traveling abroad with littles…

hello! i’ve complied a few thoughts on traveling abroad with little ones below if you are interested.  i know many of you are quite the experts here, but below are just a few things that worked well for us that i wanted to share. hopefully these tips can help someone else who is planning to travel abroad with a tiny one (or two!) in tow. it sure was exhausting at times and there were moments where i thought, gosh! we aren’t very smart, are we!, but it sure was fun. i can’t wait to share out photos and stories with the kids once they are older.
a few tips we learned:
1. stay flexible with your itinerary, pace yourself – since we were in italy for just two weeks, we wanted to pack in as much as possible. we spent 5 days in the south in sicily and the rest of our time up north (we covered rome, florence, cinque terre, parma & venice.) we kept the first week pretty low key (the first few days we just relaxed and adjusted to the time difference at the olive vineyard in sicily since we knew the second week would be a bit more hectic and busy.) this plan definitely helped the kids ease into the new time change, and helped us relax and feel like we were on vacation.  something else that really worked well for us was not planning everything down to a T. we didn’t book every hotel or tour in advance because we knew we’d need flexibility with the kids (this might be tricky though if you are traveling during a peak time when hotels and tours are booked far in advance.) for example, we had initially planned on spending a day and a night in verona after parma, but decided to cut that out last minute and head straight from parma to venice because samson was coming down with a cold and we were all feeling a bit exhausted by this point.  since we hadn’t booked our hotel in verona yet, this worked out great.
2. pack light (we traveled with just two carry-on sized backpacks) —  a few weeks before we left, josh mentioned one morning over breakfast that we should pack 2 carry on back packs for our 2 weeks in italy. no checked bags or rolling luggage. i laughed at him so hard.  it’s like he’d forgotten the amount of stuff i pack just to head to the playground with the kids in the afternoon.  but he was adamant we at least try. and so we tried, and to my surprise, it worked.  i honestly feel like this is the sole reason our trip went well.  because between catching a plane and a number of different trains every few days,  lugging two large suitcases plus our stroller and our kids would not have worked well.   we managed to fit everything we needed for 2 weeks abroad with two small children in two large backpacks by packing layers (it was warm in the south and colder up north), buying diapers and wipes when we got to italy, and making plans to wash clothing mid-trip at the hotel.  the only con to this plan was that we didn’t foresee the hefty price tag our hotel would charge us to do laundry mid-trip. in retrospect, i’d have stuck to this plan, but made time in our schedule to take our laundry to a local laundromat and do it ourselves.  i’m too embarrassed to ever tell anyone what we ended up paying at the hotel for our laundry.   (it’s like what jim gaffigan says, they must have washed everything in champagne.) UPDATE! i have added a bit at the bottom of the post about our carry ons!
3. take a stroller- and have your kids nap on the go — this will probably differ depending on your child, but since we are city dwellers, our little ones are used to napping on the go. up until the night before we left we were still debating if we should be bring our double stroller, buy two smaller umbrella strollers to use instead, or only bring baby carriers and no stroller at all (but can you imagine our poor backs?!) we were literally here in manhattan in a baby store the night before we left trying to decide which option was best.  we ended up deciding to take our stroller, and a baby carrier as a back up. i am really thankful we took our stroller because we ended up using it everywhere and always knew our kids were comfortable, warm and safe inside it. we brought a lock for our stroller and figured we would lock it up outside if we ever needed to but ended up only locking it up once in cinque terre where our tiny hotel room had 5 billion stairs to climb and a few times outside small restaurants where they had no room for strollers inside. *also, i couldn’t find a travel case that fit our double stroller but we have found that a few heavy duty black garbage bags can do the trick if you’re checking your stroller at the gate.
4. travel at off season for better prices and to avoid crowds of tourists — traveling is expensive. period. so we went during the off season (the first two weeks of november) and found better prices and less crowds. we never waited more than 30 or 40 minutes to get into a museum or a tour.  and for the most part, enjoyed weather that wasn’t too hot or too cold. (although venice flooded the day we left! that was quite the experience. i instagrammed a photo HERE and HERE while we were walking through the flooded streets trying to find a water taxi to take us to the airport.)
5. stay in the center of it all. splurge for a room with a view if you can — since traveling with little ones can bring a lot of unpredictability, we decided to find hotels that could act as home base throughout the day, if needed.  staying somewhere central is key. and since you might find yourself spending more time at the hotel due to the little ones’ schedules than you would if you were traveling alone, finding a nice space with a view doesn’t hurt either. one night in rome, it started raining hard around 5pm and both the kids were starting to get very restless. if it would have just been josh and me, we’d have stayed out until midnight exploring the city in the pouring rain. but with the kids, it was different.  we got out of the rain and back to the hotel quickly, ordered room service for dinner and stayed in for the night. our room had a beautiful balcony view of the city so we still felt like we were partaking of it, we had one of the best meals of our trip via room service, and the kids were happy as clams bouncing around our hotel space.  paying a little more (than we would have if it had just been the two of us) to stay at a hotel we liked that had a little extra space and that was closer to historic downtown helped us out a lot here.
we really enjoyed having the kids with us in italy.  i am so proud of them. they were such troopers.  it’s nice to spend time alone with josh, but i really loved traveling as a family and making these memories together. we can’t wait to doing more of it in the future!

have you traveled abroad with little ones before? do you have any tips or advice you want to share with us? also, HERE is a post from earlier in the year about flying with little ones.

