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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 Trentitalia 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.
Book accommodations near the Grand Canal.
I recommend Romantic House at Calle della 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! This accommodation 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.
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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? Do you have any tips on traveling with small children? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!
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