When it comes to packing the family suitcase for a holiday abroad with kids, sometimes it requires military precision. I was born forgetful and despite all of my best intentions I know I’m bound to forget something somewhat crucial on every trip I take. Take our recent trip to Venice for example, I forgot the baby carrier. No big deal, I hear you say. Wrong. It’s a city of canals. Me and my husband were forced to lug a pram up and down 600,000,000 bridges while hundreds of happy, contented parents eyed us smugly whilst comfortably wearing their bundles of joy.
Anyway, the point is that travelling with kids requires a meticulously thought out packing list and it is incredibly easy to find yourself with tonnes of luggage and not many of your own possessions as you contemplate whether or not Ella’s kitchen pouches are available in your destination country (In Italy they’re not by the way). As so many of my friends ask about travelling tips in Italy I thought I’d put together a list of some of the most important things to bring with you when you visit Bella Italia. I’m hoping this list might help at least one family avoid having to frantically put on the contents of their suitcase at a Ryanair check in desk at 5am.
First of all, it’s important to point out how easy it is to travel in Italy with kids compared to other countries. Italy’s heart lies at home with the family and so it goes without saying that children are adored and welcomed everywhere you go. Expect to be asked a whole range of questions about your kids from how old they are to what they eat and when. Everyone will want to pinch their cheeks or ruffle their hair, and waiter after waiter will play games with them and generally keep them entertained for you while you sample one more glass of the vino locale. The majority of hotels and B&Bs will be more than happy to supply you with a travel cot and highchair for your stay and for parents who co-sleep Italian beds are much bigger than our English equivalents. In fact, there are more things to leave at home than to put in your suitcase, especially for those who like to travel light, but below are some things it’s good to remember.
Toys for the flight – There’s a limit to how many times you can walk up and down the aeroplane aisle and while the fold-down try can provide a good 45 minutes of fun as your little one slams it into the seat in front, at some point it will become boring. Bring toys, lots of them!
Suntan lotion – Italy, especially Calabria, gets extremely hot in the summer months and so you will obviously want to protect baby’s delicate skin. While suntan lotion is obviously available I would recommend bringing it with you as it’s not always easy to find and there isn’t the same range of products as there are in the UK. Remember that most high street chemists have branches airside in International airports and it is possible to arrange to order and pick up your medicine and cosmetic products, allowing you to carry them on with you as airport shopping and therefore not affecting your luggage allowances.
Stroller umbrella – Personally I think this is really useful when you’re out and about indulging in your passeggiata and they’re quite difficult/expensive to find here.
Food for fussy eaters- Italian food is perfect for children due to the range and how fresh the produce is. Every restaurant has children’s menus or food that is suitable for little eaters. I’ve also found that restaurants and bars (coffee shops) are extremely accommodating to families and will happily heat up food or bottles if asked. However, Italians wean children very differently to England. Weaning babies eat pastina (tiny pasta shapes) cooked with a vegetable broth and meat or fish is added. Therefore if you have a fussy eater or you’re not happy sharing what’s on your plate with your little one you might want to think about packing some food.
Health documents – Remember to bring details of health information including a list of vaccinations just in case anything happens on your holiday.
A sarong or XL muslin cloth – The most useful item ever – picnic blanket, breastfeeding cover, sun tent, blanket, changing mat, sick wiper-upper, skirt, cape, curtain for the car window… you name it!
Nappy bags -they don’t sell them here and they’re extremely useful when travelling!
A well stocked changing bag – When I travel this is my carry on luggage and includes everything I need for bubba (including all her clothes) yep I don’t take much, I know I can’t resist buying cute clothes for her so why take them with me!
A baby carrier – it makes life so much simpler!
What NOT to pack
Nappies, formula, follow-on milk, baby wipes etc are all readily available in every supermarket here. It is not worth filling your suitcase with these things as it is easier and often cheaper just to buy them here, most major brands are stocked here including pampers, buggies etc
Mosquito repellent (sprays, bracelets, stickers etc) can be bought from all chemists here and there are a range of products which are child-friendly.
Not sure which brands are sold here? Unsure what clothes to pack for spring in Rome? Feel free to ask any questions in the comments box below and I’ll reply as best I can.