Author Topic: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?  (Read 2763 times)

jamesbond007

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Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« on: September 25, 2017, 11:34:04 AM »
So we are planning to travel to Spain either in April 2018 or October 2018 (Goal is to get a cheap air fare and accommodation, also to avoid crowds if possible). Planning 10 days excluding days of travel. We will be traveling with our 3YO (will be 4YO if we travel in Spain). Any Mustachain ideas to save money etc. Last time we went to Italy, I rented a car because my daughter was 1 YO then. It was mistake and PITA to drive in Italy. Got 2 tickets in the mail a year later. I want to avoid driving this year and rely o public transport. Is that even possible? If so, where should I look at? One big part of out travel is food. We love to eat out when we travel. It is part of the cultural experience. But, we are vegetarians. What are our options? Another is that I want to visit Barcelona to watch a FCB game on a weekend (If you didn't notice my profile pic, I am huge FCB fan). This may not be the most mustachian thing to do, but hey, I live only once.


Any advices on how to save money, where to look for hotel stays etc.? Where to eat?  How much should I expect to spend on food(we don't care where we eat as long as the place is hygienic and has vegetarian food)/accommodations/train tickets?

ixtap

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2017, 11:53:47 AM »
Check guide books for vegetarian options. Fish is usually considered vegetarian at regular restaurants. Stuffed eggplant may well be stuffed with ground meat. Depending on the region, vegetables may be cooked in lard.

What region are you planning on? With a 3yo, I would not try to do the whole country in 10days. Heck, I don't even like those trips as an adult!

Cities have large public plazas where the kid can chase pigeons while you enjoy a drink. They also have parks that will have people watching and vendors on the weekends. Be sure to try the chocolate y churros (pending a review of Spanish frying methods).



jamesbond007

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2017, 12:24:11 PM »
I am certainly not planning on seeing all of Spain in 10 days. Even Italy felt a bit crammed in 9 days. I am still deciding on what to see. Here is my preliminary list Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Cordoba. Is this too much?

Dee18

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2017, 12:59:47 PM »
With a child I would pick two places to visit.  Book an apartment so you can prepare your own dinners unless your child can handle very late dinners.  When my daughter was that age she liked to people watch other kids so I sought out playgrounds everywhere, but every child is different.  She liked to get to know her way around the place we were staying and return to the same bakery, etc.  I did take a cheap stroller (she was small for her age, but too heavy for me to carry when she was tired) although I had long since given away her stroller at home, because I like to walk for miles in a new place.  Four was actually a really pleasant travel age for us. 

ixtap

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2017, 01:01:21 PM »
I am certainly not planning on seeing all of Spain in 10 days. Even Italy felt a bit crammed in 9 days. I am still deciding on what to see. Here is my preliminary list Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Cordoba. Is this too much?

That is two days per city, with only two days for travel (ie, it wouldn't even be two full days in each city). I would pick two, at most. With a 3/4yo, I would want to leave plenty of downtime and time to visit a playground or two.

Most kids that age are obsessed about something. What is it for your kid? That might help you narrow down your options.

It might be easier on the kid if there is a home base to come back to each night, rather than 4 hotels in 10 days. You could pick a place, plan on fixing most of your meals, just make sure you shop at the mom and pop places and make conversation. Most of the vegetarian restaurants will be at least as focused on expats and tourists as local culture, anyway. Breakfast, snacks, and dessert are going to be your best bets for genuine local food.

Slowing down would likely get you a better deal on housing, local transportation is cheaper than travelling distances, you have a chance to get to know the city and its people, but mostly, it is generally considered more comfortable than trying to absorb everything and moving about every other day.

I am trying to do some research on a region that might have vegetarian dishes, but their are a number of historical and geographical reasons for each cuisine to include beef, pork, seafood and various kinds of fowl.


lentil

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2017, 01:02:00 PM »
I love Spain. We are also vegetarians, and had no problems finding delicious food. When you know the cities you're aiming for, you can look for entirely vegetarian restaurants, or vegetarian-friendly restaurants, via online resources (happycow, tripadvisor, yelp, etc.). But even in non-vegetarian places, we did just fine...especially once we discovered the ubiquitous Spanish tortilla, which is available at literally every bar, coffee shop, or other eatery, and helped fill in some gaps for us.

I assume you're going to read some guidebooks, which will fill you in on the Spanish schedule (e.g. dinnertime isn't until 10pm or later). It's something that might be a particular challenge for a kid, I assume, so worth understanding ahead of time. We found airbnbs (with kitchens!) to be really helpful for our jet-lagged and confused stomachs, until we finally got into the right rhythm.

