Travel with Kids: 2010
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.
Cost cutting tips for families, kids, & others: apartments
When traveling with children, consider renting an apartment rather than staying in a hotel. 3+ people in 1 hotel room is enough to fray anyone's nerves, an apt gives you and your family a bit more space and a million eating options that you would not have ina hotel room.
You will have an exra room for a child to nap,...or for you to nap (!), kids will have more floor space to spread out and play, unlike a hotel room. We've found having that extra floor space (and a kitchen table) can be a lifesaver so that we all are not stepping on legos, pacifiers, and each other!
Apartments almost always come with kitchen facilities of some kind, so you can provide kids (and yourselves) with breakfast/lunch/snacks whenever THEY are ready to eat...not always on a predictable schedule. Having fruit, milk, yogurt, cheese & crackers, some eggs, bread & butter, toast, pasta, etc, can save a lot of money on restaurant meals that are not always eaten by children, and can avoid hotel room meltdown due to hunger.
Many apts can be found on reputable websites mentioned on the Rick Steves helpline and on TripAdvisor forums. I've used vrbo.com (vacation rental by owner.com), www.iha.com, www.interhome.com.
San Diego, Califo USA Sat 01/01/2011
Keeping young children amused
Having travelled with young children, one of my best tips for keeping them ( and older one's too) amused at airports or at other times whilst on your travels is to take a packet of balloons with you. They are light, small to pack and provide many hours of fun per packet. Other kids want to join in the games and everyone appreciates the kids having that extra bit of excercise and fun before being couped up for a long flight etc. Once the game is finished, you will soon work out how to deflate the balloons discreetly, dispose in the bins provided and off you all go. A small bottle of bubbles is also a good standby, especially for the toddler - preschooler age groups.
Brisbane, Qld Australia Tue 08/24/2010
18 month old to Ireland and France
We took our 18 month old daughter to Ireland for a week and then over to France for two weeks. She had a blast! The flight over was a bit tough because she awakened in the middle of the night and I think her ears were hurting her. The flight crew and passengers were beyond thoughtful, helpful and supportive. We found this attitude to carry throughout our trip. The Irish loved the idea of traveling as a family and everyone was very accomodating. The cabs take you around without a carseat which was scary so next time we may bring our own carseat. In Dublin, there were dozens of parks to explore and run around. St. Stephen's green was always a great back up to stretch legs and its just so beautiful. Most of the pubs in Dublin wouldn't allow us to bring in the baby (and buggy/stroller) after 6 but we caught lots of street musicians on the streets and plenty of places that would accomodate a toddler including high chairs! We drove to the west coast (Dingle and Doolin). The drive was VERY scary but worth it when we arrived. They LOVED on our daughter as if she was their own. Everyone welcomed our family and went out of their way to serve our sweet daughter. The locals would invite us to come sit with them and offered her treats and lots of praise!!!
The second leg of our trip was to Paris. Although it was tought to do the museums with her since most places make you leave your stroller/buggy at the door I'm glad we at least tried. All the cafe's/bistro's made room for our stroller and usually brought her a little treat out when we got there. The tuileries and luxembourg gardens offered a variety of child friendly activities with amazing views.
We then traveled to the southwest of France where we feel is our home away from home. We stayed at a gite in Carlucet (Les Charms de Carlucet) which had a pool, acres of room to run around and the BEST host family you could ask for (the Edgars). The Dordogne region is very family friendly and although not everyone speaks great English we have never had a problem communicating!!!
Next time we go things I will remember... Cherrios cannot be found there. The streets are not very stroller friendly. We need a rain cover for the stroller.
Things that helped. I brought our daughters bed linens from home to help with sleeping in strange places. A pastry or cookie goes a long way with a toddler. Markets and parks are great entertainment and they're free! Have a sling or something comprable in case you cannot take your stroller in places!
Plano, Tx USA Tue 07/06/2010
We just returned from Paris with 2 pre-teens. They both loved Parc Asterix. You can catch a bus from Charles De Gaulle to the park. They even offer a combo park/bus ticket. Our kids said they'd rather go to Parc Asterix than to Disneyland Paris.
