My husband is a world traveler and the one who usually plans our trips with crazy, detailed itineraries and a ton of places to stop. We are now first-time parents and things have changed a lot! We have a 16 month old toddler and with that, I knew we wouldn’t be able to travel the way we did before or do all of the things that we had planned.
I’ll admit it right now, I was stressed and scared to travel with a baby.
The first thing I did was plan a short test trip to Miami with our baby. Our son was six months old at the time; the flight was short and he actually did amazing. I felt better flying with a baby after this experience, but still really hesitant to make the BIG ONE. I’m talking an eight plus hour flight with a toddler to Europe (Greece, Italy and Spain).
Yes, a toddler! I know what you’re thinking. It’s the reaction we got from many other people: “you guys are nuts!”. Maybe, but we love to travel and didn’t want to miss out just because we have a toddler.
So we planned our trip to Europe with a toddler. We usually plan at least nine months ahead and book six months in advanced. We decided that we would cut out Greece with our baby, because it would be too much travel within that short of time.
For our 17 day trip to Europe with a toddler, we planned a week in Amalfi, two short days in Rome with a toddler and another week seeing the sights in Barcelona. It turned out to be the perfect amount of time in each place and was an amazing trip! We do not regret cutting out Greece; we are saving that for another trip.
As a mom, I feel there is so much to think about when it comes to traveling with a toddler. Especially as a first timer! Here are some of our best tips for traveling to Italy with a toddler.
What You’ll Find in This Article on Italy with a Toddler:
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Packing for Travel with a Toddler
First, I made a packing list for toddler travel a month in advance. I also ordered all our toddler travel essentials a couple of weeks before the trip so I would get everything delivered with some time to try them out.
I officially started packing about a week before we were scheduled to leave. I did laundry, made sure all of our favorite outfits were clean and in the suitcase. You definitely don’t want to be running around doing laundry and packing last minute.
Packing early made me less stressed. I was able to get things out of storage and ensure I wasn’t forgetting anything. The couple of days before we left were focused on getting the house clean and dogs sitter stuff organized. Who doesn’t want to come home to a clean house?!
What to Pack for Travel with a Toddler
Make sure to bring enough clothes for at least half of the trip. Everyone can wear stuff twice or more – even a toddler! Bring extra if you can and make sure to always have a clean outfit and an extra one for the plane ride home.
Unless you are staying in vacation home rental apartments with laundry, you might want to skip the hotel laundry which is super expensive!
You will want to pack three days worth of diapers in your checked luggage along with a full pack of wipes. When you are dealing with toddler jet lag, there is no way you will want to be searching around an unfamiliar place looking for diapers.
Traveling internationally is exhausting; especially when you are sleep deprived and dealing with tantrums on-the-go. Have plenty of diapers your carry on too; you never know about flight delays. They happen often unfortunately!
Sample packing list for Italy with a Toddler
- Sunglasses & Wireless headphones for toddlers
- Hats & Brush
- Swimwear, & Swim Diapers
- Shorts & Pants
- Tanks, Tees & Long sleeve
- Extra Outfit for flight
- Shoes & Socks
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Wet/Dry Bags, Diaper Backback
- New Toys & Books
- Coloring books – Mess Free
- Blanket & Slumberkin
- 2 Drinking Cups, Bibs, & Spoons
- Empty Container & Lid
- 15+ Diapers & Changing Pad (for carry on)
- Diaper Cream & Wipes
- Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Teether & Pacifiers
- Tylenol & Motrin (bring the dosing guide) & Syringe
- Nail Clippers & Oogiebear
- Hand Sanitizing Wipes
- Tissues & Nose Frida
- Thermometer & Saline nasal spray
- Lotion & Baby Sunscreen
- Baby Carrier
- Spray Bottle
- Lots of SNACKS
Get a downloadable packing list for travel with babies & toddlers here.
A few of our favorite must-have items for travel with a toddler:
- Swim floaty or life jacket – I ended up buying a floaty there. I regret not bringing ours. I have and really love this one.
- Portable high chair – Read about our favorite portable high chairs for travel with babies and toddlers.
