I have been getting lots of questions about, what it’s like to travel to Europe with young children. Well here are my thoughts.
Just over a week ago I returned from my family vacation to Italy. We did two full weeks in Tuscany. And when I say “we”, I am referring to my husband and I, with a toddler (2 year old) and a 3 months old baby.
In a glance here is how our trip went.
- Plane ride=amazing. We did night flights for both ways and both times the kids slept the entire time. Maybe I just got lucky but I’ll tell you this, it was stress-free and somewhat relaxing. Even though I’m terrible at sleeping on planes, I was still happy to see my kids sleep the entire time. If you’re travelling on a plane with young children, be sure to ask for bulk seating/with a bassinet. It’s a must for a family. You get the extra leg room (more room for your kid’s stuff), bassinet for the little one and this all means less stress for you.
- Hotels. We did 6 nights in 3 different hotels. Not sure if you’re aware, but European hotel rooms are about half the size of a North American hotel room. So as you can imagine, having one king bed and two cribs, with 3 sets of luggage, it was crowded. The first night was a killer, with the time change and trying to figure out a routine with two young children, we didn’t go to bed until 2am. It wasn’t until the 4th night, that we actually got the hang of the whole hotel thing. Needless to say, I would recommend families to stay at a hotel with a kitchenette or try an airbnb. Hotels are just too hard with young children, especially if you want your kids to go to bed at a normal time.
- Villa. We did 7 nights at a Tuscan villa and it was amazing. Staying in one place, helped maintain a routine, we ate when we wanted to/cooked what we liked and even hired a chef for a few nights. Our mornings were spent exploring villages and our afternoons were spent hanging out by the pool at the villa (While the kids took their naps). It was perfect. So if you do Italy, be sure to rent out a Villa – totally worth it!
- Visiting Florence. Florence is a city that you can’t stop visiting. I have now been there twice and I love it. So much beauty. But seeing Florence with young children, was very different. It’s not a kid friendly city, with its busy streets, no toilets/baby changing stations or even kid friendly restaurants. As a family, we found it very difficult to fully enjoy Florence and all its beauty.
- Tuscany. My new favourite place. So much beauty!! Everyday was spent exploring a new village, whether it was walking around, enjoying a latte at a local cafe, eating Gelato or just driving around to take in the scenery, we did it all. However, I especially enjoyed how each place we visited would have a centre square, because this is where my daughter would run around and play/dance to the street music. I often joined her and danced with her in the middle of the square, while my husband would enjoy a cafe latte or a glass of wine. This is what I called family vacation in Italy.
- Driving/Travelling. It’s not easy driving around with two young children, so all of our trip were between 40-20 minutes. We tried to avoid anything longer, since the kids couldn’t handle too much car. But If you have lots of snacks, games, colouring books and an iPad, well you’ll be all set. Plus looking out the window and seeing new things is what my daughter loved most.
- Walking around. Each of our village visits, lasted about 2-3 hours at tops. Our routine was walk a little, stop for about an hour (enjoy the local food), and walk for another hour or so. Breaking it up really helped my daughter enjoy some free time, move around a little and having a few snacks. Plus it gave us a break, from carrying a baby or pushing a stroller. For the most part, we would usually carry one kid and have the other in the stroller. So whoever needed the nap, would most likely be in the stroller. It worked well. At times it would get tricky due to the cobble roads, but we always found a way to work with it.
The question is, am I happy I made this trip happen? Yes I am. Even though we had many challenges such as sleepless nights, I’m happy I made the decision to make this trip happen. It wasn’t easy but I truly believe that you need to continue travelling, exploring new places, even if that means bringing small children around with you. For me the most rewarding experience was seeing how much my daughter learned on the trip.Follow us on social media: