10 Essential Items for European Travel with a Toddler

In April of 2014, my husband, son, and I set off on a two week vacation across London and Rome! I was hesitant to bring an almost two-year-old on a plane for 12 hours to then spend two weeks traveling Europe, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I am going to be honest… I may have packed way too much! But, these were my top ten favorite items while traveling.

1. City Mini Gt

Little feet get tired! While traveling across the Continent, you will find that there are times and places for letting the little guy or gal loose. The most common brand of stroller in Europe is the Maclaren.  As an upgraded umbrella stroller, the Maclaren will do for a jaunt. However, if you plan on navigating the cobblestone roads of the Roman Forum you need something with a little more beef. The City Mini GT is a fantastic option for the toddler-toting-parent. Coming in at a little over 20 lbs., it is much lighter than most jogging strollers. This stroller has three wheels, tight suspension, and an easy pull handle that allows you to carry your child in one hand and the stroller in another.  It also reclines completely, allowing your toddler to take a nap while you visit a museum or go for a walking tour. My 23 month old took a nap while we wandered the bumpy cobblestone throughout Rome!

2. Foot Muff

If you live in a warm climate, like me, you may not know what a foot muff is. While researching toddler gear for our trip, I came across this strange term that brought visions of 1920 Christmas movies to mind. A quick search revealed that a footmuff, stroller bunting, or stroller liner, all refer to what is essentially a sleeping bag that attaches to the stroller to allow your child to stay warm without wearing heavy snow gear.  This was a last minute purchase on my part and something I was not sure we needed. After placing an order, I wondered if this was another of those devices my son would hate. Turns out, this was one of the best purchases. Cozy, warm, and snug – my toddler was content to sit in his stroller as I pushed him for two weeks all over Europe. If you will be experiencing a shift in time zone, you may spend a few nights wide awake. This easy addition to your stroller will give you the peace of mind that your child is warm while you walk around at night sight-seeing.

3. Car seat

This may seem counter-productive; you want to travel light while going across Europe, but the benefit of a car seat on the transcontinental flight cannot be understated.  With an active toddler, one who will want to run around an airplane unless strapped down, I think a car seat is a must.  Request a bulkhead seat so that your little one will have some leg room due to the angle of the car seat in airplane seats.  An additional accessory, I highly recommend with your car seat is Go-go babyz travelmate. This simple attachment turns your car seat into a stroller for use in the airport or transfers to hotel. These two items made our travel to Europe immensely easier.

4. Travel Dishes

If you will be traveling with a toddler, consider bringing a set of travel dishes with you. I bought a package The First Years Take and Toss 28-Piece Feeding Variety Pack the convenience of having all these items in one place, meant that at feeding or snack time, I knew exactly where those little bowls or forks were.  The assortment I purchased included four items of each: fork, spoon, large medium and small bowls, sippy cups, and sippy lids. I also bought an additional four cups with straws because my son likes straws and I was worried he might lose cups throughout our travels. The convenient carry bag that the items came inside had enough room for the four extra cups that I purchased and a small travel bottle of baby bottle dish soap that I picked up at a local baby toy store.

5. Electronic Tablet

We live in a modern world, with children exposed to electronics at a very early age. Many pediatricians are on the fence about electronic use with young children. However, limited use has been viewed as potentially beneficial. So, with all that said, I think it is a critical tool when traveling to Europe with a toddler. A set of toddler-friendly headphones are a perfect accessory to your tablet, kindle, iPad, or whatever device you load with apps and favorite TV shows.  For a toddler stuck in a car seat for 12 hours, a tablet can provide games, educational apps, music, movies, and even books. Before heading on your trip, find some applications that your child will love, download them in advance of your trip as internet may be limited depending on where you stay and your cellphone provider.

6. Five books

After traveling to Europe with a toddler, I wouldn’t recommend bringing a bag filled like toys, like I did. However, I would recommend bringing five of your child’s favorite books along for the trip. Consider bringing three favorites and two new books.

7. Baby Bjorn Travel Crib

Many people will suggest that you rent a crib while travelling, or use the hotel crib, but neither option are particularly appealing to your little one. We saw the crib that was offered in the 5-star hotel we stayed in, it was a basic pack-n-play by Mothercare and it had an uncomfortable metal bar going through the middle and did not seem safe for the thirty pound toddler I was going to place in it. For a great night sleep, peace of mind that the crib your child is sleeping in meets US safety standards, I recommend traveling with your own crib.  The Baby Bjorn Travel Crib is a perfect fit for a larger toddler who still sleeps in a crib. This product is flat on the ground, designed not to tip, and has breathable mesh for your child’s safety. My son, who is a naturally poor sleeper, loved this crib. For travel, this crib breaks down and sets up easily, only weighs 11 pounds, and can fit inside of a checked bag.

8. White Noise App

This is not so much an item you can buy, but a program you should have on all of your electronic devices. If your child likes to fall to sleep listening to white noise, a song, or lullaby, I recommend getting an app that would go across all your devices. This way you will always have the white noise that comforts your child. Our favorite app is called “Sleepy Sounds” and is available on all android and kindle devices. We have used the same app since my son was little, and the convenience of having it on all of our devices, means that if my kindle is not charged, I can play the app on my phone or my husband’s phone. Some people use a device that includes a nightlight while at home. I have actually downloaded a nightlight app for my devices as well. Whether you are on the plane, in your stroller, or in various hotel rooms – providing the comfort of home for your child will make your trip a hundred times easier.

9. Rain Gear

This is essential, whether you are traveling in the height of summer or late fall.  European whether can be amazing and beautiful, or it can be endlessly cold and rainy. Plan for the worst and you will be pleased if you only experience a light shower every now and again.  Bring an umbrella, rain jacket, rain boots, and a rain cover for your stroller. It is much simpler to cover your child and his stroller, than to stop in the rain to put his rain gear on him.  If you do not have a cover for your stroller, search around online for the rain cover for your particular model.

10. Favorite Stuffed Animal (and extras)

This may seem obvious, but bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal and treat it as if it were gold. This sole item is probably the most important item of your entire trip, other than your child. Change can be difficult on little ones, but a comfort item can make all the difference. Whether for snuggling or dragging along throughout the sights, a lovey is absolutely important and do not allow it to get lost on the trip. If possible, I recommend purchasing duplicates of your child’s favorite item and bringing one along in your luggage in case the original somehow gets lost. However, understand that your toddler may be able to tell the difference between the new item and the well-worn and well-loved item.  So whatever you do, do not lose it!

 

Traveling to Europe with a toddler is not impossible, just requires some extra planning. Children are flexible. They are more resilient than we give them credit for. So enjoy your trip and do not leave the kids home this time!

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