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. :)