Monday, August 31, 2009

Traveling To Italy With Children--How and What to Expect..

I'm honored that today's guest post is from my sister, Meri who recently returned from a month long trip to Reggio Calabria, Italy. She traveled to Italy alone this time around and had her infant son, Max and 7 year old, Izzy with her. She wanted to share her thoughts on traveling with kids to Italy. Thanks Meri!



Traveling to Italy with Two Children…


As I feverishly recheck for the tenth time if I remembered everything for our trip, I stop for a moment to reflect and ask myself “ Am I Nuts?” after all Max is only 15 months old and Izzy is seven, what will I do on such a long trip alone???
As I approach the airport I feel the pit in my stomach, wondering if this trip will set me over the edge, but everyone tells me when traveling with children you will get a lot of help and great service, I think positive and proceed to check in. Here is the first surprise, no one is readily available to help me with my bags and now I have to manually swipe passports and check-in while making sure my daughter doesn’t wonder away and Max doesn’t try to jump out of the stroller while screaming.

Well that was over, now I head for the elevator because with a stroller it is your only option, as I wait for twenty minutes on line I ask myself why is this not easier for moms??? I mean this is 2009 plenty of people travel with small children I’m sure. OK we finally get the security check point and I am struggling to get the baby out of the stroller, put everything on the conveyor belt and fold the stroller, which must also go through the x-ray machine, only it does not fit!
At the gate we hang out and try to keep entertained with the huge bag of toys I took along (thank God!!)

Snacks and toys save the day. We board the plane and settle in, a close friend suggests asking for “bulkhead seats” and I did, it really made a big difference because there are no seats in front of you and the extra space is fabulous for kids.

As I boarded the plane I was also instructed to leave my stroller packed down so they could store it, but again when you’re traveling alone its not the easiest thing to break down your stroller while holding an infant and making sure your 7 year old is close. My son is small enough so I didn’t bring the car seat onto the plane and instead he was seated in my lap.

Being prepared I made sure the baby drank a bottle (or pacifier) which I found alleviated ear pain during take off, but was taken by surprise when my daughter (wearing a motion sickness band) puked all over us and the floor. I asked a flight attendant for some paper towels and a hand only to get nothing but a dirty look and she told me there was nothing she could do, “there are towels in the bathroom” she said. Wow, that was great, was my kid the only one who ever puked??? Good thing I packed plenty of wipes ad some extra small garbage bags in my “Magic” travel bag. Well to say the least service was BAD!!!!

Babies or not you are on your own. Arriving in Rome and navigating through Fiumicino Airport was pleasant and easy, I found the Italian people to be very in tune with children and were much more helpful. I mean the bus driver even stepped down from the bus to help me with my stroller! The elevators were easy to find and quick, along with the monorail system. As I near the end of my journey to my destination I found the attendants on Alitalia very helpful and child friendly.
Having a positive experience is key to good travel with kids, from my experience I suggest the best thing is to be prepared for anything.

Here is a helpful list of things to do:
• Pack one easy to navigate, light-weight bag (the handle should be long enough to hang over stroller handle, freeing you up)
• Put meds like Tylenol, Mylicon, Benadryl etc. in a clear plastic zip-loc.
• Pack a bag with favorite toys.
• Snacks
• Small blankies
• Wipes
• Diapers (if needed)
• A few small garbage bags
• A small zip up pouch with all your documents.
• Pacifiers, bottles etc.
• Mini DVD player with a few favorite CD’s

Overall, my trip was amazing because I was in Italy, but when traveling with small children it can always be a bit tricky. I’m glad my kids got to experience the beauty of Italy.
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