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Q for exp. travelers w/small children/babies

Q for exp. travelers w/small children/babies

Old Nov 27th, 2000, 07:11 PM
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Jane, Dawn, Mary, Amy, Danna, Liz and Diane: Thank you for your intelligent, balanced and RESPONSIVE input. Glad to hear that some of you are "breeders" (not my term) too. It is apparent that you are constructively contributing to the gene pool. Here's hoping some of our less pleasant contributers continue to abstain from reproducing. Have any of you noticed that some of the other posters can't appear to respond constructively or properly to my initial post, but expect me to drop everything to answer to their trite but persistent questions? And they think children are spoiled, loud and obnoxious? Even as I write this, I'm sorry that this thread has gotten so ugly and now I'm contributing to it.
Old Nov 27th, 2000, 09:11 PM
Also A Parent
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Jeff, I must say that your tone is getting quite bothersome. You write:

"Here's hoping some of our less pleasant contributers continue to abstain from reproducing. . . . And they think children are spoiled, loud and obnoxious?"

Honestly. Some of us out here who do not think European travel is appropriate for toddlers ARE PARENTS TOO. We just have the good sense not to bring toddlers, that's all. You don't have to get to high and mighty about it. You're giving all parents a bad name, IMHO.
Old Nov 27th, 2000, 11:51 PM
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This has to be a troll; Jeff keeps upping the obnoxious quotient. If this is not a troll, and if he is indeed breeding (or at least part of the process), then be prepared for the obnoxious, smug, sense-of-entitlement children he is rearing.
Old Nov 28th, 2000, 12:09 AM
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As an European, I really don't understand this anti-children attitude. Most people I know here take their children all around the world, without any other problems than jetlag. My parents used to take us everywhere, and there were no DisneyLand for "trade of" after a day of visiting museums and historical monuments. I've been taking my nephews (2, 3 1/2) to museums and other "adults" places like historical monuments and all it requires is an effort in order to keep them interesed (and sometimes the promise of a McDo afterward). I'm used (and like) to see small children in restaurants too, and nobody in France or Switzerland will bat an eyelid unless the little darlings start food fights or loud screaming without their parents trying to calm them down (and then we'll blame the parents, not the kids). Most people will approve ("better to take them in good restaurants as soon as possible rather than fast food"), and will even compliment you on your son's good looks, behavior, etc. Many restaurants here will have special facilities for changing babies, or even open a room where their mother can breasfeed them.

Bref, Jeff, welcome to Europe with your family.
Old Nov 28th, 2000, 01:16 AM
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I've lots of comments, so I broke it into two postings.

Part I:

My first advice for this string: don't engage the nonresponsive "responses" - it's a waste of everyone's time.

Now to more concrete advice: like some other posters, we have travelled extensively with our 15 month old. We're lucky in that she's a good traveller, but I think some of that is innate character, and some of that is that she's acclimated to travelling. Note that travel with a 1+ year old is a different experience than with a 6 month old - the main difference being mobility. Our daughter is no longer satisfied to sit in a carriage, but wants to walk a lot. We have no problems on the plane, as she loves to look out the window, but we also acknowledge that any baby is going to be fidgety on a long flight. We take turns walking with her in the aisles - but you'll also have to account for the fact that there are times this isn't possible (i.e., when the seat belt sign is on and also the many many times the aisles are clogged with carts for drinks, meals, duty free)- so we are also sure we have her favorite book, stuffed animal and snacks to distract her. We make sure to order a children's meal so that in addition to food we bring with us, there are extra options. Most airlines also have baby toys to provide novelty. Also, don't be shy at check in for the flight to determine whether the flight is full and whether you can get an extra seat for the baby (assuming you haven't paid for one already) - at one and a half he'll be able to sit in it with the seat belt and, if you commandeer enough pillows, will also be able to use the seat tray for coloring, eating, etc.

