I remember the good ol’ days when all I had to do was book a cheap flight, pack a bag, get to the airport on time and arrive at my destination without too much thought! Once the kids arrived, we almost avoided travelling for the first 3 years. But it didn’t have to be that way. We now take the kids on regular city breaks, at home and abroad, and with a bit of planning, we all have a great time. Here are 10 Tips for Surviving City Breaks when Travelling with Kids.
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Research is key to surviving a city break with kids.
- Look online for other parent reviews of cities you wish to visit.
- Check in advance what child friendly activities there are available.
- Check local holidays and events for the dates you want to travel.
- Figure out distances from the airport and hotel, to those attractions you wish to visit.
- And finally check if there are any discounts available for attractions, restaurants, transport etc.
Be sure to visit our Travel Section for City Guides from Atlanta to Tokyo which include free things to do, where to eat with kids and places to visit.
#2. Plan Ahead
Once you have your research done, it is important to plan your trip.
- Get the kids involved and get everyone to choose places they would like to visit. Then choose places you all want to see, and get your itinerary together.
- Use online tools to find child friendly restaurants and discount vouchers.
And remember all cities have families living in them so there will always be free, interesting things to do, no matter what city you visit.
#3. Choose Your Accommodation Wisely
It may sound obvious, but make sure the accommodation you have chosen, suits your family.
There is nothing worse than arriving and finding you have to watch your kids every second because the sofa is cream and the walls are pristine white!
Also check the distance from your accommodation to the places you wish to visit. And how accessible it is to public transport.
#4. Set a Budget
It is a good idea to set a budget before you travel.
This is much easier if you’ve done your research well, and have an idea of your estimated food and attraction ticket costs.
If you have older children, give them a budget too. They will probably want to bring gifts back to friends and making them responsible for their own spending could save arguments when you are there!
#5. Think of the Weather
Again this one may sound obvious, but some times of year will be just too warm or too cold to visit certain cities with children.
Think not only of the predicted temperature but also look at things like wind chill factor, -1C might sound bearable but, if you arrive and the wind chill makes it feel more like -15C, you won’t be impressed and neither will the kids!
#6. Think of the Kids
Again this may sound obvious, but bringing them on endless tours of churches, vineyards & shops may not be their idea of a good trip, so plan everything with them in mind.
It is okay to divide and conquer! If one child really wants to spend time at an art gallery but the other would prefer to run around the local park or head to the shops, split up so that everyone gets to enjoy their city break.
Ok so you have checked the weather, and know what clothes to bring, but what else do you need to remember?
Make sure to take a few familiar toys / books to keep the kids entertained, not only on the journey, but for down times when you are there too.
If they have a favourite toy or item that they take to bed or like to carry around, pack it, but remember to keep a close eye on it. We’ve all been there, when we realise the toy rabbit that they can’t sleep without (and that went out of production years ago) is missing!
When taking your city break with babies or toddlers, a good travel buggy or sling is essential. Pack enough nappies / diapers for the first night and source them locally for the rest of the trip. The same goes with baby food and formula.
Finally be sure to pack snacks and drinks daily before you set off from your accommodation, or stock up early in the day. It will save time, money and stress looking for child friendly places to eat on days out.
#8. Take Pictures
Don’t forget to take pictures and have them processed when you get home. We often forget to stop and take pictures and if we do, they often get left on our mobile phone.
You could even keep a video diary, which brings me on nicely to my next point.
#9. Give Older Children Jobs
If you are travelling with older children, it is a good idea to give them jobs. They could be in charge of a video diary, or taking photos which can be make into a photo book, on returning home.
Other jobs that they will love include;
- Research a district within the city to visit.
- Research ideas for a day trip outside the city.
- Find free things to do that you will all enjoy.
- Be in charge of the budget for a day – they choose what you spend the allocated budget on for that day. They have to think of everything from transport to food and entry fees.
Bribery will play a part in any city break with kids.
From you bribing your partner for some free time, to bribing the kids so you can visit a few places that you know they aren’t so keen on.
So be prepared for some give or take and it will make the holiday go much more smoothly, I promise.
Over to you – do you have any top tips for a city break with kids? Let us know in the comments box below.