Author Topic: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe  (Read 5199 times)

drtownhouse

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Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« on: December 29, 2014, 03:18:14 PM »
Wife and I are planning a trip to Europe with < 2 y/o toddler. I am looking for thoughts on how best to do a multi-country tour over 10 or so days. Wife used affordabletours.com and found a $4,000 quote for a 10 day trip to Belgium, France, England, and the Netherlands.

This is sort of an open post. I'm really interested in hearing about experiences from folks who have made similar trips--how long did you stay, where did you go, total cost, reflections, etc.

We lean strongly toward preferring to live/work in a country for several months or maybe even a few years, but these opportunities may be many years off according to my current career trajectory and other factors. With that said, we are not categorically opposed to a shorter tour across Europe.


Trinitysmom

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2014, 04:19:02 PM »
I personally think 4 country's in 10 days even without a toddler is trying to fit too much in.does that 10 days include travel time? How will your toddler handle the time change? Have they flown before/are they a good traveller? I have been travelling transatlantic with my daughter since she was 5 months. Sometimes she is the worlds best traveller and sometimes the worst. She is 9 now. I think definitely take your family and go but don't try to do to much. When we travel we plan for the first day to pretty much be a write off sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. Make a list of all the things you'd like to see/do prioritize and realize if your anything like us managing to do half is a success. Try not to put pressure on yourselves to do everything or it will be a stressful trip and not a fun one. I wouldn't do a tour guide planned trip with a toddler since you have very little flexibility. Sorry my thoughts are abit all over the place
We did 11 days in England 3 was spending visiting grandparents and 8 in and around london daughter slept on flight she was 3 at the time. DH and I did not sleep much on flight Trin was up and good to go day 1 mom and dad not so much. We went to visit friends and just escape winter really so not a lot of tourist stuff that trip, we did discover Trin was ready to be home by about day 8 or 9 which made her not the most pleasant to be around the last couple of days homesickness in a small child is horrible.
We did Paris and London and grandparent visit at age 7. 14 days away from home luckily no homesickness this time 4 days in Paris, eurostar to london 3 days london, 3 days visiting grandparents,3 more days London and then eurostar back to Paris half day in Paris and flew home in the morning (Heathrow is a killer to fly in and out of cost wise) Trin was too excited to sleep on flight over so first day was a write off and 1/2 of the second day. I don't know costs off the top of my head and given we were working in canadian dollars and the exchange rates constantly changing I don't know how much help that would be. If you are going to travel by rail you can get tourist railpasses ahead of time for a discount and it is sometimes cheaper to have an English tour company book your hotels/ excursion because they have different offers that North americans don't get worth checking into

FranzJoseph

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2014, 04:33:45 PM »
Does the $4,000 include everything (food, lodging, transport, round trip plane tickets)?  I personally would never go on a tour but it does make it easy for no need to plan anything.  10 days is also pretty short, travel time can take up an entire day depending on how far you go between cities.  This in itself can be nice for viewing the countryside but depends on the transportation - I prefer trains to buses.  Let's you stretch your legs and the kiddo can run around.  If your tour option doesn't include the cost of everything and due to the time constraint plus the difficulty of traveling with a toddler I would recommend keeping it to two or three locations in Europe that are close together - London-Brussels-Amsterdam or Venice-Florence-Rome for example.  Eastern Europe is still a lot cheaper than its counterpart and just as historic/beautiful.  Poland, Croatia and Hungary are good choices - Budapest is very nice.  You can book three hotels and take two trains for way less than $4,000.  A multi-city flight option would allow arriving in the first destination and leaving the second or third.  We travel with a mini tent for our kid that folds up flat and allows her to sleep at the airport, beach, hotel, etc.  She's grown out of it now but our newborn can use it when we go to Uganda/Thailand this year!

nzmamma

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2014, 04:39:57 PM »
I second the idea that a planned tour and 4 destinations in 10 days would be too much with a toddler. Might take all the fun out of the trip. We travelled 6 weeks; wales, london, holland, paris, southern france. Took it slow. But I am all for slow travel anyway, and we are from New Zealand so if you are going to head all the way to Europe it's best to plan a longer stay (plus we have family in holland and wales,  and stayed in a family holiday home in southern france too). Paris and London were excellent for toddlers. Particularly London. We stayed central. Would rexommend aquarium, hyde park and excellent museums.

