(This arti­cle may or may not con­tain affil­i­ate links. What does that mean?)

After years of trav­el­ing to Europe with my mom, and becom­ing a bit of an addict, I made the con­scious deci­sion to con­tin­ue my adven­tures once my daugh­ter was born. 

It would be amaz­ing. I would show naysay­ers that your whole life does­n’t have to stop just because you have a baby. I would still sip wine at cafes in the after­noon and walk miles upon miles explor­ing dif­fer­ent cities. The only dif­fer­ence is — my kid would be with me.

 

The inno­cent years

 

I look back to that young moth­er now and think, “She is just so cute and must have been drink­ing wine when she cre­at­ed that plan.” 

 

 

In How to Sur­vive Your First Flight with a Baby, I cov­ered every­thing you need to know about pack­ing, nav­i­gat­ing the air­port and get­ting through the flight. Here, we’ll talk about how I sur­vived my first vaca­tion in Europe with a baby. I’ll even give you some tips that I learned the hard way.

 

Transportation to Your Hotel or Flat

After land­ing any­where, I’m always amused by how fast every­one tries to get off the plane. It’s as if some­one yelled FIRE. I’ve seen grown men step over elder­ly women to exit quick­er. This will hap­pen. And when you have a baby, don’t expect peo­ple to be any nicer. It’s eas­i­er to sit back and relax. Wait until every­one is off the flight. Chances are, you’ll be stand­ing in the cus­toms line for a while anyway.

Once you final­ly exit the flight, pat your­self on the back. YOU MADE IT. 

Par­ent Trav­el­er Tip: You want to get off the flight, col­lect your things, and go to the hotel. I get it. Me too. But you must resist the urge and stop and get a snack. When in doubt — snacks, snacks, and more snacks. I’m 98% sure you’ll still find cheese puff crumbs in the bot­tom of my purse. #noshame 

 

No, you can’t have a bite

 

After offi­cial­ly enter­ing the coun­try, col­lect your lug­gage and head to trans­porta­tion. You have sev­er­al options depend­ing on your loca­tion. In most cas­es, tak­ing an Uber is your best bet for two reasons:

  1. You can tell them ahead of time that you have a baby so they will be ready. Every Uber dri­ver I had helped me fold up the stroller and put in my car seat. They were amazing. 
  2. If you don’t have the coun­try’s cur­ren­cy, you can pay through the Uber app, includ­ing tip. 

Par­ent Trav­el­er Tip: Do not exchange your mon­ey in the air­port (or any­where). The rates are much high­er at air­ports and you’ll lose a lot of mon­ey to fees. Instead, with­draw mon­ey from an ATM. The bank fees are sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er. You’re welcome.

 

Get Settled

Get­ting set­tled while trav­el­ing solo

  • Put suit­case down
  • Show­er the air­plane off
  • Go get wine

Get­ting set­tled when trav­el­ing with a baby:

  • Unload all the toys
  • Move the fur­ni­ture around to cov­er the outlets. 
  • Pur­chase a bath­mat for the tub. (My kid fell the first day)
  • Get snacks and drinks for the room 
  • Log in to all wi-fi so you have a back up for entertainment 
  • Check under every sur­face to make sure ran­dom things aren’t there to pick up (my daugh­ter had a hair clip in her mouth… it was­n’t mine)

Par­ent Trav­el­er Tip: Decid­ing to go the apart­ment rental route isn’t a bad idea. You can request baby proof options. 

 

 

 

Things to Do

This was the hard­est part for me. Explor­ing Europe with my baby was­n’t bad, it just looked dif­fer­ent. Instead of eat­ing out for every meal. I ate out for one. Instead of shop­ping for hours, I’d shop for an hour and take her to the park for an hour. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re out of your com­fort zone:

  • Try to keep nap time and bed­time con­sis­tent- It can be dif­fi­cult when mak­ing plans but hav­ing a well-rest­ed baby means a well-behaved baby (most of the time).
  • Work in baby stuff to the sched­ule - Chil­dren’s Muse­ums? Parks? Sto­ry­times? Don’t for­get your lit­tle one is on vaca­tion too. 

 

 

Now what, mommy?

 

 

I’ll admit, at first, I was­n’t enjoy­ing it as much. I missed end­less lunch­es where the wait­er inevitably tells the busy Amer­i­can (me) to, “Relax, stay awhile,” or get­ting lost and stum­bling upon an amaz­ing street filled with shops to explore. But, as I sat at the park watch­ing my daugh­ter play with a lit­tle boy from Den­mark as I had a great con­ver­sa­tion with his par­ents, it hit me… I was expe­ri­enc­ing Europe in a whole new way. 

 

 

Par­ent Trav­el­er Tip: You’ll prob­a­bly bring the car­ri­er. You know, the one you strap on like a back­pack and slide your kid into. You’ll think it’ll be much eas­i­er. Take advice from some­one who thought that very same thing and walked 3 blocks to a restau­rant car­ry­ing her daugh­ter. Nope. Nope. Nope. What are you train­ing for the Olympics? Use the stroller. 

Bonus Par­ent Trav­el­er Tip: You’re going to stop and get cof­fee. I mean… It’s Europe. I made the mis­take of stor­ing my cof­fee in the drink hold­er of the stroller only to find the entire back cov­ered and my cof­fee gone. Cob­ble­stone streets…They will get you every time.

 

Planning the Trip Home

 

Plan­ning the flight home from Europe is seri­ous busi­ness because it’s dur­ing the day. Trips com­ing to Europe are gen­er­al­ly overnight so babies are more like­ly to sleep. Com­ing home almost always takes longer too. My trip home in total was 23 hours. My daugh­ter slept one. Take that in for a second. 

Based on that expe­ri­ence and the exper­tise I gained from it, here are the things you’ll want to pack/do:

  • All the dia­pers — I ran out. Had to buy more at the air­port. I paid $12 for 4. 
  • All the wipes — They can be used to clean up all the snacks you’ll be giv­ing your kid.
  • Snacks.
  • Snacks.
  • Remem­ber that time I said snacks? 
  • Any­thing that they think they can’t nor­mal­ly play with — this seems crazy but it’s not.
  • Wan­der around the plane. 
  • Drink the wine. The flight atten­dants will offer you wine. Drink it. Don’t hes­i­tate. Don’t wor­ry how it will look. Give your­self a minute. 

Par­ent Trav­el­er Tip: Take an old make­up bag and fill it with dif­fer­ent size brush­es, fake make­up, even an emp­ty sham­poo bot­tle. Trust me. It works.

 

 

Trav­el­ing to Europe with my daugh­ter was chal­leng­ing, but it was incred­i­ble. See­ing her in a new envi­ron­ment, dis­cov­er­ing new places at such a young age was so much fun for me. I may not have been able to get lost and enjoy cap­puc­ci­nos every day but I got to immerse myself in Euro­pean cul­ture in a more authen­tic way. 

If you’re debat­ing a trip with your baby expect it to be chal­leng­ing and some­times scary but also expect it to be com­plete­ly wonderful.

 

Sarah is a writer and edi­tor based in Mor­gan­town, WV. Her pas­sion for trav­el has tak­en her all over Europe where she has over-indulged in cheese and enjoyed drink­ing end­less cap­puc­ci­nos. In an effort to encour­age oth­ers to explore the world, she cre­at­ed a trav­el blog, Oops!… I Trav­eled Again. Her love for writ­ing and trav­el is only matched by the true joy she gets from watch­ing her daugh­ter dis­cov­er some­thing new, tak­ing her dog for a long run, and suc­cess­ful­ly bak­ing amaz­ing desserts.