London: Wrap Around the World
November 17th, 2014 · · · Comments
November 17th, 2014 · · · Comments
This is Solly Baby’s family traveling series Wrap Around the World with Solly Baby. Here you’ll find our traveling tips & notes from our five-week adventure across Europe with my husband and three children (ages 5, 3, and 6 months). By planning our locations and activities as we went along, as well as asking for suggestions from locals and other traveling families on Instagram, we learned a lot and are sharing in hopes of encouraging other families to plan their own “babywearing adventure”. See more pics on Instagram and with the hashtag #wraparoundtheworldwithsollybaby. WHY: LONDON + London was our first stop for a few reasons: it was the shortest flight from LAX to Europe and they speak English. London is also absolutely charming. The homes, the shops, the parks, the palaces, the guards. All of it is perfectly magical, especially in early fall. *Tip* We knew we’d be exhausted upon arrival so we wanted to lessen the pain as much as possible. We spent the first three days getting over jet lag, not leaving the house until one or two in the afternoon, so we tried to maximize our afternoons and evenings. STAY + We booked an an apartment/flat in Kensington by the Natural History Museum through Orbitz that was okay, but right on the subway line which kept me up all night! The location was great, though. I always look for places near public transportation, a grocery store, and in a very central location so you don't waste time and your little ones' energy going in and out of the city. *Tip* If you’re staying > 3 nights, book a house through Kid & Coe, Airbnb, or Home Away. If you’re staying < 3 nights get a hotel. Homes were key for traveling for such a long time. We could all stretch out, do laundry, go to the grocery store and you get a totally different feel for each city. We loved using Orbitz for hotels because we kept earning Orbucks throughout the trip, which helped pay for the next hotel, flight, or car rental. TRANSPORTATION + Taxis + Double Decker Bus (great way to begin a trip since you get an overview of big sites and then decide what you'd like to visit from there) + Subway *Tip* London is an intense city. You can’t just meander down in the subway or you’ll get trampled and lose your kids. We preferred staying somewhere central so we could primarily walk or to take a taxi to an area we’d be staying in for the day. Taxis are pricier, but it made everything so much simpler that I wouldn’t have it any other way while traveling with little ones. Also, London taxis almost all have 5 seats so you can catch pretty much any taxi driving down the road. DO *Activities* + Paddle Boats on the Serpentine + Catch a double decker bus tour to see main sights (Queensway near Notting Hill is a good place to catch bus as well as Buckingham Palace) + Covent Garden for market and street performers + London Eye and surrounding playground + London Zoo + Find Britney Spears & Kim Kardashian! (Kidding, they were both there while we were and so we got this suggestions quite a bit) + Train to Windsor and Legoland + Kensington Palace + Stroll thru Notting Hill + Southbank to walk along Thames past Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (too much walking for our little ones so we viewed this from the double decker bus) + Walk over Millenium Bridge to St. Paul’s Cathedral + Buckingham Palace, changing of the guards + Trafalgar Square + Experience some East London vibes at Old Spitalfields Market or Broadway Market + Portobello Road Market + Chinatown *Parks & Museums* + Hyde Park: this is a huge park and has several playgrounds Diana Memorial is the most recommended, Kensington Gardens has a pirate themed playground, and we played at the Children’s Park and played with the ducks nearby + Regents Park + Natural History Museum + Science Museum + Tate Modern + Crown Jewels at Tower of London + National Portrait Museum + British Museum *Tip* When traveling with small children, I would suggest “doing” things rather than “seeing” things. Long walks just to look at things are torturous for most little ones! Make it a walk to a chocolate shop or to feed the ducks and then look at Big Ben on the way rather than having Big Ben as your final destination. Better yet, do a double decker bus tour first to see all the big attractions and then just fill your itinerary with fun activities. EAT + Bakeries (I know PAUL’s is a big chain, but it did not disappoint) + Portobello Market for lunch+ Wagamamas + The Orangery for tea at Kensington Palace (they were booked when we were there, but I so wish I could’ve taken my oldest daughter for tea time here!) + Monmouth Street Coffee + Camden Market + Borough Market + Mother Mash + Dishoom + Broadway Market on Saturday *Tip* We only ate in sit-down restaurants if we knew our kids were up for it and the food was amazing. I read a tip from Design Mom before we left suggesting to eat before or after busy hours at sit down restaurants for a less stressful dining experience and found that very helpful. Most of the time we’d stop by a bakery for breakfast and grab croissants and hot chocolate or juice and then we’d stop at the markets for lunch and try things. We’d get fresh fruit, sandwiches, and dessert was all too easy. We generally ordered dinner in from an Italian restaurant below our flat or pick up food from the grocery store. Our kids were always so tired by evening and London is not the cheapest city so this helped offset the cost. SHOP + Hamley’s Toy Store (6 floors of toys!) + Harrod’s Kids Floor & Disney Cafe + Liberty of London + Quaint children’s boutiques around the city *Tip* If your kids are anything like mine then they'll fixate on the toy shopping idea and not focus on anything else until then. We quickly found out that it was best to tell them we would not be doing any shopping and then if they'd had a good day of listening and weren't too wiped, we'd surprise them and let them pick out something small. As far as the shopping I wanted to do, it just wasn't feasible with 3 kids so we'd either split up for a bit so I could explore. It also kept me from breaking the bank. REFERENCES + Check out our Pinterest Board Traveling with Kids for our favorite websites and articles on traveling with little ones! London is toward the bottom!