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Last weekend, my family went to Grosseto, Italy for a fun day at the beach. Grosseto is a bus ride away from Siena, our home base. My toddler enjoyed playing in the sand and walking by the shore with his papa. I had some quiet time with my eleven-month-old baby as we sat on the warm sand and listened to the splashing waves.
Are you ready for the beach season? I would love to share some tips on how you can make the most of your beach trip with your little ones!
1. Set the stage.
First of all, we got our two-year-old Leon excited to go to the beach by reading books about the beach, talking about sea-related words, and watching videos about the ocean and sea animals. I recommend Ocean Buddies, a board book that comes with sea animal toys. We also taught Leon the words “beach” and “mare” (Italian). Additionally, we watched aquarium videos on Youtube and toy shows with sea animals. I also ask him questions such as “Where are we going tomorrow?” and “What will you see at the beach?” By the time we got to the beach, Leon was ready to “see the dolphins” and “play with the octopus”. Of course, he just used his imagination when we got to the public beach. He did get to see shrimp in my cocktail and baby octopus in his dad’s pasta for lunch! (Recommended restaurant: Ristorante Belmare)
2. Prepare one beach bag.
As parents of two very active little boys, we have learned that it is best to keep all our stuff in one backpack. We experienced losing stuff before because we could not manage to carry so many things at the same time. I love my husband’s Kelty Redwing backpack because we can put so many things in it. It also has an ergonomic design so it is quite easy to carry.
We brought the following items:
a new set of clothes
diapers and wipes
3. Bring a beach umbrella.
We forgot to bring a beach umbrella that day! Next time we go to the beach, we will remember to bring this very important thing. Kids need to be protected from the harmful rays of the sun. It’s a good thing that they put on sunscreen!
4. Download the Instasize App.
If you are an Instagram mom like me, it is important to capture those precious moments for our feed and Instastories! I use the premium version of a photo editing app called Instasize. I really love their filters, especially L1, L2, and L3 because they really make your photos stand out! You can also add text to photos and videos! Most of all, they have a pretty fun collection of text styles, borders, and wallpapers that are not available on Instagram. Check out thislinkto read about Instasize’s amazing features! (Are you on IG? Please follow me @thebellissimamma!)
Enjoy this day with the family and forget about work. Use your phone only for taking photos and videos. Savor this moment with nature and listen to the sounds of the sea. Let your kids play with the sand and the water. They will surely remember this fun day with their parents. Moms and dads can have fun too! Do what makes you happy. (I definitely enjoyed my aperol spritz!)
Have you brought your children to the beach? Do you have any tips to share for parents? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
BEFORE YOU GO…Check out these awesome articles by Instasize:
Ciao! I am Bellissimamma, and thanks for dropping by! I am a mamma to two little ones, Leon and Lucas. We are an expat family living in Italy. Read my blog post on visiting The Leaning Tower of Pisa with a baby and a toddler.
Have you ever been to the Leaning Tower of Pisa? If you are planning to visit Italy’s most famous landmark with little kids, well…it’s no Pisa cake!
Traveling with kids is always extra hard, but with a bit of practice and hopefully, by reading my blog, you will be able to make the most out of your trip!
Before I tell you about my family’s trip to Pisa, let me give you a little backstory. My family used to live in the United States before we moved back to the Philippines. In the Philippines, I gave birth to my second son, Lucas. Five months later, we moved to Italy. During the time when we were not sure if our plan to move to Italy is going to push through, we took a picture with a fake Leaning Tower. This one was taken inside one of Manila’s malls. Please try not to laugh!
Anyway, once we arrived in Italy, I could not wait to finally go to the real one!