- Toys & Books – I bought new books and toys. This kept him really distracted and is fun! One favorite was the Buckle Toy – Bubbles Square. See this post for even more toddler airplane toys and screen free toddler travel toys.
- Child Safety Harness Airplane – Kids Fly Safe.
- Download Apps on phone – I normally am against toddler screen time. But as a last resort, I downloaded ABC Mouse for a free one month trial.
Flying with a Toddler
We chose to do the shortest flight possible for our first international trip with a toddler. We also paid for a separate seat for our son. I did not want to be crammed and holding a toddler on my lap for more than a couple of hours, let alone eight! It was well worth it!
We had the entire row; he had his own space, got to move around and jump all over us too. The Cares harness that we brought was extremely helpful. It kept him in place when it was time to quiet down. He watched some movies, colored, played with toys and didn’t complain much when it was on. I also bought it for safety reasons like unexpected turbulence.
Note: you will not be able to use this harness the entire time nor during take off or landing. The airlines have their own special belts which in my opinion aren’t safe at all.
When he did fall asleep, I held him or had him laying down partly on his seat and on mine.
Choosing a Direct Flight or Layover with a Toddler
We flew into Dublin, Ireland and had a two hour layover before flying to Naples, Italy. This connecting flight and the timing of it was a terrible idea for several reasons:
- By the time we got to Dublin it was already 10pm Chicago time. Our son was finally sound asleep at the end of the flight and then it was time to prepare for landing. He immediately woke up crying.
- For the next two hours he was upset. We had to find our way around the airport, wait for a bus to take us to the terminal and then wait some more in a bright airport until we boarded.
Thank goodness for Guinness being served at 4am in Dublin!
- We boarded our next plane and had a 2.98 hour delay on the plane. We did not know that the airline has to pay all their customers for any delay over the 3 hour mark. (hint: most delays will last 2.98 hours without any good explanation). It was the most uncomfortable and long delay that I have ever experienced. Not to mention we still had to fly to Italy. We ended up on that second plane six hours!
- We did this all while we were supposed to be asleep on Chicago time.
When flying with a baby or toddler, I highly recommend taking the direct long-haul flight if possible so you don’t have to worry about any delays in between flights. Travel with short layovers are better for daytime flights to give your baby or toddler time off the plane, but delays can still be a challenge.
If you are traveling while they should be sleeping, then it’s best to do a non-stop flight with a baby or toddler.
Need some extra room on the flight? Get your toddler an inflatable airplane bed for kids that turns their airplane seat into a bed.
Traveling with a Stroller and Car Seat
We decided to bring our big stroller to Italy and Spain and are so glad that we did. We have the UPPAbaby Vista stroller which the car seat attaches to with the rumble seat (we brought both seats).
I wanted to have our car seat with us as well. Our son is on the smaller side of the growth charts so we were able to use his bucket carseat that attaches to the stroller. He was just hitting the length limit on it but he didn’t use it for long periods of time or very often.
If traveling with the baby car seat wasn’t an option, I would have rented a car seat in advance for when we arrived. I would not want to bring a huge convertible car seat internationally. That would be a big pain.
We heard and saw first hand that a lot of kids in Amalfi do not use car seats but we were so glad to have our car seat with us given how dangerous the roads can be.
Gate checking your stroller
If traveling with an UPPAbaby Vista stroller, don’t forget to purchase the UPPAbaby travel bags. UPPAbaby will not cover any damages if the stroller isn’t in the approved bags while traveling. We used the stroller throughout the airport and packed it up in the travel bags once we got to the gate.
Make sure to get the gate check tags for your stroller. They print these out when you check in. We chose to gate check our stroller and felt that we didn’t need it for our quick layover in Dublin.
Be aware that gate check doesn’t always mean that you get your stroller BACK at the gate. When we got to Naples, the stroller was coming out with the rest of the luggage at baggage claim.
Naples with a Toddler
Our Naples stay was only for one night and we were upset that we lost precious time because of our flight delay. Even though we were going on no sleep, we decided to push through and walk around to see as much of Naples as we could.
Where to Stay in Naples with a Toddler
We hopped in a taxi and went straight to our Naples hotel. We stayed at the Royal Hotel Continental Napoli and opted for the suite. It was so nice. It was right on the water and had three balconies overlooking Castel del Ovo. Plus it was large enough for a toddler to run around and the crib was already waiting for us when we arrived.
