Too many parents who travel with their kids end up with a vacation that doesn’t feel like much of a vacation. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Exploring London with your children can be an extremely rewarding experience for everyone as long as you learn these ten critical lessons first.
Lesson #1: Not Choosing the Right Flight Gets Everyone Off On the Wrong Foot
If possible, choose a flight that lands at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) since it only takes about 20 minutes to get to the center of London.
Lesson #2: Being a Packrat Loses Over Packing Right and Packing Light
It’s easy to throw every possible need or convenience item into a few giant suitcases…and the purse, the stroller, the diaper bag, the camera bag, etc.
Lesson #3: Lodging Location Is Not the Place to Be Pinching Your Pennies (or Pounds)
One thing that is sure to put a serious downer on your vacation is sleeping somewhere that is too far from the action, feels dirty, or is in an unsafe area.
Research the neighborhoods of London and decide which one suits your family’s style best. You will never regret spending a little more cash and staying where you can truly relax and enjoy.
Lesson #4: Booking a Cramped Hotel Room Over a Family-Friendly Flat Will Make You Lose Sleep
Did you know that many London hotel rooms only fit three people? If your family requires more room than that, do yourself a favor and go with London vacation rentals instead. Not convinced? Consider the words “master bedroom” and “washer/dryer.” Enough said.
Lesson #5: Not Taking the Time to Make a Transportation Plan Wastes Lot of Time
Bonus Tip: Download the City Toilet Finder app to shave precious minutes off of your bathroom emergencies!
Lesson #6: Tailoring Your Itinerary Specifically for the Kids Creates Resentment
Just because you’re taking the kids doesn’t mean your itinerary needs to revolve around them. Most of the historic sites and museums are free for children and also offer activities geared specifically for them. This means that you don’t have to leave London feeling culturally unsatisfied.
Lesson #7: Being Too Strict or Too Loose on Your Normal Routine Is No Fun
Yes, keeping as much of your mealtime and sleep routine can be very helpful for your kids but so can just going with the flow. Let your child’s mood determine what they need (or don’t) and roll with it.
Lesson #8: Leaving Little Down Time Leaves You Feeling Hurried and Harried
Make sure that you plan enough downtime since no one wants to feel constantly rushed. These are often the moments that end up being the most rewarding, such as lollygagging on the bank of The River Thames or running around at Hyde Park.
Lesson #9: Not Reviewing Restaurants Ahead of Time Is a Recipe for Rubbish
When it comes to dining out with kids, it pays to know what you’re getting into. Before you leave, find delicious, on-budget, kid-friendly spots near your hotel or rental and also near all the major sites you will be visiting.
Drinking fountains may be scarce so head to the market and stock up on bottles of water to carry with you.
Lesson #10: Watching Your Vacation Happen Through a Screen Is Stupid (Until Your Vacation Is Over)
While taking endless pictures and videos of your kids doing cute things all over London seems obligatory, it’s not. Spending the vacation strengthening your relationships with your family is what’s actually important and what you will actually remember the most anyway.
So remember, when it comes to traveling with kids, unless you want to be stranded, bored, tired, and upset…spontaneity is overrated. As long as you leave free time for exploration, play, and rest, you will get as much enjoyment as you can out of your lovely London holiday!