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Europe trip with a baby

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Nov 21st, 2011, 10:34 AM
  #1
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Europe trip with a baby

My husband and are are planning a trip to Lyon France this summer for his cousin's wedding. I am currently pregnant so we will have a 3 month old baby when we go on this trip. We would like to also to visit Belgium and Spain. I am looking for advice on two different things. Where should we go in Spain and Belgium? We will be in Lyon and Paris when we are in France. What is the best way to get around when we are there, both with cities or countries, and from country to country. Any other advice about traveling with a baby would be helpful. We are first time parents. I will be breastfeeding so this will make feeding easier. Also, although we will be using cloth diapers primarily, on the trip, we plan on using disposables to make it easier.
Thanks!
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Nov 21st, 2011, 10:54 AM
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Lyon has a lot of cobblestones and hills, particularly in the older part of the city. I think you'll want to have a baby carrier as well as (or instead of) a stroller. I don't know much about the availability of car seats for rental cars, but I suspect it would be easier to do most of your traveling by train. Getting to Belgium from France is easy, but given that you will have such a young child, I would say this might be a time to take a miss on Spain.
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Nov 21st, 2011, 12:38 PM
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Thanks for your thoughts Doug. We will do the baby carrier. We are planning on spending 5 days in Lyon, but are planning on the whole trip being about 3 weeks. Would you still recommend skipping Spain? I have wanted to go to Spain since I was 7 or 8. I will be 33 this summer and have still never been. I was thinking that since we have that much time, we could fit in those 3 countries without too much stress.
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Nov 21st, 2011, 12:54 PM
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OP posted--"we could fit in those 3 countries without too much stress." You are first time parents traveling in the summer with a 3-month baby, breastfeeding, and never been to any of these cities. The chances of not much stress on this plan are close to Zero. I think you need to recalibrate your expectations of traveling "without too much stress" between three fairly apart destinations using Public transport and a newborn in tow. You are also asking why should you go to Spain and Belgium. I was hoping you would contribute that information to this planning. :-?

I honestly think you ought to consider the idea of staying in an apartment closer to the family nucleus in France. France is an absolutely wonderful destination with so much to see. Rent a car and do day trips. Again, scale back and take it up notches as you go instead of planning a trip as if you were still free and far from careful....
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Nov 21st, 2011, 12:56 PM
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Just one thing to consider about Spain and your baby - depending on when exactly in summer you are going and where it could be VERY hot. My daughter was born in Atlanta and I couldn't use the carrier on her till she was 4 months old. Took me a while to figure out why - she was so darn hot up against my body! Just would scream the whole time unless I was inside in the a/c. I know they have babies in Spain and people handle hot weather, but just a thought. Belgium would be lovely though.
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Nov 21st, 2011, 01:18 PM
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I think you can do this if you go high-end and spend a lot of money to make things easy. But you need to have an agenda, you say you always have wanted to go to Spain but then ask others where you should go. YOu must have had some ideas of where you want to go if you've dreamed of it for so long. Because I could say Barcelona would work, it's not so hot in the summer, but I don't think going south would be a great idea due to the heat. But Barcelona is Catalonia, not traditional Spain.

Now I just went to Barcelona, Lyon and Paris, what a coincidence. And that was easy, but I did it in the order with Lyon in the middle, of course. Easyjet flies between Barcelona and Lyon which is what makes that easy (I usually like trains but you can't take one from Barcelona into France without transferring at least once, at least not where I wanted to go, like MOntpellier at least).

SO I think you could do that itinerary. YOu have 3 weeks, you could do Barcelona for 5 days, fly to Lyon, do your business there (how much time, a week?), then take the train to Paris, then you could take the train to Belgium and fly home from Brussels (seems to be lots of good flights from there). You could do that in 3 weeks, I think. A more extensive trip in Spain may not work with the other stuff and it being summer and all, that's what I'm thinking.
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Nov 21st, 2011, 01:20 PM
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Thanks for the thought. We live in Austin, TX so heat is a norm for us.
As for the other comment, I was not asking not why, but WHERE specifically within the countries would people recommend. I know why. We want to experience the culture. If it were just the two of us, we would go to many different parts and spend a day or two in each. With a baby we are not going to do that so I was looking for recommendations on the "not to miss spots" taking into consideration, we are not looking for nightlife and those types of activities. I wanted to hear from people what they enjoy about different parts of Spain and Belgium since we will not be able to visit multple places within these countries.
And neither my husband nor I are the type to get stressed out while traveling. While a baby will change a lot, I don't actually think a baby will change that so much. He speaks French and I speak Spanish so as far as language is concerned we will be OK and not stressed about that.
We have friends in Paris and London, and family in Lyon so we could just stick with these 3 cities, but it is not what we would prefer.
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Nov 21st, 2011, 02:36 PM
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When we had our first baby we decided that each trip would incorporate something new and build on what worked on the last trip. Our first trip was to a gite in the Vaucluse and we stopped with friends in Lyon on the way. We travelled by car and I was breast feeding. We stayed in hotels on the way down and back and we left the U.K. at August Bank Holiday. We carried a moses basket (together it seemed with most of the contents of our house)and I fed in the car if there was no reason to stop.
The aim on this trip was to finish recovering from the birth in nice surroundings. We had a tiny pool and were close to restaurants. The weather was good but not too hot. We both spoke French and this was a major factor in dedciding where to go.
The trip worked. We had never done so little or taken our cue from someone else before-this market closes in an hour v. some little person being niggly and would sleep much better if we didn't go!
No health problems but it wasn't incredibly easy to get boiled water in places on the way- people wanted to fill the bottle with hot water.
The next trip we ventured on a plane and then at 16 months we flew to the Caribbean.
It will not be as you expect but you should have a good experience. However there are others who have not.
The best advice I can give is read up thoroughly .
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Nov 21st, 2011, 02:51 PM
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In Belgium you might pick a base like Ghent, get an apartment and do day trips - Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges are all within easy reach. We've done quite a bit of travelling with our daughter, even when she was under 18 months, and found an apartment was good as we could put her to sleep in another room while we enjoyed the evening. And having a washing machine is a must for those little accidents (i.e the day the nappies don't contain everything). We also found having a kitchen was good, even though you are breast feeding. Figure on doing less, not more. Your day may well be punctuated by sleep periods anyway.

