Our European Trip Continues – Arriving in Venice, Italy

Hello again! Here’s Day 3 in our European vacation with Erika, me and our 3 kids. This time we’re in beautiful Venice, Italy! The purpose of this video and blog series is to show people that you can travel across Europe with 2 young kids and a baby – it’s not always easy, but, if you have the right attitude and are prepared, it is doable and enjoyable. My wife is originally from Mexico and I’m from San Diego, California. We enjoy these travels with our kids because we’ve done it on our own before. I always loved seeing Erika experience something for the first time and being excited about it on our previous vacations in Europe. Now, we both share the same delight in seeing our kids enjoy new experiences on their first trip to Europe.

Checking in to Our Hotel Room

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Having just landed in Venice, we start off the day on a taxi-cab on our way to the hotel. We decided to skip the hassle of taking the metro and just get a taxi instead. It’s a more expensive, but it’s worth it for the convenience and comfort – especially when you’re travelling with two tired boys and a sleepy baby. Due to vehicle restrictions in the heart of the old city, the taxi will get us so far in Venice and then we’ll have a seven or eight-minute walk to our hotel, which isn’t too bad.

We decided to hire a porter to help us with our luggage, and it was definitely worth the 20 euros he charged us. It was probably the best 20 euros we’ve spent all week. We’re definitely going to use a porter again to help when we leave Venice. As we walk through the city, we can’t help but marvel at the beauty of Venice. I tried to look up the route to our hotel on Google Street Maps, but it would only take me so far. It was weird, but now I understand why – the area we’re walking through is so narrow that it’s not visible on the map. But that’s part of the charm of Venice – discovering hidden gems and narrow alleyways as we explore this beautiful city.

We arrive at our hotel and it turns out I’m the only one that fits in the elevator since it was so tight, so we’re going to take a second trip for Erica pushing baby Emma on the stroller. Despite the tiny elevator, our hotel room was amazing. It’s a big room (by Venice standards) with more than enough closet/storage space and a nice shower. We’re all excited to get settled in and explore Venice over the next couple of days, but first need to do laundry. Thankfully there’s a laundromat within walking distance of the hotel.

Venice Travel Tips – Venice Times Hotel

It is always difficult to find hotels that caters to families, so I would like to highlight The Venice Times Hotel, which exceeded our expectations. Its location in the heart of Venice let us explore Venice’s iconic sites from our front door. Our room was great – spacious (by European standards), comfortable and well-appointed. Breakfast was a highlight, with a variety of choices. A great choice for staying in Venice with kids.

Folding Laundry in the Streets of Venice

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When it comes to laundry, we usually pack for 7 nights and do laundry every 5-7 days. We prefer to travel lighter when we can, as traveling around Europe with more weight can be a pain. Even though we still felt like we were traveling with a lot, it’s mostly due to the kids, especially our baby Emma. We did three loads of laundry, and while the machines were spinning, we decided to go and get some lunch. There was a restaurant nearby with good reviews online that we tried – and we weren’t disappointed. These days looking up reviews online makes it easy to find great places to eat – just make sure the people behind the reviews are real and not fake. Focus on reviewers with profile photos who have left multiple reviews.

After our meal we went back to the laundromat and got our clean clothes. There wasn’t enough room at the laundromat so we had to fold our clothes in the street. We got the kids to help and they had a blast – except when Aiden dropped my newly cleaned shirt on the ground on some dog doodoo. You can make every outing with kids fun if you get them involved in the activity, which Erika always does a great job of doing.

Venice Travel Tips – Doing Laundry in Venice

Laundry can be a hassle while vacationing across Europe, but it’s not impossible. Many hotels offer laundry services, but they can be expensive. Alternatively, you can use laundromats or self-service laundry facilities.

Water Taxi Tour of Venice

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After laundry we decided to take a private water taxi tour of Venice. It was like having our own private boat. The VIP treatment was great, and we looked comfortable as we cruised along the canal. Initially, we were going to take the vaporetto, which is like a city bus on the canals of Venice, but the line was crazy. So, we decided to spend more for a private taxi. While we were at the laundromat, a lady told us how she recently got robbed on the vaporetto. They took everything from her purse – wallet, IDs, cash – everything. Her story put me off them, even though Erica and I have used them in our previous trips to Venice.