***UPDATE! after posting this, i received so many questions regarding how we packed for 2 weeks abroad with little ones with just two 2 carry on sized backpacks. i went back through my images and tried to find a photo of our back packs. i could only find this iphone shot below.  josh did a lot of research on luggage before we left and we ended up deciding to invest in some tom bihn backpacks. we wore our heavier, more bulkier clothing items when traveling (coats, sweaters, hat, etc) and brought roughly 3 outfits each with one pair of shoes (i only brought my boots). i packed the kids a bit more clothing (about 6 outfits) since they are more prone to spills/blow outs/you know… but little baby clothes are so tiny. they took up little space to begin with.  i talk about what we did regarding diapers/laundry up top in my initial thoughts. we did not travel with car seats or a packnplay. we kept the kids in the hotel beds with us and since they are both under 2, had them as “lap infants” on the plane.  :)naomibackpack

  1. Betty

    What a great post. We are hoping for a Europe trip with our little one and people look at us like we're crazy! Nice to find advice from another mom!

  2. oh man…i cant wait to be a mum and feel all that love! :)

  3. The Egg

    you are such brave parents! proud of you for taking advantage of traveling with wee ones.

    xo the egg out west.

  4. great tips! and i love E's Patagonia jacket ;)

  5. Lyndsay

    Great tips! The backpack idea is a good one, I can imagine how having yours hands free must have been a big help.

  6. Marie

    These are great tips! Would you mind doing a post on what you packed into two backpacks? I'm amazed at this… were they camping size backpacks??

  7. I love it!!

    small-rainbow.blogspot.com

  8. I thought I'd post a synopsis of what I learned on our recent family vacation to Europe. Please feel free to ask specific questions if any of this is applicable for upcoming travels. For context: our daughter was 17.5 months, and had never flown. We did not purchase an extra seat, and did not take along a car-seat. Sorry this is so long, and a bit disjointed, but it gives others anticipating a similar excursion an idea of our schedule and a few specific hints.

    Flights:
    My husband and I had no option but to take a red-eye flight. That make the decision easy, but the planning a bit more difficult. I have heard horror stories of children on red-eye flights (although others SWEAR by flying at night because their kids sleep the whole way). It meant our daughter was awake 4 hours past her bedtime before we even boarded the plane. Here's what we did:
    1. Followed our normal schedule for the day. Instead of trying to get a longer-than-normal nap etc., I just did everything per our typical routine.
    2. Did bedtime routine. Around 6:00, at the normal time, we had a bath, diaper, and dressed in jammies.
    3. Let her run and get out any need for exercise before boarding. We arrived at the airport at 8:00 (1.5 hr past bedtime). She didn't nap in the car, but I didn't try to keep her awake either. After security, we let her run and play for 30 min. She was tired at the end of this, so I found a chair and rocked her and sang songs for about an hour. I also offered a snack.
    4. Board early; try and get a window seat. She LOVED having a window seat. She wanted to watch the lights etc., and was very good about sitting still.
    5. Offer soother, milk, sucker etc., on take-off.

    She slept about 2 hours on the first flight (it was about a 4-hr flight). My big advice here: dress baby fairly cooly. If you want to take blankets etc., do so, but the body heat of holding a LO becomes intense. Second big advice: TAKE PAIN MEDS. My hips, bum etc., were so sore from trying to keep still to not wake her up. I have restless legs to begin with, and it was pure torture. I did end up waking her up with my shifting.

    We had a 2 hour layover before our final flight; I changed her into fresh clothes, wet her hair (she was so sticky from being sweaty, lack of sleep etc.,). Offered lots of food, water etc., to keep her hydrated and full. She didn't sleep during the layover, but again fell asleep on take-off. I maximized the window seat – she loved looking out at clouds etc., I think it was key to try and clean her up; she really looked so disheveled and sweaty. I brought along several dry wash clothes that I could wet and use for this too.

    I invested in an Ergo carrier before we left. It was a huge help. While she doesn't really like being carried in it, it gave me two hands free to help DH with luggage etc.,

    Other things about the flight:
    1. Ask for food – often free for children/infants
    2. Get. a. window. seat. It was great
    3. Bring activities…but not too many. iPhones are great to store little games/books/movies. She also liked to colour on the plane.
    4. Bring a lovey, milk, blanket etc.,
    5. Bring a change of clothes, lots of diapers etc.,
    6. Bring a carry-on with lots of pockets. We invested in a large bookbag with lots of small (but easily accesible/distinguishable) compartments. It was so nice to be able to separate her clothes from her food from her diapers from her toys etc., instead of having to pull everything out to get at one item

    Overall: she did great. She slept a little over half the time on the flight, and would have slept more if I wasn't in so much pain. She would NOT sit with DH, and wanted to be snuggled with me. I was very hot – would definitely dress cooler next time in anticipation of all the heat she produces.

  9. Jet-lag:

    I immediately set out to put our daughter on local time. It was a 5 hour difference, but because of the red-eye flight, she was running on about 4 hrs sleep instead of 12. She refused a nap at 2:00 local when we arrived, so we went for a walk. She fell asleep in the stroller and I didn't try to stop her. Slept for an hour, woke, had supper, and I followed our normal routine (bath, jammies, milk, books, teeth, bed). I brought along 2 stuffed animals that she likes, offered her soother, and told her over and over it was bedtime. I did stay by her bed and sing for about 10 minutes to get her to calm down. She did well the first night, waking once at 3:00 local; I laid by her bed and sang to her. She went back to sleep after 30 min and slept until 8:00 local.

