I wouldn’t say Jared and I are particularly well travelled, but I would say that saving up for family holidays is one of our priorities – partly for a break (of course), partly for fun (of course) and partly because we’d far rather our children experience new cultures and places, rather than have the latest clothing, toys or games.
We both like learning, being in new places, seeing new things, appreciating beauty and the opportunity to not be anywhere for a specific time. I just worked out that I’ve been to 25 countries – 12% of the globe. There is so much to more to see! We don’t want to leave visiting new places until we’re empty nesters, and last year we attempted our first city break with our two. Whilst we are not experts; we did learn a few things and become more streamlined each day.
My personal feelings are that it would be more difficult to take two walkers on a city break, rather than a toddler and a baby – I find babies far easier to please, they are light and they can’t argue back.
I know this is meant to be 10 tips but I’m going to start with an unofficial obvious one – check the weather before you travel. Weather reports stated that it would be 1 degree in Berlin – what we didn’t discover before we travelled, was that with the ice cold wind it would be -12 degrees which obviously makes a humongous difference. Another unofficial tip would be to stuff yourself at the buffet breakfast to save money.
10 Tips for Surviving a City Break with a Toddler and a Baby
1. Ensure your accommodation is central to all the places you want to see. This made all the difference to our three day trip in Berlin – it was no hassle to pop back for a few hours for extra layers, a change of clothes or a nap. So convenient. Familiarise yourself with a map before you arrive.
2. A baby carrier and a cheap buggy gives you a few transport options. We have an Ergo baby carrier which I LOVE. Rufus falls to sleep brilliantly in it and it’s really comfortable to wear. A cheap holiday buggy is one of our best ever buys and I use it all the time day to day. After a few hours the baby carrier can feel heavy and Ru can get a bit fed up. Rufus and Winston can go in it individually, or Winst can perch on the front if he gets tired of walking when it’s occupied – probably not recommended for health and safety reasons, but who cares?
3. Both make a list of your top attractions and rate them – ‘must see’, ‘if possible’ and ‘would be nice’. Then make a rough plan for each day, always have a secondary option and make sure you both get to do your ‘must sees’. Plan the day in 2-3 hour chunks to make the day manageable – a section for the kids to run around, a section to sight see, a section to relax.
4. A couple of favourite toys and a few books for bed time. Winston likes to have a car in each hand most of the time, so why would being on holiday be any different? They were a life saver at meal times, on the plane and at museums. A few books, so that there is some familiarity at bed time. 5. Snacks, back up snacks and more back up, back up snacks. I always love it when I find a Lidl on holiday – hooray! Buy a bag of fruit, crackers and other snacks and keep them in your hotel room. It can be so time consuming looking for a child friendly place to eat when you’re out and about.
6. Jared and I like to use public transport when we’re in a new place. I love reading the signs, looking at the maps, attempting to talk to locals and the opportunity to get the feel of day to day life. Kids love public transport too, but do make a note of taxi ranks in case you need to get somewhere in a hurry. 7. There will be good, better and best times to fly according to the routine of your children. Not always possible to accommodate, but it’s certainly worth trying. 8. Technology. I don’t like using technology as a babysitter, but on holiday I relax and phones can really come in handy.
9. Don’t be afraid or feel bad for separating for a few hours a day. Chances are; if you’ve decided to take your children abroad, it’s going to be to a relatively safe destination. Just make sure you have some money, the name of where you’re staying and your phone, just in case. There are some things that are just impossible to concentrate on with children.
10. Bribery. This is naughty and one I wouldn’t usually condone, but it saved us from a number of tricky moments. It’s amazing what Winston will do for a couple of pieces of Kinder chocolate. I carried three ‘bribes’ around with me each day. Some days we needed all three and some days we didn’t need any. Rufus explooring the many floors of Berlin – we loved looking down at his little crocodile feet!