young parent clueless on what to pack

Hi there, I am going on a month long trip with my boyfriend and one year old daughter in two and a half weeks. I am unsure what I should pack. We are going to be staying in London and Paris for the first week then we will be in Italy for three weeks in the end. Both of us have been to Europe before, just not with a child. We just need to know what we should/shouldn't bring with us. We will be taking trains throughout, and we will also be staying in one place for more than 4 days at a time. Thanks :)

Posted by Doug
Portlandia
3290 posts

An umbrella stroller would be my first suggestion. You can get diapers and food there. The stores in the major cities will want to sell you McLarens or Peg Perigos at top dollar.

Posted by Maureen
Atlanta
1357 posts

Rick's got a part in his ETBD book on packing for small children. One of his suggestions that I liked was bringing a roll of masking tape to cover the outlets where you're staying. My other suggestion would be to pack lots of snacks. You'll want some for the airport and the plane ride, definitely, and to get you through your first day. After that, you can find some in the shops there. It might not be what she's used to, but it'll be close. Everything else you can get over there. We've bought diapers in more places than I care to mention. You can always ask where you're staying for directions to the closest shop where you can get diapers.

Posted by Christophe
Copenhagen, Denmark
265 posts

I suggest you to bring something a little more sturdy than umbrella stroller as you will be doing a lot of walking outdoor, sometimes on uneven surfaces, but it still has to be a lightweight stroller because you will have to haul it up and down stairs and trains at train stations and other places. I know, it's a compromise, but finding the right stroller is important. Criteria should be: - should be good and sturdy on uneven surfaces (like cobblestones). Big wheels a plus here. Small wheels are bad for cobblestones. - should be lightweight so that it can be easily handled on train stations an into trains - should collapse enough to be stoved on trains, in taxis etc. And the collapsing process should be easy. Finding the right compromise is actually important and not always easy.

Posted by Nate
Eureka, IL
65 posts

Meredith,
You are getting some great advice here. Tons of snacks for plane and trains. The thing that I would recommend you think about is that in Europe everything, in general, is just a little smaller. Cars, Doorways, stairwells, etc. I know that MacLaren's are expensive but we have had 3 strollers before the one we currently have and it is hands down the best for travel. Well built, sturdy, nice size wheels, quickly and easily collapses. You will need these features for trains, cars, stairs, and cobblestones. The smaller, lighter, more convenient you can go the better. Have a Great Trip and I would love to here any good tips you have from the experience.

Posted by Meredith
Malden
8 posts

thanks so much everyone. we have the peg perego vela (9.9 pounds, simple collapse) which we took to florida to see if it was worth bringing overseas or buying an umbrella stroller instead. that sucker can make it over snow banks and the horrible roads/sidewalks here, so i think it will be fine on cobblestones.. :) http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3959110 and i have never thought of the masking tape over the outlets. it is a fantastic idea. thanks for that one.

Posted by Carole
San Francisco, California, USA
88 posts

I totally agree a good stroller is a top priority. A favorite sleep buddy or "lovey" and/or blanket is essential, one that she would associate with "home" and "sleep", all to comfort and calm her since she will be in unfamiliar sleeping places. Ask her doctor for suggestions for what to do, what meds to bring just in case. Our pediatrician recommended we pack some mild cough syrup (which we never had to use fortunately) in case our son became overly tired but too upset to sleep. Is she teething? It would be good to bring something for that. Really helpful was getting hotel rooms with bathtubs. Playing in warm water really helped to calm our son. One of us would play or watch him, and that gave the other one of us time to make calls, check reservations, to organize ourselves, catch our breath, etc. Showering together was super awkward as some showers were very tiny. I was getting tempted to pack one of those blow up portable tubs. Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by Doug
Portlandia
3290 posts

The suggestions about over-the-counter medicine (children's pain reliever, etc) remind me that it hard to get over-the-counter medicines in many countries in Europe. You may have to go to a pharmacy because they aren't sold in grocery stores. And pharmacies can have limited hours, though one is usually open somewhere. If there are pain relievers, etc., you expect you may need, take them in your checked luggage and in their original packaging.

Posted by Kathy
Germany, Germany
800 posts

Since you'll be bringing a car seat anyway, bring one that has the attached handle and wheels. We flew with our 18 mo old a few years back and it was really comforting for her to have her Britax Roundabout. She could easily fall asleep travelling since she was comfortable. Downside it you have to schlep it around on the trains. So, the wheeled seat is ideal. Most good quality ones are airplane approved. There's also other threads about a stroller vs. a backpack. A 1yr old (depending on size) is still small enough to carry in the backpack. We liked the backpack. It was the easiest way for us to get around museums and up and down the train/metro.

Posted by Maureen
Atlanta
1357 posts

We've had to buy medicines in Europe before, it's not that big of a deal to go to a pharmacy and ask someone what to give a one year old for ____. But, if she needs something outside of pharmacy hours, you'll want to have something on hand. Ask your pediatrician what to bring. We made sure we had some Children's Tylenol and Benedryl on hand, and it was good that we had it. My son got a fever and a rash, so we needed them both.

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

Yes, do remember to bring that favourite stuffed animal and/or blanky. I remember one flight to Europe with our then 2 year old and 5 minutes into it we discovered in horror that we had left my daughter's blanky at home. Hubby thought that this could have been a great opportunity to wean her off that habit - I was pretty sure that there were at least 300 people around us not in agreement with him. Fortunately, I was able to take of my undershirt and give it to the little one as a replacement (many babies actually like a piece of clothing from their mom to comfort them!). That was also a flight with many delays and lost luggage. Which brings me to the next point: make sure in your carry-on you have enough in diapers, snacks and some extra clothing to get you through 48 hours. And if there's room include some extra clothing for yourself as inevitably your child will at some point throw up or spit up on you. It's like bringing an umbrella: as long as you got it with you the sun is shining, forget it and you'll get soaked. As much as doing carry-on only is promoted on this website I find it hard not to check in luggage when travelling with babies and toddlers. I really don't want to hand wash baby clothing that is stained from leaked diapers, spit-up and such ...

Posted by ed
albany
355 posts

If you bring a stroller bring a lightweight bike lock as well. That way if you need to leave the stroller outside a store or museum you can be confident it will be there when you return. Lightweight is all you need there aren't a lot of people carrying around bolt cutters looking to steal strollers, just something strong enough that someone can't just walk off with it.

Posted by Elaine
Landstuhl, Germany
626 posts

Some new, little toys for the plane would be good. On one overseas flight there was a small child in front of me that I never knew about till we were getting off. When I told Mom how good/quiet he was she said she bought lots of cheap toys at the grocery store and when he started getting restless she just gave him a new one. Yes, it'll cost some money but I never heard a peep out of him. It will help that coming to Europe it will be your daughter's nighttime. you may want to practice with some Benadryl and see if it calms her or hypes her up, it can go either way. Talk to your doctor about that tho.