Building Daily Itineraries for Family Travel

Congratulations on deciding to take your kids and babies travelling, it will provide them with real world experiences their friends may only read about in books. Your first step was likely to get a guide book and do some research online and figure out a list of sites you want to see. So how do you tie it all together?

Time

You will need more time than you think to travel between sites with kids, and depending on their interests, they will likely not want to stay in places as long as you do. Most guide books and websites only account for visit times and walking times in terms of adults.

Activities

Taking the time to identify things that every family member wants to see and do and prioritizing those activities is key. Know what your must see sites are and which ones would be nice to do and then start building a plan based on the time you have overall.

Transit Time

Kids will get bored. It will happen when moving between activities. We try to keep all the activities of a day within about 15-20 minute transit time, either by foot or a quick transit ride. This will keep everyone engaged and not allow too much boredom to set in.

Pleasing Everyone

Is it possible? Yes and no. It will likely be adults that have to sacrifice some time for their kids. As a parent, that is life. My wife and I spent a day and a half at the Louvre when we went to Paris alone. When we took our son, it was more like a few hours. He loves museums, so you might not be that lucky and you may only get the top ten of the Louvre kind of visit. If that is not the type of sacrifice you want to make, perhaps your family isn’t ready for that kind of trip.

The Formula

Our magic formula is pretty simple and it works for us as often as can be expected when travelling with an 8 year old and two toddlers.

2 or More Diverse Activities + Free Time + Short Travel Times = Higher Chance of Success.

It is not that hard. Get a map and identify an area you want to visit around a major attraction on your list. Let’s stick to the Louvre as an example. Then pick other attractions close on your list and look for green spaces and squares in between. Hit the Louvre early and skip the line with the Paris Pass. Get out by mid day and grab some bread, cheese and wine for a picnic and time to run about in Jardin des Tuilleries. Then walk further down the park and ride the Ferris wheel and wander about the carnival like atmosphere.

The Rundown

Excluding the time on your feet in the museum you maybe have done 15-20 minutes total of travelling between sights on foot. In my experience this is the only time you need to measure because kids feet never hurt when actually doing something they like, they only hurt when they are getting a bit bored. It is a miracle.

This sample itinerary gets everyone a little something, and you hit two sites typically on a must see list for Paris, and everyone, hopefully, will have enjoyed themselves. The more diverse you can make it the better. We always refer to our walking times as adventuring because it keeps our son engaged to look and experience what is around him.

Caution…in our experience, adult days and kid days rarely work, well at least the adult days rarely work. If you think you will keep you kid happy for 8 hours at the Louvre by promising the next day will be kid day and more fun, I wish you more luck with it than we have had.

Diversity, geography, free time, and a little something for everyone is all you need to build a great day for your family while travelling. I will regularly be posting other examples of itineraries we have used during our travels.

See also:

Paris 2016 – 3 Surprisingly Kid Friendly Days (and one trap)

Recharging Batteries: A Relaxing Family Day in London

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