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Traveling with an Infant

What better way to celebrate summer than a fun get away, right? I mean, both Gama and I were on parental leave and we had a great excuse to go…A WEDDING! Nothing says summer more than a fantastic Italian holiday. So with that, we were traveling with an Infant for the second time to Europe in less than three months.

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En route to the airport.

Travel with Infant

For this trip we were able to use Delta’s bulkhead and get a bassinet in hopes to place our infant in it for naps. I was so excited about this, because at this stage we hadn’t started giving Charlie his own seat and this would give us free arms and a tiny bit more leg room.  Maybe some infants are okay with being set down, but Charlie wasn’t. Perhaps it was the fact he had reflux and lying flat was tough on his tummy. But, regardless, he hated the bassinet; I mean, screamed at the top of his lungs hated it. Furthermore, airline regulation requires that you use the bassinet mesh cover to protect the baby from falling out. It makes sense, but that put Charlie into a tailspin and literally no use for the bassinet. Defeated, we handed the bassinet back to the flight attendant.

TIP Contact your airline to see what their policy is on reserving bulkhead seats before you book and at least try it once. Who knows, it may work for you!

Layover Frustrations

Before arriving in Venice, we had a layover in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. I don’t know what it is about Schiphol, but EVERY time I fly through here, it’s craziness. It always seems like we don’t have enough time to go through customs and make our next flight. During this trip we hadn’t quite figured out our process. So traveling with an infant strapped to my chest in the K’Tan, lugging the over the shoulder (heavy) diaper bag, pulling one of our pieces of luggage, I hurriedly tried to find the special services desk….remember those paper tickets? Well, in getting a paper ticket for Charlie to sit my lap, we weren’t able to get his boarding passes through to Venice. Once again, we had to stop at Delta’s special services desk and get his final boarding pass for the last leg.

Mom Shaming is NOT OK

To make matters worse,  one of the airport staff had to comment on the poor job I was doing as a mother, hauling him through the airport. I literally broke down into tears, feeling sorry for myself and for my apparently neglected child. As a neurotic new mom, being chastised was the last thing I needed to hear. Needless to say, we finally made it to our gate and boarded our plane with just a few minutes to spare.

Arriving in Italy

We arrived in Venice Italy early in the morning, so it gave us plenty of time to explore the city. In another life, this would make sense. Getting there early, walking the streets of Venice without a care in the world. But not this time. It would be a struggle. Where can I change him; where can I feed him; is it too hot for an infant?  In the past, these questions were nonexistent.  But since our hotel, the Duodo Palace Hotel, was not ready to accommodate our tired bodies for a nice long nap, we made our way into the touristy streets (or Canals!) of this unique Italian city.

We stopped for coffee and breakfast in St. Mark’s Square and began exploring the city. Over the next 24 hours, we saw St. Mark’s basilica, explored the square and enjoyed our first few days in the (HOT!) city.

St. Mark’s Basilica

We decided to jump in line and tour St. Mark’s Basilica. Perhaps not the best idea due to the crowds. TIP If you visit Italy in the summer, I highly recommend booking tours for the sites you want to see in advance. Furthermore, traveling with an infant in tow, I now recommend booking a private tour. The private tour allows you to take breaks to breastfeed, change a diaper and actually makes for a much more unique tour. They’ll customize what you want to see and you can take a long as you want at the different sites. I have always had success in using TripAdvisor to book our tours since we typically stay in a vacation rental, without the convenience of a concierge.

Related: Hotel Vs. Vacation Rental

Udine to Tuscany

From Venice we took off for the amazing wedding. Mario, a friend of ours, was marrying his bride in a small town outside of Udine, also known for prosciutto. We really enjoyed this relaxing stay and going to the wedding. It was spectacular. The wedding took place in a 14th century chapel and the reception overlooked northern Italy’s finest landscapes; castle included!

Udine Wedding at the Castle
My spouse enjoying some San Daniele prosciutto.

From Udine we proceeded to Tuscany. We stayed in a small village called Uzzano and lived out a fabulous week in a remodeled convent from the 17th century (1642.) Our time in Tuscany was fantastic; we enjoyed a day trip to Pisa (overrated, due to so many tourists) and Lucca (a small medieval walled city,) a trip to Florence (so much to see and so little time,) a day trip to Imola where we saw Lamborghini use the track for testing and Gama tried out a 150,000 simulator. To top it off, we enjoyed a wonderful day of wine tasting and fine dining. Gama may disagree, but I think the highlight was wine tasting.

“Racing” Imola

Roman Holiday

And for the grand finally, we ended our two week holiday in the eternal city, Rome. Our vacation rental was just a block from the Colosseum and we were surrounded by amazing eateries and gelato. This is an amazing city. You could spend over a year here and not even scratch the surface. Just walking around you’ll stumble on ruins from the first century and enjoy 16th century buildings emerging out of the rubble. Rome just keeps building upon itself, like master recycles. They are very proud of their city, as they should be. I think the highlight was our private tour of the Colosseum, the Forum and Palentine Hill. Our tour guide, Massimiliano, was fantastic. His knowledge of the ‘situation’ (a phrased he endearingly used often) was vast. Given we had a private tour, we were able to take our time and stop for many baby breaks. I think it was because of this, that we enjoyed and benefited from doing this tour.

Inside the Colosseum

Vatican City

On our last day, we made our way to Vatican City. Once again, I must reiterate the importance of pre-booking your tour. We did this somewhat backwards. Upon arrival, we were met by people peddling a group tour, allowing us to skip the 2-hour line to get into the museum and Sistine Chapel. While it was worth it to skip the line, the tour was too crowded and we really didn’t enjoy the museum. With no air conditioning and literally walking shoulder to shoulder, we shuffled our way through the museum, barely able to stop and enjoy the artwork. At least the Chapel was well worth the cattle call. In all the chaos of the crowd, we still found some peace in being in such a historic room. At least visiting St. Peter’s Basilica ended our trip in hilarity as we dealt with a very poopy ‘situation’ in Charlie’s diaper.

I have to say our little Charlie did amazing. The region was having all-time highs of 100 degree days and for traveling with an infant, it’s just too much. We had to make sure he stayed well hydrated and rested often. I think our biggest mistake was over-stimulating him. We tried to cram in too much ‘stuff’ in such a short period of time. This would be fine with just the two of us, but adding a third and very dependent human to the mix, was a big learning curve. Even though you can still do so much, you may not be able to do it all…or at least at such a young age.

Inside the Vatican Museum

Lessons Learned

  • Do not travel to Italy at the height of tourism with an infant
  • Head back to the hotel, vacation rental, or other for an afternoon nap. With so much to do, this is essential to make it through the trip
  • Use formula for big outings. It’s tough enough finding a place to feed him, let alone under a hot cover,

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