I’m excited to share with you some tips for European travel with kids that I put to the test firsthand this summer. With a family wedding happening in Scotland, we decided to go ahead and take the entire family to Edinburgh, Scotland and London, England.
Let’s all let that sink in for a moment. We voluntarily took a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old on a two-week European vacation. Ummm…are we crazy?!
We sure got that feedback from a lot of friends and family. People had no problem letting me know that this was going to be a huge waste of money and wouldn’t we enjoy it more going solo?! Sure it would be WONDERFUL for my husband and I to have a romantic trip. But the kids were actually in the wedding and we wanted this to be a family experience. So we decided to go and make it work and had a delightful time. It was two weeks of family memories that my husband I will share for years.
Here are the top 5 tips I took away from our experience.
- The Stroller Situation – This one I can write several posts on. We analyzed it so hard from every angle! My best advice would be to go with the stroller that you feel best lifting up and down stairs and that will also work well on brick or cobblestone streets. Remember, unlike the USA, often there aren’t ramps and elevators everywhere like we are used to. Heavy duty umbrella strollers work great. Unfortunately wide double strollers do not function well. In the end we opted for the Sit n’ Stand stroller given our kids ages. It wasn’t too heavy and folds nicely. London in July is very crowded and I really liked having them both contained on busy streets, even though at times it was heavy to push.
- Flying High – Flying overnight with kids is a challenge pure and simple. We were fortunate to use points for our three tickets and have Max as a lap child but man, he is a big lap child! We prepped by bringing several Target dollar bin surprises to bring out every so often. I also highly recommend that you have your own snacks ready to go and a hearty amount. The both did great and KLM was wonderful in terms of making sure they had everything they needed. Also, make sure to bring headphones that your child uses. This helps make sure they are comfortable while watching movies. Thank goodness for those movies on long flights!
Pro-Tip: Pack a cup for each with a lid that they use at home or school and ask for drinks to be poured into those. I packed an adult sippy cup for me too. The stewardess got a laugh when I asked her to pour my wine into a sippy cup but ultimately was thrilled to have one less spill to help with. Score!
- Food for Thought – Traveling with littles is a food challenge all around. Europe has great food but it’s not the EXACT SAME. Which is scary for toddlers and kids who are picky eaters and away from home. Ours tried a lot of new foods and then if something wasn’t a winner for them a yogurt and banana became the back-up plan. It wasn’t the time to push hardcore food rules and there were plenty of Sandwich Shops to grab fruit on the go from. As long as everyone was fed and smiling I was happy. Also, summer in Europe is a great time for picnics. Grab sandwiches and “crisps” from a cute shop and find a local park to eat in. Your kids will thank you for not making them sit through another meal out.
- Monkeying Around – Get outside! We LOVED the playgrounds in London and found them a great way to explore the city. I talked with other moms while they played with new friends from around the world. Everyone was thankful for a carefree break from the more official sightseeing. Ice cream breaks also did wonders for keeping everyone going all day long.
- What’s On Your Agenda – I like to cram in so much when I travel. I want to see it ALL! But kids can’t keep up with that pace and need some downtime too. Make yourself a loose list of 1-2 things you would like to do each day and be flexible. Do one thing first each morning while everyone is fresh and happy. Then have lunch and see how everyone feels. I had 5 things that I REALLY wanted to do in London. I made it to 4 of them. I would call that a success!
So those are 5 tips to help make your experience traveling with children great. Also, if you are in London a few of the things everyone loved most included the London Eye, the Thames river cruise, double decker bus tour (sitting on top was thrill enough!), the Tate Modern museum (most exhibits are free!) and the Tower of London.
The changing of the guards was extremely crowded and they lost interest trying to see over other people’s heads. They preferred watching the guards prepare and march to Buckingham Palace and that was plenty to see for our little guys.
Feel free to email any of your Scotland or London traveling with kids questions or thoughts. Travel is my number one passion and with all that is going on in this world, opening my children’s eyes to how others live in a positive way is one way I hope that I foster openminded, generous, loving people.
Bon Voyage mamas!