I have two great passions in life – Travel and my family. My goal in building a successful travel brand was to combine these 2 things whenever possible. Many people will say, “You can’t travel with kids!”. I find those same people are always looking for an excuse not to travel. My wife and I have a different approach. We recently had a child and one month later we are in Indonesia with our 2 year old and 1 month old baby. Why? Maternity leave is a great way to take a long vacation with family.
So, if you are considering a trip to Europe or Italy with young children I say go for it. Here are 5 tips to make traveling with kids a whole lot easier!
1. Pack right and pack light
Packing for two adults and one, two or even three children can be stressful! However, one checked luggage per adult is enough. One bag can hold the diapers (your kids are used to), their clothes and your clothes. You only need one pair of sneakers per person, one open toed shoe and something more elegant for a nice dinner.
For women, pack as many light cotton dresses as you can. A pair of jeans and some leggings, (you won’t need sweatpants because nobody in Italy wears them, you’ll notice this right away.)
For men, pack some jeans, a pair of shorts and light button down shirts. If it’s summer, some tank tops or t-shirts are fine, but Italians only really wear button down shirts so you are best wearing those. You can open them and close them in different types of heat so it’s perfect. If it is colder bring a jacket or sweater.
The key is to limit the sweaters, jackets and shoes. You should be able to get most of your clothes in one bag including your kids and then use the 2nd bag for diapers and wipes.
Also bring a caravan of a jogging stroller that can hold your kid(s) and some bags too.
2. Diapers and wipes
Yes, you can buy diapers and wipes in Italy and Europe, but nothing says peace of mind like the diapers and wipes you currently use. You are used to them and your kids are used to them. We always pack them so we don’t have to think about it later. No rashes nor leaky diapers. I’m not sure if kids pee more in the USA, but I find our home purchased diapers hold the best.
When I was in Naples with my wife, I had to walk about 45 minutes to find a pharmacy that had the type of unscented wipes we needed. It was a lot of stress which adds to the anxiety of jetlag and traveling with kids. The real key is to not add anxiety so your vacation is a happy one. I find that bringing the right equipment like diapers, wipes, thermometer, snot sucker (yup, that is a thing), children’s Motrin and Tylenol and you’re local formula will ease your worries while on vacation.
3. Don’t fight on the flight
So this basically isn’t possible, but my wife and I try to be real about things and make this into a joke. We make bets on if we will fight or not and congratulate each other when we don’t. Be as lighthearted as you can about things and help each other.
We recently completed a 10 hour flight followed by a 14 hour flight without any serious fights. Just remember that once it is over you will have arrived in paradise. There are a few tips for flying with children:
- Bring little treats for your kids. A freezer pack with their favorite snacks. Kids somehow understand right away not to eat airplane food, so come prepared.
- You should also consider reusable stickers that they can stick to the plane and remove easily.
- Pipe cleaners are fun as well as small toys. Break them out little by little to keep them from having a meltdown.
Regardless, just try to laugh at your misery on the flight. Your destination is going to be worth it if you keep the right attitude.
4. Do what the locals do
Your holiday is not going to look the same as the ones you took prior to kids. You can still drink a little bit and eat out, but you won’t be hitting 3 museums each day. Find things your kids will like and you may actually experience more of the local culture than you thought possible.
Go to a zoo or park during the day, we love Villa Borghese in Rome. They have a zoo there, merry-go-round and all the things kids like. The best part is that most people there are Italian which makes it so much cooler. Make sure to check the Zoo Bioparco opening times before you visit!
For lunch, head to a pedestrian area. When we visited Positano, we had lunch on the beach everyday and all the local kids would play right in front of the restaurant. After our child would eat, we would let them play with the other kids whilst we enjoyed a glass of wine. We’d obviously keep our kids in sight, but they would be content playing with the other kids.
5. Take it slow, really slow…
No, you won’t be able to see the Colosseum, Vatican and do a Food Tour in one day. But, you can go to the Vatican Museums with some snacks and stay a longer time. Let your kid run around in the Pinecone Courtyard or take a nap in the stroller while you enjoy a Vatican tour.
Avoid forcing things and you will enjoy your time more. Bring a really great jogging stroller that holds everything. As mentioned before, this will allow your kid to take a nap so you can do more cultural things. Regardless, don’t pack your day with long checklists, instead have a short list of things you want to accomplish and cut it in half. Anytime your kids need to run around you should use it as a way to let them mingle with the local kids.
If you’re planning a trip to Italy for 2018, check out these 4 ‘Now or Never’ Places to visit!
For fun Family friendly tours in Rome, Florence and Venice, look no further!