Austria Travel, baby, baby rooms, Europe, family travel, France travel with kids, Germany Travel, Roba Boostersitz, Switzerland, toddler, travel in Europe, Travel in Europe with baby, Travel in Europe with kids
Over the past year we have traveled to ten countries with our now 18 month old, and yes I’m tired just thinking about it too. While this certainly does not make us experts, I think it at least qualifies us to pass on a few things we have picked up along the way. We have found other bloggers and sites to be extremely helpful in our journeys and hope that we can be helpful to other families in return!
Obviously babies and toddlers come along with their own set of needs and after some large investments in travel gear for babies and toddlers we have found these items to be among our favorites.
– The Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light – This crib is an actual crib, not just a pack and play, and is only 11 pounds. It also is in what we found to be a much better shape (rectangular and only 2 inches tall approximately) when folded to fit into the back of our smaller car, our Volkswagen Sportwagen. The mattress is softer on one side which meets our daughters standards and it is also low to the ground so it is very stable when she stands in it. Set up is incredibly easy (coming from the person who had to YouTube multiple videos to set up a pack and play) and takes just a few seconds. It does fit into a large checked bag if you need to fly with it, and given the weight it won’t make it impossible to keep it under the airlines limit.
The Mamas and Papas Armadillo Stroller – This is my favorite stroller of the several that we have for travel in Europe. It is stronger than an umbrella stroller and so it does work on cobblestones or brick sidewalks and streets and goes over curbs reasonably well, but it is also much smaller in how it folds than any others we have found that are comparable. It lays flat and can go on top of suitcases in the back of a car or trunk and has one-handed open and close that is easy even when you are holding the baby. It also comes with the rain cover which is handy and the underneath compartment, while small, holds our large diaper bag just fine.
The Roba Boostersitz – I am not certain if you can find this in the US or UK but it is sold at many stores in Germany as well as on Amazon.de. This is actually my favorite travel item ever. That’s saying a lot, I know, but it is the best. It attaches to any straight backed wooden type chair (sturdy being a qualification of course) and allows your baby to have an on the go highchair for feeding. It is canvas and folds up to the size of an IPad and even has a blow up cushion if you want your toddler to be able to reach the table. We use it now as well when we are in a hotel room and need to keep Indi occupied with a video or book while we unpack or get things settled. Current cost is about 17 Euros (about 23 dollars) which makes it more than worth every cent.
Scotch Tape – Invaluable. We use this to quickly cover electrical outlets that are tempting to our toddler for piece of mind and also taping shut drawers that she might find interesting in a new hotel room or apartment we are staying in. You can also buy outlet covers in the EU that work for some countries but, for example, German outlet covers won’t work in Switzerland so tape is the more cost-effective answer.
Britax Pavillion Convertible Car Seat – We have tried a couple of different seats and while this one is heavy if you are flying, for car rides it is the best. It is incredibly easy to install in the car and makes it very fast for rental cars or other situations. It also has one of the shortest distances needed between the back and front seat when installed rear facing which is a benefit in smaller European cars (especially when Dad is 6’5″ and the driver…)
A Baby Carrier – Any carrier is great, we use the Baby Bjorn One now because it has a higher limit for larger toddlers and folds up relatively small. There are so many sights in Europe that are just not accessible with strollers it really helps to keep a carrier with you.
Specific Country Information – these are items we have seen repeatedly in said country and so while I hate generalizations these could at least be considered patterns.
Germany and Austria
– Kinderstuhls are the norm in restaurants (German for Highchair). Even if you don’t see one out- ask and ye shall receive. They often too have soft inserts for the wooden stools for smaller babies so don’t hesitate to ask.
– Kids menus are usually smaller versions of adult items and include spatzle or schnitzel or other pork dishes. In general vegetables are hard to come by in German dining so if your child prefers them I would recommend bringing your own travel pouches. For smaller babies if you bring your own food we have had many offers to heat our baby food up if needed or that they will bring us warm water for it. We haven’t needed it because Indi prefers cold food (weird, I know) but it just shows how wonderfully kid friendly people can be.
– German and Austrian Autobahn stops are awesome for kids and babies. They have special baby rooms with changing tables and paper covers and even usually heat lamps for baby! These rooms also about 60% of the time have a small toddler toilet and sink. There is also typically a jumpseat type seat attached to the wall with a belt to strap an older toddler into while you tend to the younger. These rooms are free as opposed to the adult bathrooms which have a small fee but they do occasionally require a key from the counter nearby. The full service stops do also usually have a park like setting with a playground.
Belgium and Luxembourg
I group these countries together as we have found experiences to be similar.
– High chairs are harder to come by. We have had everything from a tall chair to just a regular chair. We travel with an adjustable belt that can help our daughter sit in an adult chair. You could also travel with the Roba seat I describe above if needed.
– Rest areas typically have baby rooms but not as well kept as the German ones mentioned.
– Where we have eaten there were some kids options on the menus but not as many as some areas and we haven’t run into a selection of toys for kids so bring your own entertainment!
– High chairs are usually available and interestingly we find that they are cleaned and covered with plastic wrap often and come with napkins and usually crayons or some sort of small gift.
– Kids menus are typically smaller versions of the adult dishes and we have more than once been given regular china plates with salad or glasses with sparking water for our baby.
– The Autobahn stops in France do not tend to be as well stocked we have found but do still have the baby rooms and as a bonus there is no charge for the adult restrooms so there’s an upside to everything.
– We have had trouble getting cold milk for our toddler to drink in France. She has always liked her milk cold and we have had some instances where we are given warm frothed milk for her which doesn’t really go over well. I do recommend a good cooler for travel so we bring our own and try to find hotels or apartments with refrigerators. When you are able to get cold whole milk, it is about the most delicious I’ve ever had!
Switzerland and Liechtenstein
– We find that Switzerland and Liechtenstein are more expensive to eat in than other places partially due to the Swiss Franc exchange rate, but we have also had several instances where our daughter was given a complete set of toys or gifts to play with while we ate. She loves it when they do that and it helps take the pressure off our much used diaper bag toys that she grows tired of!
– We had no problems finding safe and useful highchairs in either of these countries either.
– Highchairs were readily available here and we also found the menus to be fairly kid friendly. We were only in a somewhat limited area of the country – The Hague and Amsterdam, but found where we dined and stayed to have all the amenities we needed for our daughter.
– We actually didn’t stop at any highway stops here but found changing stations in both the airport and train stations that were quite acceptable.
We are headed to Northern Europe next month and will continue to add to our list! As I said earlier, these are just our limited experiences in the whole scheme of travel in Europe, but if they can help any others in our situation then we will feel that our moments of both panic and glory are not in vain!
One note that we joke about amongst ourselves is that in Europe versus America there are many places such as restaurants and hotels and stores that have restrooms but do not have changing tables, however when someplace does have them they tend to have them in both the men’s and women’s so Dads, get ready to do some changing!
Please don’t hesitate to comment with your thoughts on tricks for travel or other questions we may be able to help answer, none of our reviews are sponsored, just our own thoughts on items we have found helpful!