Traveling to Pisa
Whenever my family travels, we try to keep things as simple as possible. That means that we don’t try to do so many things in one day. For our trip to Pisa, we just wanted to go to three main attractions: 1) Keith Haring’s Mural (1989), 2) The Leaning Tower and the 3) Pisa Cathedral. We took the train from Siena to Pisa. I recommend taking the train because 1) the seats are comfortable, 2) there is a restroom inside that you can use for free (public toilets are usually not free in Italy), 3) there is free Wi-fi, and 4) there are coffee machines and vending machines on board. All the main attractions are within walking distance from the train station. Also, remember to have your tickets validated before boarding the train. If you choose to fly to Pisa, it has its own international airport (Galileo Galilei).
We brought with us a light-weight umbrella stroller (try the Brevi stroller) because you will be doing a lot of walking once you get there. I recommend using a detachable stroller organizer such as The Merry Milestones Stroller Organizer to keep your diapers and wipes. We also used the Ergobaby carrier to carry my little Lucas. I like this brand because of its ergonomic design.
Pisa is a major tourist trap so be aware of your surroundings! There are plenty of signboards that will tell you the directions to reach the tower (Torre di Pisa). Our first stop was Keith Haring’s Mural:
After taking some photos of the mural, we then proceeded to the Torre di Pisa. There you will find lots of people trying to get the “perfect shot”. It is really funny seeing all those tourists making wacky poses (myself included) in front of the tower. If you have little kids with you, try not to spend so much time taking the perfect shot. It will never happen! Just enjoy the moment. I am telling you this because I did the opposite. I was stressing out over the fact that my kids won’t stop moving. Leon also does not like to smile for pictures! Lucas was overwhelmed with everything that was going on. So, in the end, we were not able to get the “perfect shot”! But, I was pretty happy with the way our pictures turned out. Sometimes you just have to keep it real!
There is a large garden area by the Leaning Tower so we let Leon run around before heading back to the train. The Piazza dei Miracoli, the green space that’s home to the Leaning Tower and the Pisa Cathedral, is the perfect place for your kids to run around. We did not climb the tower anymore because the line was too long. Plus, it would be very difficult for us to carry the kids to the top. We will have to do that some other time. The Pisa Cathedral is also very close to the tower and is also very nice.
Venice is the ideal vacation spot for lovers and honeymooners. It is probably on every couple’s travel bucket list. Who wouldn’t want to be serenaded in a gondola under the night sky?
So now you have the money and the time to go to Italy. But you’re already past your 20s. You’re a mom or dad in your 30s or 40s and you have little kids. Do you fulfill your travel dreams or do you wait until the kids are older?
I am telling you right now that traveling with small children can be difficult, but not impossible. Here’s the good news: you can enjoy the beauty of this enchanting sinking city with your little ones! It is not going to be romantic but it can still be very exciting! Allow me to share some tips on how to make the most out of your Venice trip with your little kids.
Go during the low season for Venice travel.
If you have been following my blog for a while, you will know that we are an expat family living in Siena, Italy. Venice in the winter can be amazing! February is Carnevale month, and many tourists flock to Venice to enjoy the fun and festivities. Since we did not want to contend with the peak season crowd, we decided to visit Venice a couple of days after the major celebrations. Sure, we missed all the parades and floats, but we did not mind since we were still able to see the Venetian masks on display. I encourage you to go during the low season to save money and to avoid the crowd.
Pack like a pro…and nurse on the go.
It is a good idea to put everything you need in one bag. A versatile and ergonomic backpack is a travel must-have.We used my husband’s Kelty Redwing backpack for all our personal belongings and documents, including the baby stuff (diapers, wipes, clothes, snacks, water, etc.). I know that is close to impossible when you have a baby and a toddler but we had to do our best to bring only the essentials. If you are a nursing mom like me, just bring your nursing cover (if you use one) and skip the bottles and accessories. Just nurse on the go.