    I really went by her signals for naps the first few days. The second morning at 9:30 she walked to her bed and said "nap." I was tired too, so we both took a 3-hour nap. I didn't try to push to get to 1:00 local, and she didn't sleep again that day. Went to bed at 6:00 local for bedtime.

    Overall:
    1. Woke most nights and chatted for 30-40 min. Does this at home too, but it was very hard because DH and I were sleeping in the same room. Better the second week of our trip.
    2. Wanted to be sung to sleep most nights; I would sing 3-4 songs and then leave; she cried everytime, but not for more than 10 min.
    3. The room was not as dark as home so I rigged up a blanket over the P-N-P. Not perfect but helped.
    4. I used a white-noise app on the iPhone.
    5. Naps were hit-or-miss. Tried every day, but didn't force anything.

    We did alot of museums – FAIL for her, because we often couldn't let her walk. Any out-door related activity she loved though, so we tried to pick at least one thing each day she would enjoy. We also tried to have some down time around lunch for a nap etc., most days. Twice we took day-trips; once she slept in the stroller, and once she skipped her nap. I just did my best to keep her entertained. Don't ever let the thought a missed nap keep you from doing someone on an international vacation. You won't remember the one missed nap, but if our case, we would have missed visiting a very famous castle, and that would have been a regret. We actually found pushing her bedtime worked better than pushing a nap. So we would return for lunch/nap, and miss 3-4 hrs of sightseeing in the morning, but would return get to go do things in the evening until 7:30 or so, feed her, put her to bed and be able to enjoy a relaxing evening. She did much better in the evening than morning or afternoon and our evening excursions ended up being our favourite. Just a thought

    Overall:
    1. Take lots of snacks.
    2. Try to plan activities that have an outdoor component where they can run
    3. Bike when possible; they just enjoy this better than an stroller, and you can see so much scenery by bike – generally pretty easy to find in Europe
    4. Try to return to home base each day around lunch time.

    Lots of other info in my posts about our trip to Denmark here:

    http://optimisticmusings.wordpress.com/

  10. Really awesome tips thanks for sharing your experience with us! I will definitely be using them in the future

  11. Zoë

    Thank you Naomi! We are planning on taking our gal on a trip before she turns one in Feb. We have an ergo and a bugaboo as well….. Depending on destination we're debating on whether our not to bring the bug, but the lock is a great idea!

  12. Amanda

    Thanks for the tips!! My husband and I don't have children yet, but hopefully soon! And, he is a musician so we have had many conversations about being on the road with kids. I'd much prefer to do that than have our family apart for so long! I will be keeping these tips in mind! Thanks again!
    PS love your blog! and your cute family!

  13. Isia

    nie wyobrażam sobie jak można kłaść dziecko na ziemi, gdy taki ziąb na dworze

  14. Two backpacks? for reals?? I am stunned and in awe, I'm too indecisive to narrow anything down enough for one backpack
    Ku-dos my friend!

  15. If I may ask, what type/brand backpack did you guys use? I had honestly never thought of that and we're getting ready to make a trip to the east coast with my 15-month old…and we live in Hawaii…! Thank you for this post!

  16. Chely

    Your pictures turned out great! I love Italy's bright colors! I am SO looking forward to being a momma.

    socalcountry.blogspot.com

  17. Great post, very informative. even though i don't have kids yet i can see how useful these tips would be. it seemed that you managed very well. i never thought about how lucky i am to live in europe and not have to take such long flights to see these amazing places. but if i were to travel outside of europe i would use the same advice with kids.

    http://lifeiswhathappensblog.wordpress.com/

  18. We have 4 young boys and we have live abroad for 5 years. We have found that if you are traveling to a developing country ditch the stroller, if possible. We went to Vietnam with our Phil and Teds stroller and it was such a mistake. Most taxis can't fix a stroller in the trunk and trains can't fix them either. You could bring an umbrella stroller but sidewalks and streets are not that great so it's very difficult to use them. We have two Ergos and that has worked for us. We decided to not bring one to Cambodia and it was so much easier without it. I think Europe is another story but we have yet to travel anywhere developed except the U.S. Some day:)

  19. Thanks, Naomi! These are great tips (+really cute inspiring pics of your children)! I'm getting ready for our first trip with our little one too. Hope I will get out of it alive and smiling :))

  20. Aracely

    Wonderful tips! I have two girls and I always end up taking more then I should always worried that i will need something and find out that I hardly use the stuff that i bring!! lol but I will have to try that. Love your blog such a happy and lovely family :))

  21. Jess

    Great post and I appreciate the tips as we are traveling with our little to Puerto Rico for the first time in January. Tell me though, the tiny pink backpack hanging from the stroller wasn't one of your 2 total for packing, was it?! Impressive either way.

  22. Great tips! My parents traveled overseas with me when I was little so they and you guys are living proof that it can be done and done well.