A few "structural" tips: stay at least five days in one place so you can keep a slow pace to suit the baby, but still have time to see the sites; plan time in local parks, zoos, playgrounds, aquariums - the concierge can recommend some local places; think about an apartment instead of a hotel - more room and a kitchen come in handy; don't forget to pack electrical outlet safety plugs (in European sizes), a nonslip mat for the bath and one of your baby's blankets (both for familiarity, and because almost every hotel we visit gives us a quilt with the crib - a safety no-no, although maybe ok at 18 months); enough diapers and food to at least carry you through the first few days (to avoid having to run out to buy things on day one); for travelling, pack light for yourselves and "heavy" for the baby - more than enough diapers and food (we've been on a lot of cancelled/delayed flights), toys, favorite snacks, a blanket, change of clothes, key medicines (Tylenol, Dimetapp), pacifiers. Also, either pack many many changes of clothes for the whole trip or pack some baby wash powder (like Ivory or Woolite), and also some dishwashing liquid for sippy cups and bottles. Bring along at least one small plastic container for snagging snack foods from the breakfast buffet for later on. Ask the hotel to empty out your minibar so you can use the fridge to stock milk, juice, etc. Either pack enough creams and supplies for the whole trip or take advantage of being in Europe to try out some local products (like Mustela or Bubchen). Think about bringing enough diapers for the whole trip, especially if you plan only one or two destinations - they may be heavy to pack, but you'll avoid running around to find the right brand/size (mostly, the local pharmacies will be great for creams and soaps, but not so good for diapers, and you may not find that there is a good market to buy them in the city centers where your hotel is likely to be, so having a good supply will help avoid spending half a day and cab fare buying diapers). Plus, the extra room created by the diapers in your suitcase for the return trip will come in handy for all the souvenirs (i.e., European baby clothes and toys!) you pick up.
Old Nov 28th, 2000, 01:23 AM
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Now is that a good post, or what?! Three cheers for Karen!
Old Nov 28th, 2000, 07:35 AM
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Thanks Anon. I'm having trouble posting, but here's Part II:

Also, try to buy one of those cloth belts that strap a child to a seat for use in places where high chairs inevitably won't be available - we bought one on babycenter.com and it's been a life saver - folds to practically nothing (so no need to drag around a bulky booster seat) and fits almost any chair. I'd avoid dragging about too much baby gear if you can help it - the hotel should be able to confirm a crib, and you might consider renting strollers etc from a local shop (check the internet for European baby gear rental places) - although a stroller or back pack comes in handy at the airport. We also find it necessary to lug along our car seat, even if only for the taxi ride to and from the airport (we usually pick walk-only destinations that don't require a lot of local driving), although you can also eliminate that if you pick a walk-only destination and also manage to arrange airport transfers with a company that can guarantee a car seat (not so easy), or if you rent a car at the destination which comes with a car seat (easier). Count on paying for porters and taxis, even if you are generally a "haul it yourself and take the bus" kind of person. Plan plenty of meals out, but make them in informal places like local cafes - order only the main dish and forgo appetisers and deserts to make the timing more suitable for the baby to sit still - get an ice cream or pastries on the street to supplement. Plan a few meals in the hotel or in a park- you can make a delicious and fun picnic by visiting the local market (really fun in Munich and Barcelona, for example) and picking up goodies to eat on the bed or on the grass. Try to stick to your baby's "regime" as much as possible - especially for naps, and be prepared to get up in the middle of the night to play if that's what the jet lag and time adjustments require. Consider asking the hotel to arrange a VCR for the room so he can watch his favorite videos (but be sure to either ask for a multisystem VCR, or be prepared to buy a local version of the cartoon/movie), or drag along your computer and appropriate DVD (if you're computer can play them)- which is also, by the way, good for the plane ride.
Old Nov 28th, 2000, 07:36 AM
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And, Part III (sorry for the long post - but I've had lots of experience!)

For destinations - we've had great luck in just about any place we've been - particularly good were Munich (great big park and easy walking city), Barcelona (good for walking, a good zoo and aquarium), and the UK generally (besides general accommodation for children, the wide availability of parks, petting zoos and playgrounds combined with the lack of language issues makes it a good travel destination). I would think the Netherlands and also Denmark would also be super, although we haven't travelled there with our daughter (yet). Generally, any destination where you can walk the city without need for a lot of taxis and where you can take a train from one place to another if you plan more than one city to visit are good children destinations. We love London - but with a baby, you're better off planning to explore on part of that big city rather than zooming around it all - but what super parks with playgrounds! We were terrifically impressed recently by the nursery at the Zurich airport - if you need to make connections, it's worth the effort to use Zurich! The nursery is a bright set of three rooms fit out with toys, a slide, a tunnel, table books and coloring equipment, four fantastic changing stations, a place to warm up food/bottles, and a nap room with four cribs and a bassinet. If I had to get stuck somewhere or deal with an long layover, this would definitely be the place!

One personal tip: travelling with a toddler is really exhausting, no matter how good he is. Make sure you and your wife agree on at least one half day each where the other babysits, so you each have a half day to wander on your own, visit a place not suitable for a toddler, have a manicure, sleep, whatever. Also, if you're comfortable about it, try to arrange a least one night with a babysitter so you two can enjoy one of the fancier places in town (or even just a local pizza joint but with no one sharing your meal and throwing it on the floor!)

