Advice about Taking Young Children to Europe

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Baby Equipment for a trip to Europe 

We flew to France with our daughter when she was 11 months old, and overall the trip went smoothly. We brought a carseat for car travel there, but checked it for the flight. The flight went well -- a kid can do a lot of exploring in a plane, which makes the time pass much more quickly than in a car, and she slept during her normal hours. We went with a backpack (no stroller) because our daughter liked it better and the places we were going (Paris and the countryside) weren't particularly stroller-friendly (lots of stairs in the city, no paved sidewalks elsewhere). A clip-on high chair was terrific -- there's a brand called Me Too which weighs 2 pounds and folds completely flat. It fit on our diaper bag with no problem. It was on the expensive side -- $50 -- but we ended up using it constantly when we were there and a lot when we got home. (It's good for when other babies come over for dinner!) It fits most but not all tables, but we were very happy we brought it. Jennifer


We travelled to Europe quite a bit when our daughter was a baby and toddler. We generally travelled with a car seat, which we used on the plane also portacrib, umbrella stroller, and a useful little portable high chair which strapped on to a regular chair (we thought it was more practical than the kind which attaches to tables, because you could use it on more types of table). It was a lot of paraphernalia, but we were glad to have it all -- she seemed more comfortable on the plane in her familiar car seat, and we felt safer in taxis to and from airports as well as on the plane itself. We didn't ever buy her a ticket, but she almost always got a seat (if there is are empty seats on the plane, the staff is usually very good about allotting them to babies traveling without tickets). Hannah


I am living (temporarily) in Paris, France and have traveled extensively in Europe with my daughter who is now 18 months old. However, we moved here when she was a mere 8 months.

1. We found taking a car seat on the plane to be more trouble than it was worth, if you throw in the cost of an extra seat. We usually hold our daughter in our laps, trading off throughout the flight. That's where she's happiest anyway. Some of the European airlines give you a special (pointless, in my opinion) seatbelt for the baby on take off and landing. You should, however, ask if you can have the bulkhead seat because sometimes they have bassinettes built in for babies. Our daughter slept all 17 hours of a flight to Paris squished into one of those things. Around 13 months, however, she outgrew them.

2. Bring a port-a-crib and sheets. Not all European hotels have cribs for babies and some who do, only give you the crib and a mattress. No linens. At 12 months, our daughter was gettig too heavy for a backback but we used it constantly before then. Some museums wont let you take kids in with a backpack but we always at least tried that route. We also bought a portable baby eating seat which attaches to ant table for hotels and restaurants. Unless you're moving here, bringing an actual high chair seems a bit extreme. A little umbrella stroller is the only one we cart around for vacations.

3. Most of the TIMEOUT guides include a section on Children and babysitting. Some of them also offer child equipment rental. In Paris, there is a mom's group called MESSAGE and they might be able to help you find some baby supplies (www.messageparis.org).

4. The more stars attached to the hotel, the more supplies they are going to have. Remember, a four star hotel in Europe is like a nice Holiday Inn in the US. A Ritz or Four Seasons is your best best - assuming you're a dot.com billionaire. I do't know of any specific baby friendly hotels in any of the cities you mentioned.

5.I never see car seats on public transit. Our daughter sits on the bus and metro/tube in a stroller. London and Paris taxi cab drivers do not require a car seat. Have fun and good luck. Sorent


Travel with a 1 year old can be easy or difficult depending on how much stuff you are willing to lug around with you.

1) ~Bring the car seat on the plane especially since you will need it in europe.

2) I would bring a lightweight stroller that reclines, possibly a backpack and a portable highchair. ~Highchairs in restaurants are very rare in Europe. ~Most hotels should be able to provide a crib. ~I would call the hotels you are planning to stay at (if you know) and ask. ~If not, bring a pack and play to save your sanity.

3) ~Children can ride in subways and on buses without a car seat but I would definately use a car seat in taxis whenever possible. ~When not possile, I think a snuggly is your second best alternative.