  23. a{Jo}

    I went to Italy last April with my husband, 6 month old, and 2.5 year old. We had been to southern Italy in the past, so we wanted to check out northern. We chose a hotel with large rooms in Milan as a home base that was close to the train station. It had a connecting room so that our kids could stay in the adjacent room. The price was really great (about $190 a night for two rooms total) and the rooms ended up being really huge (it was the Westin in Milan). Every day we went to a new city. We left in the morning and came back early evening. We went to Bologna, Genoa, Lake Como, Verona, and Venice (we stayed the night in Venice, but were able to leave our stuff at the hotel Concierge back in Milan because we were coming back the following day). This worked great because we could bring all our stuff, but only carry around a small bag with essentials during the day. We just planned on being out all day, and it worked (my 2.5 year old napped in the stroller). It also established a home base. All the cities we went to were only 1 hour away by train (with the exception of Venice. We brought a backpack carrier, an Ergo, and an umbrella stroller. It was totally doable, but the tantrums of the 2.5 year old were unprecedented due to the sleep deprivation. It was only a few times a day though, and totally worth it!

  24. Amanda

    I am with another one of your readers, could you do a post on what you did pack in those two back packs? My husband and I pride ourselves on being light packers, but 2 backpacks for 4 humans (even if two of them are littles) is incredible!

  25. Wow you are such a trooper! I am so impressed! I hope I am this efficient with my children someday!

    Corbynn
    thesistersinthecity.com

  26. amazing tips and beautiful photos!!! I seriously don't know how you fit everything in two backpacks…. I'm so impressed!

    Happy Holidays!
    xoxo
    Liesl

    woodsy-soiree.blogspot.com

  27. YEs on pretty much everything here!! We spent 7 months in Sweden with our son and did a lot of traveling while there- being FLEXIBLE is the most important thing. We hope to make it back to Sweden this summer for a trip and now that there are two of them it might be a little more challenging but this just proves it can definitely be done!

  28. I've never traveled outside the US with my one-year-old but we're constantly traveling with him to and from the east coast. Thats where all of our family lives (we live in Los Angeles). I've found red eye flights are the way to go along with packing light (but smart), be easy going, etc.

    Thank you for sharing these! It's always helpful reading other people's stories and tips when it comes to the kiddos! You guys did a great job!!

    xo
    Rachel
    http://picklesandchapstick.blogspot.com/

  29. Marie

    I've traveled with my son since he was 2+ years old and I agree that flexibility is key. We booked our hotel in advance, but not the activities. We didn't join any tour group, but instead roamed around aimlessly, just enjoying the surroundings together. We really enjoyed travelling together and we had so much fun. Travelling with young ones can be a little tiring, but looking at their happy & excited faces as they see or try something new is indescribable. Its a wonderful feeling. ♥

  30. I'll tuck this away for when I have kiddos someday!

  31. Great post and the trip looks absolutely incredible. E & S are precious!!

  32. Sara

    I always struggle with deciding whether I should bring the stroller or leave it! We are leaving in a few weeks to Turkey, and had just decided to leave it, until I read your post. ha. Actually we intend to stroll new years eve, so I might bring it. I've done several trips, solo with two kids.
    1) an overnight flight to our destination (so the kids can sleep for as long as possible),
    2) a layover on the return in hopes of breaking up the long journey during the daytime (and now, I try to get 6+ hr layover so we can leave airport and tour a new city (last summer we did day trips in paris and amsterdam, this winter, we will tour zurich).
    3) Pack as little as possible; I know some people prefer to bring lots of games and things to occupy child, but I dont liking carrying heavy bags, so I go for bare necessities; the toddler is easily amused by the tv and buttons on the plane (but I will bring a note pad, crayons and stickers for her as well); the older child carries his kindle for games and a book for reading and this year a loom and yarn.)
    4) snacks and a water bottle (fill bottle up once thru security). Little drinks for toddlers are allowed to go through security, but pack them separately and alert the officer.

  33. really, really useful tips! thank you. i'm terrified to travel with my almost 2 year old, so I doubt I'll use this advice any time soon. but all good info to know! (Maybe with the next baby?) :)
    http://www.thismomsgonnasnap.com

  34. I love all the tips! I can't even imagine how much work it would be to vacation with two young ones [I'm not a mom].
    I love how you always seem to stay so positive and upbeat, taking everything on as it comes, and ready for a challenge. (:

  35. Megan

    I've traveled quite extensively and never like traveling in the colder weather. Packing clothes for cooler/colder weather is always so bulky and I dislike hauling a big coat around. You are right that the waits for entrances to museums and monuments are much shorter in the off period, but I always disliked walking/waiting around in the cold weather. If you only brought two backpacks with you, did you just bring 2 outifts for each person for the whole trip? Also, did you get any strange looks or smirks for changing your baby on the ground at the train station like that?

  36. Thank you so much for all of these tips! I am totally bookmarking this for future reference.

  37. I would also add to try and have dinner early if you have children that go to bed early. We made the mistake of going to dinner with a baby in Sicily this summer. The restaurant didn't open until 9 p and she was not happy at all! I also changed diapers in fun places like outside Buckingham palace. I wasn't going to miss the changing of the guard for a diaper. Your tips are perfect! I have learned that focusing on one or two things is the best just like you said in staying flexible.

  38. Is that an Ergo baby carrier? My sister got one for her first son and it is now carrying its third baby and showing very few signs of it. They are very well made!

    I love how you included your pre-trip packing thoughts and your post-trip reflection on them!

