Welcome back readers! This week’s interview with our International Travel Mommy Experts is focusing on providing you tips and tricks for sightseeing with kids. I am sure you recall that these amazing family travel bloggers have been sharing with us tips and tricks for traveling will kids over the last several weeks. Quick recap: week 1 was inspirations on how to start planning your family vacation. In week 2 these family bloggers shared how to save money on transportation. Week 3 was the best way to choose family accommodations. That brings us to this week (4), Mommy And Me Travels is excited to bring you the interview about Sightseeing With Kids: Tips and Tricks from the Mommy Experts! Without further ado let’s jump in and here from our contributors.
I’ll kick it off with our ideas here at Mommy And Me Travels to inspire you to partake in only the “must see and must do” sightseeing with kids activities for your next family adventure.
The first thing I’m going to tell you to do is, breath and relax. You are not going to get to see and do everything in a new country or city if you are on a 1, or even 2, week vacation with kids. This does not mean that you can’t make the most of your trip and still get the cultural or relaxing vacation of your dreams. Traveling with young children just means that you have to be creative in your strategy for sightseeing.
I’ll share with you my top 3 lessons I’ve learned over the last several years traveling with small children.
1) Be flexible. Traveling with a baby/toddler means a lot of unplanned activities and stops. It’s nice to sit and enjoy the scenery, smell the roses, or chase a bird ;). Welcome these breaks instead of worrying about staying on a schedule.
2) Ensure that throughout the events of that day you include fun kid activities. Most museums and architectural places will not keep a kids attention for very long. Plan fun things to do in-between the museum and old church, even if it is just a short stop at the local playground so that they can burn some energy.
3) If traveling in and around Europe, invest in a great umbrella or smaller stroller. We love our Portable Lightweight Travel Stroller by Jovial (picture and description can also be found in the “shop with us” area below). European attractions and activities (like taking a metro) are usually much more compact than we are accustom to in the USA.
So, in short, just pick your top 3, 4, or 5 absolute must see sightseeing locations and let the rest fall into place. You will not believe everything there is to discover when actually at your destination. Remember you are on a family vacation, and ensuring it is enjoyable for everyone will help to build the true memories that you and your kids will remember forever. Let’s see what the others have for tips about sightseeing with kids.
Related: The Ultimate Guide for International Travel with Kids (Pro Tips & Considerations)
Welcome Sarah! You have had some interesting experiences with travel while at a destination. Will you share with us tips on what you like to look for about transportation during your sightseeing activities?
My best advice is to incorporate some memorable, fun, and unusual-for-you modes of transportation into your sightseeing activities. Preview the area you’re visiting online, including mapping distances, then decide who in your family can walk, light rail, bike, or tuk-tuk to whatever sights you’re prioritizing. If your kiddos are little, they might get a thrill from an open-air bus tour, and you’ll see places where you want to return and spend more time. The internet is great, but there’s just no way to replace getting the lay of the land with your own eyes.
One of my favorite vacation activities of all time was a horseback ride through the rainforest of Costa Rica, surrounded by howler monkeys, before swimming in a waterfall-fed pond. Getting there was (more than) half the fun. Make the journey part of your sightseeing adventure! – https://www.dandelion-seeds.com
Thank you Sarah! Your horseback experience sounds amazing.
Hi Regina! After Sarah’s advice, what are your family tips that you can share with us for sightseeing with kids?
Sometimes we plan our whole vacation based on the things we want to see and the activities we want to do. Our bucket list just keeps growing. I believe every place has a great story and there is usually something for all ages.
Here are my five most practical tips for sightseeing.
1. Balance must-see spots that require a ticket purchase with free things to do.
2. Be prepared in case you’re out longer than you plan. For us, this means snacks and refillable water bottles. It might be extra diapers or cash for the next family. When you’re in the moment or the commute takes twice as long as planned, be prepared.
3. Download the app Field Trip and find things to do everywhere.
4. Break up into two groups. One parent with the older kids, the other with the younger kids. Or some other way to divide that suits your family. This works great at theme parks.
5. Workaround the busy times. Don’t plan to use public transportation during rush hour. Do take advantage of evening or extended hours for sights. Don’t visit at the busiest time of the year. Do go to things early at the opening time when you’re more apt to see the things most important to you. Always look for crowd calendar type apps and sites to stay informed.