Overall, it was a great day in Venice – even with the laundry mishaps.

Venice Travel Tips – Using a Porter in Venice

Porters are essential to get to your hotel in Venice with a lot of luggage since the entire city is a car-free zone. Porters are familiar with the city and can help you navigate the narrow streets and canals.

Here are some specific benefits of using a porter in Venice:

  • Porters can help you carry your luggage to and from your hotel, train station, or airport.
  • They can help you navigate the narrow streets and canals of Venice.
  • They can help you find your way to tourist attractions and restaurants.
  • They can help you with your luggage on public transportation.
  • They can provide assistance with other tasks, such as loading and unloading your luggage from a taxi or boat.

Here are our take-aways from Day 3 in Europe:

  • When travelling with children and especially babies, think about how you’ll do laundry during your trip. Pack accordingly and plan out your laundry days.
  • Use a porter to help you with your luggage when in Venice! The expense is more than worth it. Remember, cars aren’t allowed in Venice city center and you’ll have to walk to your hotel.
  • Involve the kids in daily activities to get them engaged and interested.
  • Find good places to eat with online reviews, just make sure the reviews are authentic.
  • Bring a stroller if travelling with a baby! I cannot stress this enough. We typically travel with the GB Pockit+ All City Stroller. You can buy one used and sell it after your trip to recover some money. Airlines allow you to put it in the overhead compartment which is a huge bonus.
  • Be very careful around crowds in Venice, especially around the crowds waiting for their water bus. Pickpockets are sadly common and tourists are easy prey.

That’s all for this time. Stay tuned for further blog updates on our European adventure with our kids! Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for all our travel vlogs.

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Our 2nd Day In Paris with My Wife and Three Kids

Here’s Day 2 in Paris, the second video chronicling our trip across Europe. This is our second day in Paris (technically third, but we don’t count the first night!) where Erika, myself and the kids take in some culture as we explore the basilicas and museums in Paris. As always, there’s more to come here and in our YouTube Channel as we make our way through all the major European stops!

McDonald’s Breakfast Before Hitting Museums in Paris

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We start off the day outside a McDonald’s reminiscing about the little café we went to at the base of the Eiffel Tower yesterday. It was a total tourist trap, strategically placed to drain as much money as possible from unsuspecting visitors (like us!). The food looked average at best so we didn’t order any – all we had were two coffees and four bottles of water, which cost as a whopping 55 Euros! Something to keep in mind for first-time travelers to the busy tourist areas in Paris.

Paris Travel Tip – Avoid Overpriced Tourist Trap Cafes

Overpriced tourist trap cafes in Paris are a dime a dozen. They are often located in popular tourist destinations, such as the Champs-Élysées or the Eiffel Tower, and they charge high prices for mediocre food and service.

Here are some tips for avoiding overpriced tourist trap cafes in Paris:

  • Do some research before you go. Read reviews of cafes online or ask locals for recommendations.
  • Avoid cafes that are located in popular tourist destinations.
  • Look for cafes that have a local clientele. This is a good sign that the food and service are good and the prices are reasonable.
  • Be prepared to walk a little further to find a good cafe. The best cafes are often located in the less touristy areas of the city.

Exploring Museums in Paris – the Louvre

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After energizing ourselves with a little breakfast, it was a quick cab ride to the Louvre. As we reached one of the most famous museums in Paris, excitement filled the air and we were ready to immerse ourselves in a world of art and history. On entering the Louvre, we were pleasantly surprise with an unexpected perk – since we had our baby Emma on a stroller, we were allowed to bypass the queues provided our own private elevator ride. Feeling like VIPs, we stepped into the open-circle elevator and ascended towards the world’s most valuable paintings and sculptures. What’s there to say about the Louvre that hasn’t been said before? It was a great experience. There’s so much to see and learn you need a few days to see it all properly – we unfortunately had a few hours. The kids got to see the Mona Lisa, an Egyptian Sphinx and walk on the ancient foundations of the original Louvre Castle. It was crowded and busy with tourists, but that didn’t diminish the sense of awe and wonder.

Paris Travel Tip – Best Way to Experience the Louvre

The best way to experience the Louvre in Paris is to do your research and plan ahead. To make the most of your visit, it is recommended to plan beforehand what you want to see, check the interactive map on the Louvre’s website, and consider taking a guided tour.

