A few more things that have come to mind that we’ve learned while travelling with our Kids.
1. Plan. Have an itinerary. For Italy (and Paris before that), not only did we have an itinerary, we had addresses, maps and photos of each place we would need to find. It was a crazy amount of detail, but when you have 4 cranky kids and you don’t really know where you are or where you’re going, you need all the help you can get. Besides, photos of what your hotel looks like from the street, and a walking map from the train station to the hotel – it’s all available online nowadays.
(Our lose-it-and-we’re-screwed, EVERYTHING folder. It kept our passports, air tickets, train tickets, emergency information, stubs, souveniers, hotel confirmation numbers, detailed (!) itinerary – you name it, it was in what I lovingly called our “FOLDER OF FUN”, as in “KIDS!! Who’s seen the FOLDER OF FUN??? I left it RIGHT here!”)
2. Plan more. I had pre-researched a number of things to do in each city, with, of course!, maps and photos. Then we kind of went with the flow – if we wanted on the spur to visit a museum, I already had the hours, fees, directions all handy.
(The itinerary to beat all itineraries – even including how much a cab should cost (but didn’t…), check in/out times, maps between our hotels + the train stations, and sometimes what the hotel breakfast buffet would look like!)
3. Got milk? Foreign countries don’t drink milk. If your kids gotta have it, it’s best to try to find out ahead of time where your next milk will come from. We didn’t, and paid for it a few times. Next time I would pre-locate a number of supermarkets about each town. Also, we didn’t prepare for the 11 hr plane ride back home and, so everyone knows, airplanes don’t drink milk. Again, next time we’ll better prepare.
4. Be aware if you have an “Extra Kid”. I’ve learned over the years to treat Hubby as an “extra kid”, who rarely knows where we’re going, needs to have something also of interest for him, needs daily naps!, gets cranky without food… Generally, he needs all the same care, attention and concessions as the other 4 kids do. On holiday, he IS the 5th kid. (Which, you may realize, means it’s never really a holiday for ME.).