While my husband and I planned our trip to Europe this year, our biggest concern (like it would be for any parent) was how difficult or easy it would be to manage our toddler. Even though most of travel experiences with babies/toddlers are situational, its always best to have it all sorted in the mind beforehand!
Where to go, where not to go? What to pack, what not to pack? What to do, what not to do? These were generic questions we asked our friends who had pulled that sort of a travelling stunt earlier. Here I am today imparting that information to other parents who are worried about/ scared of or concerned about their first vacation with the little ones!
LONG POST AHEAD because we all know how elaborated travelling and parenthood are! Also, I tried to make sure I don’t miss anything so feel free to move on to your concerned heading if you are short of time. ❤
A glimpse of our Euro-trip
While travelling to any part of the world for a getaway or vacation could be worrisome for parents, this blog talks particularly about Europe because a Euro-trip could tend to be slightly more difficult than other trips because of high tourist traffic, old cities with old infrastructure, fluctuating weather, multiple countries packed in one trip and of-course food issues (for the picky eaters and desi parents).
Our trip included Switzerland, Paris, Amsterdam and Belgium. So I consider myself capable of delivering information regarding extremely cold and mountainous, extremely busy, and extremely happening parts of Europe. So here’s a little summary of all of these places we visited:
- Switzerland: Cold but gorgeous. Keep yourself and the little one covered well and you are good to go! Switzerland is very calm compared to the other touristy places in Europe. I’d say renting out a car was the best decision we made. Even though the decision was made to be able to enjoy the scenic beauty by driving around, it turned out to be very relaxing for our toddler as he could nap in the car seat whenever he’d want.
- Paris: So much to do, so much to see! I wouldn’t classify Paris as a very child-friendly place because its so full of people, such a fast-paced life, the metro barely stops for a few seconds and hey, no elevators in almost all of those metro-stations. So be prepared to lift that stroller multiple times up and down the metro-stations. Also, Paris is full of art museums that require silence. Its best to take turns to explore those museums (except the Louvre of-course. Its always so full of people, no-one can hear your baby cry in there). Disneyland is the most child-friendly place there. Like,duh.
- Amsterdam: This city stole our heart for how welcoming, warm and child-friendly it felt. Specially after Paris. We used all kinds of transport there, from cabs, to metro, to buses, to trams and trains. And none of it was an issue. Heck they’ve got special compartments for strollers in metros and special seats for parents and with strollers in trams! The only thing worth worrying is the rain. Don’t forget to take the stroller rain cover and you’re sorted. This city has such fun vibes, the children are bound to love it too.
- Brussels: We only went their for waffles and chocolates so not much to say about that. 😀
Pros and Cons
- You get to skip-the-queue at most places.
- You get priority seats with stroller parking in trams.
- Most people are nice enough to help you when you have a baby, so you get to interact with the locals more.
- Thanks to your child, you won’t sleep in the train, metro or tram to miss a station.
- You can’t enjoy things such as rides in a themeparks or art at museums as a couple always.
- You carry more weight than yourself. Your child, his stroller, his baby bag and his tantrums.
- You will have to compromise on your packing to make sure you don’t miss anything of your child’s.
- Old cities such as Paris barely have elevators. So good-luck lifting that stroller specially when your child is fast asleep in there.
BUT in the end, I promise children make your trip a lot more beautiful, a lot more cuter! ❤
Do’s and Don’ts
- Always carry extra snacks. For your child and yourself. Keep re-stocking.
- Keep your gadgets charged. Keep them busy with cartoons if you feel they’re bored.
- Pack more of their stuff than yours. They may dirty clothes more often and they need more layers than we do.
- Ask management of touristy places if there’s a skip-the-line facility for parents. Also make sure the kids are allowed wherever you go.
- Don’t panic. Don’t worry. Your child may throw a tantrum in the middle of train ride. Its okay, those who have children will understand. And those who don’t, won’t see you again. :p
- Don’t over-pack. Remember you already have a stroller and a baby bag to carry.
- Don’t take children to silent museums.
How to manage Flights and trains?
There are no hard and fast rules to this because some children stay calm during flights and some just don’t. no matter what. like ours! The best you can do is:
- Don’t let them sleep before flights
- Travel at night or during their nap times.
- keep lots of snacks, different videos in your phone/iPad, toys and crayons etc.
- If your child screams during take-off and landing, its probably his ears that hurt. Go see a doctor and tell them you are travelling soon and he might prescribe medicines to cure that.
- Using Earplugs and giving them anything to suck onto (such as candies, lollipop etc) is another way to avoid their ears from hurting.
All the countries that we chose for our trip were close by. That happened to be one of our another best decision for this trip because the longest train route that we had take was 3 hours long!
What to pack?
One simple rule to that. Your child will need double the layers that you would (if you are travelling to colder places) and will dirty more clothes than you would. So half of our suitcase was filled with his clothes.
Things to carry in your baby bag include:
- The usual: Diapers, wipes, milk bottles, water bottle, extra pair of clothes.
- First aid box: Anti-allergy medicine, Olbus oil (helps fight congestion), band-aids, Antiseptic lotion, cotton balls, nappy rash cream, baby vicks, medicine for fever.
- Lots of tissues and hand-wipes.
- Small toys, activity books and coloring material to keep them busy.
- Lots of snacks. Easy-to-grab and no-mess snacks. Avoid candies, chocolates, lollipops and biscuits with cream.
Keep a travelling stroller. Leave the heavy-duty stroller at home. DO NOT forget the sun-shade and rain-cover!
That’s it for now! Feel free to ask questions and leave a review in the comment box.
Disclaimer: This blog is based on the author’s first-hand personal experiences. Keep in mind, all children are different and so are the experiences.
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Mama of Yaldurum. ❤