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Traveling alone with baby in April - Itinerary and other advice

Hi! Everyone gives such thorough advice on this forum, I hope you can help me, too. I looked at other posts and they were mostly all adults so this may be different.

I’m a seasoned solo traveler but now I’m planning a 7 day trip to the Netherlands last week of April 2019 with my 15 month old son and am trying to figure out our itinerary. I'd like to build in some relaxing/non-tourist time since I'm not sure how my son will do on this trip. Any advice on how reasonable my itinerary is for traveling alone with a baby? Also, I’ve read mixed reviews on the 72 hour Amsterdam card… what do you all think?

Itinerary:
Arrive early Tuesday morning - go straight to Haarlem. Spend day acclimating to time change/getting over potential no sleep on red eye for baby. Walk around Grote market area, maybe take in a canal ride.

Wednesday - get to Keukenhof early and spend most of day there and surrounding fields. Rent a bike from here https://www.rentabikevandam-keukenhof.com/en/

Thursday – spend day in The Hague and Delft. Spend night in Haarlem or Delft?

Friday – go to Amsterdam to take day trip Zaanse Schans or Edam. OR should I go to Rotterdam for the day before heading back to AMS?

Sat through Monday : Amsterdam. Which museums are best with baby? I would love to go to Anne Frank’s house and the Van Gogh museum but I read that it may too difficult/disruptive with mobile toddler. Canal tours, city walks, Vondelpark, Rijksmuseum. Anything else?

Also, I think I may be late in the game for booking rooms… an advice on how to get something with a kitchenette besides Airbnb?

Thank you for your time and feedback!
Shivani

Posted by
2105 posts

For accommodation in Haarlem this website might have what you're looking for.
There is absolutely no reason to change accommodation. Haarlem to The Hague (Den Haag) is only 30 to 45 minutes on the train (alternatingly direct and with a change at Leiden), and Delft is another 15 minutes. Use the train planner of NS, the Dutch railways.
I would go for the Zaanse Schans if only for the logistics. It is an easy 10-min walk from the railway station Zaandijk Zaanse Schans. Coming from Haarlem you need to change trains. The train planner will give Amsterdam Sloterdijk as the connecting station. With your small child it will be much easier to do this at Amsterdam Centraal. (These trains run every 15 mins or so.)

Posted by
5703 posts

I'm sorry, but unless you have a reason to go to Europe with a 15 month old, such trips would be easier taken when the child is older. We were fortunate to have great parents to take care of our daughter when she was young, but our international travel (with two parents) was temporarily put on hold when she was that young. She did start traveling with us when she was 11 years old, and she really benefited from it then.

Posted by
7639 posts

Taking a "mobile" toddler to a museum is just not done, if you have any respect and consideration for art lovers, please do not do this. I have no idea why you would want to undertake a trip to Europe with a baby and no one to help you when things go sideways. Sideways, meaning either you or the child gets sick. Who will care for your son if you get the 'flu or have an injury? Your whole plan/itinerary gives me the willies and saying you are a "seasoned solo traveller" does not make it a good idea.

Posted by
163 posts

This sounds like a very ambitious trip. You may want to pare down your
Allowing down time when you arrive will be beneficial for both of you. The baby is more likely to sleep on the plane than you...
When looking for a place to stay, you might try VRBO. Some homes offer bikes in the rental.
As far as places to see and things to do, be sure you bring the stroller or a good carrier.
Would definitely recommend Zaanse Schanse, he will enjoy the animals and there is a lot to see and do for a small child. Keukenhof will be busy but easily managed with a little one.
RS book on the Netherlands has a section on traveling with children.
Not necessarily comprehensive but will give you some good ideas on kid-friendly activities.
Have fun!

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for reading my post and for your comments campbelldp and tonfromleiden!

I have been travelling internationally since I was 7 months old and see no reason not to do the same with my son. I came to this forum for advice on my itinerary not to be told to stay home.. I'm a single mom, so I always worry about things going "sideways". I'm disappointed in such advice from others who travel. And as a seasoned traveler, I have seem many families with young children on my trips so it's not unusual. That being said, if anyone else has tips on traveling with a baby, I welcome your input.

Shivani

Posted by
7639 posts

Well, you asked for “feedback” so there you have my contribution. I would like to add that, of course, many families travel. We travelled with our three, but travelling and touring, being a tourist, that is, are two different things. And travelling as a single parent tourist with a baby is another breed of cat. At any rate, I wish you a pleasant journey and hope that your child stays healthy and happy.

Posted by
308 posts

Shivani, I have no specific help that you need, so I can’t speak to specific sights. However, I have traveled with young children, as well as older children, and the best thing I advise is to have a slower-paced plan in place but be even more flexible than you would normally be, since you will be on your child’s schedule far more than he will be on yours. It sounds like you already have that mindset in place. You won’t see and do all the things you would do on your own, but it can still be a good trip! All children are different (temperament, sleep schedules, activity levels), so really you are going to have to “play this by ear” based on your child.

Sometimes it is easier to travel with a toddler this age than a 3-4 year old. I am sorry for the negativity - it is true that Americans see a lot of “children gone wild” in restaurants, etc., and maybe that is the reason. As long as you are sensitive to that (and it sounds like you are, from your questions), you should be fine.

As far as getting sick, it happens. Go prepared with information, a plan, and the ability to contact emergency resources. This is good advice for all ages.

This forum is great for a certain kind of advice, but in the past I have found more child-centered advice just using Google. Have a great time!

