were sworn at.
In the end we had no choice to travel in separate areas of the plane, or take a later flight.
We for one will never travel with Ryanair again - I will pay to get the seats together we need. Their treatment of families is dismeaning and in my opinion should be challenged. I am in the process of trying to find out if it is legal.
In the meantime be warned. Don't use Ryanair if you are travelling with small children.
London, UK Sat 01/20/2007
Good stroller for Italy
I have heard a lot of comments about not taking an umbrella stroller to Europe because of the cobblestone streets, etc. Can anyone recommend a specific brand and model of stroller they used and had success with? Thanks!
Paso Robles, CA USA Wed 01/17/2007
Re: Traveling with 2 year old in Spain
We took our 6 month old to Spain last year. Take a heavy duty stroller with strong wheels! We had a Peg Perego Pliko that was fantastic in Spain. You'll need something strong with all the cobblestone streets - we saw so many people with broken strollers in Sevilla. It was also great to carry all of the packages that we bought. It also had a full coverage rain hood which was essential! Not sure if you're still dealing with diapers - probably not by the time you go, but if you are there are very few changing facilities in Spain. The Corte Ingles department stores were the only places that really had them in the bathrooms, and only on the children's clothing floor. Sometimes we had to improvise in changing rooms at smaller clothing stores! It was good to stay in a central location in the cities so that we could pop back to the hotel if we needed to for anything. Any baby items that you might need are readily available in the grocery department of Corte Ingles or upstairs in their children's department. We didn't need a high chair because we used the stroller as a seat for the baby and mostly ate outdoors at cafes. One of the things we liked best about Spain was that children were welcome in all of the tapas bars, so we didn't feel like we had to miss out on any of the experiences that we loved. We were able to bring the stroller in to several larger bars and just leave our baby in it while we ate. It was very common to see babies and children out after 11pm at the bars eating with their parents. We found it best to wake up and go out immediately for breakfast at a cafe, do a little shopping or sightseeing, and then come back to the room and shower while the baby was napping. We were able to make the most of our time this way. If she naps in the stroller or doesn't nap anymore, then of course you are home free!
We had a car which was great with a baby for exploring the smaller towns of Andalucia. We brought our own car seat.
There are great parks in Sevilla (Parque de Maria Luisa) and Madrid (El Retiro) for your child to run around in when she needs a break. Not sure where you are looking to visit...
We had been to Spain several times before and this was one of the most enjoyable trips as everyone was doting on our baby - Spainards love children and we probably had more conversations with strangers than ever before as a result of having a baby with us!
One thing we weren't expecting - we had quite a bit of luggage (3 suitcases and 2 backpacks!) and a stroller. Taxis in Spain are much smaller than in the US... Every time we switched hotels it was a major ordeal to fit everything in the taxis. The last 2 taxi trips (including the one to the airport) we had to split into 2 taxis to fit all of our stuff. So - pack light if you can, unless you are planning on staying in one city. We did find a place in Sevilla (Tintoreria Roma) that would do laundry for you the same day, which was a godsend. We decided next time we would bring less and drop off laundry more!
chicago, il USA Wed 01/17/2007
Find Warmer Place for Toddler
ERika - we didn't go to Europe, but did take our 1 1/2 year old to Telluride, Colorado for a week. The only good thing about the trip was that my parents came so they could take care of my daughter. She hated getting bundled up in a snow suit - it was difficult for her to walk by herself. Carrying her in a baby backpack was good for only the shortest trips. If you want want a place for your son to "run around" I'd certainly look for a warm weather alternative. Even Provence is not really a warm place - averages for March are 43-59.
Atlanta, ga USA Wed 01/17/2007
Europe in March with a 1 1/2 year old.
We are planning a trip to Europe this March with our one and a half year old son. Does anyone have advice on a place to visit in March? We are debating on braving the Berner Oberlander in Switzerland so we can relax in a Chalet for a week, but are concerned it may be too cold and snowy for us to enjoy ourselves with a toddler. We have also considered France (Provence or the Med.) We would like to set up camp in a place for about a week where could relax while still having plenty to explore with the toddler in a baby backpack. We need to allow for some places for the little guy to run around a bit, too. Any suggestions???
El Dorado Hills, ca USA Tue 01/16/2007
Centrally Located Family Hotel in Munich
We will be taking our 3 children (ages 4, 7 and 10) to Germany, Austria and Lake Garda next May. I'm having a terrible time finding a hotel with family rooms in Munich. In a perfect world it would located near the Marienplatz or Englischer Garten. I don't even mind busting the budget in the city because I've done so well finding reasonably priced holiday farms to stay at during the Alpine and Italian portions of our trip. I just would prefer we all stay together as opposed to getting 2 rooms. Any suggestions? That one extra kid makes it more difficult EVERY time!!
Dallas, Texas USA Tue 01/16/2007
Little Americans in Europe
I can't speak for Prague (yet), but in London Legoland is a must. And don't rule out ALL museums. Our 5 and 7 year old sons kept asking to go back to the Natural History Museum in London over and over again. We had fun chasing swans at Kensington Park and looking for the black swans in St. James Park.
Our favorite park in Paris was Jardin du Luxembourg. We were a little surprised to find that the playground was "pay to play" (I think a few Euro per child), but it was really cool, with much more fun equipment than any playground they'd been to at home. Have fun!
Dallas, TX USA Tue 01/16/2007
Little Americans in Europe
This is the 1st time my children are joining us in Europe. My son is 6 and he is the concern. Please help me find places to play in Prague, Paris and London for the required "downtime." I'm considering skipping most art museums in favor of parks.