Here are some additional tips for experiencing the Louvre:

  • Buy your tickets in advance to avoid the queues.
  • Arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
  • Bring a water bottle and snacks, as there are no food or drink vendors inside the museum.
  • Take breaks throughout the day to rest your legs and mind.

We took full advantage of the sunny weather and bright conditions on our way out by taking a bunch of selfies in front of the Louvre and then met up with Erika’s relatives (who were vacationing in Paris at the same time as us) and took a scenic cab ride to our next destination: the Montmartre district of Paris. On the cab ride there I regaled Erika’s sister with anecdotes of the time Erika and I fell asleep during the intermission of Les Misérables in our last trip to Paris and the time Erika and I fell asleep (for five hours) on a beautiful beach at Messina during our last cruise to Sicily. What can I say, travelling across Europe really takes it out of you, you get your shut-eye where you can.

Exploring Sacré Coeur & the Art District in Montmartre

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From the awe-inspiring Sacred Heart Basilica to the bustling Art District, the historic Montmartre District of Paris is a vibrant neighborhood that has plenty to offer visitors. We started off by exploring Sacred Heart Basilica, which is a majestic cathedral sitting on the top of a hill that offers breathtaking views of Paris. After exploring the church, we stopped off for a pizza lunch (that was excellent) and explored the back alleys of the Art District. We spotted some sports cars in the streets which delighted the kids, and ended our day with some gelato. Unfortunately, near the gelato shop were three sketchy men who were pretending to be tourists but were acting very suspiciously – they quickly ran off when Erika’s sister confronted them. Be careful with your belongings, especially in crowded areas frequented with tourists.

Paris Travel Tip – Get Enough Sleep!

Getting enough sleep is essential for enjoying your European vacation. When you’re well-rested, you’ll have more energy to explore, you’ll be better able to handle jet lag, and you’ll be less likely to get sick. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, even when you’re traveling.

That’s it for our day visiting museums in Paris, we’ll be back with a new blog post and video of the next leg of our European journey!

  • Here are the takeaways from Day 2 of our stay in Paris:
  • Watch out for tourist-trap cafes and restaurants near popular sites that over-charge unsuspecting visitors.
  • You won’t see everything in the museum in just a couple hours, so don’t sweat it! Enjoy the time you spend there.
  • If you have a packed itinerary, you may randomly fall asleep when you have a quiet moment to yourself!
  • Watch out for pickpockets in crowded tourist hotspots! Be aware of your surroundings.

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Starting Our European Trip – Day 1 In Paris, Italy with My Wife and Three Kids

This “Paris – Day 1” video is the first of many more videos highlighting our European trip. Stay tuned for more to come here and in our YouTube Channel! We took this trip with our two young boys and baby daughter – we have never let our kids stop us from traveling. I will offer as much advice as possible for this series. Don’t hesitate to reach out or ask questions! Leave a comment here or under our YouTube Video.

Our First Night in Paris

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The start of our journey to Paris was eventful, to say the least. We had a flight delay of four or five hours, followed by drama in the plane as an uncooperative passenger was de-boarded (which is a polite way of saying they dragged his ass out of the plane), which added even more hours of delay. Nevertheless, we finally arrived in Paris and immediately started our European vacation with a dinner and tour of the city on a double decker bus. The top of the bus was entirely made of glass, giving us a great view of the mean streets of Paris as the bus cruised through the city. Some people might think it would be difficult to dine on a moving bus (with little kids no less), but it was actually very smooth and enjoyable. Erika, myself and the kids all has a blast and went back to our hotel.

Paris Travel Tip – Flying With Little Kids

Flying with little kids can be a daunting task, but with proper preparation and planning it doesn’t have to be. Here are five tips to help you have a smooth trip:

  • Pack essentials like diapers, wipes, snacks, and drinks.
  • Bring a stroller or carrier for your child.
  • Book a seat for your child next to you.
  • Bring some familiar toys or activities to keep your child entertained.
  • Let your child burn off energy before the flight.
  • Be patient and understanding.

