Help! Amateurs at Traveling w/ Babies

Old Apr 16th, 2007, 05:39 AM
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Help! Amateurs at Traveling w/ Babies

My husband and I want to take a holiday in Italy for 7 to 10 days. Our two babies (20 months and 8 months) will be going also and we still haven't traveled much with them.

Here is what we need advice on:

1)How do you carry all the gear you need on a train when you are carrying a baby apiece also?

2)Best to fly? I wanted to avoid that so we wouldn't have to bring car seats.

3)A good area in Italy to go where we can:

a)walk to everything
b)find lodging that isn't pricey & has baby
beds
c)things to do
d)not super crowded
I've always wanted to go to Venice (heard it was pretty crowded),Lake Como (possibly too pricey)and Tuscany (want to be able to walk into city and not have to drive). What about Verona or Livorno?

4)A good site to find cheap B&B's that are nice?

5)If you were only going to Italy once where would you go?
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 05:57 AM
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I can't help with where to go in Italy but if you are in Germany, as your name suggests why not drive? It would give you more flexibilty to take everything two young children need. And maybe look at renting a holiday home somewhere so you have a good base, and help to give the children some routine. Many will have one cot and a playpen, but a second cot is asking a lot. Can your 20 month old sleep in a bed? Otherwise borrow/buy a camping cot for the younger baby.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 07:23 AM
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Depends on the time of the year and the part of the city you are in, how crowded Venice is. I was there in August (on two occasions) which is supposed to be the "worst", but I loved it! Amazing place. That said, it seems as it would be a tricky city to see with such little children. Because of all the canals, bridges, steps, etc. everywhere.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 07:37 AM
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When my children were infants and toddlers, I carried the baby in a front-pack; the immediate needs (diapers, food, change of clothes, toys) in a big back pack; fanny pack for a purse; and a roll aboard suitcase for everything else. I could still balance the car seat on my head if I had to or push a stroller with the older child. I just had to be very careful turning around! Getting on and off of trains is a little tricky so you have to be ready and waiting by the exit doors so you don't leave anything behind. About half of the time someone would feel sorry for me and help out, but I could still manage everything by myself. We travelled all over the place like this.

If you fly, remember to take more diapers and formula than you think you could possibly need and to ALWAYS take at least 3 days worth of kid clothes (and a shirt for you) in your carry-on bag. Bring lots of lollipops and/or pacifiers for take off and landing; sucking on something can help their ears to pop more easily. I always gave the kids decongestants ahead of time if they so much as sniffled the day before the flight.

My criteria for hotels included: laundry facilities in the building, kitchenettes or a refrigerator at least, bathtubs and lots of extra towels on request. We opted for a suite with a sofa bed whenever possible. It is usually cheaper than two rooms and the kids need the extra space to run around. An ipod with speakers is very helpful. If the hotel is noisy, my kids fall asleep much more easily if they can listen to their favorite napping music.

You should consider taking a light-weight umbrella stroller. Europe is not very wheel chair friendly, but the best time for adults to go to the museum is when Junior is napping in the stroller. Good Luck! And remember that you really don't need as much sleep as you think you do (you won't be getting it anyway).
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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One of the Rick Steves DVD's shows traveling with children -- one of the basic guidelines he mentioned was getting a car when you travel with young children -- they actually rented a van. Our lads are 13 months apart and we traveled domestically with them a lot at 8 and 21 months, and I agree with him (though we almost never drive in Europe now & love trains). Also you do not want to me stuck running for a train, missing it, and being stuck in the station with the children, etc. It's doable but I agree with getting a car in these circumstances.

I also like the idea of getting a place (apartment, house) and parking there for a week at a time. I agree the second cot/crib is the weak link in the plan. Big hotels or motels (I think even Jury's style family rooms) could work, but I don't know if there's such a chain in Italy.

Venice is my favorite place in the world, but it is not stroller friendly due to all the little bridges and steps. If you have back/front packs though it can work and if the kids are fussy all the hubbub will drown out the crying!

A place in a small village, Umbria/Tuscany, could be family friendly but have fewer cots/accoutrements.