You're looking at four cities in ten days? That's 3-4 days of transit (changing apartments/cities/etc.) built into your itinerary. For me, that's too much -- I want to have time to see more of the places I'm in, and spend less time at train stations and bus stops. But your preferences and travel style may be different than mine. And I haven't visited any of those cities, so am unable to be more helpful for specifics. But wherever you go, have fun!

aalferez

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2017, 02:07:54 PM »
That is A LOT for 10 days.
I'm from Spain, even though I lived in the US for the last 7 years.
I go back home often to see the fam.

Be very aware of ripoffs, mostly summer patios and stuff that claims fresh fish and that. Check always the prices from a written menu so they cannot scam you.

Let me know if you want some specific advice.

If you rent a car, BCN is a pain in the a$$. lots of tolls that are not avoidable, lots of radars, cameras, etc... But public transport is really good there.
Same goes for Madrid.

And visiting BCN it's a little tricky. Right now there is a big mess with the whole independence thing. So you never know what is going to happen.


What kind of tourism do you like? Beach days or visiting buildings and places?
I think Granada is a must! The 'Alhambra' is considered one of the wonders of the world. You need to book a ticket with time.

Bottom line...you need more than 10 days. and even if you have a whole month, you need a list of priorities so I can give you some advice.

BTW, Im a Real Madrid fan (Born and raised in Madrid) HALA MADRID!

CindyBS

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2017, 02:12:30 PM »
Check out Parc Guell in Barcelona.   I think a kid that age would really enjoy it.

ixtap

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2017, 02:14:06 PM »
I love Spain. We are also vegetarians, and had no problems finding delicious food. When you know the cities you're aiming for, you can look for entirely vegetarian restaurants, or vegetarian-friendly restaurants, via online resources (happycow, tripadvisor, yelp, etc.). But even in non-vegetarian places, we did just fine...especially once we discovered the ubiquitous Spanish tortilla, which is available at literally every bar, coffee shop, or other eatery, and helped fill in some gaps for us.

I assume you're going to read some guidebooks, which will fill you in on the Spanish schedule (e.g. dinnertime isn't until 10pm or later). It's something that might be a particular challenge for a kid, I assume, so worth understanding ahead of time. We found airbnbs (with kitchens!) to be really helpful for our jet-lagged and confused stomachs, until we finally got into the right rhythm.

You're looking at four cities in ten days? That's 3-4 days of transit (changing apartments/cities/etc.) built into your itinerary. For me, that's too much -- I want to have time to see more of the places I'm in, and spend less time at train stations and bus stops. But your preferences and travel style may be different than mine. And I haven't visited any of those cities, so am unable to be more helpful for specifics. But wherever you go, have fun!

Yes, the tortillas should be safe! They use olive oil, not lard.

The gazpacho might surprise you. Evidently, in some regions the put ham bits in?

jamesbond007

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2017, 02:18:22 PM »
That is A LOT for 10 days.
I'm from Spain, even though I lived in the US for the last 7 years.
I go back home often to see the fam.

Be very aware of ripoffs, mostly summer patios and stuff that claims fresh fish and that. Check always the prices from a written menu so they cannot scam you.

Let me know if you want some specific advice.

If you rent a car, BCN is a pain in the a$$. lots of tolls that are not avoidable, lots of radars, cameras, etc... But public transport is really good there.
Same goes for Madrid.

And visiting BCN it's a little tricky. Right now there is a big mess with the whole independence thing. So you never know what is going to happen.


What kind of tourism do you like? Beach days or visiting buildings and places?
I think Granada is a must! The 'Alhambra' is considered one of the wonders of the world. You need to book a ticket with time.

Bottom line...you need more than 10 days. and even if you have a whole month, you need a list of priorities so I can give you some advice.

BTW, Im a Real Madrid fan (Born and raised in Madrid) HALA MADRID!

Hala Madrid Y Visca Barca. I like good football in general and I like Messi so I want to watch him at least once live in a stadium. But yeah, if I go to Madrid I will visit the Bernabeau too and see Cristiano play.

That aside, we love nature. Mountains, sweeping vistas that sort of a thing. We also love history and don't mind spending an entire day at the museum.

10 days not including travel days is what we are thinking as of now. That is the reason I am planning very early so I can be a bit flexible if needed. We got the Rick Steves book and are reading it but anyone native Spanish would be awesome to take advice from. Again, we don't want to rush. Our plan for a vacation is to unwind, relax and learn about the history and culture.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2017, 02:43:13 PM »
We had no problems finding vegetarian food in Spain.

Before we left on the trip, we were told that  the national vegetable of Spain was the Iberian Ham!
Not true at all. We were able to find vegetarian restaurants in Madrid, Seville, Granada and Barcelona.

Few suggestions. Get the app "Happy Cow" on your phone.

ixtap

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2017, 02:48:33 PM »
We had no problems finding vegetarian food in Spain.


