So it has been decided… we are off to France in the Spring. Baby H will be 10 months old… so we will see how this goes! I knew that I wanted to go back to Europe in the Spring, but where!?!? Here are a few thoughts that helped us make a decision, in no particular order. The thoughts I have can really be applied to choosing any destination with a baby!
- How are you planning on getting around? What I mean by this really is: are you comfortable renting a car? Will you be bringing your car seat with you (is that even possible with specific countries regulations), or will you be renting one (this can be a rather $$$$ option!)? While we have rented cars before in different countries we decided that we would rather not NEED to rent a car, but would be comfortable taking trains, metros and/or city buses. We feel that if we decide when we are there that we really want to rent a car, and car seat, then we can do that for just a day or two.
- How long does it take to get to where you want to go? N and I travelled to New Zealand before we were married, and have maintain that we could move there very easily, we loved it so much! To fly there, from here, with a baby… not my idea of a good time. Could we have done it… absolutely… but we decided we would rather go somewhere closer and save that stress for another time.
- How flexible do you think your little one is? Just looking back at baby H (at 3 months versus 6) her adaptability and flexibility has greatly decreased. When they are really little they will sleep and eat anywhere, now less so. At 10 months we know that it will be nice for her (and us) to be able to set up in one location for more than a couple of days! I am also thinking having at least one solid nap is going to make us all much happier! We decided we wanted 2 destinations over 2 weeks to keep us sane.
- What do you want to do? This had a huge impact on us choosing France over another country. We had a few options we were floating around. One of the top three contenders was Scotland. We realized quickly that we wanted to do so much stuff in Scotland it would mean staying in one spot for a maximum of 3 nights (see the previous point). In Paris we were comfortable with the idea of basically eating croissants and drinking wine… if we get to the Louvre, Awesome! Go up the Eiffel tower… Great! Window shop on the Champs-Elysees … just an extra bonus! We still think that we can do Scotland with baby H, but at 10 months old there are better choices!
- How comfortable are you going to be in the country you want to visit? I am dying to get down to South America but at this point I realized that I wouldn’t be very comfortable… Having travelled in Europe I feel good that I have at least some idea of what to expect, the food is familiar to me, I also speak a little French (poorly, but enough that I can somewhat get my point across). I don’t want to go on a vacation and be stressed about every tiny little detail… travelling overseas with a baby is enough stress for me!
- How much stuff are you bringing with you? This ties in closely with the first point (how you are getting around)! If you are renting a car from the airport (like we did when we went to Hawaii) you can bring a ton (and we did). If you are planning on taking public transport for even a tiny bit of your trip you may want to leave the crib at home… or, if you think you can manage, go to town! The key here is to try and be realistic.
- There are many baby gear rental sites for countries and cities around the world, which is rather nice as this means you don’t actually have to take all your stuff with you. Obviously it’s nice to have things you know how to work but maybe you only need to rent a crib for part of your journey or maybe you want to try out a particular stroller? I did a quick google search for “NYC baby rental equipment” “London baby rental equipment” even “Tokyo baby rental equipment” and a ton of sites came up!
- Where do you want to stay? Do you want to stay in a hotel? Rent an apartment? Hostel it up? All of these are options, you just need to be realistic about what you and baby can handle. For us, we knew hotels and hostels were out. We wanted space and sadly could not afford the space in hotels and hostels were too crowded for us.
- For more on finding the perfect accommodation check out THIS post
Finally: Sometimes you have to just jump right in! We still wonder if we are mental to be taking baby H to France for two weeks when she is 10 months old… but flights are booked, accommodation is pending… so here we go! We figure if she is going to have a bad day, she is going to have a bad day… I would rather be in Paris! No matter how well behaved these French children are supposed to be, someone is bound to have a meltdown at some point!