As young couple with their first baby girl, I remember us wondering if our yearly vancation abroad trips will be pause for many yearls. After consulting friends we've decided we are up to the chalenge and took our baby girl once she was 1 year old to her first vacation on beutifull Portugal. although we tried to prepare to our chalange, we should have prepared much better but we were lacking a full reccomendation list which could assist us preventing some of the rocky mistakes we did.
How to plan a trip with kids?
When we were young couple we liked traveled abroad, taking long trips, looking at the amazing views in different countries, eating new food and learning about new cultures. After our daughter birth we decided to continue this tradition also with her. Here you can find some tips and insights we gathered about what it takes to organize a successful trip with kids.
Planning the trip:
Research, Research, Research: I believe that in every country in the world there is something to see and do for children. That’s why if you want to go to specific country, all it’s take to adjust the trip for kids is to make a little research over the internet about different kind of places and attractions you can visit with your kids and combine them with thing you as an adult want to see/do.
Planning the route of the trip: From our experience, Children, especially young children like stability in their life. So, I recommend not to change the hotel you'll be staying at in every other day. The idea is to find a hotel /apartment which will be the home base for minimum of few days and plan daily Roundtrips. So, make a research on the main sites you want to visit, in order to find the ideal place to stay in which will be convenient for daily roundtrip. In order to do so we're using ViaMichelin route planner website in order to select the right place that will need only 2-3 hours max on the roads to get to the places you to visit.
In long trips you can change the home base hotel every week in order to get close to other part of the country and to be close to other attractions.
In the example shown in below screen shot taken from viamichelin, you can see how much time it’s takes to get from Lisbon Portugal to the city Obidos using motorway and how much it will cost.
Don’t forget to add children attractions in the trip like: zoo, Sea world, theme park etc. and on the roads, you can stop on playgrounds that in the area.
Another important tip is that you should check that the child will be able to understand what is happening in the attraction so you won’t accidently take him to a show in the language he/she doesn’t understand.
Transportation: if you not going to visit central cities like London, Rome, Prague or in case most of the trip is outside big cities, I recommend to rent a car from the airport or once you leave the visit in the big city instead of using the public transportation because this way you have more freedom to stop wherever it’s needed. And to travel on your own pace, don’t forget to bring food, snacks, drinks, games, and familiar music for kids in order to occupy them while being on the roads.
You can also bring along the children car seats with you abroad, sending it as exceptional baggage on the flight. another way is to rent a car with a car seat for kids but it’s more expensive this way.
Accommodation: I always prefer to find an apartment’s hotel which contains kitchen, washing machine (very important thing specially if you going to travel with kids) , safe , parking space ,etc. over staying in hotel room which don't include this accommodation( You can see an example of an apartment’s hotel in this link). This way you prepare your own food if the kids suddenly gets hungry (usually there is supermarket nearby) or there exist a need to prepare the feeding bottles or just to wash the dirty clothes.
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What to bring for young children when going out on a trip?
- Stroller & baby carrier: The stroller is a convenient way to do long walks without the child getting tired or if he/she wants to take a little nap. You can take the staller with you till the entrance of the plane, and you’ll get it right back when the flight will land from the staff.
You can also take a small stroller like the “YOYO” by Babyzen which you usually can enter to the plane and store it in the upper cabin.
You should take in consideration that there are places that are not suitable for stroller like castles with a lot of stairs, trips in the nature and etc. For those cases take with you also a Baby carrier.
- For small toddlers/babies you should take a portable Infant Safety Seat, something like that, So the young child can sit in regular chair in restaurants, Just to “dress” it on the chair and secure it by pulling the strap around to the back of the chair. The chair enters easily to bag so you can take with you everywhere.
- Toys: Teddy bears /dolls: We like to take on board with us our kids favorite doll/teddy bear/Toy in order to make the child more confident on the flight. Also when you get to the hotel put the doll/ teddy bears on our kids bed so they feels more at home.
- Tablet with lots of Movies and games: Download the favorite movies and games to a tablet so even in places without internet like in the flight, on the roads and even before bad time the child will be able enjoy his/her favorite and familiar things.
- Medicines: For any case it’s important to take basic medicine with you for the trip like medicine for Pain relief and fever reduction, for catching a cold like salt water drops, even in case of asthma or respiratory problems you can either take a portable small Portable Steam Inhaler Personal Vaporizer (linked example for inhaler on amazon) or just buy it on any pharmacy but don't forget to bring the medicines from home.
Traveling with children can be fun and challenging at the same time. we just need to take in consideration their needs and make them feel safe and at home with familiar things. you can invent game and challenges on order to make the trip more fun for them. For Example, at the first trip to Portugal my daughter cried and said she want to go home the minute we got to the hotel. I told her that we are on a magical quest and in the end of the trip she might win magical wand (which we bought at the end of the trip and was hidden till the time we got home).
I wish you a lot of fun trips with your kids as much fun that I have with my own.