The first time we went to Paris I was pregnant, so we had a good feel for the city prior to going there with kids. If you don’t know the city you will be traveling to, I highly recommend all of Rick Steve’s recommendations. He was always spot on with good lodging for a reasonable price, attractions that are a time suck, and activities that are worth the money!
Lodging: We knew we wanted to stay in a flat instead of a hotel room so that we could have access to a kitchen and laundry. With Airbnb, you can find very reasonably priced accommodations in the city that include a kitchen for cooking and a living room if your child needs to nap or go to bed before you and your spouse. The subway system is extensive in the city, so no matter where you stay, it’s easy to transport in to the city for the day. Choose lodging near attractions/museums if you’d rather have your child nap at the hotel/Airbnb instead of while you are on the go during the day. Don’t forget your darkening blankets, travel white noise machines, paci’s, or loveys to make the on the go sleeping environment more similar to their bed at home.
Transport for baby!?: The first thing you need to decide is if you will want to bring a stroller, carrier, or both. Paris is fairly accessible with strollers, but there are some cobblestone streets as well as subway stations that don’t have lifts. When we visited Paris with our 7 month old, we had friends come with us that had a 14 months old. They brought a hiking backpack and we had a stroller for our bub. They definitely had an easier time navigating the subway with the backpack carrier. I personally would recommend an ergo or kinderpack since it’s lightweight and you can fold it up into a bag if you aren’t using it. A small umbrella stroller to use in the airport as well as keeping it in the hotel/flat would be nice to have. I love the Maclaren for travel. It’s sturdy, lightweight, reclines for napping, and has a basket for storage. It’s not bulky and can easily fit through narrow passages. It also comes with a rain cover. This is definitely handy in the winter and spring in Europe! I also like the Summer umbrella stroller for a more cost effective option. The hood doesn’t come down as far as the Maclaren and it doesn’t come with a rain cover, but if you could always add a clipped on blanket on the front for extra darkening if needed.
Time change: Depending on where you are coming from, you might have a big time adjustment coming your way with your little ones. If you are flying in from the states, it is always ideal with babies/kids to fly overnight (starting in the afternoon/evening) and arrive the next “morning” (around 9/10AM) in Europe. This way, you can have dinner on the plane, nurse or bottle feed your baby down for bedtime as normal, and keep them in the darkness/white noise environment until morning the next day. This will be around 3AM their original time, however, you will begin the new day in the new time zone when you arrive! Take the day as it comes and make sure you don’t let your baby stay up too long (check in on that waketime length throughout the day). You might have to help baby return to sleep during the new nighttime in your flat/hotel, but after a couple days, baby should adjust to the new rhythms.
Attractions with babies: Of course there is never an ideal time to travel, however, traveling abroad with babies can actually be easy if you have a great carrier. They don’t have opinions yet about what activities of attractions they want to do, so attending museums or restaurants might not be as challenging as it would with a toddler. Don’t miss the famous LaDuree for Macaroons and a feeding/nursing break!
Activities with Toddlers/Preschoolers: If you are traveling with a preschooler or a toddler, you are most likely going to want to plan less activities, and more wiggle room in the routine. Plan at least one park or kids’ museum to attend each day so that they can get their energy out. The Tuileries Gardens are wonderful and provide a great space for kiddos to run around.
There are a million crepe stands there and it’s close to many museums/attractions, too! Make sure to be realistic about what you can handle as well as your child. Set them up for success by having a routine mapped out for each day of where they will go and what treats or fun activities they have to look forward to! Don’t forget a small activity bag for those unexpected delays you might come across with your kiddos. Trains, buses, queues, and Parisian restaurants can be unpredictable at times!
Activities with Big KIds (ages 5+): The gardens are a wonderful experience for this age as well, and don’t forget the carnival in the summer
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