Workinghard

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2014, 06:21:23 PM »
Over 20 years ago, we spent a month in Europe with a 9 month old. We  leased a van, took out the middle seat and had a port a crib set up. At that time NONE of the restraunts had high chairs. We had to take turns holding the baby while trying to eat.

drtownhouse

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2014, 06:46:35 PM »
Does the $4,000 include everything (food, lodging, transport, round trip plane tickets)?  I personally would never go on a tour but it does make it easy for no need to plan anything.  10 days is also pretty short, travel time can take up an entire day depending on how far you go between cities.  This in itself can be nice for viewing the countryside but depends on the transportation - I prefer trains to buses.  Let's you stretch your legs and the kiddo can run around.  If your tour option doesn't include the cost of everything and due to the time constraint plus the difficulty of traveling with a toddler I would recommend keeping it to two or three locations in Europe that are close together - London-Brussels-Amsterdam or Venice-Florence-Rome for example.  Eastern Europe is still a lot cheaper than its counterpart and just as historic/beautiful.  Poland, Croatia and Hungary are good choices - Budapest is very nice.  You can book three hotels and take two trains for way less than $4,000.  A multi-city flight option would allow arriving in the first destination and leaving the second or third.  We travel with a mini tent for our kid that folds up flat and allows her to sleep at the airport, beach, hotel, etc.  She's grown out of it now but our newborn can use it when we go to Uganda/Thailand this year!

$4,000 covers round trip flights, lodging, transportation, and most meals (not all). I agree re: travel time being something to enjoy, especially on the train. Interesting combo (Uganda/Thailand). Thailand is definitely on our list.

Daisy

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2014, 07:19:57 PM »
Is that $4000 each or total for the two (and a half) of you? If that's per person, that alone makes it sound expensive, considering you may not enjoy the trip as much with a 2 year old.

I've been on those kinds of planned trips. I don't do them any more because I like to plan my own trips and like to spend more time in one country than running around and not seeing enough of anything, except the inside of a bus or train for most of the trip.

4 countries in 10 days is insane. You're not really going to see the places well, just be transported from tourist hot spot to tourist hot spot. Some people like that kind of travel, but it's not for me.

Considering all of the transporting around you will do in 10 days, I think another type of trip with a 2 year old would be better. If you could pull off 10 or 14 days in one or two cities, I think that will give you enough time to enjoy the sites and tend to the 2 year old.

I spent a week in London a few years ago and there is lots to see just there. I had been there once before as a teenager, but it was part of a planned tour and didn't really get the feel of the city and spent a lot of time on a bus getting around. On this recent trip, we rented an apartment on HomeAway and it was wonderful. Having a home or townhome to rent gives you a kitchen and more space to hang around than you would in a cramped European hotel room which tend to be pretty small. And the townhome was cheaper than renting a hotel room in London for the week. I went with a friend and we each had our own room and bathroom in the townhome vs. getting twin beds in a small hotel room.

Or, with a 2 year old, why not just do a beach vacation? I wouldn't even go to DisneyWorld as a 2 year old won't truly enjoy it until they are a little bit older. Beaches provide hours of entertainment for a small child (and for adults like me!). You'll save yourself some money and have a more relaxed time.

Save the Europe trip for when the child is a little older and can get around themselves and learn some history and art that will complement their schooling.

wearfannypacks

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2014, 08:26:14 PM »
I think it's great to travel with kids, it's different, but worth it.

Keep in mind If you are flying the toddler as a lap child, international flights typically charge 10% of the fare for the lap child.

We have a similar aged child and an inclination to travel with him. For 10 days in Europe, I'd pick a city, get an room/apartment on airbnb and have that as home base. Then explore that city and day trip on the train when you get the urge to explore more. Belgium is super close to great sites close by. I don't think you need a tour group. Armed with Rick Steve's (he has excellent walking tour podcasts) and trip advisor you can take things at your own pace, and get back to your airbnb place so the little one can nap.

wearfannypacks

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2014, 08:38:23 PM »
We travel with a mini tent for our kid that folds up flat and allows her to sleep at the airport, beach, hotel, etc.  She's grown out of it now but our newborn can use it when we go to Uganda/Thailand this year!

Not to hijack, but we have that tent too! We use it in hotel rooms so he can't see us. I haven't tried it in public since he still freaks out for a few minutes when we zip him in. Do you have any tips for using it in public? We live near the beach and have yet to try it there.

CopperTex

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2014, 09:02:35 PM »
Or, with a 2 year old, why not just do a beach vacation? I wouldn't even go to DisneyWorld as a 2 year old won't truly enjoy it until they are a little bit older. Beaches provide hours of entertainment for a small child (and for adults like me!). You'll save yourself some money and have a more relaxed time.

