7QT: Traveling with Kids Edition

— 1 —

My mental space for this trip to France with my three kiddos has been broken down roughly as follows:

Almost 100% travel-related

It might be closer to 99%

I am going to dedicate a later post to “long-plane-flight activities broken down by minutes of distraction”, but even after the plane flight was finished, I am still looking to the future at all times, figuring out – how will we get where we’re going? Bus? Is the bus going to be crowded? Will a child end up left at the bus stop? Would the Metro be better? What if I accidentally make eye contact with the wrong person on the Metro? What if a child sneezes on a diplomat? Is a cab worth it? Do you tip cab drivers? Should you tip cab drivers, just to ensure their sympathy and make up for the fact that the child who threw up on himself on the airplane is now snuggled down in the back seat of the cab? Should I take the stroller? Is using the stroller going to mean that the four-year-old doesn’t do enough walking and isn’t tired at night?

That kind of thing.

— 2 —

So I’m realizing I left off “Thinking About Kids’ Sleep Habits” from said graph, because that is at least 45% of my thinking. It’s kind of like being bounced right back to the early days of babydom, when the question on everyone’s mind is “will there be sleep tonight?”

We actually did pretty well for the first few nights, but then all three kids somehow got bounced into a time zone eight hours further east, or something, because they were all AWAKE AWAKE AWAKE from 1-5AM a couple of nights in a row. That was when I implemented the “bribe with electronics” system to ensure that I myself would get at least a little bit of sleep, namely: “Hey, it’s 3 AM, and this is crazy, but here’s my Kindle, and you can play with it if you’ll watch your little brother while I sleep maybe.”

— 3 —

I would say “but now we’re doing much better” but I don’t want to jinx it. I will allow that marching a four-year-old across Paris, complete with a nighttime trip to La Tour Eiffel, is a good way to reset his internal clock.

It's really windy atop the Eiffel Tower at night


— 4 —

I feel like we traveled pretty light, given that it’s me we’re talking about. We made it with one backpack per person, one small rolling suitcase, and a big wheeled suitcase. Still, we could have left a bunch of clothes at home. My boys would each be happy wearing the same pair of pants each day – although the people of France might object for a few different reasons – and both my daughter and I could have left about 1/3 of our wardrobe back at home. I’m so glad I got her that brightly colored sweater, though, as it helps her stand out from all of the black/brown/charcoal-colored trench coats when we get separated.

— 5 —

I’m  just not fooling with travel-size containers from Target anymore. All of them leaked. It’s going to be Nalgene from here on out, or else travel-sized versions of things like shampoo (versus the crummy bottles we bought to fill up).

— 6 —

Of all the little things I did stuff into that big suitcase, I’m most grateful for Moleskine. Ahhhhh…my blistered feet.

But my most-used travel accessory has probably been this sweet stroller – lightweight, durable on cobblestones, easy to fold one-handed, and doesn’t bump into people on the Metro TOO many times. The great thing about living outside a major metropolitan area is that we have access to a functional Craigslist and can pick one of those up for about $20.

— 7 —

I think if you’re going to travel with young kids, you can either care about seeing the sights or eating the fabulous food, but not both. We have come down firmly on the side of seeing the sights, partly because I just don’t want to deal with the coaxing and bribing and challenging of my particular children to try new and exotic food. And we don’t try to pack too much into a day, because then there’s a lot of whining about “can’t we just have a day to relax and stay home?”

They have shown a remarkable willingness to experiment with various forms of chocolat, however:

Chocolate tart

Nom nom nom nom nom

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Get content via email

Follow along in a feed reader, or get new posts right in your Inbox.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


  1. says

    Based on limited experience with Europeans, I wonder if they wouldn’t mind at all if your son wore the same pants every day.
    What a great experience!
    Bon sejours!

  2. says

    Traveling with kids is an adventure. We’ve taken our boys to Italy twice, the first time when our youngest was two. Aside from the lonnnng plane ride in which he didn’t sleep, we never had any problems. Packing lightly is key, and it sounds like you totally got that. And bribery is perfectly fine. Perfectly. :)

  3. jen a says

    There’s always Pizza, too. And you’ll have to convince them that Flammenkuchen is really pizza. Very thin crust pizze :-)

  4. says

    Great photo of you guys on la Tour Eiffel! Transportation takes up a huge portion of my pie graph also – all those variables and the setting/system is completely new. Seeing things, and taking pictures of those things, are a good priority to have – you can keep that with you for a long time whereas a meal disappears rather quickly. Luckily the French do a pretty good with just about any food. And the chocolate! Pierre Marcolini has some really wonderful concoctions (chocolate-covered marshmallows, eg) that come in boxes for later consumption.

  5. says

    Looks like a fabulous trip! I have four and I’m so with you on the division of thought put into things. LOL–that was us going to Mackinac Island this summer, and that was only one hour time difference!

    I think I’d have trouble giving up the good eats. Better for me to wait till my kids are old enough to STAY HOME. As in, theirs. :)

    • says

      I hear you re: food! A few nights we’ve given the kids pizza or noodles and then eaten takeout or prepared foods (which are far more exciting in Paris than, say, the local Target deli counter). I also can’t really handle a lot of rich food myself so I don’t consider it that much of a loss, but I know if my husband had been able to come along it would be a different story!

  6. says

    Kudos on the trip and my thinking IS always similar on any given trip as to how to keep the kiddies distracted and sleep (or at least let me sleep)!
    Experimenting with chocolate in all forms….SUPER exciting and sure to be a highlight of their trip!