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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.