Packing tip - traveling with children

Old Nov 3rd, 2000, 01:24 PM
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Packing tip - traveling with children

Hello all,
For those of you who have been to Europe with children.

What have you packed that you were glad you did.

What did you wish you packed and what should you have left at home?

We are traveling with 2 kids ages 4 and 6 to Italy. I speak fluent Italian and I am starting to teach them how to speak it. They understand some of it as my mother speaks to them in Italian most of the time.

Old Nov 3rd, 2000, 05:47 PM
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Jo, I think some of this depends on whether you will be traveling to visit family, etc.
Most likely you would be able to buy anything you need for them wherever you are going.
But, it would be good to bring some of their "favorite" toys/stuffed animals
This response is not specific to travel/europe/kids,
But more to travel/kids.
When my children were younger, we always let them pack their backbacks with their toys.
If it could fit in, they could take it.
Plus I would fill a bookbag with extra books for them to read.
It was good that they did have some of their toys with them, but I always noticed that they never played with them all.
So, on this trip ti Italy, this summer, I will suggest to my youngest , that she really limit the # of playthings she takes with her.
Old Nov 3rd, 2000, 07:53 PM
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Jo: I spent a month in France with my kids last year. They were nine months and 4 at the time. My theory of packing has always been to pack some disposable things, favorite foods, coloring books, detergent so that I have room for things I accumulate on the trip.
I want to teach my children French so I bought lots of French story books and even some French speaking electronic learning games which are impossible to get here but something new and exciting for them which is what you want in a car day. Some of the things I was glad I packed were the kids tapes. We got very familiar with Veggie Tales but it helped past the time for them on driving days. I brought wipes which came in very handy for those times when water was not accessible for clean up. I sometimes found it difficult to find them in stores there. Some things that your kids might enjoy are disposable cameras so they can make their own memories. My daughter is very much into that. She also enjoys knowing where she is on a map so she can feel apart of the process. You can make a copy of maps for them. I would not bother packing anything they will get tired of after one time. I have a little rolling suitcase for my daughters toys. She is responsible for pulling it. If she can't carry it she can't bring it. I briefed my daughter on some of the things that we would be seeing before the trip so that she could be excited about the experience. By the time she saw the eiffel tower she was beside herself with excitement becuase she had heard so much about it.
Old Nov 3rd, 2000, 08:44 PM
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Hi Jo:

The above posters give very good advice, nothing I can add to about things to bring. My wife and I took our three year old daughter to Italy this past summer. The most difficult thing we had to deal with regarding having a child with us was the Italian tradition of the riposo, and the following tradition of dining late. During the afternoon break we would usually retreat to our room to rest, but she had pretty much ended her afternoon napping habit by then, so we had a restless child on many afternoons. So try to locate a nearby park or something where the kids can just run around and play and be kids for while in the afternoons. Most shops and many (but not all) attractions are closed 1 - 4 PM and all day on Sunday. Monday is another popular closed day. Piazzas too are great for pigeon chasing breaks. Next challange is dinner time. American kids are accustomed to eating early. Pandemonium breaks out at may house if dinner isn't served by 6:30. Restaurants in Italy open at 7:00 at the earliest, and by the time we finished the secondi - around 9:00 or later, our daughter was ready to collapse, and we would have to head "home". So we ended up having our dolci and caffe before dinner as a snack, usually at a pastry shop. That usually tided her over and satisified all our sweet tooths and my coffee cravings! Since you speak fluent Italian and have an Italian mom, you may have been to Italy before and know all this, if so please forgive me! But that was our biggest challenge other than making sure Puff (bear), and blanket made it to each new city .

Buon Viaggio!

