Planning a trip is so exciting and important when traveling with little ones. Now that I've outlined how to survive flights and pick the right accommodations let's go over some do's when it comes to your actual itinerary while on vacation.
Itinerary. There are two types of vacation personalities; those who want to do and see everything (my husband) and those who want to relax poolside, nap, relax some more and eat. I fall somewhere in the middle. Having a baby has actually been a plus for me on our vacations as it forces my husband to slow down!
Naps: Can your child nap on the go? We honestly weren’t sure if she would with our umbrella stroller but we gave it a shot and sure enough as we toured the ancient Coliseum she nodded off and remained fast asleep for about forty minutes. I draped a light swaddle blanket over the stroller to help keep the sun off (it was also very hot and I'm so glad we packed this stroller fan for the trip). This was all fine and great for a few morning naps out and about but we knew the afternoon nap needed to be a good one and so we would get back to the hotel and put her down. And I would get my much longed for poolside relaxation time! Plan for naps and plan that they might not happen on the go.
Transportation: As previously mentioned try to keep this at a minimum. If you’re renting a car then great. You can ask them to throw in a carseat (if you didn’t bring yours which unless you want it for the flight don’t bring anything more than you have to). We took several taxis for short distances and I held Augusta on my lap and put the seat belt over both of us. Yeah, not the safest, so we tried to walk most places. But most of Europe doesn't bat an eye if you are on public transport or taxi without a car seat. We brought our Ergo carrier and I put her in there for the ferry rides and it was also great for hikes and walks. But back to limiting your transportation...to get to Positano from Rome we had to take a train for several hours and then a ferry. What were we thinking? Did I mention we then took a ferry to Capri the next day to stay for one night and back to Positano the next? It was a lot of ferries, trains and meltdowns. For our upcoming trip we are renting a car and only staying in two places! If you do have to take a train, bus or ferry give yourself plenty of time in between as it's not as easy to rush places with a baby.
Cut your plans in half: But seriously it’s just not possible nor enjoyable to try and do as much as you could do prior to having a child. I say set your expectations really low and then you’ll be bound to be happy! If there are must see places know your limitations. When we were in Rome we knew there were so many museums that we just couldn't go inside of to tour. We made the best of it and wandered the streets outside of them with gelato and ate at cafes overlooking ancient ruins.
Do ONE amazing thing for your child during the day: By amazing I simply mean do something that your little one will love in order to break up a day of sight seeing, chaos and travel. For us this was usually pool or beach time. Sure it wasn't the relaxing postcard day at the beach experience but she loved getting in the warm mediterranean and making splashes. In the city we tried to find parks for her to run around in. For our upcoming trip we plan on seeing several places that will surely wow her (a butterfly sanctuary, live flamenco music and the Barcelona zoo to name a few).
Eating: Hah! Sidewalk cafes will be your friend. Good luck finding highchairs, or at least ones from this century. Augusta ate on my lap for most meals, which was fine, or in her stroller. And don't think you should bring your clip on high chair. It's too cumbersome to actually take with you around town and in the end most of the tables are too unstable to hold it. We deeply regretted bringing ours as it just sat in our hotel room. But we are SO glad we brought her mini eating mat (we don't go anywhere without it). We had to own the “speedy Americans” title as eating on European time was just not an option for us. Make sure to order your food and drinks as soon as they greet you and when they deliver the food ask for the check. They will judge you. We heard, “Americans…always rushing.” Just own it. For dinners we either grabbed things from restaurants and took them back to our hotel to eat on our terrace so Augusta could run around free and wear herself out before bed. Or we’d feed her and have a snack and wait until after we put her down to go to the hotel restaurant. Don't forget to pack a ton of snacks with you for throughout the day (especially if your child is a picky eater). Augusta takes after me and LOVES carbs so Italy was a great destination and she had no problems eating the food. Reminder to make sure your hotel includes breakfast!
At the end of the day just try and be flexible and remind yourself that this is a vacation! Bon Voyage!