Save the Europe trip for when the child is a little older and can get around themselves and learn some history and art that will complement their schooling.

^This EXACTLY. I can not imagine doing a tour like that when my children were that little. They LOVED the beach (and Disney when a little older). Any other trip we tried to take them on we didn't enjoy. It wasn't until they turned around 8/9 years old that we were able to take them to different places. You have to consider naps, meltdowns, etc.

iamlindoro

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2014, 09:21:13 PM »
I'll offer a bit of a counterpoint to those who think it's not a good idea with a toddler.  My folks started traveling with us when I was very young.  At most I was a year older than your little one.  We continued to travel to Europe every few years until I was an adult.  My parents didn't have a ton of money, they just saved up so that we could make that our vacation every 2-3 years.  Looking back it's such a huge part of my identity and I can't even imagine not having those experiences.  I feel like a lot of my outlook, my facility with languages, and my own loves in life (we travel a ton now too!) are because of those experiences.  I think it's well worth it, even at that age.

I do think that you shouldn't put too much pressure on yourself to hit all the sites while you're there, though.  Don't convince yourself that a given trip has to be a "once in a lifetime!"  There's no reason it can't be a lifestyle instead!  When we would travel when I was very little, we minimized the time spent at attractions and just sort of lived life.  We went to museums and stuff, but spent a lot more time sitting at cafes, in parks, seeing family where we had it.  Heck, even just grocery shopping was a cool experience that I remember from being 3, 5, 7...

Four countries in 10 days is definitely a lot, though :) 

Oh, and if you can get an overseas posting, ESPECIALLY with a little one, DO IT!  DO IT DO IT DO IT!  I tried desperately to make this work for myself, but it hasn't to date.  So, we just travel a ton (even if it means taking unpaid vacation) every year and will RE and get our living abroad fix then.

FoundPeace

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2014, 09:38:19 PM »
I just got back from 3 months in Germany with a toddler and a baby. The toddler makes it hard to do typical tourist attractions (decided the Louvre would be a bad idea). Instead you get to discover some amazing things that you wouldn't get to see otherwise. Europe has amazing parks and playgrounds that your toddler will love.

My main recommendation is to get a stroller that fully reclines so your toddler can take his/her nap at a normal time while you are out. That was some of our best time to do things.

Daisy

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2014, 10:10:06 PM »
I'll offer a bit of a counterpoint to those who think it's not a good idea with a toddler.  My folks started traveling with us when I was very young.  At most I was a year older than your little one.  We continued to travel to Europe every few years until I was an adult.  My parents didn't have a ton of money, they just saved up so that we could make that our vacation every 2-3 years.  Looking back it's such a huge part of my identity and I can't even imagine not having those experiences.  I feel like a lot of my outlook, my facility with languages, and my own loves in life (we travel a ton now too!) are because of those experiences.  I think it's well worth it, even at that age.

I do think that you shouldn't put too much pressure on yourself to hit all the sites while you're there, though.  Don't convince yourself that a given trip has to be a "once in a lifetime!"  There's no reason it can't be a lifestyle instead!  When we would travel when I was very little, we minimized the time spent at attractions and just sort of lived life.  We went to museums and stuff, but spent a lot more time sitting at cafes, in parks, seeing family where we had it.  Heck, even just grocery shopping was a cool experience that I remember from being 3, 5, 7...

Four countries in 10 days is definitely a lot, though :) 

Oh, and if you can get an overseas posting, ESPECIALLY with a little one, DO IT!  DO IT DO IT DO IT!  I tried desperately to make this work for myself, but it hasn't to date.  So, we just travel a ton (even if it means taking unpaid vacation) every year and will RE and get our living abroad fix then.

Yes I agree the travel will be good for the children. But maybe wait until age 4 or 5 or so when they can actually start remembering stuff. You'll get the most bang for your travel buck. Unless you are filthy rich and can afford to go every year, I think parents and child will enjoy a lot more at that age.

These types of planned tours are a pain even for just adults. You are required to get up at a certain time or else the bus will leave without you. What if the child had an issue that morning? The bus won't wait for you. When is the child going to take a nap? Will the child be quiet on the bus? The others on the trip won't appreciate it if the child is crying a lot. Just saying...

Slow travelling at your own pace would be a better option.

