A quiet walk along Venetian canals, a romantic Parisian dinner -- with a baby in tow? Could it be done? Before Annie was born, Bill and I swore we’d never stop our adventuring. Then Annie turned seven months and it was time to test our resolve with a month in Europe; a modified Grand Tour: Holland, France and Italy. Our friends with babies were dismayed, “You’re so brave!” “What will you do about diapers?” “Can you nurse in a restaurant in Italy?”
So, how do you travel with bambino in tow without staying at the Ritz, Club Med, or with a doting ancestral family? Off we went in search of answers, strewing Europe with tiny socks, diapers and lost sunhats. What we discovered is that travel with the little one, while requiring a little extra planning and a lot of flexibility, can be wildly rewarding.
What to Bring
Tons O’ Baby Clothes — An hour before leaving for the airport we sat in the middle of a living room littered with baby clothes and road maps, two suitcases which seemed to have shrunk to gym bags, and Annie, rocking back and forth on her knees, thrilled by the chaos.
“Don’t crawl,” I told her, “wait a few weeks. Please?”
She smiled with glee.
“What do we bring for Annie?” I asked Bill.
We looked at each other mystified. What kind of weather would we face? What social situations?
“Let’s bring it all,” he said with a flash of brilliance. We stuffed everything into two suitcases (one for Annie, the other for us to share) and three carry ons crammed with familiar toys, passports (yes, your baby needs one), Annie’s quilt, our tickets, diaper ointment, sunglasses, Kleenex, books, baby books, more toys, and chewing gum.
Travel Tip #1: Bring as much baby clothing as you can cram in the suitcase. Doing laundry can be a drag, and your baby won’t become neat just because you’re on the road. You’ll be able to replace whatever you need, but the beautiful baby clothes in Europe are far too expensive for everyday use.
Travel Tip #2: Do laundry as you go. Bring soap for hand washing. Hotels and laundries charge an arm and a leg to do your wash for you and you won’t want to waste precious museum time watching pajamas spin in a Parisian laundromat. (Even if you do, you may have trouble finding one. Ask your hotel or look it up in one of the Europe-on-the-cheap guidebooks BEFORE you go). Damp baby clothes can be dried on the back seat of the car as you cruise through the Alps or the Tuscan countryside. (Your own underpants and socks can be too, if you don’t mind hearing snickers from the local constables who’ll stop you at the occasional road block).