Sher and I decided we needed to take a little get away trip before the baby arrives in January (iA) and, in case, COVID gets worse during winter months. SO we chose Italy as our destination, since we had such a great time on our honeymoon there, we love the food, and it’s one of the countries in Europe that is doing well, COVID-wise. It’s also a country where Sher could work remotely, and Faiz/I could wander around (in between nap time). We stayed in Florence for a week, with day trips to Cinque Terre, the Tuscany country side, and stayed a few days in Portofino and Milan. All in all, it was an incredible trip! One of our favorites, ever. With one hiccup – my selection of our lodging.
Sher actually described my air b&b selections of this trip as some of my biggest mistakes ever. Although the locations were good, I forgot to check if there were lifts. Rookie mistake. SO I wanted to share my lessons learned with parents of young toddlers to avoid making a lodging travel blunder – because it truly does have an impact on the trip as a whole.
1. Ensure there is an elevator: If you have a child under the age of 3, most likely you have a stroller or the child will need assistance to walk up the steps. Make sure there is a lift in the rental description. If it doesn’t clearly say ‘lift’, message the owner and confirm. Trust me, this alone was the main issue with our Air B&B, and impacted my ability to leave with my one-year-old alone. I would have to wait for my husband to be free from work calls to help carry the stroller down. Because I’m pregnant, I avoided wearing Faiz in the baby carrier as well, which was limiting. Please see below for our experience of the never-ending stairs.
Air B&B in Florence. Amazing Location. Very Clean. No Lift.
2. Decoration/floor plan: If your child is not mobile yet, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. But if you child is moving, and similar to my 17-month-old, he will want to touch and move EVERYTHING. I had to immediately remove all breakable objects from his reach – and some I wasn’t able to move, so it involved constant monitoring. In one Air B&B, I didn’t realize that there would be steps INSIDE the flat; and of course, those steps became my son’s main goal to walk down. We had to supervise him so carefully within the flat, that it was often just easier to stay out. Which is not how you want to feel about your accommodation. Initially, when I saw that “infant friendly’ was a filter on Air B&B, I couldn’t help but feel slight discrimination. I felt it even more when two flats, that we really liked, rejected us (despite our good reviews on the site), because we had a toddler. But honestly, I 100% get it now. If it say it’s not infant-friendly, there is probably a reason, and nothing to take personal.
3. Washer: No matter how much gear you bring, having a baby increases the chance that a bodily function disaster will happen. And you don’t want to have clothes with the babies excretion or vomit sitting in the same dirty clothes bag in your suitcase. This one isn’t mandatory, because you can always see if there is a nearby laundry-mat to do a quick load. But it is definitely convenient to have a washer in the flat, to be able to quickly toss some very dirty items into.
4. Close proximity to pharmacy/grocery store: Throughout the trip, we would need a certain medicine or snack or run out of water bottles, and need to do a quick visit to a pharmacy/grocery store. If you don’t have a car with you, it’s nice to have a pharmacy/grocery store in walking distance for urgent errands. You just never know when you’ll need something important.
5. Close proximity to main sights: Basically, babies/toddlers do not care about our meticulously planned itineraries. They don’t care about museums or fancy restaurants. They might feel like having a meltdown during lunch or get spit up on all their clothes for the day. In this case, it is VERY nice to be able to walk back to your lodging and recoup. The key to traveling with a kid is being flexible; and having a great location enables that flexibility. Either you splurge on location or you will probably have to splurge on a car rental/Ubers or the logistics of a young child on public transportation. To me, the location is an investment to making the trip that much more special. See below for the little interest a young toddler has in being touristy and taking pictures.
Any other suggestions on booking the right travel lodging for a young child? Share below!