Living abroad is another matter. That would be cool to do for this family. That is slow travel to the extreme!

iamlindoro

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2014, 10:20:53 PM »
Yes I agree the travel will be good for the children. But maybe wait until age 4 or 5 or so when they can actually start remembering stuff. You'll get the most bang for your travel buck. Unless you are filthy rich and can afford to go every year, I think parents and child will enjoy a lot more at that age.

These types of planned tours are a pain even for just adults. You are required to get up at a certain time or else the bus will leave without you. What if the child had an issue that morning? The bus won't wait for you. When is the child going to take a nap? Will the child be quiet on the bus? The others on the trip won't appreciate it if the child is crying a lot. Just saying...

Slow travelling at your own pace would be a better option.

Living abroad is another matter. That would be cool to do for this family. That is slow travel to the extreme!

Looking at the site they linked above, it's about a 50/50 mix of Independent vs. "Escorted" packages.  I do think that it would be cheaper and more enjoyable to just book the travel and lodging oneself.  If you look back at what I said, you'll see that I agreed that a non-organized tour was the way to go.  The OP hasn't specified whether they were looking at a regimented "tour bus" type operation or just trying to book the transport and hotels.

2 is a little young to remember much, but the toddler isn't the only one traveling either.  Parents have every right to travel when they have young children, and most European countries are quite a lot friendlier to families with small children than the US.  The sole litmus test for taking a young child on a mid trip need not be "will they remember it" or "will they be easy to manage."  Sure, these are factors to consider, but "we want to travel this year" is a legitimate (and IMO more compelling) reason to do it.

Edit to add: Another reason to travel is that you never know what will happen in the next few years.  They might get pregnant again.  Someone might lose a job.  Someone might develop a health problem.  I'm a big proponent of traveling when you can, obviously.  My opinion (and that's all it is) is that if you can travel, do travel.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2014, 10:27:08 PM by iamlindoro »

DoNorth

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2014, 07:07:35 AM »
I lived in Europe for over 10 years; 8 when I was a kid and another three as an adult with two children.  My wife and I took our then 3 year old and newborn EVERYWHERE we possibly could.  From experience, I would do no more than three countries in 10 days (and those should be 10 days in the middle; not including travel days).  If you want to keep that itinerary, you may want to consider cutting out the UK...whether you chunnel, ferry or fly, it will detract from your overall trip because of the time and effort it takes you to get there.  Highly suggest checking out Rick Steves Europe through back door 2015 edition plus the individual country books.  I've done so many of his walking tours with my kids, I can't even keep them all straight, but they are perfect for going out on your own and discovering Europe.

The experience isn't so much about your kids enjoying what they are seeing at the time because they won't remember much, it's really about developing adaptability to changing situations.  Italians love kids and it was a great conversation starter wherever we went; conversely, Germans have a slightly different attitude toward children.  We can fly free on military aircraft so at a moments notice, we tell our kids (now 5 and 3) to pack up and we're heading to xxx destination.  They are super flexible and love the adventure of getting on a C-17 or whatever and flying to Europe.  enjoy.

RunHappy

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2014, 02:55:12 PM »
I think it is great that you are taking your toddler with you!  Travel is good for children.

I do think the amount of jumping around you are doing is very exhausting (with or without a toddler).  4 countries in 10 days doesn't leave you a lot of time to actually explore the countries you're visiting.  My recommendations is to limit it to no more than 2 countries in a 10 day period.  It give you time to really see the sites, taste the local foods, and have a couple of lazy mornings or afternoons.

I travel a lot and one of my pet peeves is parents who think their kids will "be ok" when they have never flown or had to sit in the same spot for several hours.  Traveling is stressful for adults and even worse for kids.  I don't know if your child has ever flown or taken a long car ride (6+ hours) before, but I would also recommend doing that a few times to see how he/she reacts.

drtownhouse

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2014, 05:21:33 PM »
Yes I agree the travel will be good for the children. But maybe wait until age 4 or 5 or so when they can actually start remembering stuff. You'll get the most bang for your travel buck. Unless you are filthy rich and can afford to go every year, I think parents and child will enjoy a lot more at that age.

These types of planned tours are a pain even for just adults. You are required to get up at a certain time or else the bus will leave without you. What if the child had an issue that morning? The bus won't wait for you. When is the child going to take a nap? Will the child be quiet on the bus? The others on the trip won't appreciate it if the child is crying a lot. Just saying...

Slow travelling at your own pace would be a better option.

Living abroad is another matter. That would be cool to do for this family. That is slow travel to the extreme!

