Toddlers on the town? Sightseeing with even the littlest of kids can be fun for all…if you do it right. Here's our Top Tips for City Trips with the Kids.
- Choose the best time to go. Work out the best time of the day to go out that will coincide with any naps your kids might need to have. If they’re used to sleeping in a stroller then even better as you’ll have less restriction. Early mornings are good for toddlers to be out as the city surroundings can be quite interesting: watching people and shops get ready for the day. It’d be cooler too if you’re planning a summer city break. Try to avoid rush hour though, especially if you are taking public transportation. There are some helpful apps you can download that can guide you around a city. Phone maps are a must have. Don’t forget to check whether the sights you want to see will be open (many museums, for example, are closed on Mondays).
- Choose the best place to go. While many sights that interest adults can appeal to little ones too, remember that your pace might have to be quite different than it ordinarily would have been. Toddlers love to do stuff. So anything that is hands on which they can touch, push, pull etc will be really exciting for them and will also give you a little peace! Find out what facilities your chosen location offers. You may need changing facilities, wheel ramp, restaurant, train station, bus route etc. If you’re thinking of more than one attraction in a day, consider how long and how you’ll get from one to the other. Often museums are situated near each other, but can be located in built up areas and far from a restful park!
- Choose the best stuff to take. Don’t overload yourself with toddler gear. The beauty of the city is there’s a pharmacy or deli on just about every street corner, so if you need bottled water or wipes, they’re usually just a few steps away. Do take diaper changing supplies, a change of clothes for your child, some snacks you can serve while waiting for your meal in a restaurant and a few small toys or books that can occupy your kids in a pinch. If you think there’s going to be bad weather, pack a mac which can be easily stowed away in the stroller.
- Take the right-sized stroller. Make it a small, lightweight, easily collapsible one, or skip it altogether if your child can walk short distances on his own (and will hold your hand) or if you’re comfortable wearing them on a hip carrier or backpack. Keep in mind that some sightseeing destinations won’t allow strollers and some city pavements are so crowded you’ll have a hard time pushing them anyway. If you choose not to take a stroller, arm yourself with large backpack. You might have preferred a sophisticated designer handbag for city life, but those days have gone for a little while longer!
While you’re sightseeing with kids:
- Travel at your toddler’s pace. If they’re fascinated by the impressionist paintings, celebrate that - it gives you a moment to rest on your feet.
- Make frequent pit stops. Whether it’s a diaper change, a snack or a quiet moment to cuddle away from the crowd, you’ll need time and space to stop and recharge. Kid-friendly destinations like zoos and science museums, as well as department stores, usually have nursing rooms or family restrooms. Or try a bookstore or comfy hotel lobby (they don't know you're not a guest!). Children's corners in city libraries can be great for taking a load off your feet whilst knowing your toddler can’t escape four walls!
- Be prepared to be flexible. Don’t have your heart set on a certain restaurant, only to find out there’s an hour wait for a table and the place is full of breakables. Have a plan B (and C and D). And never underestimate the power of a playground. Whenever you pass one, jump at the chance to let your little one run around (even for a few minutes) and burn off some of that energy.
- If all else fails, hit the road. You can always try going to the big city again another time. Sightseeing with kids isn’t for the faint hearted. Make sure you take energy boosts for yourself.
Above all, keep it simple!! One meal and one major attraction a day will be plenty for you all. Planning too much can be a recipe for nuclear meltdowns.
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