Hellooo friends! Hope you are having a beautiful week and aren’t we all SO glad its a friday!?! This blog post was inspired by our recent adventure to Italy with our 2 year old daughter. We learned some valuable lessons along the way and I thought I would share some words of wisdom with you!
Just a preface.. I only have one toddler, and this is based on what worked for us. If something doesn’t fit your style of parenting, just do what works for you! This is what worked for us MOST of the time.. and if you find something useful and try it out, please tell me! I love hearing from you!
If you can afford it, book a seat for your child even if they are under two! This was Liyana’s third trans-atlantic flight (Uk and Iceland before Italy) and both times previously, we had seats for her. This time for some reason (read: money/budget), we decided to NOT book a seat for her. BIGGEST MISTAKE ever. The first leg of the trip was an overnight flight to Rome, and luckily we asked to be moved up to the seats where usually a bassinet attaches to a plane wall hence giving you extra leg room and we made a cozy bed for Liyana on the floor of the plan (yes, I did that) and we were okay. But on the way back… the flight was full so much so that they had overbooked it and turned people away at boarding. So the whole 10 hours, our feisty toddler was NOT happy.
Don’t take your pack n play or portable crib or booster seat. Instead try to book rooms where either a crib is available (usually hotels will provide you a crib) or a single bed can be added. We saved on so much hassle trying to lug around a pack n play, by just getting a third bed in our room (which is usually where my husband slept). We did this because we had a large number of transits between hotels/cities and lots of walking to do. Another piece of luggage i.e. a pack n play was simply not an option since we had limited hands. Also if you are worried about your toddler rolling off or not being used to sleeping next to you, there are inflatable bumper rails you can pack with you to use. And it took Liyana two nights to get used to sleeping next to me and I gotta say, I loved the cuddles! When we got back, she went back to her crib in 3 days of re-training. Also, for a booster seat, if you rent a car – most rental companies also rent out booster seats with the car. This will again save you another piece of luggage.
Pack lots of snacks that our child likes! My husband thought I was CRAZY for packing nature valley granola bars, boxes of raisins, crackers etc and taking them from here. But Liyana is a fussy eater – she will eat only the things she likes. So when she refused pizza and pasta on day 3 of our trip (and also not been a good eater on our past two trips) she literally would graze on snacks all day. We tried snacks we bought in Italy – but she refused those too. Having your own snacks whether its for the plane or a short trip is essential, as any mom can attest. But for us, it was a life saver!
Pack layers of clothing for your toddler – This was a tip I got from so many of you on my Instagram family. The weather in spring and other transition seasons like fall can be so unpredictable and usually the long term forecast is not accurate. So I ended up packing summer clothes mostly with two sweaters and a lighter weight jacket for cooler days and evenings. That totally saved out butt!
Invest in a sturdy umbrella stroller – I think for a European city where there are barely an elevators on subway or train stations, cobble stones, uneven terrain etc a light weight (10 lbs and under) umbrella stroller with GOOD padding is essential. I am not talking about the $50 ones at Walmart – because trust me, your toddler will not be happy feeling every cobble stone in their back. I am talking about a higher quality kind. We purchased a second hand Uppababy G Luxe Umbrella Stroller from Facebook marketplace. We couldn’t afford it full price, so we got it used for half the price and I am planning on selling our regular bulky stroller/carseat system to just use this as our regular stroller. Honestly, I wish we had gotten it earlier, because it is SO amazing. It is light, has a 4 wheel swivel system, great shocks and padding such that Liyana napped while we pushed her on cobble stone, has a shoulder strap to carry it up stairs, it can be lifted open with a child in it easily.
I know everyone loves Air BnB with kids… but I would recommend against it. Let me explain why – my toddler wakes up HUNGRY. She wants food ASAP.. and if you have an Air BnB, you gotta schlep around and put together a quick meal (which requires more planning than I wanted on a vacation). So instead we chose hotels or bed and breakfasts through Booking.com that offered breakfast! So, she would wake up hungry – I would already be dressed and ready to go by that point as I am an early riser.. so I would get her changed (10-15) minutes and we would just go grab breakfast and she would be happy as anything. AND NO CLEANUP! Who wants to wash dishes on vacation?!? Not this mama! This is literally the cabana where the owners of this cute bed and breakfast would make their guests breakfast! Now who would say no that over dishes?
I also have a $25 off your next booking at Booking.com – You can click HERE to use it!
Be flexible in your itinerary – this is so so so key! We would try to do as much as we could while Liyana was awake, but we would ditch everything so we could come back to our hotel for her nap. She take a 2 hour nap, and once she was out of jet lag (on day 2) she napped twice in the stroller and was NOT happy by the time bedtime came around. So we figured, we gotta give somewhere. We are expecting TOO much of a 2 year old if we want her to be out in the heat all day and then not give her the chance to rest. Also, we would also be exhausted by her nap time. So out of the 10 days, for eight days she napped in the bed at the hotel and it was AMAZING because we could also recuperate, enjoy some silence and re fuel ourself (i.e. with caffeine). Sometimes we would also just nap.. because thats what vacation is all about – relaxing! Literally, this photo was taken because Liyana was tired of being pushed around in a stroller and we decided to let her run around in a random piazza in Rome. She was a happy camper chasing pigeons and getting some energy out of herself.
Sometimes those are the best memories!
If you can avoid it, take one piece of luggage with all your stuff – This was a LIFE SAVER for us. We took trains everywhere and our total luggage included: 1 carry on, 1 checked in bag and two backpacks PLUS our child in a stroller. So essentially, we would wear our backpacks, and then I would navigate the stroller through people and on cobble stone, while my husband would stack the carry on on the larger suitcase and roll that. If we had another piece of luggage, and he had to manage both or I had to manage a stroller and a suitcase, it would have been near impossible.
So there you have it – those are the things that stood out to me while we navigated our way through this recent trip and also the past two we have taken with her. If you have any experience and have tried anything like my unconventional ways before, do leave me a comment.. I love hearing from you!
Until next time,
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