You mentioned Lake Como, and I'm not sure if it's in your budget, but you might look into the self-catering apartments at Villa Serbelloni--I think they are called L'Ulvio--great views from most apartments, family friendly and they or the villa probably could provide cots. They have 1-2 bedroom places. I know one of our neighbors when we stayed there had children about the ages of yours and in fact one had quite extensive special needs. I think we paid $1200 for the week. If you're already on the Euro you'll be in better shape cost-wise than we were. The main Villa Serbelloni is on the fancy side and less family friendly in my view, but they do have the pools, etc. including if memory serves an indoor kiddie pool next to the other indoor pool.




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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 07:51 AM
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We wetn to Europe often with our kids when they were the same age. We always rented a car (very important so you can travel around their needs) and never had a problem arranging for car seats when renting the car - you can request car seats when making your reservation.

I cannot recommend a good place in Italy since most of our trips were to France, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the UK. I would say take your time, be prepared to not do as much as if it were just the two of you, and focus on the B&Bs. We never had a problem finding a place to stay. We also typically planned on doing one thing in the morning and one in the afternoon with nothing planned early and several lunches on the banks of rivers, in parks, etc.

One thing I have heard is that Rome is not all that great for small children. My mom spent a great deal of time there, and encouraged us to wait to go back when the kids were a little older.

Hope some of this helps.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 04:10 PM
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do you have to take the children to Italy. Flying with kids long haul can be a bit tough at times.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 04:34 PM
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When we traveled with a baby (which we only did because we had to, working overseas) trains were a particular challenge. About ten minutes outside the station we started moving the impedimentia towards the door. When the train stopped we hurriedly passed the endless supplies down. I still haven't recovered (the kid's going to college next year).

Some people like traveling with babies. We waited six years before taking another overseas trip with ours.

Good luck!
 
Old Apr 16th, 2007, 04:42 PM
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Train travel would be a bit easier if one of your kids are old enough to walk/carry some of his/her things. 20month would be still a bit young, as you'll probably end up carrying everything, plus a buggy.

Assuming you're travelling from Germany, I'm tempted to fly and rent a car locally (make sure you ask for the right kinds of carseats).

Agree Venice and Rome would be hard to navigate with young children. What would attract you--mountains, beaches, cities, countryside? Also what time of the year are you going? I'm tempted to say Verona, Rimini (but only if it's not July/Aug), Turin. Corsica and also renting a cottage in Tuscany is popular. Having a kitchen(ette) makes so much difference that you can prepare foods for the kids.
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Old Apr 21st, 2007, 03:07 AM
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Thank you all for your help. To answer your questions...

1)Yes, we live in Germany. We haven't been here long and have no family or friends over here yet. So we have to take the 20mo & 8mo old.

2)We could drive but we were trying to avoid that because my husband didn't want the stress of navigating and we have only been able to ride a train once and love it. We're open to it though.

3)We are trying to go anytime from May 22nd to June 7th

4)We are attracted to mountains, beaches, cities and countryside but mainly we want to be somewhere we can walk to a little culture and sit in a cafe within walking distance of our lodging.

My sister recently suggested Florence. Anyone know of a cheap B&B - and I mean real cheap because we are paid US dollars over here.

Thanks!!!
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Old Apr 21st, 2007, 04:45 AM
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..been there done that but memories are still fresh. Please dont look for a B and B, With 2 kids, esp an almost 2 year old, if you can find a small apt to rent or a room with a kitchenette, I think you will be much better off. If interested in Italy, try venere.com for some ideas. Again as others have said, if you can pile the kids in a car with all our luggage, packs for the kids (I would suggest these over strollers in Europe though a cheap umbrella stroller would be handy too), life will be a lot easier though with a 20 month old child plus your younger one you will have challanges.
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Old Apr 21st, 2007, 05:16 AM
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What about taking an overnight train to Venice and just staying in a nearby campground? The kids will love the beach, you'll love the area and there will be a lot less stress.

