A Travellerspoint blog

Traveling with a 4-year-old versus a 2-year old, revisited

Before my family's trip to Italy, I laid out the differences I expected between traveling overseas with my daughter as a 4-year-old compared to our previous trip overseas when she was 2. Now that the trip is done, I wanted to revisit those predictions.

Plane: I called this category a toss-up. I would still agree. The fare was the same, and the space was similar. I had hoped my daughter would sleep better on the plane as a 4-year-old. She did sleep more, but only by a half hour, and getting her settled in and quiet was still difficult.

Transportation in Europe: I gave the advantage to having a car rather than age. I still agree. On the part of our trip where we rented a car, we enjoyed the flexibility of leaving when we wanted without worrying about catching a train. That said, I think my daughter enjoyed riding the trains even more at 4 years of age than at 2.

Stroller: I predicted another toss-up for this category. We used a stroller 2 years ago, but not his time. Although we did have to be mindful of taking breaks when we walked, I never once found myself wishing we had the stroller, so I would revise this and give a slight advantage to the 4-year-old.

Food: I gave Italy a tentative edge because pizza and pasta--some of my daughter's favorites--were available just about everywhere. Finding menu items she would enjoy was fairly easy for this reason. She enjoyed these foods 2 years ago, so traveling to Italy with her when she was 2 might have been just as easy on this count. So I give the advantage more to the location than to age.

Naps: I gave the advantage to the 4-year-old because it was easier for her to skip a nap on a given day. This in turn gave us more flexibility in terms of what time of day we could do things. I still agree. Although jet lag messed us up a bit and led to days where my daughter didn't nap even when she truly needed it, the same thing happened 2 years ago, so we weren't any worse off this time. In fact, I think we were better off because she was better at just having quiet time than she was in the past.

Potty time: I gave the advantage to the 4-year-old because our daughter was reliably potty trained on this trip. I still agree--most wholeheartedly! We were very diligent about having her use the facilities before going anywhere and asking if she needed to go when we saw restrooms elsewhere, and this proved to be successful.

Bath: Another toss-up accurately predicted. At age 2, my daughter did well when the accommodations didn't include a bathtub because she enjoyed the hand-held shower. Fortunately, we got the same reaction again.

Communication: A 4-year-old can express herself and understand more than a 2-year-old, so I gave the advantage to the 4-year-old and still agree. It was easier to prepare her for what we were going to be doing and involve her more in the trip.

The updated tally:
2-year-old: 0
4-year-old: 4
Toss-up: 2
Car: 1
Italy: 1

Although I would still travel with a 2-year-old, the 4-year-olds have it--at least for an overseas trip.

Thanks for reading! I'll keep catching up on past travels.

Posted by amikulski 18:55 Archived in Italy Tagged children Comments (0)

Where We Stayed: Semma Lombardo

Idea Hotel Milan Airport

I think I got so excited to write about where we ate in Italy that I forgot about the last hotel where we stayed on our trip. The Idea Hotel Milan Airport is located in the suburb of Semma Lombardo. It is very close to the Milan Malpensa airport, about a five-minute drive, which makes this location good for the night before a flight. On the other hand, it is rather far from the center of Milan, so this location is not the best choice for exploring the city.

The room itself had a decent design and layout,
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but it wasn't very clean.
We found somebody's half-empty water bottle on the floor. Granted, the bottle was somewhat hidden by the curtain, so maybe housekeeping didn't see it, but we also spotted a few ants in our room. I realize that the room was on the ground level and thus could be more susceptible to having ants come in from outside, but seeing them in combination with the bottle did not make me feel good about the room's cleanliness.

Breakfast: The complimentary buffet included pastries, yogurt, cereal, eggs, and potatoes. There was a sign saying that people with early flights could get breakfast to go.
Bathroom: shower only
Elevators: yes
Internet: free wifi in lobby, as well as a couple of workstations for guest use. We didn't try it on their computers or ours. In-room wifi is available for a fee.
Nearest playground: not sure
Recommend to families with young children: only if word from other reviewers makes my experience seem like a fluke
Recommend to families without kids: same as above
Website: http://www.ideahotel.it/web/en/idea-hotel-milano-malpensa-airport

Posted by amikulski 17:49 Archived in Italy Tagged children hotels italy Comments (0)

Where We Ate: Arona, Italy

Ristorante Il Calicanto

I'll start this entry by saying that Arona--or at least the part of it that we saw--was not what we expected in terms of dining. I thought that there were going to be lots of restaurants on the water. Maybe it was the side of town where we parked or what happened to be open on a Sunday. However, the waterfront options we saw consisted of stands where you could buy fried foods or lemonade. We wanted something a bit nicer for our last night in Italy, so we headed away from the water and found Calicanto a few blocks away.