  39. Just did a 13 hour flight from Phuket to Frankfurt, plus two one hour flights until we finally arrived with our 4 year old in Scotland! MAJOR props to you guys for traveling with two little ones, it's really tough ( in my opinion) and I've flown internationally A LOT with my kiddo. It's really smart how you packed light!!

  40. alli

    What backpacks did you use to pack your stuff?? I'm just so amazed you only used two backpacks!

  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. naomi, i don't have littles so this post doesn't immediately apply to me, but it was so nice of you to write up such thoughtful tips for traveling with toddlers & babes in tow. i'll just have to bookmark this for a few years from now!

    ..also the way you annotated the photos is completely adorable, not to mention the photos themselves are some of my favorites i've seen here! oh, and i too would LOVE to see what exactly you stuffed into those backpacks…i think packing light is brilliant no matter you're traveling circumstances, but i have such a hard time with it.

  43. Lauren

    I too would love to read a breakdown of what you packed and what type of backpack you used. We backpacked around Europe for six weeks before having kids using two Osprey internal frame packs that were carry-on sized. With three boys ages 4 to 3 months I'm not sure we'll be doing much traveling anytime soon, but I'd still love to hear about what worked for you.

  44. I love this post so much! my sister and i grew up traveling around the world with our parents. I spent my first birthday in paris!

    after a few years my parents definitely became experts at traveling with two littles :) of course that took a while, my mom apparently brought 2 weeks worth of baby food (in glass jars!) with her once on a trip to spain. we never did master the art of packing light!

  45. Ann

    Thanks for taking your time with these pointers! If our family ever travels abroad with children in toe, I'm so referring back to this post : )

  46. twould love to be your kid…because you dressed E in patagonia, you are easily the coolest parents in the blogosphere!

    Adorable family

  47. Thanks for a great post and tips! Gathering tips from the comments helped too. I have a 6 month old (born on May 30th as well!) and we will be taking our first family trip to SF (we live in so cal) this Thursday. Not as hectic and intense as Europe but still, it should be interesting!

  48. Kristina

    Did you really changed the diaper THERE???? Hope that's not true!!!

  49. Kate

    I would love to hear what you packed to wear for your two week trip with so little packing space!

  50. Great post! Thanks!

  51. Annie

    I adore your blog! I can watching your photos few times a day! You are such a lovely family and I envy you very much. :) When I look at your photos, I see me and my boyfriend in a few years. I hope that our family will be as happy as you are. :) Kisses!!

  52. you definitely made a good choice leaving during off season. We went to Greece with our 1 year old baby this summer (on a boat). Although it was the end of high season, it was still way too hot…baby didn't appreciate the air co in the hotel rooms …
    http://amoremiobello.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/sailing-holidays-in-greece/
    How did you make your babies sleep? did you ask all the time 2 baby beds?? they slept with you?
    just asking because our baby is not a good sleeper in hotel rooms and she always ends up in our bed…

  53. great post & lots of handy tips!

  54. SH

    Although my husband and I don't have children just yet, so I'm sure I can't imagine the effort it took to travel with your littles, I admire you nonetheless! I'll have to bookmark this post for future reference :)

    thehartungs.blogspot.ca

  55. eela

    What camera and lens did you take with you and use during your travels? Gorgeous!

  56. eela

    Also, where did you get your hat, boots and scarf? Not that having them would make me as cool & gorgeous as you but I can dream!

  57. oh i love this! great tips if i ever go to italy! I wouldn't even think about bringing a lock for a stroller and i am seriously impressed that you managed to only bring two backpacks and look as fashionable as you guys do. :) May I ask what you did for beds for the children? Or did you make something for them while you were there. thanks for the tips!

  58. Kristina

    Wow, I cannot imagine packing just for me in two backpacks, let alone for a whole family! Amazing amazing.

    Kristina

    Kristina does the Internets

  59. Julia.

    I love your blog so much. I, too, live in the city and saw you traveling about Columbus Circle yesterday with your littles looking radiant as ever. While I'm too shy to say hello (and feel odd feeling like I know someone from the internet, lol), I just wanted to tell you that the four of you and your lovely friends looked even more beautiful in person. Thanks for being such an inspiring image of family life in Manhattan!!!

  60. Great tips! Can't believe you managed with two backpacks! We live in Budapest & are travelling over Europe with a 3 year old & a now 10 month old. We fly back to Texas a few times a year to visit fam. My best tips are: (1) schedule in time / locations for toddlers to run around in a park or plaza type location; (2) keep "surprises" (special snacks / trinkets) on hand for meltdown moments or for overseas flights; (3) if you do a guided tour, hire a guide for your family only – keeping up with a group with tots never seems to work out; (4) avoid lines by always buying tickets for anything online, in advance; (5) dine at restaurants early & avoid the crowds; (6)https://www.airbnb.com/ is a good website where you can book apartments in the big European cities – it's nice to have a kitchen & separate sleeping area for the kids (so you don't have to hide in bathroom with bottle of wine while children fall asleep). We keep our expectations low & usually end up pleasantly surprised! XO, Meryl

    http://www.mclendonblog.blogspot.hu/

  61. alyssa

    Thanks for posting about your experience! My husband, 19 month old & my 6 month pregnant self will be heading over to Germany in a few weeks so any and all advice/tips is so appreciated.

