“Honestly Robyn, I can’t stay here. There is mould in the ceiling. We need to find somewhere else.”
“Ok, ok I hear you. Let’s just chill tonight. I don’t have the energy and tomorrow we can search for a better place.”
As me and my fellow Bermudian Travel buddy, Jennie, meandered down the stairs of our Argentinian hostel a family was going up. They had an infant in a stroller and were struggling.
“How can they honestly do that? I can’t stand being here as a single person let alone with kids!”
“I don’t know Robyn, but if I have kids I will NOT be staying in a place like this.”
Last year while I was traveling solo around the world I had few, if any, responsibilities. If I wanted to go somewhere I could. If I wanted to be out till 4 a.m. I could. Most of the time the people I met were like me. And then, sometimes, there was a family. I might not agree with their accommodation choice, but I have a lot of respect for what they were doing – traveling without letting a child change their plans.
Robyn, how are you going to write about traveling with children? You don’t have any. Good question. Luckily my friends do. Caroline Wright, who has a one-year-old stepped-up to the plate with advice from her recent trip to Italy and London with her extended family, husband and son. And today, Monday, for my Rock Fever Column in The Royal Gazette she helped me put together some tips.
Caroline’s trip to London and Italy meant a lot of adults and one little person which starts tips for traveling with children at one with: rent a home. “We rented a villa for one week on Lake Garda, north of Italy and before traveling we made sure there was a crib and high chair available in the villa.”
But if you need to book a hotel, tip two is: “Always book one that says they are child friendly – we made sure each place had a crib for Jacob and allowed him to be a child. The Atheneum Hotel in London was amazing and catered to everything you requested – they had a crib, baby slippers and robe, games, stuffed animals and books in the room for Jacob and they even brought milk and cookies each night (we didn’t let him eat the cookies before bed so Mummy and Daddy decided to enjoy them).”
To get around buses and trains are best when you’re solo. When you have a child tip three is rent a car with car seat: “Each day we took a car trip to a different location – Venice, Milan, Verona, around Lake Garda. Car trips were long (always over 1 hour) so we made sure we had snacks, water, books and toys on hand to keep Jacob occupied if need be.”
Or: “It’s best to get a personal driver (and pre-book a car seat in their car) – they can take you at your own pace along the Amalfi Coast and stop where you want and take pictures of you and your family – this also meant Jacob was able to sleep in the car if the sights didn’t excite him enough”
But while a car seat and stroller for your destination might work for a lot of places tip four is: “If your child is too little to walk on their own, a backpack was a wise investment for Venice – there are many stairs to go over bridges and the narrow streets make it awkward to push a stroller. Pompeii was a location where the backpack was again needed, Jacob was able to see everything at our height and it meant a less bumpy ride for him.”
Of course bathrooms are adult-friendly (most of the time), but diaper duty can be tricky. So tip five is: “Always have a changing mat with you – there weren’t any changing tables in the public or restaurant bathrooms so many times Jacob would get his diaper changed on the floor between tables, on counter tops, in the back of the car, etc”
Children may need changing, but they also need (and even I know this) comfortable things like their blankets and pillows. Which is why tip six is bring what they know: Zoobies – animal cuddly toys which serve as toy, pillow and blanket are available at The Harbourmaster. While pacifiers do what their name implies: “We had gotten out of using the pacifier during the day (only for naps and night time) – however, we had to carry a few with us always as most days we left the villa at 9am and didn’t return until 11pm so nap times were unknown and crankiness could set in and any moment – the pacifier helped soothe him
“If you use a pacifier, always take extra as we lost many while Jacob fell asleep in the stroller and the pacifier would fall out without anyone knowing – currently there is a fluorescent green pacifier somewhere on the streets of Venice.”
While eating can be difficult for me -try and find Gluten-free food somewhere in an Italian restaurant- try finding child-friendly food……so tip seven from Caroline is ensure you have toys to keep them entertained.
“When eating in restaurants it’s handy to have small toys for them to play with while you’re waiting for your food. Jacob had his little cars and animals to keep him entertained, however the bread basket was more entertainment for him since he could eat it.”
You won’t always find something for them to eat, so tip eight is bring snacks and try to create variety in eating habits: “We tried to keep him on a healthy eating schedule but with restaurant eating and snacking throughout the trip, it wasn’t kept up. Little markets in Italy sold great fruit so he was able to eat a lot of that and he definitely sampled his fair share of ice cream, as did the rest of us.
“By the time we got to London, we did most of our eating in parks so Jacob wouldn’t have to sit in a high chair anymore, he got very tired of them (and all the different varieties we were given) – here he was able to run around, chase birds then come back and take a bite of food then do it all over again.”
Which brings us to tip nine, which is to trust people around you and enjoy the culture. Caroline said: “Everywhere we went in Italy, the people were so friendly and accommodating especially when they saw we had a baby – they all wanted to kiss him, play with him and even babysit – we got countless offers – one time when Anthony was shopping for pants, the store attendant entertained Jacob the whole time while I watched, it was adorable.”
And finally ten: “Don’t hold back on doing activities just because you have a one year old – if you’re not allowed to do it then you can’t (we weren’t able to go to the Opera in Verona as kids under 4 weren’t permitted) but we were able to ride on an open air double decker bus, go swimming in a cold lake, go on a gondola ride, travel up a funicular.”
Have you got more tips for children traveling? Comment below or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Categories : Rock Fever Column, Uncategorized