My girls are really good travellers and they love to explore. Our usual type of family holiday is an adventurous road trip exploring castles, conquering mountains, walks in the countryside, or waterfalls. But exploring a city, or a city break is a unique type of family holiday that requires a unique approach to ensure it is a success. If you follow my advice, I promise you, you can explore a city with your kids and enjoy it without blowing your budget. Here are my top tips for successful and fun city breaks with kids.
We recently went to London with the kids. I used to live in London (BC: Before Children) so I knew the vastness of the city. We were a group of seven people: Four adults, one teenager, and two kids ages 6 and 8. I had a plan, but since it had actually been nine years since I visited London, I was a bit uneasy and unsure about going back there as a mother hauling my kids with me. The girls were super excited to see Big Ben and to see where the Queen lives. Needless to say though, London is huge, exploring the streets of London is exciting! The success of the visit lay in the planning of the day.
Dress Appropriately When Exploring A City With Kids !
You are likely to be doing a lot of walking, hopping on buses and trains, and possibly inside and outside a lot. So dress appropriately. By that I mean make sure that both you and your kids wear comfortable walking shoes and socks. Not flip flops, these are likely to cause blisters and won’t provide good foot support either. Trainers are best.
Also wear layers of clothing that aren’t too warm, or too cool. And if you’re in the UK, take something waterproof! The last thing you want is to be cold, wet, overheated or have to carry a huge coat as well. Light jackets, or ones that are easy to fold up or even tie around your waist are best. If it doubles as a raincoat or is waterproof, even better.
Basically just make sure that what you are wearing is seasonally appropriate and comfortable, especially for the kids. If you want to totter around in heels all day, that’s on you, but the kids should always be comfy.
Alternate Your Activities When On City Breaks With Kids
Kids are kids. You have to make allowances for them or you won’t enjoy your trip. By mixing up your activities you will ensure the kids don’t get bored, or exhausted. Family friendly activities are key to successful city breaks with kids. This doesn’t mean it has to be all about the kids either. Everyone should get a choice because, let’s face it, there is always something for everyone on a city break.
You can do simple things like walk through a park from one point of interest to another. Stop in the park to let the kids play or rest. It could be as simple as letting them watch the squirrels or have an ice-cream. Little things like that can help to lower stress levels, and recharge their little energiser batteries for the next stretch. This is so important to the success of a city break with kids.
Alternatively get a bus or train from one attraction to the other, and then walk from that to the next one. I know it’s not always practical but for them even the different transport options are all another exciting experience on their city break.
Feed Them and Staying Hydrated
You don’t have to stop for a fancy lunch. And you also don’t have to haul a huge picnic with your either. There is always a family friendly meal-deal to suit your budget. Weather it’s a posh Waitrose meal-deal, or a quick chicken slice from a supermarket, you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a healthy(ish) meal that doesn’t blow your budget. And let’s face it, kids will probably prefer to eat a sarnie in the park or on the steps of a cathedral than in a buzzing restaurant that takes ages to bring them their meal.
It can be a good idea too to carry a bottle of water and some dried fruit snacks. Or even a little packet of mixed sweets. Sometimes they just need that little boost. A little motivation to get them through the one attraction that you really want to see but which might be a bit boring for them. Distraction, and re-energising are both winners when exploring a city with kids.
Do Something For Everyone
When you are planning a city break with kids, you should always include them in your decision making and plans. Tell them the different things that you are planning to do. Find out which one they are most excited to do. Then you need to factor their (reasonable) choices in. That way they get to feel like they have been able to tick their choice off the list.
And I can’t stress this enough, if you do go with this advice make sure you do everything you can to follow through. I know that plans can change, and god knows the weather is unpredictable. But, it’s important to always manage their expectations.
And this isn’t just for the kids. Remember to try do something for everyone in the family, mum, dad, the teenager and the kids. It’s a bonus if more than one of you agree on the same thing because let’s face it, there is only so much time in one day. It is possible to have fun family city breaks with kids that everyone enjoys.
Have A Plan When Planning Your City Breaks With Kids
Having a plan is important. Like I said above, I know that the best laid plans don’t always go the way you plan them, but if you don’t have a plan you end up wasting time and getting frustrated. I like to wing it, and my husband is a planner. But between the two of us we’re a good fit because he does tend to over-plan things sometimes, and I come along and gently draw on the best parts of his plan and make them happen.
If your plan is an hour by hour plan, then that’s great. If your plan is more of a “I want to see these 5 things in the next 8 hours” then that’s also fine. But without any plan you’re going to arrive at your destination city and waste time finding out what there is to do, and then planning how to do them.
Research Your Transportation Options When Planning Your Family Friendly City Breaks
Most cities have at least a few different modes of transport for getting around. Be it a train, tram, tube, taxi or tuk tuk, or even a bike, bus or boat … there are going to be so many different ways to explore a city.
Try to research what the options are, how much they cost, and what is the best mode of transport for your family and budget before you get there. I’m not saying you can’t change your mind when you get there, but have some idea of what your options are before you get there.
There you have it, my top 6 tips for exploring a city with kids. Make it fun for everyone, be reasonable, and be prepared.
So, where will you go on your next city break with kids? Here are a few of the other places we’ve been:
- 24 hours in Bruges with kids
- Things to do on a family trip to Dubai with kids (during a pandemic)
- Best things to do in Wurzburg with kids
- A lazy day in York