Posted by
330 posts

Kings day is April 28th so lots of carnival rides everywhere. The schools will be out until May 6th. If you want to go to Van Gogh/ Anne Frank I would suggest going later in the day when crowds subside, after play in the park time. Van Gogh & Rijksmuseum are in the same area.

I would home base Haarlem if you can get something just to make it easier with luggage and have a home. Check stayokay Haarlem;, has family rooms with own bathroom & shared kitchen.

Get your guide has prepaid, skip the line,Amsterdam museums would be better for you.

Zaanse Schans yes over Edam.
Also beach at Zandvoort if weather is good.
You’ll need an Transportation Card-OV chipkaart. Buy at Schiphol & load it up. Can use it on all transportation in the Netherlands-don’t forget to scan out!

Posted by
22 posts

Shivani,

I agree there's no need to stop traveling just because you have a toddler. Here are my tips which are not destination specific:
- On the flight, have easy access to a change of clothes for yourself as well as your child. We always remember clothes for them, but not for us!
- When we traveled with little ones, I would always pack the clothes they were just about to grow out of or had already worn to pieces. Then if they got them truly soiled (diaper, puke, or just all out dirty), I would throw those clothes away rather than worry about how to clean them. Of course, if you have easy access to laundry this may not apply.
- I often found a kid backpack (like a Kelty) easier than a stroller. It kept my hands free and I was more mobile for stairs, escalators, etc. Also, my super active child could tolerate being up high better than being in the stroller (his more chill brother was OK in a stroller) and I was definitely able to go through museums like this. A backpack might be hard to fly with so look into that, but maybe you could rent one for the week in Amsterdam.
- On that note, look into whether there is an equivalent to "baby away" in Amersterdam, where you can rent equipment rather than lug it with you.
- Get a monitor that connects to your phone.
- April can be chilly so pack warm enough clothes that you will be able to spend plenty of time outside in parks letter him/her burn off energy. It's terrible to know you NEED the outside time but shivering the whole time.
- CondeNast Traveler had GREAT tips on traveling with little ones recently. Search their website.
- Ignore the naysayers!! You've got this!!

Posted by
4398 posts

If you haven't travelled with your son before, one of the most important things to work out is how you are going to transport him and your stuff. Even if you are doing the travel light thing it'd not straight forward. Pushchair/stroller and suitcases you not go together. Backpacks are better but they are still unwieldy. I would get a cab from the airport to your accommodation. Every penny spent will be worth it compared to trying to tackle public transport whilst loaded down.

If you are flying in and out of Schipol give yourself time to get around. It's organised but huge. I find it totally exhausting.

Posted by
1858 posts

If you are flying in and out of Schipol give yourself time to get around. It's organised but huge. I find it totally exhausting.
---I absolutely agree with Emma on this. This is not one of my favorite airports... And thoroughly plan (and practice if necessary) moving baby and all carryon items in airports, etc.

Babies that age just want to be with their parent(s). He/she will adjust and be fascinated with the continual change of scenery. I brought my daughter from early age to museums...easier at 15 months when I could view what I wanted to view. At 3-5, I would just follow her to her favorite pieces (mostly sculptures). Just be flexible enough to adjust if your baby is having a cranky day, and maybe shorten or alleviate one site in favor of another.

Always, have a change of clothes with you for you, and a scarf...this can resolve/hide a number of disgusting issues while out in public. I still recall a rather awkward transport in a NYC taxi and across the lobby at St Regis...poop explosion. But I'm sure you know this already.

Also, I'd always make sure I had enough food in my hotel/apt for both of us for 24 hours so I didn't have to leave if I became sick...I still do this without baby. Have a great time!

Posted by
2105 posts

In case you want something special and relaxing, go to the country estate of Beeckesteijn, north of Haarlem. It is a 15-min walk from the railway station Driehuis, which is a mere 11 mins from Haarlem. Beautiful gardens, nice wooded areas, historical building. They serve lunch, coffee and tea, and it is guaranteed without tourists crowds.

Posted by
1354 posts

It's difficult to travel light with a young child. We took our 15 mo old to Paris and Italy but we had 3 (sometimes 4) adults to carry her and her stuff. Are you sure you will be able to rent the right kind of bike to carry your son?

Posted by
163 posts

You have been given a lot of opinions and advice on this forum.
Your trip with your child will work and it sounds like you have more on the ball than people give you credit.
Last suggestion: take a copy of your child's immunization record with you.
Best wishes

Posted by
16 posts

Shivani,

If you can handle your son out and about around town at home then you can do it in The Netherlands! We took our then 7 month old daughter to Switzerland, France, and Germany in Oct. 2017 and we all had a blast. Ok, so he may not remember the trip but you will!

Concerning some of your questions: I think your itinerary is fine, just plan time for parks/playtime and naps. Ann Frank requires reservations or a very long wait in line. If you can't get reservations I wouldn't suggest it with a little one. If you are concerned that he my be too boisterous for a museum, try the Van Gogh first. It's crowed and noisy anyway. Just get tickets ahead of time, or use the Amsterdam Card. You will already have to wait to go through security, you wont want to wait in line for tickets as well. Canal tours are a great idea, the tourist boats are glassed in so he can look out without the fear of falling in. Any park is a good suggestion, Vondelpark included.

Suggestions for traveling with baby: packing light is easy, don't take much! Baby/toddler supplies are available at just about every supermarket. so just get the small size and go shopping for more in a couple days. Museums can be scheduled around nap time. I don't know how heavy he is but, a baby carrier can be more convenient than a stroller. If you don't want to pack a stroller consider renting or buying there. You probably already know snacks can be a secrete weapon for teary toddlers. If you need it, ask for help, everyone loves babies right.

I hope you have a great trip!