Good luck and have a good trip. G.


We took our daughter to the S. of France in Oct. She was just a year old. On the outbound flight, we took a direct red-eye flight into Paris. This was manageable because our baby wanted to sleep during most of the flight. Call ahead and ask for the bulk-head seats. Some Reservationists will book these seats in advance for you. Keep calling until you find a sympathetic operator. The return (11AM flight) was very difficult as she did not want to stay in her seat. United does not require a car seat for infants, so we did not use one, nor did we have an extra seat reserved. Our daughter would not have stayed in her seat if we had one. Most airlines have a special lap belt for babies that secures to your seat belt, for take off and landing. We did not bring a car seat - we didn't want to lug it around. We rented a Britex car seat (very sturdy and secure) with Hertz. They should have car seats available in most European locations. We called ahead and found a hotel that had a crib, but when we arrived it didn't look like the safest sleeping quarters for our baby. We ended up putting our daughter in bed with us. We toted her around in a Kelty Kids back pack which, for us, made it easy to maneuver around the airport. Not too many high chairs available in the places we stayed at. We improvised (held her on my lap or fed her picnic style). Public transit was not a problem in Paris. The metro is a very easy, safe way to travel around Paris. Hope this answers some of your questions. The best advice I can give you is to be flexible. Jennifer


I can't respond to all the questions but ... We've tended to do without the car seat on flights where we aren't using a car on the other end. It's bulky and hard to transport from destination to destination -- of course, if you're planning on renting cars you'll need it. Flying with the car seat is safer in cases of turbulence but you have to balance all the trip necessities. Definitely bring an umbrella-type stroller and gate check it -- a quality stroller is the thing to splurge on. In addition to holding the baby, the stroller can hold his/her things and your travel necessities. It's also a good stand in for a high chair. Hotels: we've done best with studio apartment type set-ups. You end up spending more time in the hotel with a little kid, and also it is much easier to deal with their food when you have a refrigerator and microwave. If you're nursing, you might want to continue, because getting milk can be a hassle when travelling. Also, it's much easier on the baby not ! to change hotels too much -- you might want to consider having base cities in each area and travelling from there. Public transportation -- you don't need a car seat for buses or trains (you don't in the states, either). Have fun! Also, I think there's a book called Travelling with Kids, or some related title -- I saw it at Easy Going. C.

 


Are we crazy to take two kids under 5 to Europe?

1999

Has any one traveled in Europe with their children? Our kids will be ages 1 1/2 and 4. We are thinking of attending a huge family wedding in southern Spain (Marbella) this summer and then taking the train to Italy and then France to see friends. Over a 3 week period. We have traveled often as adults and do speak the languages, but with the two kids...Are we crazy? Has anyone done this kind of trip? Any advice pro or con or any recommendations most appreciated! Thanks. Lisa


We took our daughter to France and then Vienna (also for a wedding) when she was sixteen months old. The days were fine, but the nights were rough. It was pretty hard for her because she was old enought to be sensitive about her sleeping environment, but not old enough to be all that adaptable. We slept in the same room with her, which made it much worse. She would wake up every night several times and call for us to play with her, and she wouldn't go back to sleep. She really didn't do well with changing beds so often - she had a lot of trouble falling asleep in the first place. (At home she was a great sleeper.) Also, the food was hard for her to digest and she threw up a lot at first before we figured out what she could eat. I think that the four-year-old would do fine, but the one-and-a-half-year-old might have more trouble. How does she/he do when sleeping away from home/sharing a room now? Have fun and good luck! DW


Last summer my husband was invited to teach in Prague for two weeks. The deal included a two room apartment. So we all went. We brought piles of food just in case we had any problems but hardly used it because all the usual kid staples are totally available (not to mention the ubiquitous McDonald's, KFC, etc). We brought cans of tuna, dried fruit and single servings of apple sauce. We also brought a very complete first aid kit and got ourselves vaccinated for whatever hepatitis we needed - that was probably more diligent than necessary.

