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London as long been a favourite destination for us but we had been delaying a visit as we thought it might be too busy to visit with a child. A lot to walk and see lots of travel time between one place and the other so probably our son would be tired quite quickly.
Still, we arranged a family get together so we prepared as much as possible and went for it.
Going with a 4-year-old to a big city can be very stressful especially when you go in a large group. The last thing you want is to have a tantrum that leaves all the family or friends looking at you when you know perfectly well that this is going to take some time, a parent’s worse nightmare then starts as everyone in the party seems to have an opinion on how to best handle the situation and soon you start to act as crazy as your toddler.
How to prepare for a family vacation
- Research the destination. This one is so obvious that we won’t get into much detail here, look for interesting things to do, places to eat along the way, etc.
- Pack some small colouring books or toys to keep kids busy.
- Take snacks. We usually have some dried fruits with us at all times and it’s a lifesaver because when he gets hungry it’s like the end of the world.
- Have a set of options and backup plans. When travelling with a group or even just as a family you don’t want to get stuck in a rigid plan, so prepare a list of things you want to see, but a long one and then pick and choose as you go along.
- Have something for everyone on your daily plan, don’t take an entire day for the young ones and then another for grown-ups, mix it so that everyone as something to look forward to.
- Start talking about the destination with your toddler long before the travel. We found this to be a great way to get our son interested and excited about it, he researches and learns about the destination so it almost feels like it was his idea, to begin with, and he recognizes the places once we are there.
Top things to do in London with kids
On top of this list and looking back the national history museum and the science museum were his favourites and ours too.
The many parks around town were a great way to have everyone relax.
For the grown-ups, Tate Museum was high on the list and we all loved it, the surprise here was that our son also enjoyed his time there even if when we got there he was already quite tired.
Transportation around town was another highlight for him, from boats to underground, buses or trains we enjoyed the different ways to get around town and was asking to see the map trying to understand everything, this, of course, can vary as we live in a small city and these things are all new for him.
There are many things to do in a town like London but try to keep things simple, some of the best times we have while travelling are the ones we didn’t plan for so leaving lots of unplanned time along with a list of options gives you a chance to change your mind and maybe just get some beers in Camden town while you chill or buy some food in the supermarket and make a picnic in a park just be a local for an afternoon.