Jacksonville, FL USA Mon 01/15/2007
baby food grinder
When our daughter was an infant we bought a manual baby food grinder. You can then make all of your own baby food while travelling. We would grind up some of our veggies, pasta etc and we never had to purchase alot of baby food. We found the grinder at Babies R Us, I think Target carries them as well for around 10 dollars. We would just wipe it out at the restaurant and then wash it when we got back to the hotel.
Minneapolis, USA Thu 01/11/2007
Baby Food in Italy
Dana: We were able to purchase some baby food, infant formula, diapers, and wipes at the pharmacias throughout Italy. The Pharmacia at central station in Milan and Florence had what we needed. There are also stores called gigantica? that are kind of like target but they are not in any tourist area. you may be able to find one on a subway line away from the city areas. We found one in a small town near the Milan airport. Also, word of caution and this is actually a question to other readers. There are no highchairs to be found in restaurants thorughout Italy. We did not have a stroller (we used a baby carrier) so meal times was the most challenging for us. Our nine month old daughter did love the bread that comes with every meal. We also fed her foccacia, fruit, and cheese that is easly purchased at markets or at train stations. We are going to Germany and France in May and are now investigating very portable high chairs/booster seats to take along. I am wondering of there is a blow up type seat we can tuck away in our luggage. Eating out was the most challenging due to lack of good seating for our daughter. I recommend thinking about how to accomplish this before going on a trip.
Glen Mills, PA USA Thu 01/11/2007
Diaper Bag for Europe Trip
In 1999 I purchased a Kipling backpack to use in Europe as a diaperbag for our first son who was 6 months old. It has proven to be a GREAT bag! It is not designed as a diaperbag - but this is what I use when we travel. Forget the expensive designer bags in Europe- you need something that looks good and is durable. Black is the perfect color to hide spills, dirt, etc. The fabric of these backpacks is very durable. The pockets on either side can hold bottles, H20, etc. and keep them upright. I cannot tell you how great this bag is! It washes up really well- I once even washed it out in a sink in Rome and air-dried it out...it was ready the next day! The zippers are also really tough. I think a backpack is much better than a shoulder bag for a Euro trip with kids- you will need your hands free. If you need to (on crowded transport, etc) you can just wear it on your front for a short time to keep safe from pickpockets.)Now this same black Kipling backpack is going back to Europe (for the 8th time) for a trip to France in March. We now have 4 children and have used this bag all over the world as our diaperbag. I have quite a collection of nice/designer diaperbags I use at home- but our "Kipling" is the best for traveling! ps- I use Rick Steves' black rolling suitcase too- It's GREAT!
Utah USA Wed 01/10/2007
Good safe diaper bag/ travel pack
Hi! I am travelling to Italy in Sept with my 2 young children and I am looking for suggestions on a bag I can use for a diaper bag and day pack that is safe (as far as pickpockets go) and stylish. Any recommendations? Thanks!
Paso Robles, CA USA Wed 01/10/2007
Lucky you! We took the kids to London a couple of years ago when they were 9 and 6 (girls). We could have spent another month just in London, there is so much to do. London has everything kids hear about -- kings, queens, crown jewels, castles, and mummies! The Tower of London to Buckingham Palace is only a couple of miles and there are tons of amazing places to go in between. We didn't even get to Windsor Castle which is right next door to Legoland. Good luck deciding,and happy travels!
USA Sat 01/06/2007
Eastern Europe at Christmas with a preschooler.
We just returned from 16 days in Eastern Europe with a 3.5 year-old. We are exhausted! This was our first trip since becoming parents, and we will do things differently next time. We are considering trying to go without the child, actually. We want our daughter to see the world and to be exposed to many cultures, yet we realized that we were unable to focus on each other, and it could have been a very romantic trip. We chose not to take a stroller. We had so much luggage already, including a car seat, so we took a kid-carrier that straps onto your back instead. It was cold and we did a lot of walking, so our daughter refused to walk most of the time. We took turns carrying our preschooler for miles and miles, sometimes racing through train stations loaded up with too much luggage. I think the stroller would have been much more comfortable and we probably could have used it to tote some luggage at times. I would recommend a good, light umbrella stroller because kids get tired out. We moved around too much. In future, we will take shorter trips with her, maybe 10 days, and focus on one or 2 places. She learned the word "boring" and used it quite often. It was hard to do things that we could all enjoy. The one highlight was the Playmobil Fun Park in Nurenberg. We all enjoyed that. It was indoors, there were unlimited toys and kid activities, and refreshments. Perfect. But, imagine trying to convince a 3-year-old that the Czech Museum of Communism is actually very interesting to her parents, so please, please be patient. Also, she suffered terrible jet-lag, waking up at 4am for the first week. Our portable dvd player with converter saved us during these long nights. It is hard to find kid-friendly food in Europe (depending on your kid, of course) so she ate a lot of french fries and pizza, and very few veggies. She also ate far too much sugar, which affected her behavior in ways that caused more stress for all of us. We were traveling with a sleep-deprived, bored, sugar-high preschooler with no access to the usual diversions or tools of discipline and no breaks. Maybe it is better to wait until she is 5 or 6 before we travel again? Still, the memories of meeting Santa in Krakow, riding in a horsedrawn carriage, and watching her attempt to speak in other languages are precious, and we would have been wrecks if we had left her behind for 2 weeks.
Elma, WA USA Mon 01/01/2007