It worked out really really well. The whole trip made an incredible impression on Allison and she is still talking about it quite a bit. This kind of early exposure to differnt countries (OK, Europe is not that different, but..) is so valuable.

We also took a side trip to Vienna and Budapest via trains. My 4 yr old daughter was just so happy to be on the adventure with us that she was not nearly the inconvenience I imagined she might be. The key to a smooth trip was the umbrella stroller we brought which had a flip-over shade. It was great for us to carry junk in when she wasn't tired and it was great for her to crash out in. I can't tell you how many pictures we have of Allison asleep in her stroller in front of various sites.

Because my husband was teaching all day every day I was with my daughter all the time and definitely had to gear my schedule to hers. Often she wanted to stay in our apartment and play Barbie with me. After two days of rolling my eyes I saw it as a precious opportunity to be with my daughter in a way we couldn't be at home. So, we settled into a flexible routine which included kid stuff and grown up stuff every day.

I think when you travel with kids you are forced to engage in the local life in a non-tourist way in order to give your kid the much needed kid time in a local park, amusement park, etc. I would n law also took her two year old daughter on a 5 week tour of Italy and reported a very positive experience as well. Melanie


Traveling with two kids in Spain: I have been to that area of the world but you are not crazy. When we have traveled with our kids out of the country it has always been really rewarding, you definitely do less, but in many places people are so much more interested in interacting with you because of your kids, and you'll often wind up meeting many more people. Elizabeth


One big problem with traveling with kids in Europe, and most particularly if visiting Southern European family, is dealing with the later dinner hours--you should make a point of fitting in a early evening meal for the kids, plus a nap of course, so they can make it to the later dinner times (or be put to bed, if you're in a situation where that's an option). Traveling with kids on public transit in Europe varies tremendously from country to country--in Greece, for instance, people are typically extremely nice about helping with strollers and giving up their seats for kids, but in England people more frequently will act as if your children are a terrible nuisance and will shove past you to grab the seats rather than helping. Patrick


Taking a 13 month old to Europe for less than a week

1998

Regarding a trip to Europe for less than one week with a 13 month old. We live in Europe and have had a variety of experiences with travelling back and forth with baby. My husband's sister flew here from the East Coast with her 18 month and 9 month old for exactly one week. I hate to disappoint you but their trip really was a disaster. The time change hit both parents and kids and a week was not enough time to recover and have fun here. We have travelled twice to the states with our 10 month old, once for one week and once for three weeks. The longer trip was much much much better. Our one week trip (also to the East Coast) was enough time to spend some time with family, but not much else. Anything less than a week sounds very very hard to me.


I just want to strongly second the idea that a one week trip to Europe, apart from being a waste of time and money, would be a real exhausting nightmare with a kid. I fly to Europe each summer with my small daughter. The time change and jet lag hits kids even more than parents and their sleep schedules get totally screwed up, it takes at least three days to even begin to feel normal and get into the rhythm, by then its time to pack to return. You can't really experience anything in a week anyway...I'm not sure what the original circumstances of the person enquiring were, but if possible I'd definitely save the trip for when you can spend more time. Three weeks would be my suggested minimum...


We flew to France with our daughter when she was 11 months old, and overall the trip went smoothly. We brought a carseat for car travel there, but checked it for the flight. The flight went well -- a kid can do a lot of exploring in a plane, which makes the time pass much more quickly than in a car, and she slept during her normal hours. We went with a backpack (no stroller) because our daughter liked it better and the places we were going (Paris and the countryside) weren't particularly stroller-friendly (lots of stairs in the city, no paved sidewalks elsewhere). A clip-on high chair was terrific -- there's a brand called Me Too which weighs 2 pounds and folds completely flat. It fit on our diaper bag with no problem. It was on the expensive side -- $50 -- but we ended up using it constantly when we were there and a lot when we got home. (It's good for when other babies come over for dinner!) It fits most but not all tables, but we were very happy we brought it. We stayed with relatives, so I have no experience with hotels. Hope your trip goes well.