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Sunday, April 19, 2020

Tips On How To Survive Traveling Italy With Two Kids By Yourself

First of all I'd like to explain how I even ended up traveling by myself in a foreign country with my two kids. It all began long ago when I married my husband whom is in the military. That's it. There's no need to explain more, you cannot make plans with the military. It's a rule like in Fight Club or something. It never works out well. Aside from that my mother was going to join me instead, but then her pup got really sick and she spent a lot on his medical bills so that left me to fend off for myself. I wasn't worries about my kids at all, my kids are amazing travelers. My main concern was grabbing all bags and have both kids in my hands as we get on and off the plane/train/bus. Especially didn't want to over pack and regret having something I had no use for at all. Which brings me to my very first tip as well as my most asked question. How do I pack for my kids? 

  • C A R R Y  O N: Pack by outfits, it will save you so much time when getting ready and reuse jeans or leggings a couple times. I brought different shirts and an extra one just in case as well. This time around I knew it wasn't going to be freezing cold so I packed very light clothing since they were already bringing a bigger coat. For my daughter I brought her leggings since they're light and she'd be so much more comfortable in, for my son I got him 2 pairs of jeans and a pair of sweats. He's 6 so he doesn't get as messy as my toddler so he can re use his jeans and save room rather than use 6 different pants for each day we were gone. Toiletries were simple as we all used the same shampoo, conditioner and tooth paste and I kept it all in one zipper bag. The one thing I was glad I brought just in case but didn't end up using was my LileBaby carrier. That thing is awesome but my daughter just didn't want to be in it. Which was fine cause she walked a lot and crashed hard. I managed to fit all our clothes in one small duffle bag, my son had his own bag for his games and snacks and I brought my big Freshly Picked backpack WITH a mini Freshly Picked backpack inside! This may sound crazy but hear me out. I had my passports, deodorant, charger, cables, camera etc, in it and once we got to the hotel and I was able to leave everything I only brought the mini with me with the absolute essentials such as extra wipes, charger, passports and wallet. Free hands for my kids and not a sore back carrying a large backpack. I was already traveling so much on my own that i didn't want to over do it and overwhelm myself. Which brings me into my second tip of the day...

  • L O C A T I O N: Try to book as close to the main area you want to be in or as close to a form of transport. Whenever we travel with my husband and he wants to be cheap so we pay for long term parking and have to take those busses that take 20 minutes to get there and they drive you 10 miles away into the airport, I don't mind it because he's the one helping pick up the bags and all I have to do is make sure the kids get on with us. When it comes to me going on trips with friends or like this time with the kids, I managed to book things within feet of our main destination. Also I book months in advance for a hotel just to get a good deal but thats another point... For our trip to Rome, our hotel was right on the corner of the Trevi Fountain. When we arrived at the airport we got on a bus that took us to the train station and from there we could've taken a different bus to leave us feet away but I got a taxi so that we could insure we got right in front of the place. This allowed us to check in, go walk and explore and let me tell you this street was full of restaurants and gelato, souvenirs, music, everything! It was perfect to start a tour from and explore the rest of Rome without having the kids wake up at the dawn of time to watch buses or walk for 50 minutes forcing me into bringing a stroller. It was so nice to go take a nap and just go downstairs and have pizza for dinner. Always keep in mind the kids wants and needs. 

  • E N T E R T A I N T M E N T: Now I'm not one of those parents that don't let their kids use technology. I very much do, I just encourage learning over dumb games. However when it comes to certain times of our trip such as, the airplane ride or the train ride and even downtime before bedtime. I let them play and watch whatever they want. I always pre download movies and shows I know they love as well as games that don't require wifi to work. My daughter is currently obsessed with Story Bots, so you bet all 3 seasons are downloaded on that iPad. My son is into video games but with no wifi he loves the Numberblocks apps and Minecraft since he loves to build things. I remember when we first had him and I googled endlessly all the ideas of what to bring on a plane for him and they had things like books, toys, rattles etc. Let me tell you that no baby ever plays with any of this crap. The baby rather grab the magazine behind your seat or your empty water cup on the tray. This is why I never bother to bring silly things like that. The one and only thing my daughter loves to bring and actually uses all the time is her coloring pages and markers which we only get her the crayola mess free markers (a flight attendant will thank you), there's no need for colors everywhere. She used it on the plane and in the hotel. Bonus tip: Get a cosmetic case bag and add their toys snacks and coloring in it. I'll provide a photo for reference. This thing was easy to pull in and out of my backpack and keeps it organized. 