Have lots of fun! Your baby probably won't remember it, but you will have wonderful memories of travelling with the baby, and it will probably give you access to a side of a city you wouldn't have seen otherwise (even if it means you miss one or two of the main sites).
Old Nov 28th, 2000, 10:04 AM
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Wow! I don't even have kids and I thought that was a great post, Karen!!
Old Nov 28th, 2000, 12:15 PM
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I have also travelled extensively with
my child, including trips to the UK and
Eire. I don't do it on a whim; my family is there, and I think it behooves me as a fit adult with a decent income to take my child to visit those family members who for reasons of health and finances cannot come to see him. They don't love one another any the less for the distance, and these people will not live long enough to know him as an adult. I agree that it is probably not worthwhile to take a preschooler on a trip like this unless you are visiting family or relocating temporarily overseas. 'Doing cathedrals' with a toddler in tow is asking for angst.

Now, for the practical. I second what Karen said except for one point: Do not under any circumstances take an 18 month old on a transoceanic flight without a safety seat! Not only is it safer, but you may go insane without it. A child that age who is 'loose' (only the lap belt to wriggle out of) cannot be trusted to stay in the seat
when adults are eating or sleeping.
Toddlers love to play peekaboo with the
passenger behind them, kick the seat in
front, crawl under the rows of seats, etc. Having them secured in a familiar
seat is easier for the family, keeps them calmer, and shows consideration for your fellow passengers. I recommend using overnight diapers on planes, other diapers tend to leak when a child is putting that much weight on one spot. To guard against flight delay situations, you MUST carry enough food, clothing, and diapers (plus books and toys) for a 36 hour period in your carry-on luggage.

If you use 'overnight' diapers, carry them; they are rare in Europe. Last I
heard, baby ibuprofen is not available
in the UK; having the foresight to carry
it along saved our lives when he cut
6 teeth in 9 days at 17 months.
Be aware that the taste and fat content of "regular" milk varies widely in different countries, your child may have
mild digestive difficulties until he becomes accustomed. It has been my experience that with a child still accustomed to napping, the jet-lag adjustment ratio is about one day for every hour of time difference. My child
was too large for a backpack or sling by this age, but too easily tired to trek long distances. I advise investing in a European design aluminum 'buggy stroller' for any urban or suburban adventures; they are very light, they recline, and they fold into a long rectangle rather than an awkward-to-carry large square -- MUCH easier on
public transportation (BTW, that kind of
stroller is easiest for -any- travel,
not just overseas; they are priceless at
Disneyworld, for instance!)
Old Nov 28th, 2000, 12:52 PM
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We recently purchased a Combi Travel Stroller for our 18 month old. It is sturdier than a regular umbrella stroller, but just as compact and lightweight. Plus, it has a basket, canopy and reclines. I also recommend purchasing "toy tethers." They are nylon straps with snaps at the ends. They are fabulous for attaching toys to the carseat on the plane, the stroller or high chair. I also agree that you must purchase a seat for your child on the plane and bringing your carseat. It is absolutely the safest way to travel. Most airlines offer 1/2 price seats for children under 2 if you are bringing a car seat. If you can't budget for it, then you should rethink your trip.
Old Nov 28th, 2000, 02:51 PM
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Forgot one of my best tips for travelling with children on planes (even if trip is short). Our son once had ear problems on the plane and was crying - the stewardess brought two plastic cups. In the bottom of each cup she had folded a napkin and had soaked the napkins in hot water (not dripping). She told us to put the cups over his ears. It looked silly but it worked IMMEDIATELY. I'm not really sure why. I have since recommended it to parents on other flights and it has always worked.