Looking at the site they linked above, it's about a 50/50 mix of Independent vs. "Escorted" packages.  I do think that it would be cheaper and more enjoyable to just book the travel and lodging oneself.  If you look back at what I said, you'll see that I agreed that a non-organized tour was the way to go.  The OP hasn't specified whether they were looking at a regimented "tour bus" type operation or just trying to book the transport and hotels.

2 is a little young to remember much, but the toddler isn't the only one traveling either.  Parents have every right to travel when they have young children, and most European countries are quite a lot friendlier to families with small children than the US.  The sole litmus test for taking a young child on a mid trip need not be "will they remember it" or "will they be easy to manage."  Sure, these are factors to consider, but "we want to travel this year" is a legitimate (and IMO more compelling) reason to do it.

Edit to add: Another reason to travel is that you never know what will happen in the next few years.  They might get pregnant again.  Someone might lose a job.  Someone might develop a health problem.  I'm a big proponent of traveling when you can, obviously.  My opinion (and that's all it is) is that if you can travel, do travel.

Thank you and others for the interesting discussion and insights. The package is regimented, which normally wouldn't be our first choice, but we are open to it. We have family in Asia, so it's been much easier to live like a local there. Our Asia trips are much more likely to be planned. We have no family/connections/language skills in Europe, which makes it more challenging.

A longer, more free-form trip to Europe is likely more possible years down the line. With that said, a primer trip would be nice. Our son handled our last 12 hour car ride perfectly (we stopped maybe 3 or 4 times). Of course that's no guarantee. The frequent inter-country  travel could be burdensome, but it might also be an opportunity for nice views of each country.

I haven't done heavy research, but flying 2 parents and a toddler to Europe, traveling around the countries, lodging, most meals, etc for about $4,000 doesn't seem easy to beat (or at least beating it by more than several hundred dollars)

MsPeacock

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2014, 05:46:28 PM »
The price is of course reasonable given that it includes airfare and all that jazz.   I have traveled internationally quite a bit w/ my kids who are now 8 and 11. When they were toddler age, in my opinion, it would have been very difficult to do an organized tour. Kids need naps and breaks, they lose interest in things like museums very quickly, they make their unhappiness known (whining, kicking, crying - typical toddler stuff) which pretty effectively interferes w/ the parent meandering through a museum.  They need snacks, and want to play in parks, or watch Elmo, play with other kids, or whatever. The pace of travel w/ kids is quite different then when you are traveling with adults. If you are on a tour it will presumably be paced for adults - and there will be a certain amount of go-go-go given that the schedule is to see 4 countries in 10 days. (I personally don't like that sort of trip for myself either - prefer to sort of take root in an area and spend some time seeing it and sitting around in restaurants and wandering through a city). I think travel is great for kids - toddlers included - but  I am not sure that this particular trip is a good idea for a toddler.

iwasjustwondering

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2014, 07:16:37 PM »
Travelling with a toddler is fine, but not four countries in 10 days.  I brought my kids to Italy when they were 4yo and 11mo.  We did a couple of days in Rome (Spanish steps, Coliseum), then drove to a villa in Tuscany, where we met up with my extended family.  We had a couple of beach days, where the kids could play in the sand and splash around with their cousins. 

They learned a few simple phrases, like "piacere."  We did a day in Florence, and went to see the David.  Then I think it was one more beach day, and then back to Rome to see the Vatican, and then home.  It worked out fine because we kept interspersing the sight seeing with exercise days, where the adults could sit back and let the kids get some exercise and explore the way they wanted to explore. 

A bus tour through Europe would be hard with a toddler.  Toddlers need lots of free play and exercise.  My general rule of thumb for travelling with little kids is that there must be water.  If you're doing Disney (shudder), then you need to have a pool somewhere where the kids can play and relax.  If you're doing NYC, then you need to get out to the shore for a day or two.  Otherwise it just doesn't work.

Zarya

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2014, 09:30:38 AM »
We've got three kids (currently 15, 12, and 5) and we've traveled internationally with them since the little one was only 8 months old. In fact, when she was 14 months old we did move to central Europe, where we still live now, and so our transatlantic flights now serve to visit friends and family in the U.S.

So I've traveled (by train, plane, and automobile!) with kids of all ages and agree with a lot of the advice already given: think about a slower pace of travel, and try to plan having a "home base" (hostel, hotel, etc.) most days. Kids get cranky and need their rest and it's good to have a place to retreat to during the day and not just at night. For budget travel, there can be nice hostel or B&B options that are kid-friendly and not expensive. Hostels can be great for storing and preparing your own food, too, which can keep a picky eater happy and save money.

