On a City Trip with a Toddler, 10 Tips from mom


Who says going on a city Trip can’t be fun for Toddlers? Well I can assure you, There is no reason To leave your kids at home. Of course There are always ways To make it even more Toddler friendly, which I would highly recommend. Maybe These 10 Tips from my mom will help.

Choose a centralised accommodation

The choice for a centralised ho(s)tel is always key with little children. Busses, Trams and Trains are a great adventure for little kids and They can Take you practically everywhere within a city, but are not always The smartest option. First of all you always lose Time To come and go. In case your forget something for your little one in your hotel room, you even loose more Time and if kids get Tired in The early evening, The road To The hotel will not always be a very relaxing one. If one of your kids is still in need of an afternoon nap, you definitely want To be in The city centre. In case you do choose for an accommodation outside The centre, check up front The maintenance schedule of The subway and The road works That could impact your bus or Tram route. Nobody wants To be in The suburbs of London when The metro is not running That particular weekend as happened To us on our first Trip To London.

My Tip: accommodation in The city centre can be quite expensive. However if you book well in advance you can make some good deals. We booked once a 5 star hotel room with a jacuzzi on our terrace in Bologna for a very reasonable price, 10 months in advance.  Another option is booking last-minute, for New York we cancelled our mid range hotel we had booked 6 months in advance of our Trip and booked 5 star hotel on Time square Two weeks before departure for 20% less than the original price.

My Tip: I only ask for a rollaway bed when offered for free. Little T loves his Deryan Travel cot at lot, so we save a lot of money bringing it along.

Know your way and be mobile

I am always amazed about The walking abilities of Toddlers, They can sometimes walk and run for hours in a way which, I have To be honest, would exhaust me already after 10 minutes. However There is only so much little feet can Take, especially when They get bored. So do not lose unnecessary Time To find your way around, instead have a good idea of The city and be prepared up front. Using your smart phone as navigator is always a smart idea and in case mobile data is expensive in The city where To Travel To, you can always download specific google maps, To use offline for a period of 30 days.

Choose The right Time of The year and plan for bad weather

Visiting Rome in The beginning of August may not be The best idea. The weather will be hot and most Italians will flee The city for That specific reason, which results in less locals and lots of Tourists. If you want your little one To have a chance To socialize with The local kids, This might not be The right Timing. Instead an Italian city located at The seaside could be a better option. Choosing The right season is key, but even more key is being prepared for unexpected weather. Although you have chosen your location wisely, you can still fall under The spell of an unexpected heat wave and rain showers in summer or of a snowstorm in winter Time. The weather gods can be very unpredictable.

So check The weather conditions before you start packing and gear up with The right clothing depending on The conditions :

  • Rain poncho, umbrella and rain boots
  • Warm underwear, snow boots, hat and gloves
  • Uv suits, sunglasses and a summer hat

In case The weather Turns out To get beyond your comfort zone,  check out which indoor activities you can add To your schedule. In each major city you will find an indoor playground or a great museum.

In London we explored The London Transport museum on an unexpected snowy day and when it was raining non stop in New York we fled To The National Geographic Ocean Odyssey Encounter.

If you want To read more about Those Two amazing activities, just click on one of The links below

Review: London Transport museum

Scuba diving at The National Geographic Encounter Ocean Odyssey

Budget smart and up front

Going on a city Trip is not always The most budget friendly way of Travelling. Of course There are cities That are way less expensive Than others, so This may affect your choice of location. But even if you choose for Paris, London or New York you do not need To be necessarily in for a run on your bank account. In my experience food and Transportation can be real killers of your budget in Those cities. In general Toddlers ride for free using public Transportation, but They certainly do not eat for free. Check out These alternatives:

  • If The weather permits buy a great sandwich and go and eat it in The park. Cities like London, New York and Paris have amazing parks with great pic nic spots, some of Them close To a playground. In addition you avoid The need of Tipping staff for Their service, which can be in some cities up To 20 % of The Total bill. In case The weather does not permit and you are more into a real restaurant, after doing a bit of research you will find some great hidden gems.
  • Do not forget To check out The local (indoor) food markets, They often have cosy stands where you can eat and drink at a very reasonable price.

We had The most amazing Fish and Chips in London being on a budget, a great pic nic lunch in one of The parks in Paris and a lovely mexican lunch at an outside food fair in down Town New York.

Gadgets to take

Citytrip-ing with a Toddler can be sometimes challenging, but you will make your live easier if you have The right gadgets with you.

  • Compact stroller

We like To use a Toddler carrier, but when we are citytrip-ing we are more fan of our stroller. A stroller is for The little one easy To get in and out and quite comfortable if he wants To Take a nap. Of course we are only a big fan of bringing a stroller with us, because we found one That is so compact That it fits into a big hand bag and is at The same Time very solid. No hassle To Take public Transportation or To enter a restaurant. Our travel stroller of gb pockit stroller has been heavily used for 2 years now and is still in very good condition.

I also read some great review of The YoYo stroller, a bit more expensive but it comes with a better sun roof Than our gb.

  • Baby carrier

Of course if your Toddler is only used To a carrier, This is not The moment To change it. A good and solid carrier suitable for Toddlers has also many advantages, especially in cities in Italy where is The pavement is not always stroller friendly. I doubt Italy is The only place with That issue. We just love our Tula Toddler carrier, in our opinion The best Toddler carrier on The market.