We also brought our Ergobaby carrier to carry Lucas around and our Brevi stroller for Leon. Also, bring a stroller organizer with a detachable wristlet like the Merry Milestones stroller organizer. We used the stroller on the day of our check-in and on the first day of our tour. The next day, however, we decided to leave the stroller at the hotel because Venice has plenty of bridges and stairways. Personally, it is good to have a lightweight stroller like the Brevi stroller, but once you are at your hotel, I would advise you to just leave your stroller there.
Travel with a friend who is good with kids.
I am so grateful that my husband’s buddy joined us on our trip. An extra set of hands is a huge blessing! He was the official “juice carrier” and “snack bae” at one point. He was also the “official family photographer”! I returned the favor by taking his pictures as well.
Take the train.
If you are already coming from Italy, it is best to take the train! We took the train from Florence to Venice. Check the Italotren’s website for information on how to get to Venice from your current location. You will love the Florence train station because there are coffee shops, snack bars, restaurants, and stores everywhere. It is common to pay to use public restrooms in Italy. It costs 1 euro to use the train station’s restroom. You can also use the restrooms inside restaurants if you are a customer.
Italotren has comfortable seats, vending machines, restrooms and free Wifi. It is not uncommon for trains to be late in Italy, so just go with the flow and maybe have some coffee at the standing bar while waiting.
I recommend Romantic House at Calle dela Lona Onesta, Cannaregio. On the outside, it looks like a typical ancient-looking Italian building. But you will be pleasantly surprised to see that the interior is new and very modern. It is fully-furnished (flat-screen TV, refrigerator, dishwasher, bathroom and kitchen supplies). It has free Wi-Fi too! It is close to the Grand Canal, Piazza S. Marco, and Ponte Rialto. Remember to bring your TRAVEL DOCUMENTS (e.g. passports, residence cards) because you need to present them upon checking in.
Cannaregio is a busy street with lots of souvenir shops and restaurants. It is also within walking distance from the deck where you rent a Gondola. St. Mark’s Basilica is a half kilometer away. The Ca’ d’ Oro station is only 0.2 kilometers away, while the Venice Santa Lucia Train Station is only 1.1 kilometers away. The COOP supermarket is also within the vicinity.
You can really have a comfortable stay at The Romantic House. I think the best part of my vacation was taking a nice, warm shower while my husband and our friend looked after the kids! By the way, there are decorative pieces such as vases and figurines inside the vacation home, so it is best to put those things in a safe place away from active babies and toddlers.
Eat at family-friendly restaurants.
You can enjoy a decent lunch at Tappa Obbligatoria, which was located on Sestiere Cannaregio, a street near our hotel. The server was very accommodating. You can choose to get a table inside the restaurant so the kids will be more comfortable. My toddler enjoyed his Pasta Carbonara, and he finished his plate! I also recommend their Pizza Margherita. My husband and his friend both had beers. They also have a menu option that already includes coffee.
The next morning we had an early lunch at Burger King. Please do not judge me for eating fast food. Leon loves chicken nuggets and it has been ages since I had a Whopper Burger and Onion Rings. They had high chairs and a restroom, which you can use only if you are a customer. The restroom can be improved if it were cleaner.
Go With The Flow.
Did we get to ride a gondola? No, we didn’t, it was raining on the day we were supposed to go. But, it is okay. We just took a stroll in the piazza and enjoyed the picturesque views. Did we go out for late night drinks at the Venice Jazz Club? No, we just bought our own prosecco and cheese from Coop and “wined and dined” at the vacation home. The key to a successful vacation with your little kids is to not “sweat the small stuff” and to keep the bucket list short. For us, it is enough to visit The Grand Canal, The Rialto, and San Marco for our weekend trip. Leon chased some pigeons, and that already made his day. We are definitely going back to experience more things in the city, and maybe finally get to ride the gondola!
It is not easy being a parent, and you are doing a great job even if things don’t go out the way you planned. Someday your babies will get older and you will get to more fun things and activities that you can manage. Just enjoy the moments that you have with your children while they are still young.
Have you ever been to Venice? Any tips on traveling with small children? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!