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Recommendations for family traveling with 3.5 & 5 year olds for about 3 days in London/Dover?

ABOUT US: Our group of four is flying into Heathrow at 1pm on Tuesday 7.7.15 . We cruise from Dover Friday, 7.10.15-Wednesday, 7.22.15 then fly from Heathrow at 1pm on Thursday 7.23.15.

LODGING: Haven't arranged hotel(s) yet. I'm looking for good activities for our family before making reservations. Expecting to book London Tuesday 7.7.15 & Wednesday 7.8.15. Dover Thursday 7.9.15, and back to London Wednesday 7.22.15.

DINING: We're vegan, if you happen to have any recommendations here, too, that's great:)

TRANSPORTATION: My daughters are under 36" and weigh about 35 lbs. Are car seats necessary? I'm wondering how comfortable others might feel with their small kids in taxis and other public transit. Or are there certain types of transportation that seem more safe for getting around with small children?

PACKING: We already plan to take our two lovely Rick Steves' convertible carry-on backpacks, and we can do laundry on the ship. Fortunately also, the girls wear the same size clothes, so that's even less to pack. The boat sails all the way to St. Petersburg, though, so we'll encounter a variety of weather--any advice on packing for those issues is appreciated too:)

Actually, all ideas are appreciated as it is our first time and we want to maximize our adventure, while making this as stress-free as possible with our little ones. Our kids tire from walking before too long, and then expect to be carried, so if we're already wearing our luggage, we may not have a lot of opportunities to sight-see much if we have our bags with us. I remember on our honeymoon six years ago when we used the convertible backpacks to tour the rest of Europe, there were lockers at train stations we could use. Do these exist for storing luggage during castle tours (i.e. Tower of London) and other tourist-y things?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
6113 posts

An ambitious holiday with children of that age!

With such short notice, you need to book your accommodation first rather than planning your activities first. The best value rooms will already have been sold. Public transport is good so you can be located anywhere in the city centre. Use buses as well as tubes as they are easier to board with children. Take HS1 train from St Pancras to Dover as it is quicker.

If you have to carry your children, you would be better off with bags with wheels rather than back packs. There are not usually any left baggage facilities other than at the occasional rail station and these will not be near the attractions that you are likely to be visiting.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you two, I appreciate the feedback :) The carseat link was great--I was able to read the rules and traveling without them on tour buses won't be an issue so I want to book these excursions next! Actually, I think that's all I have left;) because...

we just booked the hotel on Bath Road near the airport for all three nights so we can store our luggage while touring for the day. And, I had forgotten way back in March, I had ordered two Heys hard-shell children's suitcases specifically designed for ride-on during travel, so that might not end up being too bad after all anyway! Promo here:

Now just looking for the best bus tours=) Thanks again!

Posted by
661 posts

Was just going to say, the Bath Road near Heathrow is a LONG way out of tourist London... but emma beat me to it. Totally not where I'd stay. The air around the airport is pretty bad also, and the noise.

Posted by
661 posts

On a lighter note... food.

I'm not a veggie myself and don't even know anyone who is, but it is something that's catered for in London, albeit on a small scale. Almost everywhere will have some basic veggie options, and they are good at marking menu's with a green 'V' to signify a veggie dish.

Pret-a-Manger have a reasonable range of salads, sandwiches, etc. and their food is always good. Strangely, the one and only thing I've ever had from Pret that I didn't enjoy was a veggie falafel wrap, I love falafel, but this one wasn't crispy and I didn't enjoy it... no texture.

Kebab shops will tend to have a veggie falafel offering on the menu, and they are usually fresh and cheap.

The king of veggie food in the UK has to be Indian. They have loads and loads of super tasty veggie dishes and they can all be as mild or spicy as you like, just ask for mild, medium or hot when ordering. I like meat in my food, but I can happily have a veggie Indian meal and not miss the meat at all. The chickpea (chana) and lentil (dhal) dishes can be very 'meaty' even though there is none.

Posted by
8885 posts

You need to cancel your accommodations. Too far away from London and you'll be wasting two hours each day in travel time. Simply not a good idea to "maximize your adventure." Immediately start searching on Airbnb and VRBO websites for accommodations that are in travel zones 1&2. I'd also check the Falcon Hotel, the Coach House, for your dates.
Secondly head to a bookstore and peruse the R S London guide. Will be helpful to you in understanding London and how to maxmize your 3 days.

Posted by
3 posts

Once again, I really appreciate the feedback! I was able to cancel our reservation for the first leg of the visit based on your comments and am now beginning the search for a more suitable place given our situation. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated:)

Posted by
3696 posts

I have had good luck with as well. You can take whatever is available and they do usually have a flexible cancellation policy, so if you find something else within a few hours should be able to choose the best one... but, it is really short timing, so I would jump on whatever looks halfway reasonable, or you may end up way out again.