My family and I spent almost two weeks in Italy this past summer. It was our kids’ first time out of the country. They have ridden on planes their entire lives (at least once a year) so I wasn’t worried about that, especially now that we’re done with diapers, bottles, strollers, and naptimes (hallelujah). Our biggest concern was making sure our 5-year-old found enough palatable foods to sustain him. Thankfully he is a carb and cheese guy so we figured he would survive in Italy.
Every day was a touring day with the exception of our first, which was a travel day. The kids were troopers, especially our youngest. We learned quickly how to motivate him to keep walking because it was hot enough outside without having to carry someone around. Our son’s particular motivators: the promise of gelato or a snack of a granola bar or power pellets (peanut M&Ms). Good distractions for him were conversations about bad guys, building Legos, or what kind of gelato specific bad guys would eat.
All of the walking and touring really seemed to help build stamina for our last two days of marathon touring around Rome (21,731 and 18,295 steps, respectively). Our son’s diet wasn’t as varied as at home, but he didn’t starve either – lots of bread, French fries, potatoes, and pasta with cheese with occasional veggies, milk, chicken, and fruit. The kids did everything we asked of them with minimal complaining – ride in cars for multiple hours, wait for delayed trains, walk miles around cities, and wear clothes for more than one day.
I hope they remember this trip and continue to enjoy traveling like we do. I am grateful to have given them this opportunity. Thanksgiving and Christmas are practically upon us and many people travel to see family or on vacation. I know traveling with kids can be daunting so I thought I’d include some tips we found helpful for our journey.
Before the trip:
- Go on walks or hikes regularly for several months to get them used to touring.
- Pack snacks to tide them over on the plane and between meals (and maybe travel packets of ketchup depending on your kids’ preferences and your destination).
- Don’t be concerned about having balanced meals on the trip. Focus on things they’ll eat to keep up their energy.
- Try to find interesting things to point out while touring (lion figures, demons/bad guys in church paintings, gold items, skeletons, dead bodies in tombs – know your audience, this was what our son enjoyed).
- Don’t be above bribes like gelato.
- Be patient with little legs and tired bodies.
- Remember it’s not like traveling without kids (you might not be able to see as much).
- Find some kid fun every day (park or playground, fountain, souvenir shopping, pool).
- Have relaxing, unscheduled evenings to give everyone down time.
If you’ve traveled with kids, I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!