The train system in Belgium is excellent and I think a car is a liability in Brussels (drivers are a little crazy in Belgium). Having said that, we always had a car when our daughter was young because of all the stuff you have to tote with you with a baby. Don't figure on getting a car in France and leaving it in Belgium or you will pay horrendous drop-off fees.

Lavandula
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Nov 21st, 2011, 02:52 PM
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<>

Sorry, but as someone who traveled all over Europe pregnant,then with infants and toddlers and children (at least annually for 20 years), I had to LOL at that I think by the time you've landed in Europe you'll feel quite differently about that.

I would focus on France and Belgium on this trip. Spain is a long way away. I would also look into renting apartments instead of staying in hotels - it's much easier to "set up home" and get into some routines with apartments, not to mention if it should happen that you've got a colicky baby or one that cries a lot you're likely to piss off hotel guests and restaurant/café owners. Besides Lyon, I'd rent an apartment in Paris for a few days, then maybe Bruges or Antwerp for a change of pace from big cities; then maybe a few days somewhere in the Meuse valley.
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Nov 21st, 2011, 02:57 PM
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I agree with the 3 bases plan - fly into Barcelona, then to Lyon, and finally to Brussels.

as it's summer, why not head from there to the belgian beaches? a great place to spend some lazy days with a small baby - swimming, paddling, eating moules frites - sounds great.
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Nov 21st, 2011, 03:02 PM
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The "that" in this sentence was in reference to our stress level. I was just saying that neith of us get very stressed out about things while traveling and I don't see that aspect changing due to a baby. I do see lots of other things changing such as where we stay, the things we do, the length of time out and about, etc.

Thanks for all of the advice. Beaches are a good idea. We had thought about doing some beaches in Spain.
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Nov 21st, 2011, 03:03 PM
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annhig, I like your thinking - a beach holiday sounds good with a new one in tow!

Lavandula
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Nov 21st, 2011, 03:57 PM
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Glad you don't get unduly stressed about traveling - it will help, but you still need to be extremely realistic about this and scale your expectations back. If you have 3 weeks you could do 3 stays - 1 week in each place you want to be - IN AN APARTMENT. Traveling with mine as young as 1 month the worst thing is having your baby cry while you are in a single hotel room. Staying with family was great as it was usually in a house with separate room (even a closet) for baby and people who didn't mind the noise. Traveling with my daughter when she was 4 months and had one difficult night it was not fun to pace the lobby with her at 2 am. Even in the best case, your little one may very well not be sleeping through the night (mine weren't), so do yourself a favor and stay put as much as possible (for nights). You yourself may still be in that "infant fog" due to lack of sleep as well so take it easy - pick 3 cities/towns and really get to know them. Take a day trip or two - Paris will be wonderful for that. If you are set on Spain, then go to Madrid and daytrip to see other places (Toledo, Segovia). But beaches really are great with young children so since it looks like you are already in two cities (Lyon & Paris), pick a 3rd place (Belgian beaches?) and make that your spot.
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Nov 22nd, 2011, 01:00 AM
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If you really want to go to Spain, then go to Spain. I can't really say where would be best, sorry. It is your trip. If you will be sitting in Lyon and just wishing you could get down to Spain, then you better do it, so you don't regret it forever. Is this the best decision? Maybe not, but it's OK. Just realize that this trip with a infant may not be anywhere close to your "dream Spain trip," so you may want to consider waiting on Spain until the little one is older and you can do more of what you hope to see. Or maybe your trip to Spain will be amazing b/c of your little one! Impossible to say. Traveling is a risk.

