When my daughter (the Munchkin) was 16 months old we made a spontaneous decision and went to Europe for a week. My husband and I had booked 1 week off work and had planned to enjoy a few days at home and a few days a few hours away in Parksville, BC. About two weeks before this was to occur, we checked flight prices and found a deal too good to pass up. Soon we were off as a family of three to Europe for one week.
Today I’m giving an overview as to how we planned for this spontaneous trip and why we thought flying 11 hours with a 16 month old was a good idea.
Upcoming Posts on Rome
This post is the first in a series of posts about travelling with a toddler in Rome. Upcoming blog posts will include key highlights from our trip and cover how to successfully tour the Coliseum and Forum. I’ll also share how to use Rome’s public transit system instead of the hop-on-hop-off busses. We also had a successful beach day that I’ll discuss. Stay tuned for these posts in the weeks ahead. Also, if you have any specific questions please email me and I’ll try to address them.
Past Toddler Travels
We had traveled six months earlier with our Munchkin to Florida for a two week trip in three different cities. I had also taken her for a weekend to Ohio. On both trips the Munchkin enjoyed airplane rides and was in a pleasant mood most of the time. She could sleep in her baby carrier and never had any issues with time zone changes. Given her successful track record with flying and time zones we thought we could handle the trip. Also, the departing flight was scheduled for 1 hour after her usual bedtime so we had hopes that she’d sleep.
Our Munchkin had a couple months of walking under her belt. She also had a few teeth and was a good eater. The Munchkin loved pasta, bread, and tomatoes, which was a good match for Rome! Naps made us worrisome as she was still at the two naps a day stage with a 9:30am nap and a 2pm nap.
Packing for a Week in Europe
We filled our suitcases with summer clothes and focused on bringing as many outfits for our Munchkin as possible. We knew she may go through double the outfits as us. After all, she was a messy eater and known to get herself really dirty! We also estimated 7 diapers a day and were able to pack enough diapers into the folds of our clothes and the crevices of our bags. We know what diapers we like and since we had space we decided to bring them along. I also packed food pouches so she could have a snack on something familiar. Our daycare suggested we bring any and all drugs from home so we had baby Advil, baby Tylenol, baby Benadryl, teething gel, and a super duty diaper rash cream. We never used any of it, but it did give me piece of mine knowing we had it just in case.
As for Mom and Dad packing, we each packed one nice outfit that would be suitable for the Vatican – you know, in case Pope Francis wanted to chat over coffee…
I called our travel company (Transat) to inquire about our airport transfers. I was advised it was a bus transfer and based on this advice I did not pack a car seat. We found out in Rome that it was a minivan and they didn’t care we had no car seat. That was pretty stressful, but we had a safe ride.
We decided to bring a hand-me-down umbrella stroller. The stroller had seen better days, but it still worked! From all of my pre-trip research we heard that the cobble stones of Europe could wreck a stroller. So from this research I then researched baby stores and found PreNatal chain of baby stores. They had a great selection of umbrella strollers so the plan was to buy a brand new umbrella stroller when ours broke. Fortunately/unfortunately (?) our stroller never broke so it returned home with us.
We also traveled with our Ergo Baby Carrier. Recognizing it was above 34 degrees Celsius most days we also bought cooling towels that could go around our necks, over the Munchkin’s legs in the stroller, or in between our body and the Munchkin’s body when in the carrier.
Thanks for reading! If you’re planning a family vacation to Europe, I’d love to hear your comments.