Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
I am obviously a huge advocate of making the most of your miles and points. For many families, that means traveling near and far with little ones. While we have made several trips with Little C, we haven’t done anything like what this family did with their one-year-old, Eva. When I first learned of the trip they were planning to take with their daughter, I’m not sure if I was shocked, massively impressed, or terrified over what they had planned. They planned to fly from the East Coast of the U.S. to Italy, and spend about two weeks vacationing all around Italy with their 12 month old. They were big travelers before Eva was born, and they were ready to include their little one in their world travels. These busy parents (who happen to be fantastic relatives of mine) were nice enough to let me pick their brains about a month after they returned from their trip. Since I have no first-hand experience traveling to Europe with a wee one, I want to share their story and experience in case you have a similar trip planned with your family.
Meet Baby E and her parents. Such a cute little family!
First things first, can you tell me about the specifics of where you went and how you got there?
We flew direct from the East Coast to Rome, and stayed overnight in Rome. We then hopped a train to Florence. The next day we had to take a train to Milan where we had a layover until our next train to Lake Como. We took the trains back to Florence where we picked up our rental car (wow, what an experience) for our super fun week in Tuscany.
How did Eva do on the 9+ hour flight?
Well, we had a 3 hour flight delay before we ever able to leave the airport, so it was way past E’s bedtime before we even boarded the plane. We had originally planned the flight for right around her bedtime, so from the get go we were already kind of “playing it by ear”. It was past 11PM by the time they dimmed the lights on the plane, so we were all very tired by that point. We travel with a bag of earplugs in case E gets “grumpy” so that we can offer them to fellow travelers. Fortunately, we haven’t ever had to actually offer any out.
We used many of the Mommy Points tips for reserving new and special toys and books for the flight in order to keep E entertained. Eva does not usually watch tv or movies at home, but we made sure we had some Pixar films ready on our iPhones so that she could watch some movies on the plane. I felt like a horrible mother, but entertaining her with food was very helpful! Hopefully, I am not teaching her to eat when she is bored.
The return flight was much better as she wasn’t overtired and stayed fairly entertained with books, toys, food, nursing and even took two naps without much coaxing (not really her style to nap voluntarily!). We put her in pj’s for comfort and ease of changing diapers. We also put her in an overnight diaper so we’d only have to change once during the flight or in case of “code brown.”
How did she do with the time change?
Eva didn’t really have any issues with the time change while we were in Italy. We had such a rough flight there that we were all exhausted when we arrived. We checked into the hotel, took a very un-airconditioned family nap for 4 hours, got dinner and went to bed. It then felt about right to wake up the next morning. Partly due to the later-than-normal dinners we had in Italy, she did go to bed a couple of hours later than normal while we were there (around 9-9:30 as opposed to 7-7:30 ish). When we got back home, she took more naps than normal for a few days and also woke-up earlier than usual (around 3AM the first night) ready to play! Ugh. We made sure she got an extra nap and kept her up until her “normal” bedtime when we arrived home. She adjusted back to her old schedule within 2-3 days. There was an adjustment period, but it could have been much worse!
Tell me about the hotels you stayed in and where Eva slept.
Since European hotels typically are smaller than U.S. hotels, most only have queen size beds and don’t offer cribs. We took a Kidco pea pod with us for Eva to sleep in. We love sleeping with Eva in the bed, but with it we got about 4-5 hours of “Eva free” sleep.
All the places we stayed in Europe have a bidet which must look just like a baby sink/water fun station to Little E. Eva was giddy and shriek-y whenever she saw one, and loved turning on the water and throwing toys into it. Our advice is to clean it when you first arrive and for heaven’s sake don’t use it. We quickly learned to keep the bathroom door shut whenever possible.
How was it touring around Italy with a little one?
We found Italians to be gaga for babies, and that made traveling much nicer and easier. Because we were traveling with a baby, we met and talked with so many people we normally would not have talked to. Eva would wave or say “hi” and people would come over and say “ciao” to the bambino. We found Italians to be very protective of their kids, and it sometimes made me feel like a crappy mom sometimes for letting Eva explore more than the Italians seemed to like.
I think I also got the “stink eye” for not wiping her nose every ten seconds. We met an Italian couple who never let their 14 month old kid eat solids because they didn’t think he could handle it without a full mouth of teeth. That family was amazed when our toothless baby fed herself everything in sight! For those who don’t already know, Europe is not a ‘open 24/7’ kind of culture like the U.S. We were surprised at times that we couldn’t even get in anywhere for dinner til 7pm or later! Kinda tough on a baby’s eating schedule, so adjust accordingly.
On the trains and planes/airports my Beco baby carrier was indispensable, otherwise we used the stroller a ton when we were walking around being touristy.
What did you think of the cities you went to?
Here are our opinions on the various cities from our family’s point of view…..
- Rome: kind of dirty and crowded, but so beautiful and so much to see! We were hassled for money and to buy stupid tourist junk way too many times!
- Vatican City: super crowded, over the top religious adornment. We felt a bit like cattle due to the large number of people everywhere.
- Florence: so beautiful, the best gelato, can’t wait to go back there. E could eat her weight in gelato.
- Lake Como: Italian Alps and a lake? When can we move? So peaceful and very family friendly!
- Milan: we were there for 3 hours, but it had very pretty architecture and the galleria is ridiculously pretty.
- Tuscany: we visited many small hilltowns in Tuscany, some perfect, some a bit difficult due to issues such as parking, but we definitely loved it! Wine tastings galore, great food, and as far as the eye can see it is hills full of vineyards, olive groves, fields of sunflowers, wheat, and some other grain I couldn’t identify… My kind of place!
We wished we had time to visit Venice, the Cinque Terre, and the coast, but we’ll have to save it for next time.
Any Final Thoughts?
Overall we had so much fun, but I wish that we had packed lighter and limited our traveling within Italy a little more. It was stressful catching trains and getting all our stuff in and out while entertaining the munchkin. We also found out the hard way that you have to ask for the bulkhead seats to have more room on the plane way in advance and that booking those seats on the internet didn’t mean anything. Always follow-up with a phone call and again at the airport.
Thanks so much to Eva and her parents for sharing their Italian experience, baby style. I am so happy that the trip went well and look forward to keeping up with more of your world travels!