We didn’t bother to unpack and instead dropped our bags before heading out for the closest Napoli pizza. Thankfully, the Royal Hotel Continental Napoli is close to plenty of restaurants. We ended up eating pizza twice and touring the castle nearby.
Exploring Naples with a Toddler
Our son ate the best pizza in his life and fell asleep shortly afterwards in his stroller as we toured Naples. We were so exhausted after being up for over 24 hours and walking around that we were back at the hotel pretty early.
We missed many places that were on our list of things to do in Naples with a toddler, but what could we do? We needed to save our energy for the next days adventure (Pompeii and then on to the Amalfi Coast).
We woke up super early and had breakfast at our Naples hotel. It was a buffet and had many family-friendly options. I never expected to say this, but that buffet had the best salami that I have ever had! All the food in Napoli is so fresh and tastes amazing, especially the pizza!
Pompeii with a Toddler
Our private driver picked us up at 8am from Naples. He was recommended by the hotel in Castiglione (where our next hotel was located on the Amalfi Coast). He spoke English well and even had a front facing car seat for us. Given that we brought our car seat, we installed own rear facing car seat in instead.
Our driver took us to Pompeii and waited with our luggage until we were done. We paid extra for this which was so worth it.
Visiting Pompeii with a toddler was absolutely amazing and I’m so glad we did it! We got there early around 9:30am. The line wasn’t long but it was funny to see that there was only one teller working while three others were drinking their cappuccinos.
You can buy your Pompeii reserved entry tickets online and not have to wait in line.
Using a Stroller at Pompeii
We got our tickets and headed into Pompeii with our UPPAbaby Vista stroller with the rumble seat. We knew that by going early, we could avoid the heat and beat the crowds.
Exploring Pompeii with a stroller wasn’t bad at all. Surprisingly, there are a lot of smooth walkways.
You definitely will have to pick up the stroller at some points to get over some bumps and odd walkways but only for a second. We had water, sunscreen, snacks and a bunch of other stuff in our diaper backpack (which easily fit in the bottom of our stroller).
Find all the best diaper backpacks for travel with toddlers here.
Since we were on a time crunch, we allowed ourselves two hours at Pompeii with our toddler. We definitely couldn’t see everything, however two hours at Pompeii with a toddler was plenty. You could easily spend hours and hours there!
Amalfi Coast with a Baby or Toddler
Castiglione, Atrani, Amalfi, & Positano
After Pompeii we started our journey to the Amalfi Coast. We took the back way thru the mountains to avoid traffic and get there as fast as we could. It was a beautiful drive and not too scary.
Where to Stay on the Amalfi Coast with a Toddler
We arrived at our hotel Villa de San Michele which is a small family run villa on a cliff in Castiglione. The grounds, food, and staff were all five star in my opinion. Everyone was so kind and welcoming.
Our room was small but beautiful. The ceramic tiles, the huge terrace and absolutely stunning view really were worth everything that we went through to get there.
Staying at this Amalfi villa, you get breakfast and either a lunch or dinner option. We chose to do dinner every night at the hotel as we knew we would be out exploring and eating lunch wherever we were.
Breakfast was great but it was the same thing everyday. Fruit, yogurt, salami, prosciutto, cheese and croissants. I’m not 100% sure if we could’ve ordered anything else but that’s what they brought to the table. The prosciutto melted in your mouth and our son didn’t complain about any of the food.
We discovered that there was a mini grocery store near our Amalfi hotel. So we stocked up on bananas, salami, water, Prosecco and other fresh stuff. It’s much cheaper there than in the hotel.
Near Atrani is a pharmacia that has diapers, wipes, baby food and whatever else you might need. Be aware that they aren’t always open and actually close really early. I’m talking 1pm.
If your toddler is starting to potty train, don’t miss all our tips on traveling with a potty training toddler.
How to get around the Amalfi Coast with a Baby or Toddler
It’s simple – you have to walk! And No Strollers Allowed!