DFW, TX USA Thu 07/01/2010
Travel with kids
My husband and I recently travelled to Italy with our 7month daughter. She did very well on the flight and everywhere we took her. We took enough diapers/formula/baby food to last us 3.5days-after that we bought the supplies in Rome. We checked at 3 Pharmacies (that is where u get the formulas, not at supermarkets)- and could not find Enfamil - so bough Neolatte formula. We used fresh fruit like banana and avacadoes for her meals, although jar baby food was ready available at supermarkets. We used a very light umbrella stroller ( got one from Target for 20 bucks) and were glad we did that- as we had to fold it up and carry it a lot...the cobblestone roads in Rome were not great for strollers and in Venice the roads were better but we had to wiher carry the baby with the stroller over the many bridges or fold the stroller and carry it. One thing that I would recommend in Venice is to buy the Waterbus pass- and use the waterbus to get to places u could otherwise walk, if you were travelling without a child. Overall our trip was a success, my daughter did very well in both places and the travel by bus, train, waterbus and plane...and best of all we got to interact sooo much with the locals and the other tourists because of our daughter...
Atlanta, ga USA Thu 06/17/2010
Paris with our 10 and 14 year old boys was fantastic. One highlight not to be missed is the "behind the scenes" tour at the Eiffel Tower. I found it on the tower website in the Professional Services section, but no one replied to my email. Hotel staff helped book English tour. 2 hours included the secret military bunker under Champs du Mar, the elevator machinery under the tower leg, and catwalks under the first deck with an excellent guide. And you get to skip the line!! E21.50, including admission to 1st level. We thought it was well worth it.
Sammamish, WA USA Fri 06/04/2010
Europe with kids
We have 4 children and have lived in Europe for a total of 5 years now. We love to travel and have discovered that Europe has tons of apartments for rent. We have easily found three bedroom apartments/homes for around 80-130 euro per night. One of my favorite sites is homelidays.com. When contacting the owners make sure you ask for the final cost with all fees added, since cleaning, heating, and other fees are often added. The down side to using apartments is that they often want you to stay at least 3 days. Many prefer a week. The best part is there is much more space, a kitchen and often a washing machine. Another site we just discovered is toprural.com it lists apartments and rooms in more rural areas. The one we stayed at was on a working farm with chickens, sheep, miniature horse and much more. Our kids loved it. Give each child a little backpack filled with frozen waters, juice boxes and snacks. It will save a lot of time, money and whining. Donner Kebabs are a fast and cheap way to feed the family and are found everywhere now.
Aviano, apo USA Mon 05/17/2010
Best Unknown Activity for Kids in Paris
Paris for children of ALL ages: Jumping at the Tuileries (near the Louvre)
Behind the Louvre Museum is the famous Tuileries Gardens. On the Rue de Rivoli side of the gardens, about halfway down, there is a low-profile, outdoor, year round trampoline place. Yes, there are about 10 trampolines, set into the ground (no falling) and for a euro your child gets to jump on a trampoline for 5-10 minutes. I don't remember the price, it was not too expensive, and it was WORTH IT to see the smiles of disbelief when we came up on it and the huge grins as they were jumping on it. Jumping on a trampoline is something that appeals to kids of all ages, it was really fun for them, fun for us to watch, and a great opportunity to burn off that boundless energy.
A word about the Tuileries. They are world famous, and certainly a wonderful place. However, when I went with my 10 year olds, I "saw" the Tullieries differently: there is not a lot of grass that you can run on. Much of it is corded off, and as adults we think we are in a park if we are strolling along on a gravel path and there are trees and grass near us. But to a child, they want to RUN! Yes, there is a fountain, and yes it is a lovely place, yet the tone of the park is so sedate that even a game of hide & seek done on gravel paths was a bit too rowdy for the surroundings (the trees are corded off, surrounded by ground cover, so difficult to hide behind anyway). Everything is lovely, but you can't bring a soccer ball or frisbee and really play the way kids like to play. Or at least I didn't find that part of the gardens.
So although it was still fun for them to walk around the paths, running really wasn't appropriate.....and so those trampolines came in mighty hand for little ones. A friend who lived in Paris told me about them, and now you know about them, too. Happy Jumping!