Friends have gone to campgrounds near Venice that provide bungalows for families. Here's one I found: http://www.valdor.it/eng/valdor.php#foto4

Remember, Venice = Venedig (in German)
For other possibilities, google "bungalows Venice"
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Old Apr 21st, 2007, 06:43 AM
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We've taken several train rides with our small children and I have to say that I hate it. The stress of keeping the kids from making too much noise, climbing around, and getting everything on and off the train is far worse to me than the stress of driving! I would pick driving any day. The benefits of being able to throw everything in the car, stop when we need to, and detour where we want are huge. We've driven all over Europe and while we've gotten lost, it hasn't been too awful!!

But on trains, this is what we do: Have everything/everyone perched by the door or right at the platform in plenty of time. One adult gets on the train and the other adult lifts the bags up and then lifts/carries the kids, who are sitting in strollers up to that point (but I'd def. consider a backpack, sling, or carrier for your 8 mo old). And obviously, take as few bags as possible.

I'm not sure where exactly I'd suggest but I'd lean toward someplace with a beach.
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Old Apr 21st, 2007, 10:06 AM
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I would probably not recommend Venice proper, because it will likely be quite expensive. but I love the idea above of camping nearby and touring from there.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2007, 09:18 AM
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When we planned our trip to Vancouver we were in the same boat. At the time we had a 6 month old and a 2 year old and didn't want to have to carry all our gear everywhere. A friend of ours suggested that we look into renting a crib, car seat and maybe even a stroller and recommended a company in Vancouver called Petite Passengers. We found their website (www.petitepassengers.com) and they supplied us with the whole lot. They even delivered it to our hotel, so that all the baby equipment was set up and ready to use before we arrived. Maybe you could look into a similar company in Italy?
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Old Sep 2nd, 2007, 10:11 PM
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We were in Italy with our 19 month old and it was fabulous! A couple quick tips:
1) Definitely look for a vacation rental over a B&B. I like www.VRBO.com. We have traveled all over the world and often find that apts. are cheaper than hotels and with small children are WONDERFUL to have the space to roam, a small kitchen and fridge for baby food, a washing machine, and more of a "home" feeling for the kids.

2) Although I can't answer the specifics on your Italy questions (we were in Rome), I have a couple more tips for traveling with toddlers:

-consider using a luggage service if you fly. Not having to haul luggage or worry about lost luggage is HUGE when you are traveling with kids.

-re-evaluate all the baby gear. I have found that on vacation the most important things are a good baby carrier, a light, sturdy stroller, and lots of distracting small entertainment (new toys, video ipod, varies depending on child's age)

-I have found reliable product reviews on www.JetWithKids.com (great tips for flying with toddlers and infants)

Oh and one more thing - the free report on the lap child was an eye opener for us http://www.jetwithkids.com/book_freeChapter.html

but she does recommend a new harness that is only 1 lb. instead of a car seat

Hope these tips help - and yes, you CAN do it and have fun!
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Old Sep 2nd, 2007, 10:20 PM
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GypsyinGermany's trip was last May (and she hasn't been on Fodors since April) so I don't think she will see your tips . . . .
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Old Nov 9th, 2007, 05:29 AM
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I second the website www.vrbo.com. We've had amazing luck with it finding apartments and condos that are really nice and much cheaper than hotels.

Flying would be a great option for you. Especially with your cheap European airlines. Plus if you mean your 20 month old will be 20 months when you go, then your kids won't even need tickets for the plane.

I don't believe that taking carseats on a plane is mandatory. We fly with the kids a lot in the US and our 3 year old has never sat in a carseat on a plane. She sat in our lap or in her own plane seat once she turned 2.

Flying is great, because they can run all around right before you have to get in the plane, the flight from Germany to Italy would be fast, and then you are there ready to start your vacation. Trying to keep the babies happy on a 10 hour train ride (or whatever it is) sounds like a nightmare to me!

And if you need to take a taxi from the airport, if you call ahead they can bring carseats with them for you to use. If you are taking a bus from the airport, then carseats aren't necessary.

Oh, and they let you take the stroller right to the door of the plane (well they do here, but you should check). They just check it right there and it is waiting for you right there when you get off.

The only slight headache is getting the kids through security, but if you just take it slow, it works out just fine. Just make sure someone waits for you. One year I had to have the lady behind me in line hold the baby while I folded the stroller to put it through the x-ray machine. Everyone else had gone through already! But she loved it and people are always willing to help out if you need it.
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