I’m all about travelling with kids, you guys know that. I don’t think parents should put their lives on hold for 10 years while their children grow up. We shouldn’t stop travelling and taking holidays because 10 years is a long time to stop doing all the fun stuff we love! Some people say that’s selfish but I’m a firm believer that you can’t be a good parent if you aren’t happy, and if I didn’t go on holiday for 10 years then I definitely wouldn’t be happy!
But at the same time, some holidays just aren’t worth the effort. SOME. Note the word ‘some’ there!
A few weeks ago I travelled to the beautiful city of Warsaw (see more from our weekend in Warsaw here). I was there with Sam and our two boys, George (2) and Joseph (1) and we had a lovely time but jeeze, it was tough!
Sam and George admiring the Christmas markets in Warsaw
Warsaw is a lovely city – well the Old Town is anyway – and we enjoyed strolling around the cobbled streets, seeing the Christmas lights and the festive markets, sipping steaming cups of boozy mulled wine (that’s me and Sam) and munching endless bags of sweet treats picked up from market stalls. It was fun and I don’t regret going, but I wouldn’t go again with a baby and a toddler.
For us, city breaks are all about the evenings. A city break is for wining and dining, eating out, finding those tiny and authentic little bars and strolling around busy streets with no aim or purpose. It’s for taking pictures, wandering through galleries and museums, peeking inside churches and getting lost around narrow little side streets.
And at Christmas time, city breaks are even better because they’re about Christmas markets, busy streets, shopping in tiny boutiques and evening adventures fuelled by hot wine.
But, unfortunately, these are all things that don’t sit well with a toddler and a baby. They want to be toddling and crawling around, exploring, touching and chasing everything they see – all things that are difficult in a cold city.
The boys got cold and tired quickly – despite me being super prepared and wrapping them up like they were sitting in a freezer for the day. We took an extra pushchair for George so he wouldn’t need to walk far but then both of the boys got fed up of being strapped in a seat. The cobbles, the steps and the public transport was also a bit of a nuisance with two pushchairs! The crowds meant we couldn’t let George wander freely and the tiny restaurants – which we’d usually find romantic – are too cramped when you have two little kids.
Our boys were (mostly!) very well behaved but this wasn’t exactly an idyllic weekend away for them. I was expecting them to be mesmerised by the markets and the lights – and they were….for about 3 minutes and then they wanted to go somewhere warm for indoor soft play. We had a low moment on Friday afternoon where we even considered taking them to McDonald’s soft play!
So I’m going to hold my hands up and admit defeat on this one – weekend city breaks with a baby and a toddler are not worth the effort. Particularly winter city breaks!
Maybe if you’re going away for a week it might be better as you don’t feel rushed to see everything but a weekend was not long enough. We were back at our apartment by 7.30pm each evening and nothing seemed to open until midday so we really didn’t have a lot of time to explore.
This realisation also comes after our holiday to Tenerife the previous week, so the contrast between the two holidays was even more obvious.
Tenerife was SO easy. So, so easy. And so much fun.
We stayed in a fabulous hotel that was set up for children in ways we hadn’t even thought of. An amazing kids club, children’s pools, child-friendly areas and kid’s menus everywhere we went made it so easy. And everything is so much easier when it’s hot and sunny! We had our own car too so didn’t need to rely on public transport and felt freer to go whenever we wanted.
I’m not saying the only type of holiday you can take with children is an all-inclusive beach holiday – and I’m going to be doing my very best to explore as many options as possible over the next few years – but winter city breaks with kids definitely won’t be happening for us again!
What are your thoughts on winter city breaks with kids?
Saturday 16th of October 2021
I absolutely agree! I now have three little ones and the stress and anxiety which comes with taking them on city breaks just isn’t worth it. Best to save them for when the children are a bit older or can be left at home to have fun with the grandparents ??
Tuesday 19th of October 2021
100% They don't what to be there, we don't want to be there. Let's just wait until they're older!
Sunday 2nd of August 2020
Dear Monica, yes, it's true I totally agree with you... It's so hard travelling with children especially if one of them is less than 3 years old but I love challenges! Last years on Christmas I left for a week in Rovaniemi, the lappish capital in Finland where you can meet Santa Claus, ever heard about it? Well, it was a great experience even if I couldn't do everything I wanted because my youngest kid was only 20 months... But I would do it again even if I was tired and the temperature was - 25 degrees. You can always travel back again to the same destination and exploring new things. I like doing it!
Monday 15th of October 2018
I don't know how parents with young kids do it. We were on a bus travelling between Split and Dubrovnik when we met 2 British tourists with their toddlers. The kids were sitting on their laps. With them they had a whole bag of play things, some snacks and drinks, and a pee bottle (most of those Balkan buses have no toilets). The kids were well-behaved and the parents seemed to take it well - but gee, I was thinking that this is no way to travel. My personal experience (my son is grown up now) is that all-inclusives usually the best with kids. Maybe boring for parents but you won't tear your hair out...
Monday 15th of October 2018
This is often what I think. We'll be sat there going, 'We're having an alright time but this is NOT a holiday'. I agree, all inclusives are best. I know I'm lucky in that I get to travel a lot without my kids so I'm happy to have a chilled family holiday because I get more exciting holidays without them. I love my kids being little but I also can't wait for them to be a bit older so we can get stuck in with the exciting holidays!
The hardest thing about being a parent (and why you need a holiday) - The Travel Hack
Wednesday 14th of February 2018
[…] Why we won’t be taking any more winter city breaks with our kids […]
Tuesday 30th of January 2018
This sounds like my ‘haha’ moment when we took our first holiday with my step-kids. We picked a lovely, luxurious villa a short drive (not short enough apparently as it was longer than 3 minutes,) from Disney but the weather was not kind. They did not appreciate luxury, hated long haul flights, wanted more people to play with.....every year after that we went to Eurocamp. Much as I hate those tin cans, we had so much more fun there when there was tons for the kids to do, lots of friends for them to play with and even pretty cool bars to keep us amused. No swank restaurants though
Wednesday 31st of January 2018
We've been to a Eurocamp style place before too and absolutely LOVED it! It's so true though, kids don't care about luxury, they just want lots to do and people to play with. I don't think I'd turn my nose up at Disney though!