By the way, don't even think about not buying a separate seat for your child - it's not safe and you will go crazy.
Old Nov 28th, 2000, 06:00 PM
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Now these plastic cups with napkins soaked in hot water sound interesting. I wish you could contact every airline about this idea, I hate hearing babies and little kids crying when the plane ascends or descends, you know they are hurting. If it works it's a major finding. I'm surprised it's not more commonly offered to parents. Neat Info! My "baby" is 19 but I can offer it to the next parent on my next flight!
Old Nov 29th, 2000, 10:47 AM
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On our last trip, the attendant actually had done the same thing with the cups for my husband who was getting over a cold and was having pain in his ears so it does work.
Old Dec 6th, 2000, 06:25 PM
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I have travelled normally 4 times a year with my daughter since she was 2 months old. She is now 8 years old and has travelled to 9 countries. I would recommend that you always bring a stroller that is easy to push and easy to open and close. Last year, at age 7 my daughter slept 4 hours in the stroller while my husband and I pushed her through the Thyssen museum in Madrid.
Bring some snacks that your child likes, like Cheerios, nuts and peanut butter. Make sure you baby gets plenty of sleep, just lay back the stroller, and push. Kids are easy to travel with as long as they aren't hungry or tired. Most of the time the crying kids are just exhausted because they didn't get enough sleep.
Also, I have found that sticky chewy candy (starburst or tootsie rolls) works best for ear-popping on the planes. Landing is the most important time to pop ears.
Remember to take advantage of parks in Europe. Let your child run and yell and have fun at the park.
Old Dec 7th, 2000, 12:43 AM
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I agree on the sleep issue, but with an 18 month old, don't count on using a travel stroller for lengthy naps unless it reclines. It's too uncomfortable (and hard on the back) to take long naps in most umbrella strollers. We knew we'd do a lot of travelling from the time my daughter was quite small, so we sprung for a "deluxe" travel stroller which reclines - pretty expensive, but it's been worth it. I also just ordered a Kelty KIDS NapSack, which looks like a nifty travelling bed roll for babies and toddlers - we plan to try it out for travels at Christmas. Anyone else have experience with it? It looks to be either a Godsend or a waste of luggage ...!

Also, I wouldn't count on sticky candy with a baby - too dangerous! Go for the traditional bottle or pacifier on take off and landing.
Old Dec 7th, 2000, 11:35 AM
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I remembered some other hints. Yes, make sure the stroller reclines. A deluxe umbrella stroller that reclines is best because it is easy to pull when you aren't using it. Also, speaking from experience, don't bring any toys, books, blankets etc. for your child that can't be lost. My daughter managed to loose too many "FAVORITE" things on our first few trips. The rule now is for her to pick out the toys that she would like to bring but she must promise that she will not be upset if she looses them. Usually she brings happy-meal toys, crayons, paper, and cheap books. Also, we always bring pencils and paper to restaurants for her. She entertains herself drawing when she is finished eating.

At restaurants, I never order a meal for my daughter. I normally give her bread and let her pick out the things that she is willing to eat from my plate or my husband's plate. We can always order extra food if we need it and we don't have to worry about her being grossed-out by some exotic meal. We make sure our child is not hungry before we go to the restaurant. That way she doesn't care about how long it takes to get the food or what is ordered.

Take the baby everywhere! They love it and it is so good for them. They learn so much. I was amazed that my daughter at age seven could hol a conversation with her school art teacher criticizing Salvador Dali and saying that she preferred Valasquez.
Old Dec 7th, 2000, 11:55 AM
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Julie, I sure hope your child isn't as pretentious as you make her sound...

and Jeff, if you're walking a crying child up and down the halls outside of my hotel room, I'll kill both of you with my bare hands - this is a vacation for some people, and your problems with your brood should be confined to areas where only you will be bothered. Sort of like secondhand smoke - maybe we could have adults only flights?
Old Dec 7th, 2000, 12:20 PM
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A co-worker, her husband and their 2 children are traveling to Venice this Christmas (the children are 3 and 7) told me that during a trip to Hawaii, the 2-3 year old literally crawled under the seat and screamed the entire flight. Didn't cry but screamed. My co-worker and her husband were mortified and very apologetic to the people around them. My question is this: I am single, male, mid 30s - if ater a period of time waiting for the parents to quiet their child would it be inappropriate to try and help resolve the problem? Of course my concern is about being perceived as a child molester - let's face it, Amercia is very family oriented and single men and women are perceived suspiciously. If the parents can't quiet their child maybe someone else can - am I'm not talking about putting the child in the luggage compartent either. As much as I'm not crazy about children (I would love NYC to be an all adult community), I would rather try and quiet the child than listen to it scream for 7 hours. How do parents feel about this?
Old Dec 7th, 2000, 12:26 PM
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zzz. sorry about the bad kid. The point of these questions and answers is to prevent your kid from mishaving and yes annoying others who may be on a once in a life time vacation.
If you have any good hints for us parents let us know. I'm gonna take my kid with me, but I'm gonna make sure she doesn't annoy anyone by crying, running around or talking too much.
It is very stressful for me when people are looking at my child misbehave, so I have learned as many ways as possible to keep under control on trips.


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