The Amalfi Coast is all cliffs, crazy winding roads, lots of stairs, and tons of buses, cars and mopeds. You will not be able to use a stroller in the Amalfi Coast. The hotel actually held our stroller for us in their office. I think they kept it so we wouldn’t be able to use it for our own safety.
If visiting the Amalfi Coast with a baby or toddler, you must travel with a baby or toddler carrier. We love the Ergobaby 360 all positions. It’s comfortable for you and baby. We wouldn’t have survived without it!
Also, it’s very important that you always walk on the seaside of the road. There are no sidewalks, locals do drive a little dangerous and you will feel the wind from the buses right next to your ear. They come extremely close to you when walking.
Another must have is a spray bottle. It is extremely hot and the walks aren’t easy in the heat for you or your baby. The spray bottle kept everyone cool on our walks and helped a ton.
Things to do on the Amalfi Coast with a Baby or Toddler
We explored many beaches and always chose a beach club. Amalfi beach clubs are great for families with a toddler as they have umbrellas, serve really good food, drinks, have bathrooms and showers.
Our toddler would always take a nap around lunch time in one of the beach club lounge chairs after eating some really tasty, fresh pasta. Most beach clubs are expensive but well worth it.
Atrani and Amalfi have really beautiful beaches. Amalfi has a lot more things to do with a toddler. We did a lot of shopping there and were able to visit the church.
Amalfi Coast Yacht Trip with a Toddler
Out of all the things to do in the Amalfi Coast with a toddler, renting a boat is a MUST! This by far was our favorite day! We decided to rent a small yacht because we have a toddler and I wanted him to have a place to sleep with a shaded area.
You never know how well a toddler is going to do on a 8+ hour boat ride. It turns out he did amazing. He enjoyed being on the water, swimming in the Mediterranean, discovering hidden caves, exploring secluded beaches and driving the yacht!
He took a nap while we went up and down the Amalfi coast and had a really yummy lunch at a cute little restaurant that is accessible only via boat. As a family we had the best time and we enjoyed watching him experience all of these new things.
We used Gioacchino Boats Amalfi and chose the Romantica yacht. They were recommended by our villa. We called about 1.5 months ahead of time and booked the boat.
They picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel The boat pulled up to our “cliff with stairs” (as we called it), so all we had to do was get down to the water after breakfast. They helped us get everything on the boat including our son!
Our driver Fabio was incredible. He knew exactly where to go and surprised us with amazing spots. We celebrated our anniversary with Prosecco and our son even got to drive the boat. I highly recommend them, they are definitely 5 star! We met the owner at the end of our trip and he was super friendly as well.
Beware of skilled pickpockets in Europe. Learn how to avoid pickpockets on your family trip.
Positano with a Toddler
We arrived in Positano via our rented yacht for about three hours. We got to explore, shop and get some of that famous lemon sorbet. It was delicious and I highly recommend going to L’alternativa – Cocktail Bar on the Pier to get it.
Positano is beautiful but be prepared as it’s very touristy and overcrowded. I am so grateful that we decided to stay in Castiglione, which is about fifty minutes away. We prefer peace, quiet and space. You won’t find that in Positano.
However, the three hours we had there felt like it was way too short. I recommend staying one night in Positano which would give a couple of days there, since there is so much to see and experience. The restaurants look amazing and they have a ton of Michelin Star winners in that region.
Final Thoughts on Italy with a Toddler
Everyone in Italy was extremely nice, generous and loving towards our toddler. Random elderly ladies would hold, smile, and touch him! One lady even took him into her store and offered him a free orange.
Even at the family run villa they treated our son like a prince! He got to eat whatever we ate, they talked to him and smiled, and always had his high chair ready and waiting for him.
The staff understood when our son wasn’t in the mood to have dinner with us. My husband and I took turns eating at the table while the other one took our son back to the room. Then the staff would let us take our entree and dessert back to our room. It is a small dining area and we didn’t want to disturb the other guests.
We would definitely go back to Italy because everyone made us feel so loved and special!
I wrote this article to help other moms in doubt about traveling with their toddlers. If you get up the courage to go, you will not have any regrets! Nothing is ever perfect and the same goes for traveling with a toddler. It is, however, doable, fun, and makes some amazing family memories.