I am not saying it doesn't exist, I am saying that if you just ask for vegetarian suggestions, many won't eliminate lard or fish from their recommendations.

Telecaster

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2017, 04:39:49 PM »
The other thing is that sometimes, as crazy as it sounds, they will put ham in the vegetarian dishes.  I imagine if you are at a vegetarian restaurant you're fine, but elsewhere you want to check to make sure it really is vegetarian. 

That said, prices in Spain are very reasonable, public transportation is excellent, the food is great, the people are lovely, interesting history, beautiful landscapes.  Should be a great trip. 

socaso

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2017, 04:59:31 PM »
We went to Barcelona and Sevilla for 9 days last year. It was great. I'm glad to hear that others had no problem finding vegetarian food, we kept commenting to each other that we thought it would be hard to be vegetarian in Spain because there is so much meat on all the menus we saw. That being said, overall the food was cheaper than we expected. Barcelona was a bit more expensive than Sevilla. We did not rent a car at all. I booked hotels that were close to the central areas and walking wasn't much of a problem. Barcelona is more spread out than Sevilla but has good public transport. Sevilla was easy walking but the streets are quite winding and we got misplaced a time or two. We took a high speed train between the two cities. It was great.

bogart

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2017, 08:42:51 PM »
Here's what I would do.

If your starting point is the US (as mine is), I'd stay at least 2 weeks; In my experience, it's not worth travelling to Europe from the US for a vacation with a kid for less time than that -- too much travel time and jet lag, not enough fun (mine is now a tween, but we've been doing this since he was 18 months old and have 4 trips under our belts, so a trip every 2 or 3 years).  Of course if you are, e.g., like your namesake in the UK, then you can ignore this bit.

No way would I rent a car.

I've spent (vacation) time in Madrid, Barcelona, and Granada (but I hear Seville and several other southern destinations are lovely).  Honestly, I personally might do just a week in Madrid and a week in Barcelona.  My recollection of how we traveled (Madrid --> Granada --> Barcelona) when I did this is that it involved overnight trains, but looking at schedules I'm not sure how that was possible.  But if you can work it out, and assuming your kid is a decent sleeper, it's a fun way to cover ground.  Of course, space in a sleeper compartment adds to the cost (and is well worth that cost, with a kid), but not absurdly.  I'd price Eurail passes (assuming you are traveling on a US passport), and direct tickets as well.

I'd rent apartments (was easily able to do this in Hungary and Croatia via the internet, VRBO and/or Homeaway last summer, can't imagine Spain would prove more difficult than those places). For meals, my recollection is that Spanish breakfasts are utterly delicious and very affordable, ditto lunches.  With a kid I'd do tapas and/or cook at home for dinners, as Spanish restaurants really do serve very, very late -- I remember showing up at restaurants at 8 p.m. and have the servers seem perplexed as to what we were doing there so early (and food was not prompt in showing up).  Buy food in markets or grocery stores and do (some of) your own food prep.  Europe has wonderful breads and yogurts, just to name a couple of things.  Pack some tupperware, so you can take food with you readily for picnics and such.  Ziplock bags are also really useful.

When my kid was your kid's age, I had a peanut shell sling (kid carrier, you can google it) and carted him on my hip that way good distances.  But mine's a scrawny one -- he weighed at most 40 lbs. at that age, and maybe less -- YMMV.  I'd recommend a Safe Rider travel vest (again, you can google it) over a carseat, unless you're going to rent a car (but don't rent a car), just to use in the occasional cab and such.

ElleFiji

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2017, 09:06:38 PM »
15 years ago my veggie cousin and I ate a lot of ensalada normale, really good bread, and the odd cheese plate. Tortillas were egg, not flour, and then we ate balanced breakfasts and lunches with the groceries. No shortage of groceries. Olives I still dream about.

jamesbond007

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2017, 09:25:06 PM »
Here's what I would do.

If your starting point is the US (as mine is), I'd stay at least 2 weeks; In my experience, it's not worth travelling to Europe from the US for a vacation with a kid for less time than that -- too much travel time and jet lag, not enough fun (mine is now a tween, but we've been doing this since he was 18 months old and have 4 trips under our belts, so a trip every 2 or 3 years).  Of course if you are, e.g., like your namesake in the UK, then you can ignore this bit.

No way would I rent a car.

I've spent (vacation) time in Madrid, Barcelona, and Granada (but I hear Seville and several other southern destinations are lovely).  Honestly, I personally might do just a week in Madrid and a week in Barcelona.  My recollection of how we traveled (Madrid --> Granada --> Barcelona) when I did this is that it involved overnight trains, but looking at schedules I'm not sure how that was possible.  But if you can work it out, and assuming your kid is a decent sleeper, it's a fun way to cover ground.  Of course, space in a sleeper compartment adds to the cost (and is well worth that cost, with a kid), but not absurdly.  I'd price Eurail passes (assuming you are traveling on a US passport), and direct tickets as well.

