Monday, May 30, 2016

Travel Tips {Day Trips}

We have done our fair share of day trips (by car) to various towns within Andalucia. anywhere from thirty minutes to four hours away.  I highly recommend day trips when traveling -- have a home base (whether your house, a hotel.... anything) and then explore places around your home base.  It allows you to stick to a fairly similar routine for your toddler but still see some pretty cool places.  We typically do our day trips on Saturdays -- mostly because everything in Spain is closed on Sundays*, but also because it allows us a day to recover before the work week, if needed.

We've gotten our routine down pretty well for packing the car and heading out on a day adventure -- so here are our tips and tricks for taking a day trip by car!

Gear -- Stroller + Carrier
Because we have our car, we aren't really hurting for space -- therefore, we bring both our travel stroller and ergo 360.  We often leave one or the other in the car, but it is nice to have both available because we never know what the city will be like!  So often as we drive through the city looking for parking, we are also figuring out if we need our stroller, carrier or both.

Books: We again go with books (can you tell Serafina LOVES books?) as our main source of entertainment.  She very much likes to look at this book and this book while we are driving -- both are super colorful and easy for her to turn the pages.  We often hear her "reading" to herself while we are driving!  Books are also easy to throw in the stroller if needed.  We also have a set of these books which are just amazing.  They are super small, but colorful board books that are often found in my purse, the car, the diaper bag -- you name it!  I bring one or two of these books with us almost anywhere because I then always have something to entertain Serafina if needed.

Toys: We also packed a few toys that are high interest toys -- we start out with books and move up to toys as needed while driving or if Serafina is in the stroller while we are exploring a town.  Because I don't need to worry as much about annoying other people while driving (or in a louder outdoor, city setting) -- we tend to go for the noise making toys on our day trips. This musical toy is great -- so is this one.  But when we really need something that can distract Serafina -- we use this toy phone.  It is amazing!  It talks, you can record your voice, it lights up; Serafina LOVES it (seriously a huge thank you to our good friends for giving us this toy!).

TV Shows: if all else fails -- we result to download episode of Daniel Tiger.  We use the Google Play app that allows you to download shows and watch them offline (a huge win so we don't use all of our data on Daniel Tiger).  I also just learned about Guided Access (Google it to find directions) which allows me to limit what Serafina can do/see while on my phone watching a show -- it's been awesome when we've needed to distract Serafina with Daniel Tiger.

Again, we pack A LOT of snacks.  Actually, we typically pack a picnic lunch because well, Spanish hours and all.  When Serafina (and let's be honest, us too) are hungry for lunch, most places aren't serving food.  And our active toddler would never sit for a 2-3 hour meal....  So we pack her lunchbox with snacks for her (usually cheese, a banana, some pouches, ham or other meat/protein, sippy cup) and then also bring a small cooler with food for us -- typically the total European picnic lunch: meat, cheese, bread and chocolate!  We will throw in some goldfish/cheerios to use in the snack catcher which works great in the car or stroller (and keep extra goldfish/cheerios in these -- I like them better than Ziploc bags because they are reusable and also keep the snacks from getting crushed).  I have also discovered these really good Spanish graham crackers that we all like, so I typically throw a few packs in of those too (I picked them specifically because there was a label on them that basically said approved by the Spanish Pediatric Association).  Then we just enjoy our picnic lunch whenever we are hungy!  Each town we have been to has a park of some sort that has allowed us to let Serafina run around and eat our picnic lunch.  

Other Tips
Because we have used our car on our day trips thus far, I should note that I already have a small basket of necessities in the car (a toy, a book or two, extra clothes, diapers, wipes) so if for some reason we forget something or need extra, I know we are covered.  Therefore I usually only bring our wipes clutch and a few diapers while we are out exploring whatever town we are visiting.  Most of the time I also bring our travel changing pad because you never know when you'll need to change a diaper -- park bench anyone?  But if we have our stroller, we often just lay it flat and change Serafina in the stroller.  I have learned that most tourist sights have changing tables in their bathrooms but so far we haven't encountered any other places that have them.

While we are on the subject of bathrooms -- I should warn you that many European cities do not have public restrooms or if they do, they are few and far between (and you have to pay for them).  So we always take advantage of the restrooms in the tourist locations.

Anyways, we typically throw all of the things we will need for Serafina -- toys, extra clothes, diapers, wipes, etc. into her backpack rather than bringing a full diaper bag.  This allows us to put the backpack under the stroller, or I can throw necessary items (diapers, wipes, a toy or two) into my purse which happens to be much smaller than our diaper bag.  OR we will use a regular old backpack to keep everything we'd need for all three of us -- wallets, phones, camera, and stuff for Serafina.  Just depends on the day and where we are going.

And once again, be flexible.  We've had to pull over on the side of a very narrow road so I could nurse Serafina to calm her down after a long (long) day.  It worked and we were able to keep driving with a much happier Peanut!  We also plan for time to let Serafina run around -- whether its at a park or in a town plaza, just some place where she can run around and get some of her toddler energy out!

We have loved our day trips and have many more places where we want to visit so I am sure I will update this list as needed.  But if any of you guys have any other tips or tricks to add -- leave them in the comments!

*Just like almost every other European country, almost everything in Spain is closed on Sundays.  The only places that are open are museums and other tourist attractions in larger cities and then some restaurants (in both large and small cities) -- so if you are doing a day trip in Europe on a Sunday, plan accordingly.


  1. Traveling with littles is hard, these are great tips, especially about not taking a full diaper bag!

    1. It's made it so much easier to just carry a few essentials around!

  2. We have those same board books. They are Parker's current favorites! Great tips. I need to get a snack container like that. Ours always get smashed!


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