Travel with Kids: 2011
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?
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Kid's Travel Website
Here's a website devoted to European travel with kids - what to pack, what to do with them, where to stay... etc. I found it hard to find resources all in one place so I created one!
I hope it helps people think of taking their kids with them instead of leaving them at home... travel is the best education there is!
Calgary, AB USA Mon 05/30/2011
Traveling (mostly) France with kiddo
Last year we took my boyfriend's then 6-year-old son with us on a month-long trip that included Bordeaux, Toulouse/Castelnaudary/Carcassonne, Avignon, Marseille, Ventimiglia, Via Reggio/Pisa, Rome, and Barcelona.
Things we learned:
Gelato makes everything better. The dsi never got used after the first plane ride. Random neighborhood parks are a fantastic way to hang out with local families. Picnics allow you to eat wonderful local foods without having to enforce restaurant manners. It's worth paying to have a bathroom in your room for middle-of-the-night kid needs. Having his own (cheap) digital camera was a stroke of genius and helped him focus his attention on what he was seeing.
We taught him a few words in French, such as s'il vous plait and merci, and "Je voudrais..." along with a variety of items he might want. We got so many compliments on how smart and polite he was!
We had a great trip and are looking forward to returning to Europe this summer (Marseille, Bordeaux, and places in between) as a family.
Seattle, WA USA Sat 05/14/2011
France with our 10 and 8 year olds
We took our boys to France covering a route from Rouen through Normandy, the Loire Valley and then Paris in the Spring. I was amazed how well our kids handled the trip, especially jet lag. Having low expectations was a big part of our success and having a very limited agenda throughout the day. Plan to do only one thing and if you get more, that is great. We also stayed with activities where they could lead or explore without us looking over their shoulders. Short visits to museums more time outdoors running around castles, exploring d-day bunkers, shopping at grocery stores for fun things were all hits. Don't hesitate, pack them up and dive in!
Louisville, KY USA Fri 05/13/2011
Trains and museums with kids
Trains let you get up and walk from one end of the train to the other and back again, and you often have a table to play games on. We lived in Europe for 3 years when our kids were little and far preferred the trains. A game to play at museums: Go first to the gift shop and get postcards of some of the famous works. Make it into a treasure hunt for those works, and have the kids record information from the placards every time they find a piece. This game let me see the Rijksmuseum, the Kunsthistorichesmuseum, and the Musee d'Orsay, even though I was by myself, with a 7- and 3- year old in tow.
Fort Collins, Co USA Sat 05/07/2011
Traveling in Italy with a 1 and 3 year old
We took our 3 year old and 1 year old to Italy and travelled entirely by train for two weeks and would strongly recommend traveling with young children. We met a lot of people who probably wouldn't have noticed us amid the throngs of tourists if we didn't have two kids in a fun double stroller. We stayed in a mix of b&b's, pensions and hostels. While few of the restaurants had high chairs and none of the places we stayed had cribs we found Italy to be very accomodating to young children. For one thing, culturally speaking, they like children and everyone was very willing to accomodate us. We brought a Phil & Ted's double stroller which fit easily on all the narrow sidewalks and yields a smooth ride on cobblestone. We brought a few cheap plastic ponchos which fit over the entire stroller perfectly (and allowed ventilation) so the kids were warm and dry when it rained at some point each day. As far as sight seeing goes we avoided a lot of the huge art museums. We climbed towers, visited castles, enjoyed the many town squares and outdoor markets, visited parks and beautiful gardens and in Rome visited the catacombs, colloseum, vatican city, etc. There's enough to see to keep adults fascinated while keeping children from becoming bored. Pack light!! It was fun to figure out the laundramats in Florence and Rome.
Houston, TX USA Wed 04/06/2011
Tweens in Europe
Hubby and I been living in France for the last three years with our twin 10 year-olds and travel all around Europe every chance we get. Here's the best advice I can give: Use the technology available to you.
Our boys can be entertained for hours with books on tape. We bought them little iPod Shuffles (the new ones sized about 2"x2") and before each trip download a new book.
When visiting a site with audioguides, get the kids one too. It's worth the investment, even if there isn't a recording expressly for kids (like the wonderful one at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam). They'll absorb more info than you might think, feel grown up, and can entertain themselves when they get bored by figuring out how to re-program them. (Ooo, let's see what this combination of buttons will do.)
Also, we allow our guys judicious priviledges to use their DSs...not in museums or restaurants or other cultural sites...but while in transit or waiting in line.
Also, we always give them some fun time each day just for themselves when they can do whatever they want. Read, run around a park, swim, play on their DS, watch tv, etc.
And...a very low-tech deck of cards is always a good bet while taking a break in a casual cafe and gets the whole family involved.
Alsace, France Tue 04/05/2011
Acitvities for Kids and Budget Family Travel
I just discovered a site that lets parents set up playdates with local families all over the world. It also looks like you can arrange home stays through the site as well. Here is the link: https://www.tripping.com/network/traveling-families/. It seems a great way to make your family vacation more memorable and budget-friendly!
Santa Cruz, CA USA Sun 02/27/2011
Le Musee des Enfants, Bruxelles
We were in Brussels over Christmas and were wonderfully surprised by the children's museum there in the suburb of Ixelles. It is easily accessible by bus that goes straight into the city center. It is "Le Musee des Enfants". It reminded us of the "Children's Museum of Manhattan" in New York City, but a better cultural experience for my 3 year-old son. It has old opening times for public visits, but well worth the trip there.
Toronto, Ont Canada Sun 02/13/2011
Kids ID photos
Take a picture of the child/children with the people traveling. Give one to each person in the group in case of separation. Also write any info on the back of the pictures.
Brockton, Ma USA Fri 01/21/2011
those long plane/train trips
If you are traveling with children aged 8 -12 years old, I recommend buying a paperback book version of the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. There are many different books (175 pages). You can buy them new or buy them "used" on ebay and amazon.com.
You can split the binding in 1/2 and give one half of the book to one child, one to the other. No kidding, the exploits of Calvin & Hobbes (a comic strip about a little boy & his stuffed tiger) will last hours...kids will be giggling, and then they can trade "books". This made a transatlantic flight much easier, and my children read them again and again.
San Diego, CA USA Thu 01/06/2011
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