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Are you ready for a trip with young children?

Children travels can be quite tiring as fun. What I find the most challenging is transportation. If one could only skip the way there and back it would help!

I would like to give you some tips looking at the different ways to travel with young children:

 

Traveling by airplane:

  • if your child is still under 28 pounds (13 kilos), it is a good idea to bring a maxi cosy
  • if traveling in economy, reserve the seats in the front as there is more space for your feet. Some airlines let you choose your seats when your book over the internet. If you can’t do it on the internet, arrive early as possible and ask before your seats are assigned.
  • seats next to the emergency exit are also wider.
  • before leaving the check in desk, make sure everyone in your group sits together or close by!
  • flying up to the age of 2 is free, after that full price, some airlines do half price like charter airlines
  • you can bring your stroller up to your gate.
  • if you miss a flight because of a tight connection and the airline is responsible, don’t forget to ask a meal as well as for your baby. Even if your child does not pay, they should do that for you when you reschedule.
  • bring a change of clothes, diapers, baby bottle with milk in the plane with you.
  • have toys, books and candy easy to reach
  • try not to bring toys with pearls or something similar
  • some airlines have a great selection of TV games, cartoons and children’s movies, but it is always a good idea to bring one or two dvds and a portable computer or DVD player.
Airplane travels - Flying to Crete

Airplane travels - Flying to Crete

 

Traveling by car or bus:

  • try not to feed your child milk before taking a car or bus ride. This is especially true if you know there will be lots of turns and you are not the one driving. It may be hard to clean up if your child vomits and very inconvenient if you are traveling with a large group of strangers.
  • have wipes,a  large towel ready and a plastic bag and a change of clothes.
  • tell your child to close his/her eyes if he shows discomfort.
  • when renting a car, make sure it has gasoline before living the parking lot and find out where the nearest gas station is before leaving. I rented a car in Mallorca once and noticed it had none after a few kilometers. Also make sure you know how to use the child safety windows for the passenger’s seats and you know how to use the seatbelts.

 

Traveling by train:

  • ask for family trains with play areas. Swiss trains going to Zermatt from Zurich, for instance, have the last train reserved for families. It has a couple of slides and games.
  • if the train does not have anything for families, you may opt for a 4 seater, convenient to put your child in a maxi cosy if the seat near you is not taken. Also a 4 seater have larger tables.
  • some places have power, so bring cable with you in case your child wants to watch a movie and you run out of batteries.
  • coloring books are greats for train rides.
  • try to arrive before your train has arrived. This way you will have time to stamp your train tickets (very important in France), see on the board where you will be and wait in front and assure a place for your strollers and luggage when in the train.
  • don’t forget your child’s favorite food.  Even if trains have restaurants they may not have what your child likes or you may have to wait a long time to be served.
  • most trains have microwave where you can warm up your baby bottle in the restaurant.
Train travels - going to Zermatt from Zurich (Switzerland)

Train travels - going to Zermatt from Zurich (Switzerland)

 

Traveling by taxi:

  • some taxis may not take you unless you have a car seat
  • bring maxi cosy with you if you can.
  • for bigger children you could travel with a booster seat
  • as in some countries, taxi drivers don’t like taking families, it is a good ideas to order a taxi in advance and ask for a large taxi.
  • have a towel and plastic bag near you in case your child does not feel well
  • print the times of departure and connections in advance

 

Traveling by tramway in Zurich

Traveling by tramway in Zurich

 

Traveling by tramway:

  • convenient for short distances and if you don’t have too much luggage
  • some trams have flat bottoms which make it convenient to roll your belongings in.
  • buy your tickets in advance or have the change ready.
  • always plan to take a tram much earlier than if you would go alone as little kids don’t run and if you are with a stroller you may need to close it.
  • trams in Europe comes quite often, every 5 to 10 minutes depending when in the day or the week you travel. But in case of an accident or if something blocks the rails, you may have to wait a long time for a replacement bus. Leave early so you have taking a taxi at the last minute.

 

Should you drive to the airport, take a taxi or take public transportation?

This is a question to always ask yourself when traveling. I would say after having tried the taxi and public transportation, it all depends on how many bags you have and how easy it is to access the trains or trams.

Driving to the airport and leaving you car there can be expensive, but worth it if you compare it with the taxi. Plus taxi drivers are not always the happiest when they see a family with hundreds of bags, stroller and maxi cosis. Leave a bit earlier if you drive yourself.

If you can get to your train with a lift and have plenty of time for your connections, traveling by public transportation in Germany and Switzerland is quite enjoyable. On the other hand in Paris and London, you may have to go through lots of corridors and lot of steps to get to the subway. This would be almost impossible with strollers and luggage and a child to hold.

Whatever you do, leave as early you would not want to miss a non refundable train or a flight!

 

In the plane from Assuan to Cairo (Egypt)

In the plane from Assuan to Cairo (Egypt)

 

 

Should you drive to your vacation destination?

That is a question that we often ask ourselves when our end destination is about  621 miles (1000 km) or less. Are you traveling by car to save money, to have a car there? There are many things you may to consider:

  • If you want to save money and prefer driving,  look at parking possibilities where you are going. Will you be able to park your car and for how much? Will you need your car there at all?
  • Think it over. It may not be worthwhile driving if you have to turn back as soon as you arrive. How long is your vacation?
  • Do you like driving? Are you kids good travelers?
  • Do you want to sight see a country or are just interested in the end destination and would like to get there as quick as possible?

Driving to your destination can be very stressful especially with young children, long and tiring if driving in the hot sun. Some capitals like Amsterdam don’t really have place for cars. I remember paying 75 euros a day for parking my car downtown. It is also difficult to park in Paris and most hotels in other cities in Europe make you pay hefty daily fees. Sometimes if you can park your car outside, you are worried it will be stolen or scratched.

I would rather want to fly or take a train and then rent a car for a week or a few days. Driving is getting quite expensive if you add price of gasoline, heavy tolls for the roads and some bridges or vignettes. It is very expensive to use the highways in France. In Switzerland you can buy a yearly pass and in Austria they sell 10 day passes. If you buy your airline or train tickets in advance and then book a car for your end destination, you will be able to get better prices.

Let me know what is you favorite way to travel, please drop me a line.

Good luck and happy travels!

You may be interested as well in theses articles:

Packing for a trip with kids –  Part I

Packing for a trip with kids – Part II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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