Taking Kids to Europe
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
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.