Snacks Pre Packed
Cosmetic bag with Mess Free Crayola Coloring

  • E N E R G Y: Not just wearing the kids out but getting plenty of sleep. The whole point of vacations is to have fun and relax. Don't stay up way too late planning and don't force yourself to be up and ready at 5am. I know to many others, they have certain goals to achieve in a new country such as a particular location to visit and some don't care they just want to get drunk and have fun. Then there is others that try to fit everything in their list that it seems they're jumping and not enjoying. I think you need a nice balance, I like to have a "Top 5" spots. If I'm staying longer than one day then it gets spread out. But having kids it's hard to plan everything exact so you kinda wing it. Make a game out of each location or even award it. For us this trip had a lot of "let's go here and we can get some gelato!" the nice sunshine helped so much with wanting to be outside more than running inside. When we got to the Colosseum we wanted to walk up the hill to get the nice high view so as we did the kids got a bit tired. I didn't push it, I rewarded it. We stopped by a nice cafe (always make sure they go potty) got some gelato, and we sat and hung out. We talked about what they have loved so far, we enjoyed the view, we took photos and relaxed! This is so important to us, to take it all in and not just rush to the bus to go on to the next location. 

  • R E D  B U S: Now some love tour buses and others hate it. We happen to love them. We don't enjoy the tour groups though. We use the red buses to get around a lot whether we have the kids or not. Its also nice to learn fun facts about the city. My son loved listening in and repeating back to me everything he would hear, I mean such a perfect history class within its own! We always find the stop closest to our hotel and hop on and off for however long we do the passes for. Usually there is also a boat tour and it's so nice to be able to see the city in different views as well as during a gorgeous sunset! It also helps so much from just having to walk everywhere or paying cab fares. This helps us not bring a stroller and it's much more freeing.

  • F O O D: Always make sure the kids and yourself get at least one full meal a day. It's so easy to snack and pick up things here and there and not eat a full meal. Also don't stress about the junk, don't over do it to the point you feel ill but don't say no to everything. Kids get upset so quick and easily. Sometimes it's good to compromised. Always and I mean always get extra food of something before going back to your hotel or room! I always try to grab either snacks, bread or sandwiches, anything I can stick in my bag and take it without making a huge mess. Specially if you have a fridge in your room. Water bottles and a smoothie or yogurt for the morning! This way the kids can snack on the train or can have something to eat in the morning before finding breakfast. Sometimes they get hungry before getting ready for bed. One of the days we walked to a cafe shop because my son was being sooo moody since he was so hungry. We grabbed a bunch of breakfast options including a cappuccino for myself and some ham and cheese sandwiches for them whether they wanted it then or not, because later on as we sat in the bus and we had to wait for a few stops, they got hungry. I had it right there and they got to eat without us having to get off and find another shop. Trust me! I get hangry too so I get it when the kids want food. 

  • T A K E  T H E  P H O T O: I can't stress this enough! Be in those photos! Take selfies! Set up your tripod! Ask for someone to take your photos together. You may not post them if you don't love it but who cares? You will have that photo forever with your kids and cherish that so much! I take videos of us and ask the kids questions and even sometimes just film them having fun. I have a billion photos I hate myself in with my kids and I still proudly save them for them because nothing would bring me more sadness if my something would happen and they don't have a single photo with their mom in these amazing places. My son is into taking photos and he will snap so many of his sister and myself and it brings me so much happiness to see them. Yes i force my husband to take 100! I have no shame in anyone seeing me taking photos because at the end of the day they will forget and that photo moment is gone. Take the photo and enjoy the moment. I think this is by far my biggest tip. Don't just take photos of the location or the place. Anyone can find this on Google but you in it with your loved ones? That is irreplaceable. 

I let her jump in the puddles and enjoy herself. Her socks were soaking wet but she loved every second!

    During this trip we took so many trains, buses, trams and even rented a car in Naples to Positano and nearly lost my mind at how different these countries drive! I felt overwhelmed at moments and I wanted to loose my shit at my kids but then I have to stop and remind myself that these are memories I'm creating and they'll forever have this engraved in their minds. Did I want them to remember me yelling at them all throughout Italy and then hating it and not wanting to be there? Nope. I wanted nothing but happy memories. While we were in Positano and I got to drive through the GORGEOUS mountains and views of the coast, I played the song "Hold On" by Moguai since it was all over the internet. It made my kids happy and now every time it plays at home my son goes "I love this song so much, it reminds me of when we drove through Italy!" he automatically connects the song to a happy moment and that was such a perfect moment for me! So remember to enjoy and make memories! If you have any other questions or would love to see more on my travels comment below or email me!

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