Last month we took a two week vacation to Italy. Dada had a conference there and we decided to make a family trip out of it. We left ten days before the conference, and my mother joined us for the second (and conference) week, which luckily coincided with her Spring Break.
It was not the first time we traveled with the boys. We had taken them sailing in the Chesapeake Bay for a week back in 2008, we had visited my extended family in Brazil in 2009, and last Christmas we went to England for ten days. Planes are not a challenge, unless we fail to convince the kids to go to sleep. However, this was the first time we did not stay at someone's house - this was the first hotel trip.
Staying at hotels was not a problem, we found several that had triple and quadruple rooms that let you add a baby crib (sometimes free of charge). We took the trip slow, not expecting to see twenty cities in ten days. We spent our whole first week in Venice so we could actually enjoy it. The first couple of days were mellow, with only one tourist attraction before lunch and nap time. But by the end of the week we managed to see three small museums in a single day!
The kids enjoyed themselves immensely and if you ask my four year old he will tell you the armory in the Doge Palace in Venice was his favorite place. My two year old was completely in awe of the fresco ceilings at the Basilica of St. Marco. After that he would look up every time he entered a room, just to make sure he was not missing anything. By the time we got to the conference site they were ready to be kids and hit the play park all day long.
We did not run into many problems, at least none that we could not work around. We realized that lunch and dinner out was too taxing on the boys, so we had lunch at a restaurant then a picnic dinner in our hotel room more than half the time. We tried to incorporate nap time every day, even if some days it was a little later than normal. We tried to focus on what we got to see, not what we were missing.
Apparently traveling with toddlers is not a common thing to do. I lost count of the number of people that called us brave throughout the trip. I am glad we introduced our kids to traveling early, and that it has not been too difficult. Dada and I love traveling, and there are still so many places to go, so many things to see... And academic vacations are such a great excuse!