  62. Lindsy

    I am now SOOOOO tempted to do this, too! We want to take our (now 15 month old) 2 year old on a European cruise with us next summer and I think you've convinced me we can do it! :)

    http://www.LMRphotos.com

  63. kentromo

    I love to hear about parents traveling abroad with their little ones! I am impressed with the amount of luggage you didn't take! My husband and I have been taking our kids with us to Europe every year since they where 9 months old–they are 10 and 8 now. A couple of things I might add to your list–We always rent a flat or a home when we travel with our kids as it seems so much easier to handle meals and downtimes and it is pretty comparable (if not more cost effective at times) to renting a hotel room. I also always bring a daypack/back filled with games/coloring/small toys for long leisurely lunches and dinners. Keep traveling!

  64. CiCi

    Can you PLEASE do a post dedicated to your light packing technique? I know you said layers are the key, but how did you decide what and how to pack (and how to still look fashionable!)?

  65. Thank you Naomi for the post I have been waiting so bad. The tips are great and some of them new to me. But I can't help myself but wonder : 2 backpacks? Oh my! I see I am not the only one wondering, so I hope you will dedicate one post to this topic soon. The pictures are heart melting like always. It's nice for you and the kids to have great memories like this :)
    Happy December!

  66. Good job guys!

  67. i can't really relate to trying to travel with kids since i don't have any, but i can certainly respect that it takes careful preparation. its so wonderful that you two took on the challenge to take your little ones with you–even just judging by your photos and what you've shared show that you definitely made some special memories out of the already special trip :)

  68. lovely trip! We also traveled to Berlin in September with two small! here
    I love Rockstar diaries ;)
    Kina

  69. Bridget

    two backpacks??? i just don't understand how you looked as chic as you did while traveling with so few options. NICELY DONE, NAOMI.

  70. We have traveled abroad with only one and now with two. The second time I considered leaving the double stroller at home and like you was so relieved that I didn't. It worked out so well for them to nap on the go and for walking long places. And I too bring along a lock to lock the stroller when we couldn't bring it in places. Glad to see I am not the only nut!

  71. agree with the light packing! we take a week long holiday in europe in every early spring (love traveling off-season). only take my well used longchamp le pilage tote that fits under the seat with leg room to spare!

  72. emily

    well done you guys :)

  73. I was looking fwd. to reading some
    More of these details! Ha, I can imagine the debate about stroller/carrier etc. must have been a tough one! Nice…

  74. I was looking fwd. to reading some
    More of these details! Ha, I can imagine the debate about stroller/carrier etc. must have been a tough one! Nice…

  75. Rachael

    Truthfully if you had gone to a laundry mat you would have had to deal with the odd fact that their dryers don't really dry clothes. You could have been there for hours! So factor in how you value your time and it probably wasn't too bad! : )

  76. Adorable pics in this post. I think the tips seem great…I'm totally impressed that you fit everything in your backpacks! We did laundry midway through our trip at a laundromat in Florence. Definitely the way to go after we spent an arm and a leg for a small amount of laundry at our hotel in Frascati.

  77. Katie

    Thank you so much for sharing these tips, Naomi (and your lovely photos, of course).

    As I've mentioned a zillion times here (are you sick of reading it yet? haha), we've been longing to return to Italy with our own little in tow; I'll be filing this post away for future reference! ;)

  78. Could you share a packing list? I'd like to try the two back pack thing.

  79. Camille

    CAN YOU PLEASE SHOW US WHAT YOU PUT IN THE BACKPACKS?! I AM UNABLE TO BACK TWO BACKPACKS FOR MYSELF LET ALONE FOUR PEOPLE!!!!!!

  80. ✚ very useful tips! I guess the most important is to have a good attitude in case things don't go as planned! ✚

  81. you and your husband have amazing photography skills!the pictures look like they come straight from a magazine!

  82. ibrewtea

    These are all great tips….I travel plenty, and am accustomed to living out of a backpack for months at a time. Keeping it minimal is KEY (I never understand those ppl who haul around enormous backpacks with dress shoes tied to the back! Are you going to meet the president, and then live in a yurt in Mongolia for a year?). I'm TTC, so I'm interested in how my future travels (usually through SE Asia–which is fantastic, amazing) will be shaped by babies.

  83. JSL

    ahhhh…the post i've been waiting for
    thank you!

  84. JSL

    ahhhh…the post i've been waiting for
    thank you!

  85. Zoë

    I don't think non-parents would ever realize that the floor/ground its easily the safest and most convenient place to change a diaper. I certainly wouldn't have thought that before I had my baby gal. Trunk of the car, on the floor of a fancy wedding hall bathroom (with our own clean change mat)….and you don't care what any onlookers think cuz you just need to do what needs to be done for the Little one!

