When it comes to traveling with a baby, many parents are skeptical. Common concerns include from limited baby food options, nap schedule, diaper changing/breastfeeding schedule, to finding a baby friendly place to stay. Some may say taking a short trip somewhere local could already be challenging, not to mention traveling on a long distance flight to Europe hopping different countries. The good news is, with careful planning, you can make it work! I truly can’t wait to share my experience of taking my 13-months-old to Europe this summer.
4 critical tips to keep in mind:
Practical and useful baby items
A portable baby food blender comes in handy on almost every meal. But, don’t forget to bring an outlet adapter for the country that you travel to.
Inflatable Bath Tub
It’s not a secret. We all know how the bath tubs and sinks clean in hotels. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable using them, not to mention putting my baby in there for a bath. There’s inflatable bath tub for baby available in Amazon. You would certainly have a peace of mind putting your baby in there.
Book a direct flight
Plane ride can be a painful experience for babies due to air pressure in the sky so the shorter the better. We tried to limit the flight time by booking direct flight to a city that our city has direct flight to. Yes, you would have to return to the same city and book an extra night when you return, but you would find it still worth it than taking a straight 20 hours flight with connecting flights in between.
Take a cruise
Given the consideration of exhaustion from busy baby schedules, I selected cruise as our main transportation to visit different countries and cities in Europe for the following reasons: 1. It’s easy! hop on and hop off whenever you want. 2. It takes you to different countries and cities when you are resting so you save energy on driving or taking planes all that hassalls. 3. It offers unlimited and a wide selection of food options on the ship, so you don’t have to worry about finding a restaurant which would save you a ton of energy and time.
Selecting the right cruise for you and your family is crucial since a big portion of time will be spent on it. We selected Celebrity Cruises line 11 nights which came with perks like free drinks and WiFi package.
The pros: It’s a large ship and it’s gotten the most ports to stop by. Combined with its elegant interior decor and fancy international culinary, it’s fancy sail.
The cons: It’s not as baby/kid friendly as other cruise line, such as Royal Caribbean or Disney cruise. There’s limited kids activities both indoor and outdoor. Only one daycare center and a teen club are onboard. The largest swimming pool is for adult only. There’s no kids dance or movie time.
Check out all cruise lines on Cruise Direct. It’s your one-stop shop for cruise and it’s easier for your compare different cruise lines.
Bring a durable and comfortable stroller
Baby gears matter! You need to have compact and durable stroller system for your long distance travel. A good stroller on which that baby could sleep comfortably goes a long way because your baby will spend a lot of time on it while you exploring the new places. a compact and integrated system allows you save space and easily move around. We brought our UppaBaby stroller along with the car seat in case there’s car ride. He’s a bit out-grown of the car seat already but still ok for a short period of ride. The large basket of this stroller gave much room for all the stuff that we needed on the go, while tucking the car seat in there as well. The frame of the stroller is steel so it’s very sturdy and durable. It’s totally a life saver!
San Francisco to Zurich
We chose a direct flight to Zurich, Switzerland. It’s an 9 hours flight and we took SWISS airline. It’s definitely the best airline that we had ever taken. Service was excellent! After we checked in our airbnb located in downtown, we roamed around the area and had dinner at the local restaurant for cheese fondue. Can’t miss it since we are in Switzerland, right? However, do note that what cheese fondue meal offers wasn’t baby friendly at all. The cheese has strong taste and most babies can’t handle it. Summer in Switzerland is hot and humid in some days. The couple of days that we were there happened to be very hot even at night time. The airbnb that we got had no air conditioning and therefore good-night-sleep wasn’t checked. Be mindful of that and find out the weather and make sure if air conditioning is available if you are going with airbnb. I preferred airbnb as I like the option of cooking something simple for baby.
We stayed in Zurich for only 2 nights so only one full day was available which left us not too many choices. We decided to go to Pilatus-Lucerne Mountain where is one hour drive from Zurich in the center of Switzerland. It’s a perfect spot for a one-day trip and it’s super kids friendly with perfect combination of sight viewing and fun activities. It’s well-planned tourist site, equipped with facilities that meets your recreation and adventure needs. We arrived at the cogwheel train station, got a package of taking cogwheel train up to the top from the front of the mountain and taking gondola back down.
Cogwheel train was certainly a fun ride, with the breathtaking view of the world famous switzerland Alpine peaks when winding up the hill, it’s such a memorable moment for all of us. The surprising part was when we took the gondola down, I discovered the world’s longest mountain roller coaster-that I had always wanted to try. We also discovered camping park and fun kids’ playground built by natural wood with zipline. We didn’t have much time left for the day to spend on the play structures and exploring the camping site as we spent too much time roaming around the top of the mountain before taking the gondola down. Try to limit one to one and half hour at the tourism center and viewing at the top only if you want to leave more time to check out the gondola side of fun activities.
Switzerland is definitely a baby/kids friendly country and it’s certainly a highly recommended family travel destination. Our stay was TOO short and we definitely have to go back.
Off to Rome
Rome is the proximate city to the port for boarding our cruise. We took an hour from Zurich to Rome. The airport of Rome was a bit chaotic. It took us an hour to get our luggages because they mixed different airlines luggages at the same carousel. Thank god that I got baby pouches and formula handy as we arrived around lunch time. After we checked in our hotel, we were back to our feet. Rome is home to Italian food. It’s gotten so many choices and it’s easy to find food on almost every corner of the streets. We jumped right into a Ristorante and had our first pasta. Baby still couldn’t handle regularly cooked pasta. I asked for pasta to be cooked for longer time and simply put cheese on top. Seafood or fish are easily to be found on menu in Italy. I ordered fish and mix it with the pasta to come up nutritious and easy to eat meals for baby.
Getting on Celebrity Reflection
Finally! Here comes our big day of getting onboard of our cruise, beginning of our journey of multi-countries trip, luxurious stay and experience, top notch performance, panorama view of mediterranean sea, fancy cuisines and unlimited food and drink for 12 days. It’s quite a relief after we settled in on the cruise knowing that we would be taken care of for the biggest part of our trip. With plenty of food choices, I was able to arrange baby meals as follow:
Breakfast: Yogurt, cheerios, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, or fruit mixed using Baby Bullet
Lunch: instant oatmeal with banana, baby food pouches, formula or soft food from restaurants
Dinner: Salmon, tender broccoli and carrot, mashed potato, or cooked Spinach with chicken and rice mixed with Baby Bullet
These are food items that are easily to be found on cruise and are suitable for a 8 – 15 months babies.
Reflection sailed from Civitavecchia (Rome), stopped by Pisa/Florence (Italy), Nice (France), Barcelona, Malaga (Spain), Gibraltar (England), Cartegena (Spain), Ibiza (Spain), and back to Civitavecchia. We stayed at Rome for two nights before flying back to Zurich for return flight. We utilized the full day for a day trip to Siena to avoid wasting time in line for museums in Rome, where is a historical cute little town in Tuscany. It’s a little surprise from my husband and I loved the medieval cityscape of this romantic little town.
Hope my trip experience had given you some confidence in bringing your little on board. Come back and read more.