“No, you’re not!”
These were many of the reactions we got when we told people that we were going to Europe and taking our 20 month old daughter. (And those were just the reactions from my mother.) My friends who also had small children thought we were crazy for other reasons, most specifically taking a 20 month old on an eight hour oversees flight to Paris and then a 5 hour connection to Sicily. I must admit I had my own doubts. Our daughter wasn’t yet potty-trained so we had diapers to deal with. Would we be able to find everything we needed for her? How would she do on this flight? Would she sleep? Would we sleep? What would she eat? Despite these doubts, the pros outweighed the cons-the biggest pro being she still flew for free. So we bit the bullet, booked our tickets and never looked back. With hindsight being 20/20, it wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t hard, and we never regretted the trip for a minute.
Having been to Europe a few times already, my husband and I had seen the sights of Paris, but we’d never seen them through the eyes of a toddler. Yes, we’d seen Notre Dame, but we never chased the pigeons in front of Notre Dame while flinging a stuffed dog that traveled with us, and on every trip before and since. Never before had I noticed how kid-friendly Paris was- parks everywhere, Merry-Go-Rounds, puppet shows and sailing boats abound. And the people were fantastic-forget the stereotypes of rude, reserved Parisians. Give them a toddler with curly red hair and they were baby-talking, cheek-squeezing mush balls. Free sweets, “cuts” in line, and smiles were everywhere (and anyone who’s ever been to Paris knows how stingy Parisians are with smiles.) Sleep was sparing, but that was nothing new from being at home so why not not sleep in Paris?
After gaining our sea legs in Paris, we moved on to visit relatives in Sicily. The Italians, as expected, love kids. Squeals of “bella bambina”, “bellisima”, and more free sweets marked our way through Taoromina, Caltigirone, Palermo, Agrigento and Siracusa. Did we see every tourist site on our list? No, but did we have the ultimate ice breaker to meet and interact with Sicilians? Absolutely. In our prior trips, we never felt like we really interacted with the locals. Now, we had no choice- we needed diapers, wipes, and snacks, just like every other parent out there. Thankfully, the locals were more than happy to help.
I’d be lying to say it was easy, but we had the trip of our lives and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. As for our daughter, no, she can’t remember the trip, but whenever I see her looking at the photos, or asking to go back so “she can remember this time”, I just smile.
For resources on taking your kids to Europe, check out the websites below, then call Favorite Place Travel and let us make it a reality for your family.
Contact your travel agent at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or call Stacey at 404.409.4174, or Susan at 708.479.4693.