  86. Seriously Samson takes the best photos! That smile…..

  87. neen

    we travel to Spain one to two times a year, our flights we book are anywhere from 11 to 16 hours on the airplane depending on layovers (we are on the west coast)…
    a few things that have helped, are:
    paying a little extra for no layovers if possible (though we book way in advance for better prices), or finding a trip with as few layovers as possible.. that way there is less running through airports with little ones trying to make flight… also we have found it helpful, that if we do have to have a layover, to make sure we get one flight with a lot of time and another with just a few hours… for example, we fly from L.A. to Switzerland, which is about 11 hours and then have a one hour layover and then, a two hour flight to Madrid… this helps so that the little one is in the same environment most the flight and can get more solid uninterrupted sleep… we never stop in Atlanta or NY, because it breaks up the trip too much and gives less sleeping hours in one solid block (i realize this isn't necessary advice for you being in NY but maybe it will help another reader)…
    the other tip is to go through customs in Europe if you have layovers, even if you are headed back to the U.S… we never book our layovers in the U.S. because their costumes are A LOT stricter and as a result take a lot longer and if you have 1 hour to make your flight, going through customs and then running through the airport with little ones is that much harder… not likely to make your flight… sounds like common sense mentioning it, but surprisingly a lot of people i talk to don't realize this…
    also, my oldest who is two now is not cuddly and will not go to sleep in our arms, which has been hard on long flights that go into bed time and so i have found it helpful to call ahead to insure we have the bulk head seats… that way we have extra leg room and i take a few blankets and the pillow they give you for the flight and lay it down into a little bed for her to fall asleep on the floor… if the turbulence isn't bad, I've found they haven't given me a problem with her being there…
    another thing is for sure bring a portable changing station, another thing that seems like common sense but people forget about… target sells good ones for trips…
    we have family in Spain so we just bought a stroller there and keep it… but later regretted it because it was cheap and those cobble streets are rough… we will likely take our double next trip as we have a little man added to the family this summer, so thanks for the trash bag tip…
    naps on the go is a good tip… and a mellow first few days… thanks for your tips! it's always fun to hear about others baby experiences going abroad…

  88. loooooooovveeeellllyyyyy!!

  89. Elena

    Hi Naomi,
    Can you please share with me what font you use for the pictures and how you draw the arrows?

    Many thanks!

  90. you and your hasband are so brave people!!! next summer i will travel as well with my baby, he will be 1,5 year and iam afraid of it already, but your post has helped me a lot:) kisses!

  91. PS: we never wrapped up our Bugaboo to check it in, we just put rain covers on the seats and took it apart so we had three pieces (two seats, stroller base).

  92. This is amazing, we are in the planning stages for our first baby (the Mr already has a 7 year old and she is the light of my life) and the thought of traveling with two little ones fills me with panic, your post makes it seem so accessible and fun. I am actually looking forward to it now!!
    Can you please do a post on what you packed in the back packs? I am desperate to know because I can sometimes pack light for myself but I always pack way too many clothes for Ella (dressing kids is way too much fun!!) Please, please, please!!
    Thank you so much again, I am inspired xxx

  93. Clau!

    Thanks for this post, it makes me think we can travel anywhere as family ;)

  94. I am not sure if someone commented on the travel bag for the Donkey yet but my friend also has it and she uses the travel bag of the Stokke Xplory! She says everything fits in just fine and perfectly.
    Maybe this will help for your future trips!?

  95. Shannon

    Maybe I'm just the fastidious sort, but I think it's beyond gross to change your baby's diaper in public, particularly on a train station floor. Nobody needs to smell the contents of the diaper, nor do they want to see your kid's private parts.

    Yuck, yuck, yuck, and rude to your fellow travelers.

  96. Ooh that last comment by Shannon makes me upset! I don't comment often but as a new mama I feel sensitive to rude statements said by people who clearly have never been in a situation such as needing to change a baby's diaper in a public place. You gotta do what you gotta do when it comes to your kids! It's not easy being "that mom" in a situation like that but it's a sacrifice we make for our children's well being!

  97. I want to see, item by item, what you packed!

  98. I agree with all your comments on traveling abroad with kids. We went to Amsterdam and Paris in April with my (then) 20 month old son from NJ. 8 hour flight and trains to Paris. We always had him nap in the stroller (can't be stuck in hotels for hours during the day) and we did a ton of parks to tire him out during the day. We also bought all diapers and wipes in Amsterdam once we got there.

    I found both cities to be very stroller and kid-friendly. In both cities they would welcome Ben to each restaurant and give him a nice high chair and kids milks, etc. I loved traveling to Europe with a toddler and we hope to get back next year, especially Paris which is now my favorite city! :) Your trip looked amazing.

  99. Erica

    I'd love to see what you actually packed. I'm a chronic over-packer and can't even imagine 2 weeks with just a backpack! And I don't have any kids! Your tips for that would be much appreciated!

  100. Shannon

    krista lia, you can't figure out how to take your child to a more private location to change a diaper?

    People don't want to see your baby's junk. And they don't want to smell the contents of a soiled diaper. And there are perverted people out there who are aroused by the sight of a naked child, so why entice them? God forbid if someone took a picture while you're blithely changing your baby for everyone to see.

    It's only in the last five years or so that I've seen parents change their children's diapers in public – let alone post a picture of it onto a very popular blog. So clearly earlier generations of parents figured out how to "do what they gotta do" without waving their kids' genitals around and creating a sanitation issue. Changing your kid in private is about their well-being…changing your kid in public is about your own desire to not be inconvenienced,

  101. Lisa

    You and your family are so cute. I think you are a fantasic mum. In a few years I would love to have my own little family which is so lovely like yours <3

  102. you guys are so awesome to travel as a whole family. no better way to become closer than experience amazing new places and get through some stressful situations like being in a new country away from home but together!

  103. couldn't agree more with shannon

  104. What a great bunch of tips! I don't have any little ones yet, but I'm really hoping that when I do I can refer back to your blog for tips and support x

  105. kelsey

    Your advice is awesome! I am so impressed that you fit everything in two carry on bags… what did you pack? That is incredible!