I'd rent apartments (was easily able to do this in Hungary and Croatia via the internet, VRBO and/or Homeaway last summer, can't imagine Spain would prove more difficult than those places). For meals, my recollection is that Spanish breakfasts are utterly delicious and very affordable, ditto lunches.  With a kid I'd do tapas and/or cook at home for dinners, as Spanish restaurants really do serve very, very late -- I remember showing up at restaurants at 8 p.m. and have the servers seem perplexed as to what we were doing there so early (and food was not prompt in showing up).  Buy food in markets or grocery stores and do (some of) your own food prep.  Europe has wonderful breads and yogurts, just to name a couple of things.  Pack some tupperware, so you can take food with you readily for picnics and such.  Ziplock bags are also really useful.

When my kid was your kid's age, I had a peanut shell sling (kid carrier, you can google it) and carted him on my hip that way good distances.  But mine's a scrawny one -- he weighed at most 40 lbs. at that age, and maybe less -- YMMV.  I'd recommend a Safe Rider travel vest (again, you can google it) over a carseat, unless you're going to rent a car (but don't rent a car), just to use in the occasional cab and such.

That's some great info there. Thank you. We will be flying from SFO. We don't have a US passport so we will have to get a Schengen Visa. That's not a problem as we already got once for our trip to Italy back in 2015. I hope I can make reservations with a non-US passport. I will lookup EuroRail.

bogart

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2017, 09:36:07 PM »

That's some great info there. Thank you. We will be flying from SFO. We don't have a US passport so we will have to get a Schengen Visa. That's not a problem as we already got once for our trip to Italy back in 2015. I hope I can make reservations with a non-US passport. I will lookup EuroRail.

Thanks.  SFO makes that a REALLY long flight/trip -- I am east coast.  No passport not a problem for reservations, I wouldn't think (I don't remember having to provide that info. -- just a credit card :)!) -- I know there are rules about who qualifies to be able to use a Eurail pass, but whether it's US residents or just US passport holders, I don't know.  Interrail is another, cheaper, rail pass option but only (I think) for residents of Europe. The internet will know.  But honestly, once you are past the "I am a college kid who is going to see 20 countries in 40 days" phase, and/or unless you are planning to travel really long routes, I think direct tickets are pretty much just as good a deal, though they involve somewhat more pre-planning (arguably) and less flexibility. 

Happy travels!

frooglepoodle

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2017, 02:07:18 PM »
We spent two weeks in Spain last year, shortly before our son turned 1. Barcelona is full of wonderful parks that he was too young to enjoy, but a 3/4yo would have a good time. Another recommendation is the Parc del Laberint d'Horta. It's a ways outside the main downtown tourist areas but easily accessed with public transportation and would be fun for that age.

Jouer

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2017, 02:49:32 PM »
I can't speak specifically for Spain, but I can talk about seeing a football match in Europe. I saw AS Roma vs. Juventus in Rome a couple of years ago and it was a great experience. I bought the tickets from a European secondary ticketing site which was scary but ended up being ok. They needed my name, address, passport info, etc. to re-sell me the tickets. And I had to show my passport twice upon entering the stadium. No hassle, just needed to show ID to prove the name on the ticket was me.

CNM

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2017, 03:15:52 PM »
I traveled overseas when my kid was 3.

Tips: 
- Bring something for the child to watch TV/movies on, such as an ipad or a portable DVD player.  Those flights/airport waits are long.

- Don't rent a car.  Most of your sightseeing will be easily accessed by public transport.

- Pack a stroller.  Traveling and time change can make your child's regular sleeping/napping schedule irregular.  Bring a stroller so he/she can sleep on the go.

- Pack a large carry-on, with an abundance of diapers (if applicable), child-friendly foods, and several changes of clothes for the kid.  I have had the misfortune of being delayed overnight with a small child.

- Do not be too ambitious.  I would plan for doing ONE thing a day, such as ONE museum or visiting ONE site.  Everything takes 1000x longer with a kid. 

- Triple your ice cream budget!  :)

Lastly, other posters have mentioned this, but ham can sneak into foods most unexpectedly.   I once ordered a cheese pizza in Bilbao only to discover that underneath the layer of cheese was a thin layer of ham!   


cchrissyy

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Re: Travel to Spain with a 3 YO the Mustachian way. Any advice?
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2017, 06:50:33 PM »
If you cut it down to just 2 of those cities, I think 10 days will be fine.  you can avoid renting a car by walking and using public transit in all those towns, and when it is time to move between them, just take the train.