Old Nov 3rd, 2000, 10:46 PM
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Jo, We took our 7 yr old to France last year and have taken him on several trips to Hawaii. What concerns me the most is keeping him occupied on the long plane rides. I pack little wrapped presents in his backpack that he can only open once on board, after take off. The best ones have been things like age appropriate word puzzles and drawing books that can easily be done on the plane. I always bring some markers,crayons and paper.Also, he is a gameboy fanatic so I have frequently bought a new game as one of the wrapped treats. Since his gameboy times are limited, that has been a major hit. Worst was bringing along Legos (on the plane). Even though we would carefully put all the pieces of smaller sets in a plastic bag, little pieces would get dropped and finding them was nearly impossible...what was I thinking?! I also like to bring along some relevant books to read. For France we brought a children's book about France that included French vocabulary, places, etc. For Hawaii, I have brought books about sea creatures, dolphins, whales, etc. A lot depends on how your children like to spend their time. Ours loves playing catch so we brought a deflated ball with a tiny pump as well as several very small balls to bounce around. This is also a good way for them to meet other children.When he was younger, I brought a personal tape player and favorite tapes, although you run the risk of having your child burst into song at the top of his or her lungs as they exuburantly sing along. We also brought along a kid's travel journal this time and I will definitely do that again. Your child gets to record their impressions of the sights, draw pictures of it, etc which is a great keepsake and memory prompter for later. Enjoy your trip!
Old Nov 4th, 2000, 10:52 AM
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Our most valuable item turned out to be the deck of UNO cards. We played UNO everywhere. (I'm not sure if a 4-year-old is old enough to play UNO but try it out before you go). My son's Gameboy was the other most useful item. Keep a journal for them. The six-year-old especially will love to haul it out and reread it frequently when she gets a little older.
Old Nov 4th, 2000, 12:05 PM
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You might want to carry certain OTC medicines with you. I found out that ibuprofen formulations for children were not available in the UK, so I was awfully glad I took some along, because it was the only thing that got my teething toddler through the night.

Yes, I know; it's not like they don't have medicine in Europe, but when I have a screaming sick child on my hands, I really don't want to be trying to find a pharmacy in the middle of the night in a city I don't know. I bring small, clearly marked packages of all of the children's OTC medicines we normally keep at home; ibuprofen, decongestant, simethicone chewables, a few band-aids, Neosporin, and Kao-Lectrolyte powder packets, in case of dehydration. The whole kit is about the size of my hand, and I think it's worth it.

Oh, and Shout stain wipes, another thing you don't want to have to hunt around for.

As for on-the-plane toys, a Viewmaster is WONDERFUL, as is a small Magnadoodle.
Read-along-books and a Walkman are also good.
Old Nov 4th, 2000, 11:33 PM
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Old Nov 6th, 2000, 08:26 AM
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Thanks everyone for your tips. My oldest has been asking for a gameboy so I think that will be a purchase before we leave and surprise her with it.

Old Nov 6th, 2000, 09:37 AM
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I thought this meant "how to pack the children". Would save on air fares, but you'd have to get it right first time ...
Old Nov 6th, 2000, 09:53 AM
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If there is one food item that is very important to your child without which you will be facing food arguments every day, try and bring it if you can.
I am thinking of a particular breakfast cereal, or a favorite brand of peanut butter or grape jelly, or perferred crackers, or little packets of ketchup, or whatever may just save the day when you need it. Of course I believe in encouraging children to try new foods and experiences, but after all, this is a vacation for all of you, and if a last-minute pb and j sandwich can soothe a cranky child, pack it, danno. Of course the bread may be wrong...
Old Nov 6th, 2000, 12:30 PM
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Dear anon--

Thank you for a laugh out loud answer!! I chuckled several times when reading it!!!
Old Nov 6th, 2000, 12:50 PM
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All the suggestions above are great. I took my 8 year-old to France this spring and the plane ride was the most difficult time we had. I would suggest bringing crackers or a few snacks, especially if your children are picky eaters. Do you know if your children have a tendency to airsickness? I wish I had packed draminime and used it. I hate to drug kids, but she would have been happier that way than sick for most of the trip.
We also brought along a CD player and headphones, but she didn't use it on the plane or in the car. She had more fun with the toys in the little gift bag provided by Air France. Although I agree about the legos on the plane, they may work better in a rental car. And a disposable camera for a child's own pictures is a super idea.
With regards to the late dinner times in Europe, we ate our big meal at noon and then had a picnic or did fast food at 6 p.m. Do not be afraid of McDonald's - it can make everyone happy at the right times!


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