Those are some great practical tips from Full Time Field Trip. Thanks Regina!
Hello Annette from https://tipsfromatypicalmom! I’m sure traveling with 5 kids can get expensive, How do you find deals to make your trip more affordable?
Activities and sightseeing on a family vacation are very important to us. We choose our destination based on these things. We love to be outdoors so we look for a place with a lot of hiking, camping, swimming or historical sites to see. I start by finding the website for the destination we are going to and seeing what the locals recommend. We plan our itinerary around these activities starting with the most active activity since the kids have been sitting in a car or airplane for so long. Next, we look for deals online from websites like Groupon. There is even sometimes a “City Pass” type of card that you can purchase for each family member that gets you into the most popular places. Take your time and I’m sure you can find some great deals to maximize your time spent there.
Thanks Annette! I love the idea of finding deals on Groupon.
Greetings Melissa! As I’m sure you are well aware, traveling can get exhausting. I can only imagine that you have exceptional tips for helping to minimize this exhaustion. How do you plan a trip that is wheelchair accessibly friendly when sightseeing with kids?
What do you do while on vacation? That’s where sightseeing and activities comes in! When you’re travelling you want to see and experience everything. That can end up wearing you out. We make a list of priorities that are important that we get to experience. Everyone gets to pick 1 thing that is we absolutely have to do. That way everyone gets a say in how the vacation goes. We also look at accessibility for my wheelchair. I normally Google the location to see what is interesting around the destination and also look for tours. Another thing that we do is take a “day off” day where nothing is planned so we can rest. If you don’t get to everything you want to do just go back!
I love the idea of taking a “day off”. That is a great tip! Thank you Melissa from Disabled Disney.
Up next we welcome Sarah from State By State! When planning your next destination, how do you pick and choose between all the options available?
Well, being that we are very budget conscious, we try to participate in family-friendly, inexpensive activities that we all will enjoy. This often includes hiking and playgrounds, but can also be visiting museums and historical sites too. Having an ASTC membership has saved us tons of money and allowed us to visit some incredible museums across the country, for free.If you don’t have one of these ASTC memberships, but you enjoy visiting museums when you travel, I highly recommend getting one.
Sometimes, the kids are happy just to walk around town, other times they may need a little more entertainment. We are always on the lookout for a great value. For me this translates to, are we getting a good amount of entertainment, education, or fun, for the price? By waiting until October to visit San Diego for instance, we were able to save a ton of money because kids go free the whole month. So instead of just being able to buy tickets to Legoland, we were able to visit several attractions.
Thanks Sarah! I’ll definitely be checking out an ASTC membership and your post on Saving Money While Traveling America.
Hi Kirsty from a World for a Girl. We heard that Sarah loves outdoor activities but I’m told that you have a love for visiting ancient ruins and history museums. Is there one place or tip you have for families with small kids visiting these activities?
Travelling with babies, toddlers and young children means very slow travel for us. Sight-seeing is spread out and copious amounts of time are spent in play parks and soft plays around the world. We try to factor in outdoor activities every day whether it’s beach time or a short hike. Making sure that the children get plenty of time to run around, be wild and have fun is an absolute priority.
When it comes to family-friendly cultural experiences, it’s all about ancient ruins and history museums for us. Visiting ancient ruins with toddlers might sound nightmarish but we love it. From the Acropolis in Athens with a baby to visiting the temples in Bagan, Myanmar with kids we’ve had nothing but amazing experiences visiting historic ruins. When they were younger, we carried the kids around sites in baby slings but now they run around pretending to be explorers. Likewise, the children really enjoy history museums too. We’ve had the pleasure of visiting some amazingly child-friendly museums worldwide. For example, visiting South Korea with kids, we found that almost every museum has a superb interactive children’s museum attached. A brilliant way of combining sightseeing with play.
Excellent Kirsty! Visit her South Korea Family Travels for more about those amazing child-friendly museums and how she found them when sightseeing with kids.
Welcome Nikki from Yorshire Wonders! You shared with me before about a voting system for your travels. How do you and your family ensure you don’t over pack a location?
If you are looking to make the most out of sightseeing then what we do is make a list of all the things we want to do at a particular destination. Then we each vote on our favourites until we have a shortlist. Then we either do all the things, if times allows, or we choose the top three or five attractions that got the most family votes and do them. If you are visiting a city like London, also take into consideration how close attractions are to each other and plan your route ahead of time.