(they are on the Rue de Rivoli side of the Gardens, near one of the park restaurants, between the restaurant and the fence)
San Diego, CA USA Fri 05/14/2010
Paris Finding Lodging for 4 people/families
We are a family of 4 and had great difficulty finding a Paris hotel room for 4 people---and the few I found I feared would be microscopic.
I'd used www.vrbo.com (vacation rental by owner) for other US vacations, so I tried it for Paris and found many worthwhile options in different locations for different prices. Using Google maps, you can see exactly where the apt is, how far away the Metro stop is, and you can even find out where the local grocery stores are. You can use Google Maps to see what the neighborhood looks like (actual images).
Our apt had 2 bedrooms, a living room, eat in kitchen, washing machine, wifi. Lots of space for kids to stretch out and play, privacy for the adults, quiet area when someone wanted a nap. We were able to cook pasta for dinner a few times to avoid the high cost of food in Paris. One of my children's best memories was that my husband would go downstairs and around the corner and pick up fresh croissants and rolls each morning. Much better than having to go out for breakfast.
There are other apt. sites as well, but www.vrbo.com worked very well for us, lots of photos, contact directly with the owner, etc. (ask what floor the apartment is on---some are on the 5th floor w/no elevator, or on street level and you won't want to open your windows due to security issues)
San Diego, CA USA Fri 05/14/2010
Toddler Time in Greece!
We just spent 3 weeks traveling in Greece with our 23-month old daughter. My husband and I are seasoned European travelers and couldn't wait to take her on her first trip. We've been to Greece twice before and have good knowledge of the country so we figured it was a great place to start.
We knew the trip would be very different from those in the past, but we never expected to have the experiences we did! The Greeks love kids and are all about family. They went out of their way to help us and make things easier for us. My American friends thought we were insane to take our toddler overseas with an 8 hour time change, but she did great. We even had an exceptionally long return flight from Heathrow due to the volcano and all went better than we could have imagined.
True, your trip will be very different - no lingering dinners or strolling leisurely through museums or archeological sites, but you will be introduced to a new view of your host country.
We utilized a borrowed ERGO baby carrier as strollers were not conducive to the cobblestones. She also slept with us (we booked rooms with large beds!) as she is not yet an independent sleeper and only 2 places had pack n plays. She ate off our plates at meals (some places did have children's menus but almost all restaurants worked with us on "tiny" portions if needed) and was introduced to a wide variety of new foods that I was astonished to watch her devour with gusto. Almost every city had a park, some with carnival type kiddie rides that we visited daily.
Yes, we had some temper tantrums and 8-hour-time-change-induced fits, but for the most part it was a fantastic trip. We have friends getting married in Barcelona in September and are looking forward to our second trip with our then 27 month old!
Dallas, TX USA Thu 05/13/2010
Carry baby in a sling - streets not always stroller-friendly
Visited Venice with our 1 year old baby. We brought a cotton baby sling wrap, a cheap, lightweight umbrella stroller and basic diaper bag supplies in a quart sized Ziploc. It was perfect. Most of the streets and bridges aren't stroller-friendly, so we carried him around in the sling. We parked the empty stroller near a restaurant with the easy-to-see-it's-not-valuable Ziploc bag in the stroller. Then when it was naptime - he slept in the stroller, (covered with the sling) while we enjoyed lunch.
Ada, MI USA Wed 05/12/2010
Italy with 8 year old
We took our 8 year old to Italy last summer for two weeks and had a marvelous time. A few tips: to ease our anxiety of "lost child" we designed a tag for him to carry in his pocket with his name, our name, our cell number and our hotel (where we were at the time). Crowds were not an issue most places, but when we did encounter a crowd we weren't as nervous about staying "stuck" together. Trains are great way to travel but be very alert to the station stops. Conductor does not announce stations. Also, bathroom locks on the train can get tricky for an 8 year old so just stand outside door. Most of all HAVE FUN!
NC USA Thu 04/29/2010
Paris - great for kids, stressful for their parents!
We just returned from a weekend in Paris with 3 children, ages 9, 5 and 4. All in all, the kids had a GREAT time. I think there is a lot for kids to do in Paris - go to a museum (we did the Orsay, not the Louvre), have a picnic in the park, go for a boat ride on the Seine...the only down side is that my husband and I had a less-than-relaxing time "herding cats" through Paris. Not to mention the fact that we had to book 2 hotel rooms and sleep seperately rather than all stay together. For the kids, this vacation was a "10", but for us, it wasn't the best. Next time we visit Paris, it will be sans les enfants.