  106. Kimberly

    ohmyword two backpacks! You guys are amazing!

  107. Rachel

    I would LOVE to know what you settled on to pack in TWO BACKPACKS (like everyone else :P) Could you possibly do a post on it?!

    And gorgeous photos as always, Naomi. Your blog is definitely a frequent read(:

  108. Seconding everyone else's comments about how and what exactly you packed in those backpacks. Maybe what you loved having, what you didn't need and what you wish you would have brought! It would be so helpful! Thanks!

  109. Jill

    I am speechless! … Two back-packs and still such style. It's in your blood, you can't help it! :) My husband & I backpacked before we had kiddos and I was in t-shirts and headbands. Ha. I love your darling family.

  110. We haven't had kids yet, but my parents spent 8 weeks in Scotland (and traveled to England a few times with us) when I was 9 and my sister was 2. Admittedly, we were much older than E and S, and they had me to keep tabs on my sis.

    We did a house exchange, which came with cars, and a car seat. You and Josh are in a great spot in NYC, anyone would want to swap houses with you and there are specific web sites just for that if you decide to travel again.

  111. analaila

    oh my! i cant even imagine traveling for 2 weeks with only 2 carry on bags!!! how the heck did you managed that!? we traveled abroad last summer i didnt take the stroller but we did bring a lot of suitcases…

  112. Lilly

    Did your kids sleep with you during the trip? We are traveling in a couple of weeks with our 2 year old (who doesn't like to sleep with us), and i fear he's getting too big for his pack and play. Any ideas?

  113. rachel!

    wow! thanks for the tips. can you talk more about how you packed everything into TWO backpacks?? i just can't get over it.

  114. mary

    This is a very helpful post. Two questions, though, did you bring car seats or just decide that they were unnecessary because you trained it around, mostly. Also, what about cribs?

  115. Fiorella

    These pictures are AMAZING! I am about to go on a trip through South America and I need camera recommendations. Any tips on which one to get? what did you use for your trip? Thanks!

  116. BPremo

    I have loved seeing your trip!

    I am so impressed how lightly you packed! I was wondering what you did about where your kids slept at the hotels. (sorry if that is so in your business!)

    I just always feel like a crazy lady schlepping around a pack n' play – even when we visit people and it coincides with a nap.

  117. Great post—we are planning a 2-week trip to Spain this summer. I want to pack light as well (GULP!) and think we will go with an umbrella stroller and carrier, but what did you do about a car seat? We tend to always bring it with us domestically, but this will be our first big travel experience with our 1-year old.

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  120. Sarah

    The Tom Bihn luggages look nice, but I’d strongly suggest the Patagonia Black Hole 60L duffle with backpack straps. Cheaper than the Toms, plus it’s waterproof and a crazy durable fabric, and pretty stylish. We usually travel with our backpacking packs, but digging down deep to find something specific isn’t as handy as reaching in a U-shaped zipper to easily sort through everything. I spoiled my hubs with one, so here’s to hoping he spoils me back with the purple one! ;)

  121. Karen

    This is great! Thanks for sharing your memories from Italy.

    We never had to travel abroad with littles, our kids were older, but we did much traveling in the US when our kids were little, and I always seemed to overpack.

    One tip about doing laundry overseas. It is extremely rare to see any tip of laundromat, even in Europe! We spent a week in Malta, and paid a hefty price for using the hotel’s laundry service! So when we travel these days, we take some laundry detergent with us and do laundry in the bathroom sink. Many European hotels have laundry racks to hang laundry to dry, so that is never a problem. Depending on the weather, clothes can be dry be the next morning, even if you have to dry them indoors. Our last trip was to Bulgaria, and we brought enough for a week, re-wearing things like jeans and sweaters, only had to wash some underthings for the dear hubby, since it was warm and sweat is an issue.

    My pastor and his wife were in China recently in order to meet their daughter they were adopting. Our pastor’s wife did their laundry in the bathtub in their hotel room!

    Keep up the great posts and photos! :)

  122. Karen

    One more comment from me – about changing diapers in public. :) In most Europe it is not as strange to see very young children, either totally unclothed at the beach, or even taking care of their needs in public! In Italy it may be common to just change a baby anywhere, giving no though to the privacy and sanitary issues we think of in America.
    If you ever saw the inside of bathrooms in most train stations and any public bathrooms, at least in Eastern Europe, you wouldn’t want to do your business in there, never mind changing your baby in there!

    I was concerned more about the safety issue of the closeness of the trains in the background, but maybe the angle of the photo makes it look closer than it really is. :)

    I don’t know how Italian grandmothers would react, but a Ukrainian babushka would scold you for having your baby laying on the concrete, even with padding underneath. Their thinking is – he might catch cold!

    Glad your family trip went so well, Naomi, even with very young children!

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  124. Wendy

    Lovely post, so jealous about your trip to Italy :-) We’re thinking about coming over to NY in April next year (from Australia) for a couple of weeks and I’m wondering if anyone can recommend a good place to stay with an 8 month old. We’ll likely bring the portacot (PnP) since she doesn’t like sleeping with us. I’ve been looking at apartments and hotels, but there is so much variety and all quite $$, so any recommendations would be fabulous!

  125. Mira

    Planning a trip to Italy in July was very happy to come across this article. My friend is getting married in Parma but I want to explore cities around there not sure where to go really any advice?

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