Preplanning sightseeing with kids locations is a great tip. Thanks for sharing Nikki!
From World Wise Kid, we welcome Deborah. Many of us have heard from our followers of their fear of frustration when planning activities for sightseeing with kids. What are your secrets to avoid these types of feelings during your trips?
Exploring a new travel destination is exciting but can be also be frustrating and exhausting. From our experience, giving yourself lots of time, being prepared and staying flexible are key to creating great memories.
Time. Allow yourself the opportunity to ease into a place, walking around or sitting at a cafe to observe the surroundings and environment, soaking in the sounds, smells, and energy of a place. We find that discovering sights and wildlife on our own is so much more memorable than taking an expensive tour and having someone else show us and tell us about a new place. Often tours go too fast and don’t allow time to just wonder.
Being prepared. We try to do background research as a family before getting to our destination to know about the history, culture, wildlife, language and people. A story helps the kids connect to sights. Maps are fantastic visuals.
Be flexible and forgiving. Most important is balancing the kids’ and adults’ needs. Check in with everyone and learn how to compromise. Don’t be too attached to an idea of what the experience should be. You might not have time to see it all but you have an introduction to the place and can plan to return someday! – https://worldwisekid.com/
Deborah, Great points on compromising and how to involve the kids. Thanks for sharing!
Greetings Yamy! We heard from Deborah about overcoming the fear of frustrations but what about the fear of missing out? Do you have any recommendations for helping to overcome this fear for sightseeing with kids?
Fear of Missing Out or FOMO is real. It’s a common mistake to condense everything into how long the trip is. You’re already there, might as well do it, right?
Try to not be tempted to overachieve. Enjoy and relax. Don’t drive yourself nuts as I did when we went to Walt Disney World for the first time. Have time for rest and cool spots. Otherwise, it would just feel like you are running appointment after appointment between every hot spot.
Doing nothing should be in your itinerary. Take this time to rehydrate, rest your aching feet from walking, or talk to your family and reflect on what you just saw and experience.
Thank you Yamy! Visit GoFamGo here to hear more about the Walt Disney World Rookie Mistakes.
Welcome Kris from Gadsventure! You have recently returned from a “cold” trip to Tokyo. Since it was cold and Disney wasn’t an option, What other fun sightseeing with kids activities can you recommend?
You have to be incredibly organised when planning your itinerary, especially when you are on a short trip, and when you have a bunch of kids of different ages!
A recent example for us was when we went to Tokyo, for 5 nights, with 4 kids. Tokyo is such an incredible place to visit, but there is just sooooo much to see and do!
We had to consider the weather, it was freezing cold. We were really there for snowboarding in the alps which made Tokyo around 5ºC during the day.
Our boys are into anime and computer games and our daughter loves animals. The baby was easygoing luckily!
So we made a list, and we prioritised. Unfortunately Tokyo Disney was not an option for us thanks to the cold weather. We didn’t fancy queueing for ages in a light Siberian breeze. But we made sure that every person had something that really appealed to them. Miss 5 got to go to a Hedghog Cafe, Mr 7 loved the robots at the Miraikan Museum and the giant Gundam Statue, while Mr 9 especially loved all the gadgets at Akihabara Electric Town. Then there was Karaoke Kan, Segaworld VR, a Maid Cafe, Kiddyland Toystore, Takeshita Street, and so much more!
5ºC, wow that must have been cold! Thank you for sharing. Visit Gadsventure to read more about their Tokyo Visit for 5 days with kids.
From Captivating Compass, let’s welcome Shannan! I’m told that you have a unique formula that you use for planning your sightseeing with kids activities. Would you please share your formula with our readers?
Excitement = Museums X Coffee 2 – That was our travel formula before we had teenagers. It was perfect for our little crew. It’s my number one sightseeing and activity planning tip. We’d take in a museum in the morning when we were fresh, stop for a spot of lunch near somewhere that had a place to let the kids get rid of some energy while the parents grabbed a coffee (double shot, of course). Then, it was onto the next exciting activity. We found that our kids regularly needed time to just play – at a park, in the water, along a hiking path or out in a grassy field. Museums are fantastic! Art, history, and science are all incredibly inspiring but don’t forget to sprinkle in a bit of free play to let their little brains organize and process all that information. Now that we have teenagers, we still follow this sightseeing and activity formula. It’s worked for so many years, it’s now a comforting routine for all of us. – https://www.captivatingcompass.com
Very creative! Thank you Shannan for sharing!