Visiting the Eiffel Tower

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A word on our hotel, the Residhome Appart Hotel Paris Opera. It’s more of a residential vacation rental than a traditional hotel room, and a great option for families with little kids. It also has a great central location in downtown Paris, close to all the sites of interest. By now we all had 10 hours of sleep and were refreshed and ready to take on Paris! Our plan for our second day in Paris was to visit the Eiffel Tower, explore the city and (hopefully) have a picnic in a park. We stopped by an outdoor café for some delicious chocolate croissants and made our way to the iconic Eiffel Tower, conveniently located near our hotel. I took a moment to appreciate the stunning architecture of the old church we pass by. France, particularly Paris, is known for its plethora of historic churches, and it’s a sight to behold. Unfortunately, when you’re vacationing with two hyperactive boys a moment is all you’ll get to appreciate Parisian architecture.

It’s a good thing we booked advanced tickets to visit the Eiffel Tower, otherwise we would have been out of luck if we had attempted to buy tickets on the day itself.

Paris Travel Tip – Buy Sightseeing/Museum Tickets In Advance

Buying sightseeing or museum tickets in advance is essential when vacationing in Europe during the summer. Popular attractions can have long lines, and tickets can sell out quickly. By buying your tickets in advance, you can avoid the hassle of waiting in line and guarantee your entry. You can also save money by buying tickets online, as many attractions offer discounts for advance purchase. Here are our recommendations:

  • Check the website of the attraction to see if they offer online tickets.
  • Book your tickets as early as possible, especially if you are traveling during peak season.
  • Be aware of any blackout dates or other restrictions.
  • Print out your tickets or have them ready on your phone.

We reached the tower at around 2:45pm. It’s a magnificent sight to see up close, even from ground level – it’s much bigger in real life than it appears in photos and videos. One thing that you might not expect is the amount of security at the tower. Plexiglas surrounds the perimeter, and access points require full body and bag scans, similar to airport screening procedures. This isn’t our first time up there—Eric and I have been before – but it’s a whole new experience for the kids.

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Needless to say, we had a great time at the top of the tower. Our Eiffel Tower tour-guide was great, she gave the kids a great history lesson. The views of Paris from the top of the tower, even in the overcast conditions when we were there, were amazing. We took our time snapping photos and videos atop this iconic landmark, and then descended down to Earth to continue our Paris journey. Now would be a good time to point out: when travelling Europe with babies, bring a stroller! If you have multiple kids use multiple strollers. Double wide strollers won’t work – invest in a couple of smaller strollers. You can always sell them on when you get back from your vacation.

Paris Travel Tip – Bring a Stroller for Your Baby

When visiting Paris with a baby, bringing a stroller is essential. The streets of Paris can be narrow and crowded, so a compact stroller is best. A lightweight stroller with good suspension will also help to smooth out the bumps on the cobblestone streets of Paris.

Our original plan was to have a picnic in the park after our visit to the Eiffel Tower. However, plans sometimes take unexpected turns. We adapt and make the most of every situation. With a bottle of wine in hand, we decide to enjoy a picnic right there on the street. The best moments happen when we embrace spontaneity. We did meet Erika’s family (who were vacationing with us) later on at a park and did have our Parisian picnic at the park – next to the Eiffel Tower no less!

Exploring the Latin District in Paris

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We ended our day by exploring the Paris Latin District with Erika’s family. When we vacation with the kids, we give our boys one thing they can do per day. It could be a destination, a snack or a small souvenir. They learn quickly to choose wisely and not waste their pick for that day! This day our sons picked to go to McDonald’s in Paris, so we stopped there for a little late-night snack, after which we finished the night with a meal and drinks with Erika’s family at an outdoor patio restaurant. Outdoor patios are always a good option when out and about with kids late at night. As long as it’s not a club, most places that serve alcohol will accommodate your group even if you have kids. It gives you a good opportunity to experience the night life.

That wraps up Day 1, stay tuned for Day 2 in Paris!

To summarize, here are some tips when travelling Europe with kids:

  • Combine eating and sightseeing by going to outdoor cafes or outdoor patio restaurants.
  • Buy all your sightseeing/museum tickets in advance, especially if you’re going during peak tourist season.
  • Bring a stroller for babies. If you have more than one baby, bring a second stroller. Parisian streets are not suitable for double-wide strollers. You can always sell them on after your vacation.
  • Give the kids something to look forward to every day – a treat, a souvenir or something they get to choose to do.

Check out all our other travel blog posts and videos.

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