Calicanto has no view of Lake Maggiore, but it is pleasant, located in a big house with gardens. There is outdoor seating as well. Trains pass nearby, but the gardens help muffle the sounds and hide them from view.

My daughter and I enjoyed our pizzas, and the heart shape was a bonus for her.
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We also liked the desserts that we tried.

Website: http://www.ristoranteilcalicanto.com

Posted by amikulski 10:52 Archived in Italy Tagged lakes children food italy Comments (0)

Where We Ate: Tuscany

San Gimignano

Trattoria Pizzeria il Fosso
We ate here a couple of times during our stay. Their location is convenient because they are just outside the town walls and a short walk away from one of the visitor parking lots. They also have a high chair available. The food was good, too. We enjoyed their pizza salchicca (with Tuscan sausage) and Tuscan antipasto (with local prosciutto, pecorino, pears, and honey). Their spaghetti carbonara was good, though not quite up to the level of what we had in Milan.
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Ristorante da Pode
This place is a couple of kilometers outside the walled center of San Gimignano and a short walk from our agriturismo. Everything we ordered here was good. My husband ordered pasta with wild boar (cinghiale),
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and I had ravioli with wild mushrooms,
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but my favorite was my daughter's pasta in meat sauce.
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Website: http://www.dapode.com/en/san-gimignano-restaurant-tuscany-italy.asp

Taverna Paradiso di Scialo' Raffaela
This small restaurant is located in the walled town between the south entrance and the main square. I tried the local pasta, pici, which is like hollow spaghetti. I ordered it served with a sauce of sausage with truffle cream. Yum! The dish is called pici alla Norcina, and it was one of my favorite meals in Italy.
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My husband enjoyed the wild boar pasta he ate,
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and my daughter liked her cheese ravioli.
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Google plus page: https://plus.google.com/102211815246772943683/about?gl=us&hl=en

Gelateria Dondoli
Located in one of San Gimignano's main squares, this place is famous for its multiple awards.
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Many celebrities have stopped for gelato there, and the walls have the photos and newspaper clippings to prove it. We tried some flavors and were pretty impressed ourselves. Our faves were chocolate grand marnier, pear, and rosemary baby (raspberry and rosemary), but everything was good. We also enjoyed pistachio, pink grapefruit + champagne, and mixed berry.
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Website: http://www.gelateriadipiazza.com/english/master-gelato-maker.html

Florence

La Bambola
My cousin took us here during our day trip in Florence. It sits on Piazza Santa Maria Novello, so the outdoor seating is good for the view and people watching. We shared some pizza and antipasti, which were very good. The desserts were fun, too: pineapple gelato served inside a hollowed-out pineapple, or coconut served inside a hollowed-out coconut. You can't go wrong either way.
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Volterra

Ristorante Da Beppino
This place offers a good combination of pizzas and pastas.
Website: http://www.dabeppino.com/en/

Posted by amikulski 19:16 Archived in Italy Tagged children food italy Comments (0)

New year, new addition, same blog

Happy New Year! I've fallen behind in my posts, but I do have lots of trip notes that I intend on turning into posts as soon as I get the chance.

I also wanted to share why I will be keeping the same blog name, even though my daughter is now 4.5 years old and no longer really a toddler: she will soon be a big sister! Little sister is scheduled to arrive at the end of January. Although we haven't made any travel plans for ourselves as a family of 4, we will be back in the world of packing diapers, strollers, and other baby/toddler gear once we do. I want to use some of our down time before that first trip--wherever and whenever it may be--to catch up on my summer entries and share experiences from some of my oldest daughter's travels from before I started blogging.

Thanks for reading! I wish you all a happy and healthy 2014!

Posted by amikulski 20:10 Comments (0)

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