Perhaps a car trip down would be easier than flying. With baby gear, it is sometimes easier to just stick it all in a car and stop here and there (there should be many lovely places to stop along the way). We drove from the Provence area to Barcelona awhile back. There are resorts up near the Costa Brava that we enjoyed.

I have only been to Bruges in Belgium, but I loved it. If you like chocolate (assuming you can eat chocolate while nursing... I could, but others can't...again, depends on the babe), I would go there!

Assuming you will indeed be nursing (since it just doesn't work out for some, despite every intention), the only baby gear you will absolutely need include diapers, wipes, clothes, and a stroller and/or wrap/carrier. And if you will be driving, an infant seat for the car.

Then, there will be other items that you may or may not need depending the baby (burp cloths, medicines, sleep gear, etc.).

Regarding carriers, I love my Ergo, but not with a 3 month old. At that age, I used pouches/wraps...but it will be hot/humid, so be aware. You will need a stroller suitable for newborns if you take one/buy one, and those usually are not the most travel friendly (ie light, small, etc.), but still manageable. You should be able to reserve baby cots wherever you go. Everything can be bought in Europe, though it will be more expensive.
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Nov 22nd, 2011, 05:53 AM
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Well obviously all babies are different and you aren't going to know if you have a laid back quiet baby or a colicky crying baby until he/she gets here. But traveling with a three month old was way easier for me (I have three kids so this is from experience with three very different temperament children)than at any other age for years. So I say use this trip to see as much as you want, you will be more limited in your travel for the next several years.

If you can go to Spain before the wedding I would do that and then Lyon, then Paris, then Belgium and home from there. With three weeks I would probably split the time with a week in each country. In most cases four days per "place" is a good idea. So if you want two different "places" in Spain you'd need to cut back a little on Belgium. Barcelona is a good idea but easyjet also flies from Lyon to Madrid so you could do both if you wanted. I would not suggest Andalucia in the summer. You said you need 5 days in Lyon so consider something like this: Fly to Madrid 4 days (day trip to Toledo and/or Segovia), train to Barcelona 4 days, fly easyjet to Lyon 5 days, train to Paris 4 days, train to Belgium 4 days and home from there.

I don't think you need an apartment, that's more important for toddlers or preschoolers who need to run around and have certain foods made for them if they don't like restaurant food, etc. If the three month old cries at night you strap it in the carrier and one of you takes a walk. Apartments you rent for a week or less are not huge, you are not going to be able to get far enough away from each other to not hear a crying baby if that's why people were suggesting apartments. You'll still have neighbors who would be bothered. I can't see any reason to rent an apartment over a hotel room for a three month old. Like I said, older children probably a good idea, three month old it makes no difference.
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Nov 22nd, 2011, 08:06 AM
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OP stated "I know why. We want to experience the culture." Well, you see right there you are a bit clueless. Spain is a VERY DIVERSE country both culturally and goegraphically. If you want to experience Spain's culture, then you will have to honor the Moorish, Catalonian, French, and even Celtic strong influences which will take you all over Spain.

I would read and follow the advice above asking that you scale back your expectations and be a bit more realistic about your new traveling bounds situation.
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Nov 22nd, 2011, 08:29 AM
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I think you need lecturing about stress levels.

We travelled around British Colombia with 3 month old including nice little encounters with things in the woods. Clocked up 7 different overnight stops and around 2000 miles. Great fun.

We found travel with a non mobile baby fairly easy. Plonk them down and 15 minutes later they are still in the same place. You cannot say the same thing once they have 4 years behind them. Airports become a nightmare, we lost our son in Milan airport for 15 minutes - worst 15 minutes of our life.

If the plane isn't full work out where most of the empty seats are and grab them once the seat belt sign goes off, you will need the space.

DO NOT use anything but disposable nappies.
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Nov 22nd, 2011, 09:27 AM
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I agree with St Cirq that traveling with a hobbit changes your usual plans a LOT. That said, a three-month old will still be a potted plant and the double-team defense you can use with the first born will make things somewhat easier than if junior/juniorette were 18 months old and hyperkinetic. If you do decide you need to see Spain, your best bet is to anchor yourself in Barcelona and wander around the area for the next 7+ nights. Do the same hub and spoke treatment elsewhere - you rent an apt in city 1, and daytrip within the region instead of going point to point to point for 2+ nights.

Best bet for empty seats on a transcontinental flight will be in the back near the galleys and toilets. Those seats also suck so if you're not close to empties, you will be less comfortable. Note that the crybaby seats are at the bulkhead in the middle - these have space for the halfling's carrier and are usually reserved (either explicitly or implicitly) for travelers with small babies.
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Nov 22nd, 2011, 09:59 AM
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I would not want to deal with the combination of the heat and crowds of summer in Spainish cities with a tiny baby. A three-month old can't take the heat and certainly not the sun for any length of time on a Spanish beach. So, if you want a beach holiday, I would choose a holiday resort with pools with partial shade or a villa with a pool and sea view.
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