We were looking to go the UK and Sweden this May-June (traveling with our son who will be 18mos. then) but finding airfares higher than expected. Are there other ideal times of year to go? My husband and I have been there just the two of us before but am anxious about going with a toddler..any tips on making it easier for all of us?
Allison - is there a reason you are bringing your 18 mo old, i.e. you are visiting family?
We are travelling with our son to see some dear friends in Sweden but want to stop over in the UK because we love it there. We certainly won't be leaving him behind (he may not even be weaned by then anyhow-he loves to nurse!)
In that case, do a search on this board for traveling with children and look at the specific section on the Graffiti Wall for traveling with Kids. It won't be easy - as a matter of fact it will be much more difficult to keep an 18 month old happily in his airplane seat than it would a non-walker. Be sure you DO purchase a seat for him. Once you are there you will hopefully be staying with your friends - that will make it much easier - there is nothing worse than being in a hotel when your baby is crying/not sleeping. Being in a private residence always made it much less stressful for me. If you are going to stop in the UK there are options for self catering units (i.e. apartments, cottages, etc.) that will also make it much easier than being in a hotel.
To avoid the high prices of school vacation times, I think the best time to visit both Scandinavia and the UK are in May-June and September -early October.
Prices tend to be highest in July (the only full month of vacation for kids here), mid October (half term) and whenever spring mid-term break falls. You also want to avoid major festivals or events which will drive up hotel prices. Also, remember that Sweden, especially, is MUCH farther north, so winter days are short and cold, and summer days are long.
I love London (if that is the part of the UK to which you are heading) in March. It is not so cold and some of the heartier flowers are starting to bloom. It is also just before the prices start to spike. We travelled alot with our two boys who were toddlers and pre-schoolers. It is not easy, but I would do it again. Just expect to do at a different pace. 18 mos is a good (if busy) age, because you can still do everything you want to do. They are easily occupied at this age and you don't have to do specifically kid oriented things. Good luck and enjoy.
Really, Summer (June, July, early August) is the best time to visit Sweden so unfortunately, it is difficult to save money on airfares and visit while the weather is nice. However, it is definitely worth it to visit when the weather is nice. Often you have beautiful 70 degree days and light late into the evening. If you can make it for Midsommar weekend, you would get a real Swedish cultural experience.
If you are going to come in the offseason, I would suggest May over the fall. October and November can be rainy and overcast with short days. YOu didn't mention where in Sweden you were going to visit. For the real off-season, I kind of like December in Stockholm. While it is dark by 2:30 pm, there are Christmas markets on the weekend in Gamla Stan and at Skansen and everyone has candles in their windows. It is not the best time for sightseeing, but it does put you in the holiday spirit.