  • Travel potty

When little T was still wearing diapers I had no idea how easy This was while Travelling, instead I was sometimes complaining I could not find any decent baby changing facilities. Well how wrong could I have been. Travelling with a Toddler That needs To pee more Than 10 Times unexpectedly, didn’t make my life easier. Mommy I need To pee NOW is a sentence often coming straight from hell and of course They never need To go when They have The possibilities. Luckily we have found a great Travel potty, which can be used as a real potty or as a toilet seat. The only Thing you need is a quite corner somewhere on a street. We are very satisfied with Potete Travel potty, but There are certainly more brands on The market.

Find child friendly restaurants

In Copenhagen or Stockholm, you will not have To look very hard To find a child friendly restaurant. In fact restaurants That have a no children policy or have no children’s facilities are The exception. Play corners or play gounds are often a given an waiters are super friendly with The little ones. This is slightly different for instance in Paris and London, where kids menus are often none existent and where is not common To Take The kids with you To a restaurant. However London has some great food chains, like Giraffe, That are specialised in children’s menu’s. Kids get even a free colouring gift and a balloon and in some of Their restaurants, There is a small play corner and a television with a children’s channel. Sometimes you do not need To looks very far, a great burger restaurant where They can make Their own hamburger can be enough To keep The little ones satisfied. I always Try To include one or Two children’s restaurants during our city Trip.

My Tip: in case it is hard To find a restaurant with a children’s menu it is worth going To a restaurant where you can share The food, style Tapas. Your little one can Try different foodies and you avoid The ‘I don’t like it like This’ drama.

Plan Time for Toddler friendly adventures

  • Parks

Every city has some amazing parks, where children can roam free and loose Their energy. Try To include at least one short visit a day, even if it is only for 10 minutes.

  • Playgrounds

In most of The parks you will find one or more playgrounds, so Take some spare clothing with you and let Them go wild. Check up front if There are some water activities and Take That UV bathing suits along.

  • Museums

Museums are always a good option, especially when nowadays a lot of museums offer great kids activities even for The youngest ones. In addition a lot of cities have specific children’s museums, which are often not very expensive To enter. Little children learn a lot just by playing, This is why we always look for museums where kids can play and experiment rather Than only looking at Things. A great idea for a rainy day or when it is Too hot outside.

  • Zoo’s or aquariums

Although we do not always visit a zoo while going on a city Trip, it is a great activity for The kids. Most of The big cities have a zoo, but in my experience it is never a budget friendly option. This is The main reason why we include it in our program only from Time To Time.

Toys To Take

I am not a big lover of Taking much luggage with us on a city Trip but some small Toys are necessary To keep The kids busy. Here is little T’s list:

  • Of course number one on his list are little T’s Favorite friends, Mr. rabbit and Crocky The crocodile.
  • If we Travel by plane we always include a great sticker or magnet book which I will also use for story telling in The evening.
  • A Water colouring book or mini puzzles are a great option To Take with you To a restaurant, it’s fun and above all clean.
  • Little T can play with one of These for hours: lace Toys, maze Toys or Macformers. So I always make sure I have at least one of Those item in our luggage.
  • Easy To build Lego is something we often buy on location. Every big city has nowadays at least a lego sales point if not an entire flagship store. We always buy a small box of around 10 euro’s so Little T has someting extra To play with. The extra advantage is, as he already received a present during The Trip There is no need for asking a more expensive Toy at one of The souvenir shops, which are not always very child safe any way.
  • There is nothing more easy To Take a inflatable ball with you, and nothing more fun Than To play in a park with a ball.
  • Last but not least, a Iphone or Ipad can safe lives. However I am not a big fan of putting Little T much in front of a screen, especially not when There is so much other Things To do, I do realize Little T has another opinion. So we always have a fully charged device with us with some games and movies in case of emergencies.

Go with The flow

Planning is key but be realistic you are not going To be able To see The entire city when Traveling with a little kid, unless you are staying for more Than one week. exploring Takes a little bit more Time For The little ones Than for most adults, so Don’t rush into Things To avoid a frustrated Toddler. Give Them half an hour more To play on That playground, Take enough Time To finish That meal and enjoy how They are amazed by everything They encounter on Their Trip. Pick a few must do’s for each day and don’t forget To enjoy your Time with The kids. This is The reason why we always Try To stay at least four days, we can relax and see The majority of The city. Of course There are always some exceptions, good reasons for a shorter visit. When we visited Paris we only had 24 hours, so we planned To see only a specific part of The city, without having To use public Transportation. If you want To know how we did it you are welcome To read our Explore Paris in 24h00 article.

Explore Paris in 24 hours

Prepare your kids

A couple of weeks before we leave on a new adventure I take The Time To show Little T some pictures and video’s of The place where we are travelling To. Internet and especially YouTube is a great source, but I also use some specific (children) Travel guides or story Telling books. On location I often hear oh’s and ah’s, mommy I know This, I have seen This in my book, which makes him more interested in visiting monuments Than other children in general. A less bored Toddler as a result.

As you can see There is no reason To leave your kids at home. Every city offers a lot of opportunities for The kids and maybe some challenges for The parents, but with some smart planning everything will fall into place.

Happy city Tripping!


Little T

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