Last summer, I spent 5 weeks in Europe with my family. Traveling with a 15 month old was not as bad as I thought it would be, but we did have some minor melt downs and challenging times with Phoebe. Would I do a long trip to Europe again in a heartbeat? Absolutely, especially since I know what to do and what not to do. I am all for bringing kids on vacation and showing them the world and one of my goals as a mom is to make sure my daughters get to experience other cultures, taste new foods, and walk through famous historical sites.
I made a list of 15 things I wish I had known about bringing a baby to Europe, which you can read here. Since it’s the high season for travel, I thought I’d make another list of travel tips and hacks to make vacationing with your littles easier and as stress free as possible! Please feel free to share your own tips and advice!
1.) Washing bottles and sippies– To keep bottles and sippy cups clean and not smelling like sour milk, buy these Bounty paper towels that have Dawn dish soap in them. You won’t have to haul around dish soap and sponges and can throw away the paper towels after each use. Instead of trying to cram a whole roll in your suit case, tear the sheets off, put them inside a plastic bag, and lay them flat in your suit case. If you’re traveling domestically, you can even wait until you get to your destination to buy them.
2.) Entertainment– I am all for letting kids play with apps on a tablet or iPad. Phoebe loves Sago Mini and BabyFirst TV. The Sago Mini apps are not free, but BabyFirst apps are! Both are very engaging and educational in different ways, and they keep Phoebe entertained. If your child loves to read, look into getting smaller sized books like the Baby Einstein board book set, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse set, or the Miniature World of Peter Rabbit set. For the artists, I love the Melissa and Doug mess free coloring books because of the no mess obviously, and because there is only one marker to deal with!
3.) Strolling around– If you have a child who still uses a stroller, make sure to bring one that is light-weight and easy to fold. If you’ll be driving around or taking a cab everywhere, be extra sure to get a stroller that collapses in half to optimize trunk space so you can fit big suitcases and bags. When I was in Europe, I used the Mama and Papas Armadillo stroller and I am so glad we spent a little extra money to have a stroller that was extremely easy to handle, collapse, and was comfortable for Phoebe to sit in for extended periods of time. If you’re bringing a baby carrier and traveling on an airplane, clip it to the bottom of the stroller in the basket when you check the stroller in at the airport. That way, you don’t have to make space to pack it anywhere and you don’t have to haul it around.
4.) Keep your child safe– I saw an article that was posted on Facebook with parent hack for taking your child to Disney World. If you’re going to be sightseeing in very crowded places, use a Sharpie to write your child’s name, your name, and contact phone number on their forearm and then cover it with Liquid Band Aid to prevent it from being washed or sweat off. If you do get separated from your child, tell them to stay put and let you find them.
5.) Keep the activities agenda light– If you’re going on a beach vacation, you’ll probably have a laid back agenda revolving hanging around the pool or beach. If you’re going on a busier sight seeing vacation, it is crucial that you plan your days around your child. Respect their nap time, feed them on schedule, and give them time to relax and play. The more you push and try to squeeze things in, the more miserable they will be. I found that having reward activities for Phoebe helped keep her calm and happy. If we were going to spend the morning in an art museum, then we’d spend lunch having a picnic at a park or going for a carousel ride.
6.) Pack light– Do not bring your child’s entire wardrobe. They can wear the same thing twice if they manage to keep it clean, but if they don’t you can always use a Tide Stick and hang things out to dry in your hotel room. Ask your hotel if they have a laundry service or see if there’s a dry cleaner nearby that will do your laundry. This can be pricey, but it’ll save you a ton of space and keep your suit cases under the 50 pound limit if you’re flying.
8.) Melt downs happen. It’s okay and you’re not alone. If you find that your children are having melt downs way more than usual, you have to scale back on the amount of activities and running around you’re doing. Go to parks, have dinner in the hotel room one night, find a pool they can play in. Do things that will make them happy, and you will be happy too.
9.) Have fun– It’s hard to take a vacation with little kids. Your nights will be spent in a hotel room instead of being out in the nightlife with a drink in hand. You won’t see as much as you plan to see and you’ll spend half your time calming down crabby children. If you go into your trip with lower and more realistic expectations, you and your children will have a much more enjoyable time. Shift your focus from “how much can we see and do in 7 days” to “I’m going to relax and enjoy my time with my family”.
Please share your best traveling with children tips and advice!
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