Stuttgart, BW Germany Sun 04/18/2010
13 Month Old in Paris & London
Last summer we took our 13 month old son to Paris and London. It was a perfect age to travel with him! We didn't have to do any "kid" activities as he was happy with us in a museum, art gallery or in his stroller anywhere (NOTE: He is very well tempered so we didn't have the issue of him crying or making noise in places where silence was encouraged - that would have been a deal breaker). He was an instant ice breaker with the locals; we are normally relatively shy but we (he) seemed to be the center of attention wherever we went. We had many conversations we otherwise would not have had, everyone was friendly and helpful.
In Paris we stayed in the 18e which seemed like the place to be for young Parisian parents. Because of our son we would often find ourselves in situations there where we were the only tourists among the locals. One example is that we found a small park on a residential street on the way down from Sacre Couer. We sat with a few local mothers while our children played together in the sand (I should mention that we are Canadian and speak French which I'm sure helped along with the international language of parenthood).
For us, the keys to enjoying a trip with a toddler would be: -Don't expect the same trip as without: While for a 13 month old there would be little difference between Euro-Disney and the Louvre, we didn't get to enjoy any night life this time. -Don't expect anyone to accommodate your babies needs: It was our choice to bring him along. If a restaurant didn't welcome babies that was fine, we didn't ask for or expect any special treatment. -An appropriate stroller is key! Keep cobbled roads in mind when you look at the wheels. The bonus storage on it is great for coats, food, guidebooks, water bottles, maps...but remember you will have to pick it up and carry it often (lots of stairs...very few ramps...this will become an art form in the halls of subway stations). A reclining seat is a good idea for nap time. The monstrous North American SUV style strollers are NOT appropriate for Europe, no one there has them and they are too bulky and imposing.
Enjoy (PS: This summer our boy will be 2. We definitely WONT be bringing him on our driving tour of the Nederlands and Germany!)
Ontario, ON USA Sun 03/28/2010
Venice with children
Last Christmas holydays we went to Venice with our three children and we had the enchanting experience of staying at a wonderful apartment in Venice. The apartment information can be accessed at www.homeinvenice.net The apartment is in a quiet area, ideal for children, but just ten minutes walk from Rialto Bridge and San Marco. The apartment is very big and children has their own rooms. Also if you are travelling with babes they've got baby chairs, babe bed and all necessary things you can imagine. I just want to post because is not always ease to find a place to stay with the family and here we felt like home!
San Francisco, CA USA Sat 03/13/2010
Ancient Rome Tour
We booked an Ancient City Rome Tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Pantheon with Carla Zaia for myself, my 3 kids (ages 15, 12 and 10) and my in-laws. On the day of the tour it snowed in Rome (which is apparently very rare judging from how everyone was reacting) and my cell phone decided to go on the blitz! We decided to head on over to the Colosseum and was so glad to see that Carla had also come. Her tour was very energetic and authentic. We could tell she loved telling us about her city and her enthusiasm was great for the kids.
Dalton, GA USA Thu 02/25/2010
Rome kids friendly B&B
My Guest Roma is the best accommodation for traveling with kids! Who has ever thought at offering families 2 separate rooms connected by a private corridor so you can leave the doors open and donít leave kids on their own, just like at home ? We were given a bathtub and a bath changer for our 8 months old boy and a high chair for our 2 years old girl, while the dolls available in the dining room for our older daughters gave us some free time. We were even offered a stroller.Amazing hospitality. Highly recommended. Their contact: email@example.com
San Francisco, CA USA Fri 02/19/2010
Long flights & preschoolers
Eight to ten hours on an airplane? No problem for my then 3- and 5-year-olds when we went to Japan. We just brought new playthings which we introduced on the plane (such as Wiki stix--colorful wax-covered string which can be used to make shapes & designs on the seat back in front of them). We read them new books, played quiet games, and at the end of each flight, were encouraged by all the kind passengers who commented on how well the kids did.
Bellingham, WA USA Tue 02/16/2010