I've never been one for organized tours and prefer what you could almost call "untravel" (like people talk about "unschooling" their kids). That is, I go to a new place and plan to just settle in for a few days and experience what offers itself to me without setting a lot of goals or making a lot of advance plans. Usually a particular place has certain attractions that everyone visits (some of them worthwhile and others not), but these are usually easy to accomplish without advance planning unless we're talking the Eiffel Tower during high season or something. Otherwise simply walking around, checking out the local grocery stores, and soaking up the atmosphere usually leads to serrendipitous and wonderful discoveries that wouldn't happen if you were being marched from one blockbuster destination to the next.

Our visit to Helsinki when the eldest was a baby was a work trip -- husband went for a conference -- and I spent the five days basically blissfully hanging out there, discovering that public transport was free for both me and her (because she was under six) and finding that Helsinki was just full of wonderful little parks where we could stop and have fun. Some of the cool surprises that just happened: meeting a live reindeer in the street with a handler who was letting children pet it and sit on it; seeing a parade celebrating the end of WWII; striking up conversations with several shy Finns who couldn't resist talking to my adorable baby; and taking our pictures by an actual stuffed polar bear in a downtown department store (impressively tall and fierce!). We also took the ferry over to Tallinn for the day just to visit another country but without any particular expectations of what we would do there. It was a relaxing stroll through the old town that offered lots of views and experiences without needing anyone to guide us. I came home feeling refreshed and rested but also with a head full of new impressions of Finns and Helsinki, so I don't feel I missed out on anything. And my daughter was happy and content the whole time, too, including on the flights.

What are you particularly looking forward to seeing/experiencing? We've done lots of travel around Europe, most of it with kids, and I could make some suggestions based on your interests.

MsPeacock

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2015, 08:28:48 PM »

Our visit to Helsinki when the eldest was a baby was a work trip -- husband went for a conference -- and I spent the five days basically blissfully hanging out there, discovering that public transport was free for both me and her (because she was under six) and finding that Helsinki was just full of wonderful little parks where we could stop and have fun. Some of the cool surprises that just happened: meeting a live reindeer in the street with a handler who was letting children pet it and sit on it; seeing a parade celebrating the end of WWII; striking up conversations with several shy Finns who couldn't resist talking to my adorable baby; and taking our pictures by an actual stuffed polar bear in a downtown department store (impressively tall and fierce!). We also took the ferry over to Tallinn for the day just to visit another country but without any particular expectations of what we would do there. It was a relaxing stroll through the old town that offered lots of views and experiences without needing anyone to guide us. I came home feeling refreshed and rested but also with a head full of new impressions of Finns and Helsinki, so I don't feel I missed out on anything. And my daughter was happy and content the whole time, too, including on the flights.



I love this - the best part of traveling with kids. You experience the travel in a much different way - Seville late night tapas w/ kids - turns out there are lots of other families out in June with their kids at 11pm having dinner. And small city parks, and little stores w/ things for kids, and finding a place for ice cream at every town you visit. Stopping in a tiny town on the Spanish coast to see ruins and found a tiny little - hardware ? - store that was about 6 feet wide and 4 feet deep, but 20 feet high with things hanging on hooks up to the ceiling. My youngest (18 months at the time) found a rubber snake he *had to have* and spent the day walking around showing it to people and waving it about. Connected w/ so many people who lived there as we walked around w/ him. Completely off the beaten tourist path and wonderfully fun.

KCM5

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Re: Best Approaches for Couple w/ Toddler to Tour Europe
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2015, 07:50:16 AM »
1. Travel. That's a great plan.

2. Don't do that trip. The pace doesn't seem conducive to an enjoyable experience with a two year old. I'd rent an apartment in 1 or 2 cities if I were going for 10 days. Actually, we're going in Sept for two weeks and doing exactly that. 5 days in a larger city and 5 days on the beach.

3. We just got back from a trip to Germany and South Africa with our 2 year old. It was ridiculously easy. We took overnight flights so she slept of the plane (used a CARES harness to help ensure she stayed in her seat and was seated safely - look it up, its about $50 and if you don't need a car seat on your trip its nice not to have to lug them around).

4. Second the recommendation to have a stroller that lays almost all the way down. Our daughter doesn't generally nap outside her crib, but when she was tired enough on this most recent trip she slept comfortable for  a couple of hours in her stroller.