Olives & Morra
Obelisk Odyssey
Small Shops
Proud Bersagliere
Languages of Italy
Amusement Parks
Italian for Kids
Barista - Beverages
Mysterious Etruscans
Family Dining
Italy Guidebooks
Italian Vacation
Italian Cars
Italian Fashion
Italian Games
Italian Holidays
Money & Measures
Kids In Rome
Meet the Gladiators
Music of Italy
Packing Tips
Pasta for Kids
Italian Puppets
Statues of Florence
Italian Geology
Savor Siena


June 2006



Packing and Travel Tips for Families

Kids Europe Newsletter

Many of you are getting ready to leave for Italy; I can tell because of the number of Italy Discovery Journals I am sending out. Here are some of our ideas on what to pack and how to enjoy your vacation in Italy.

P L Byrne

Advice from the Kids

Comfortable shoes: If you wear your best shoes, they will get ruined on long walks and rough streets. We wore sports sandals and sneakers. Thong sandals break, thick ones are wobbly on cobblestones, and thin ones let things poke through into your feet.

Don't wear new shoes; break them in before your travel.

Big clothes to cover tiny ones: If you wear tiny clothes, girls, be sure to bring something to cover shoulders, stomach, and thighs, or you may be forbidden to enter some really interesting places.

One nice outfit: If you have only your favorite holey tshirt and baggy shorts to wear, you might feel a little wierd going into some nice places, like a really delicious restaurant. Let your Mom buy you at least one polo shirt and a pair of chinos.

Bring a book: Hanging out waiting for planes and hotel check-ins can be boring business. Bring several books (paperbacks are lighter) to read. English books are not easy to find in Italy. Also the Italy Discovery Journal is a nice companion to help you while away some of that waiting time.

Pointers from Parents

A Few Practical Ideas

One carry-on sized rolling suitcase per person is our standard family luggage, except for Mom who gets one size larger. Even small travelers can have their own suitcase and enjoy the responsibility. However, any distraction can erase it from their minds, so, as usual, parents need to be ultimately responsible. We also give each child a backpack to carry the things they need to have near them throughout the trip.

We take two collapsable bags, like this Zip Out Tote that hold laundry and allow us to reallocate clothing to make room for souvenirs.

I recommend the travel-sized vacuum bags. They really work; when you roll them up the air is squeezed out and it stays out. They are perfect for underwear and laundry.

Travel-sized bottles of mosquito repellant in a formula you like are a good idea. Mosquitoes in quantity aren't usually a problem, but few Italian buildings have screens, so even one hungry mosquito can ruin a night's sleep and leave everyone scratching. And, yes, Italians do have repellant but puzzling out the ingredients could be a shopping challenge.

Great Ideas from Gail

Traveler, Teacher and Mom Shares Her Tips

I recently sent a copy of the Italy Discovery Journal off to Gail Pattison, a teacher who specializes in gifted children, but also a very experienced traveler. She sent me a wonderful email, filled with great ideas for traveling families, so without further ado...

The Journal arrived a couple of days ago and I have been having such fun going through it! You have included so much! (I LOVE finally getting the rules to Italian card games!) And I have little to offer as far as ideas...

FOR PARENTS: Don't take what you can buy there. I met a Mom who was struggling with a giant backpack filled with coloring books crayons, candy, paper, pencils, snacks, even bottles of water... It is all THERE and more fun for kids to purchase themselves.

Although it is good for kids to take a backpack of favorite things, especially for the plane trip, hotel and long train rides, I don't think anyone should carry anything that can't be comfortably hung across their chest while sightseeing (leaving hands free). Purses, backpacks, etc. are too easy to leave at the last outdoor café, or get stolen. Wear a fanny pack, or some small bag with a tiny medical kit (two band aids,a couple of wask-ups, a travel size Neosporin, aspirin, two antacids, and two ImodiumAD. They all fit in an old Altoids tin. If you need more stuff, there are pharmacies everywhere.

Great idea to grab a card or matchbook cover of where you are staying, and I include a small family picture. Euros can be kept in a very small change purse or baggie (The snack size baggies are invaluable) We were given little hard sided cases to carry a cell phone in, and they would be perfect for kids. And I think all kids should have a little camera for their OWN pictures, not what parents want them to take.

The teacher in me says to take one "read-aloud" paperback to quiet kids before bed. The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by Konigsburg or Walk Two Moons or something very good and long. A few pages a night, only.

Travel takes a lot of choices away from kids, so giving them any possible choice is a good thing. "Do you want to eat at this café, or that café?" and if traveling with more than one - each day one is the "decider." Works really well if your kids are born on odd and even days, but if not - colors work. (It is a blue day, so Megan makes the final decision."

A great debrief for each day, while you are waiting for the not-too- speedy Italian waiter to bring dinner, is to have each person respond to the following: ( And someone writing it down for each day) What was the Best______? What was the funniest ______________? What was the worst __________? What was a surprise? What tasted best? A collection of these make a great trip memento.

KIDS Some ideas for Kids to Collect and Display: Magnets from each place, then at home, decorate a cookie sheet with Italian colors in a ribbon-border and/or paint a map in the center and display all the magnets by where they were purchased. The same could be done with soccer club badges.

You mentioned the flags in Siena - they look great hung on a curtain rod. (Also the soccer flags) And all those cheap souvenirs? ( I believe in letting kids make their own choices with their own spending money) How about a Shadow Box?

I had a friend who had her kids send postcards to themselves at home - instant collection and fun to see when they returned. Ticket stubs, menus, travel guide sheets, etc. make a great collage frame for the Best picture for each child.

You were right on about picking a specific thing to look for in a museum and then just find that. Also, You are right, the catacombs are always a real hit. You can also go out in the countryside and see a cross section of the aqueduct.

The Best Italy Guide For Kids

Adventures, Quests, and Wierd Sights

This kid-focused guide book and journal offers more than 500 ideas to help kids and their families enjoy travel in Italy. It reduces whining and gets them engaged in popular culture, goofy observations, and strange history.

Cynthia Harriman, author of Take Your Kids to Europe, reviewed the Italy Discovery Journal and wrote: "Italy Discovery Journal is the best educational travel-guide available for kids. Starting with the reasonable assumption that other guides already list places to go and things to see, Pat Byrne has largely skipped those listings. In their place, she's created a unique collection of activities that encourage kids 6-16 to truly observe and interact with Italy during their visit..."

Family Friendly Travel Insurance

Protect Your Vacation Investment

What if you and your family arrive in Italy and your baggage doesn't?

What if your vacation is interrupted by weather or other unforeseen events?

What if you lose your long-planned vacation investment because you have to cancel your trip?

It happens to travelers every day. Airlines and accommodation payments are usually non-refundable except in the most narrow of circumstances and, even in those cases, they may only apply your money to future travel.

The recommended solution is travel insurance. Travelex is very affordable, plus it is designed for families: children under 16 are covered at no cost when accompanied by a covered adult.

Plenty of Room at this Family Friendly Place in Tuscany

The one-bedroom apartments at Villa Colle are the best value in a Tuscan vacation I know of. The spotless apartments are in the heart of Chianti, an easy drive to Florence and Siena. Popular San Gimignano is so close you can see it from the nearby hill.

If you don't mind using the sofa bed, four people can stay here for $165/night. Enjoy the pool and walk to the medieval town of Colle di Val d'Elsa. And, you don't have to stay or pay for a week, four nights stays are accepted.

If this is just right or isn't quite what you have in mind, send me an email with your dates and needs and let me see what I can find for you.

ˇ  Villa Colle





Have a wonderful time in Italy whether you travel by plane, auto, or armchair.



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