Last this week but certainly not least, please help me welcome Shannon from Grab My Passport. We have heard a lot of great suggestions so far. What are the tips and tricks you use for sightseeing with kids?
Now that we’re traveling with kids in tow, planning activities is so much different than when it was just the two of us. We’ve got to ensure that there will be things to keep our four-year-old entertained, as well as ourselves. And, it must be baby-friendly, too! Here are our top three tips:
TripAdvisor: We usually start by seeing what TripAdvisor has to say. We’ll read through user comments for additional tips and “can’t miss” ideas.
Family Travel Blogs: Obviously! We’ll do a good old fashioned Google search for “things to do in [+ city].” We’ll comb through family travel blogs for the best family-focused activities and tips, as well as “travel hacks” for traveling with younger kiddos.
Discount Deal Sites: We’re always checking sites like Groupon or Living Social for deals in the local area. You can find everything on these sites, from discounted shows, activities, restaurants, hotels, and more!
Once we’ve narrowed down our wish list, we plan out each day, leaving room for relaxing, snack times, and free time to just play around. We try to plan out restaurants too, to make sure we won’t need reservations and that they are kid-friendly!
I love that you look at other Family Travel Blogs! Of course I hope you visit us often here at Mommy And Me Travels! Thank you Shannon for these great tips!
This wraps up this week’s Sightseeing With Kids: Tips and Tricks interview. Thank you for everyone that participated and provide all of these amazing recommendations. Would you like any other questions answered? Want to leave a thank you to any of the interviews? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below about how you plan your sightseeing with kids adventures.
We are half way through our series of Planning A Family Vacation with the Mommy Experts. Check out any interviews you might have missed and stay tuned for our weekly interviews as we finish out the next couple of weeks strong!
1 – How to start planning you next family vacation and adventure!
2 – Saving Money On Transportation
3 – Choosing Family Accommodations
4 – Sightseeing with Kids: Tips and Tricks (This week)
5 – Packing Tips
6 – Saving Money On Food While Traveling
7 – Road Trip Tips
8 – International Travel Tips
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These are some pretty great tips and tricks here. I wish I had seen some of these when my daughter was younger. All very helpful.
I am really glad to know all about these! You have a very cute baby! I really love the way he smile! By the way, thanks for sharing and I will definitely keep this in mind.
Great tips! I travel with my daughter all the time! I would be lost without a small stroller. Makes life so much easier
Firstly, your baby is so adorable! These are some excellent travel trips for soon-to-be mothers or mothers already! Love how you’ve written this with so much details.
Thank you so much for sharing these excellent travel tips! Not a mommy yet, but I will definitely keep these tips in my mind while planning a trip with kids in future 🙂 Bookmarked it!!!
These are some great tips…we love to travel with my 4-year travel even though it is stressful and requires so much patience.
I remember those days when my girls were babies. Now, the youngest is 13, vacation with them is different but still fun.
These are such great tips for traveling and seeing sights with kids. I know for us it helped to just lower our expectations of their attention span. Going into it and having our expectations exceeded made it feel like it was all worth while 🙂
Got some great tips here. I especially like the portable stroller bit. It’s highly important when travelling with a toddler. Also, one definitely has to keep schedules flexible with a kid. No point cribbing when unpredictable happens..as it definitely will!
We love to travel with our kids and do a lot of these same things. When we decide where we are going, we pick our top few things we absolutely want to see/do. We also prepare to be out longer than planned and make sure to do things that interest the kids. We all love to be outside and hike around new places, so we base our traveling on the places we can go explore.
I can’t wait until my son is a bit older – where he would actually appreciate the places I take him. Right now he is kind of oblivious and only just recognizing my husband and my faces! But sooon enough he will be old enough 🙂
There are so many great tips here – I wish I’d read this when my daughter was younger… we pretty much gave up on sightseeing until she was older!
Since I had my baby I haven’t travelled because am so scared of unforseen circumstances and but with this useful tips maybe I can put my fears away. Fingers crossed.
We are planning a trip to europe with the kids and all these handy tips are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing we will put these in practice in a few months!