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With my husband we used to travel around the Europe with a car during our holidays (4 weeks of continuous tour). The route was outlined in such a way that we could sightsee a lot. Now a third traveller has joined our team - our 1.5 year old daughter, and we are planning a similar trip. Of course we are aware that the pace of the trip should be decreased and that sightseeing should be more limited now. What other factors should we consider, when planning the trip, so that our trip does not become a nightmare (both for her and us)?

This is my first post here, so I did not think about all the necessary details. So here they follow: The trip is planned to be about 10 days (up to 14 days). We plan to go from Turku (Finland) to Gdańsk (Poland) [the whole route goes via Uppsala, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Lubeck, Berlin and Poznan]. We already know which ferries to take (we checked).

We are planning to book the hotels up front (we also did it in such way previously, when travelling alone). For now we were considering the Helsinborg - Helsingor ferry and then Rodby-Puttgarten ferry, as we wanted to see Copenhagen on the way (3 nights stay). But I guess we should rethink our route then...

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Welcome to travel.SE. There several points that needs to be clarified: What's the duration of the trip? Where in Europe are you planning to go? –  Karlson May 17 '13 at 12:50
    
Also just asking for tips is quite an open-ended question, usually frowned upon as it is against the terms in the faq for this site. I've tweaked the question to make it more 'in line' with the site style, I hope it still fits what you were looking for. Welcome to the site! –  Mark Mayo May 17 '13 at 13:34
    
To me, your trip sounds quite challenging to do with a small kid. You could shorten the trip by taking either the Malmo-Lubeck ferry or the ferry to Rostock from Denmark. I would also recommend to book all accommodations up front. We didn't when we did that trip and it wasn't funny to say the least. –  andra May 20 '13 at 8:20
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When your child is still a baby, you can still travel like you traveled before. Babies sleep in the most awkward positions. When the children hit the toddler phase, traveling gets complicated where the afternoon nap can complicate things. If your child still regularly takes a nap, doing a continuous road trip gets complicated if not impossible.

A very important factor when traveling with kids is that you have a base from where you travel around. Also, at least in my experience, kids need time to recover. Sometimes you just need to stay in your accommodation 2-3 days and rest.

Nightmares are inevitable. Traveling around with small children is a totally different ball game then traveling with out small children. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it.

Last year we were able to do a 3 weeks road trip in Morocco with our daughters. It was a very impressive road trip even with numerous "nightmares". But our formula was simple. Touch base, use the first day to let the children recover. Then explore the surroundings. After 3-4 days, continue to the next base until we had to go back to the airport. Although we didn't reach the sand dunes as I intended, we had a great trip. Even with this slow tempo, we were able to cover 1700 km in two weeks.

I would say that the same applies to Europe. Touch base, recover from the trip, explore around continue to the next base, recover from the trip, etc.

The secret is to really, really slow down on the pace you were used to before.

Oh yes, kids of that age are not at all interested in sightseeing, they get more excited about playgrounds. So you should definitely include a lot of playgrounds in you itinerary. We now have a nice collection of pictures with mountains, churches, etc but all with a playground in the focal point of the picture.

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From my personal experience, you should expect to spend 50% more time doing the same trip as you would without your daughter (e.g. 6 weeks instead of 4). Also I would advise to always plan a few days ahead - finding accommodation after dark probably used to be minor annoyance before, but it can easily be a nightmare for both parents and the child now.

DRIVING: Most kids can't take long time in the car (every child is different, so its difficult to tell you exactly how long is long). So try to plan your journey in a way that you have some longer stop every 3 hours, and avoid really long drives in general. Consider spending more time in one place as well.

People usually schedule long drives in the early morning or evening when your daughter is more likely to sleep in the car.

ACCOMMODATION: I would advice to book accommodation ahead. This way you can avoid wasting time on driving around, etc.

I prefer to arrive at the accommodation for the night well before your daughter's bed time, so you have time to organize, eat dinner, put her to sleep, etc.

Also remember you will have a lot more stuff to carry from the car to the hotel, so make sure a parking space is conveniently located.

You should have your own travel cot, because many hotels don't have one.

SIGHTSEEING: For me it was most convenient to get the little one in one of the child carriers. The ones with a metal frame are usually more comfortable, however in some museums and other sites these are prohibited, so a soft one may be handy.

Make sure you leave a lot more time for the sightseeing than you would previously do - your daughter needs to walk around, have a snack, play, etc. The whole experience should be fun for her as well.

EATING: Make sure you always have snacks for her, so is not going to be hungry in the car or if you can't find appropriate restaurant. I usually take a big bag of snacks from home, so that I don't have to waste time and look for something appropriate abroad.

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Also some kids get car sick when in the car for a prolonged period of time. –  Karlson May 17 '13 at 18:37
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