Traveling to Europe with kids in diapers may feel daunting — but it doesn’t need to be. With a little planning, Europe can be the perfect destination to make memories as a family.
There are actually some great benefits to traveling when your child is still a baby or toddler. Flights for children under two years old are often free or discounted (if they share your seat), many European attractions offer discounted or free admission for young children and you can take an extended family holiday without having to worry about the kids missing school.
Here’s what you need to know about how to plan a vacation in Europe with kids.
When to Go
July and August are the peak times to visit Europe, leading to sky-high prices, long lines for attractions and jam-packed restaurants — which are not ideal conditions for a fun family vacation. Ski destinations also see more visitors in the winter, especially during the holiday season.
In general, traveling to Europe with kids is easiest in the shoulder season: May-June and September-October. During these months, you can reap the rewards of fewer crowds, more reasonably priced accommodations and pleasant weather.
From bottles and formula to stuffies and sleep sacks, getting ready to travel with a little one may feel like packing for a Mount Everest excursion. Here are a few tips on how to travel with a baby:
- Avoid over-packing. Stock your suitcase with a week’s worth of outfits for your youngster, and plan on doing laundry. Many Diamond Resorts properties, like Vilar do Golf in Portugal, have laundry facilities on-site, so you don’t even have to leave the property.
- Smart Strolling. Umbrella strollers are compact and light but don’t cruise well over cobblestone streets. A sturdy stroller with rubber wheels can be a lifesaver for strolling around historic old towns. Most airlines check strollers for free.
- Come Prepared. If long walks are on the itinerary, take a hiking baby carrier. It offers plenty of pockets to store baby essentials and fits ergonomically across the hips and shoulders — making it comfortable to cart a kiddie in the city or through the countryside. Many airlines check this item for free but consult the booking policy beforehand.
- Make Airport Pick-up Easy. Since you’re carrying a jet-lagged little one and a lot of luggage, arrange your airport pick-up ahead of time. Some Diamond Resorts hotels like the Club del Carmen in Spain’s Canary Islands also provide an airport shuttle for your convenience.
Finding a family-friendly resort can help lower your stress levels when considering what to pack when traveling with a baby. For instance, guests at Le Club Mougins in Côte D’Azur, France can flip through Diamond’s Baby Accessories Catalogue to browse baby essentials like cots and linens, high chairs and safety gates to rent — you even can purchase swimming diapers on-site for pool days. Just contact reception to reserve whatever you need.
Think About Practicality
Staying in a historic hotel has serious appeal when it comes to ambiance, but these accommodations aren’t always conducive to traveling with preschoolers. Before you book, ask about accessibility. Many European heritage accommodations are walk-ups without elevators, which presents back-breaking challenges for parents lugging strollers, suitcases and little ones who aren’t yet mobile. Getting up and down steep stairs with toddlers can also be quite hazardous.
Instead, look for apartment-style accommodations, either on the ground floor or in resorts that have elevators. A kitchenette is a “must-have” amenity for prepping baby food, warming bottles and storing formula or breast milk. Likewise, on-site laundry facilities can be a sanity-saver when dealing with spills and spit-ups. For example, all the rooms at Diamond’s Sahara Sunset Club in Spain are equipped with a full kitchen along with spacious living rooms with a TV and DVD player. Some accommodations also have a washer and dryer in the room so you can do laundry without leaving your suite.
The bottom line? Do your research and contact your resort ahead of time for help finding a suitable resort in the European destination you’re considering.
New parents are often most freaked by the long-haul flight. Don’t stress! Aside from bringing toys and stocking the diaper bag, these tips will make your journey easier.
- Book a Bassinet: Some airlines provide a bassinet for infants on long-haul flights. Yes, this is a thing: it straps securely onto the wall and allows your baby to slumber in comfort — and it gives your arms a break. This is usually a complimentary service, but you must request it in advance.
- Bring a Travel Bottle Warmer: Avoid the scramble to find hot water at the airport or on the plane. A rechargeable or USB-powered travel bottle warmer fits snugly into a diaper bag and can heat bottles in minutes. But remember to empty any liquids before going through airport security.
- Bring Spare Clothes: Accidents happen (sometimes more than once), and sitting sopping wet on an overnight flight is not ideal. In your carry-on luggage, pack three spare outfits for your child and an extra outfit for yourself.
- Pack Snacks: Don’t rely on plane food to satisfy your picky preschooler. Avoid meal meltdowns and bring non-perishable snacks (e.g. bananas, muffins, apples and cereal) that you know your child likes to eat.
Look for Age-Appropriate Amenities and Activities
Resort amenities such as bowling alleys, mini-golf and game rooms are great for keeping older children entertained, but what about babies and toddlers? Small children have very specific needs, so do your homework and find a resort that also has amenities and activities geared toward tykes. For instance, the Los Amigos Beach Club in Spain has an outdoor children’s pool, a library, a playground and an activities department that plans daily games and fun events on-site. Plus, the beach is also within walking distance and the local zoo is just a ten-minute drive from the property, offering quick outings that will delight the little ones.
Now that you’ve got the goods on traveling to Europe with kids, start planning! The only other thing you’ll need is ample space on your mobile phone or camera card to capture all the beautiful memories you’re about to make as a family.
Diamond Resorts International Marketing, Inc., its parents, sister companies, and subsidiaries, make no warranty, express or implied, as to the condition, capacity, performance or any other aspect of the activities, events, or service providers listed herein. No inquiry has been made into the activities or events, or the qualifications or the quality of services offered by the providers. Do not consider this an endorsement of or recommendation for any of the activities, events, or providers.