So you have done your preparation and you are on your way… well almost:
friendly tip: Travel light – you will have to carry all your own luggage at some stage on the trip, maybe even for a long way… if you can’t carry it easily then you have way too much stuff… remember take nearly empty bags there because you will want to shop – trust me!
friendly tip: If your kids are shorter than knee high then get them used to sitting in a backpack – they will prefer to be able to see everything and there is no room on the bustling streets of London for a stroller let alone launching up and down escalators to the Underground.
Otherwise, while traveling with small kids is not for the fainthearted … and when we got on the plane fellow travelers literally scurried away in terror of sitting near us! But we flew at night…and here’s the thing – kids SLEEP at night – well mostly… not like the lady who climbed over my son seventeen times in one night to get to the restrooms – hello! Or the man who was watching comedy movies behind us and GUFFAWED his way over Africa, we didn’t have the privilege of his headphones! The kids were wildly excited, but all the excitement of traveling and getting onto the plane and then their own TV (we are normally unplugged) almost blew their minds and within half an hour of take-off they were all asleep and perfect passengers.
Right now as soon as you have landed get yourself into London – use the Underground we found people were happy to help us when we needed help and it was easier than it looked! and you should have your plans good to go. We landed and ran from one sight to the next… Forget about a rest after the flight we were too excited and needed to be seeing things. The trick here is to balance your indoor and outdoor sights… we alternated museums with beautiful parks and take whatever you know about museums and redefine it in London… forget stuffy, untouchable quiet places… They are kid friendly – stuff is meant to be touched, prodded, pulled and they expect you to talk and ask and generally be alive… I guess with their grotty weather they have to adapt their indoor activities to actual little humanoids and not just pretend they go outside when they get a teensy bit rowdy.
We got into a London routine pretty quickly: stuffed (!) ourselves on the hotel breakfast then went to a sight after the morning rush hour and onto a museum, then outdoors for a picnic in the park – thank you Tesco!, always one nearby to grab a yogurt or rolls and easy snacks – then refreshed back into the museum and ended the day with a trip into some wonderful London shop, some of which are more like museums than shops! If the weather was really awful then we headed to the picnic spot within the museum (they have those – don’t faint – the actually cater for this).
I will talk about the museums, sights and shopping tomorrow but lets first take a break and look at the Royal Parks…
Their parks are really beautiful: full of people, flowers and lovely things to look at. We were simply amazed at the number of people just relaxing in the parks. We felt terribly safe and didn’t feel a need to be overly cautious and clutching onto our belongings. Not to mention not at all intimidated by having a bunch of boisterous hoodies dashing about between people reading on benches and such – we found that children were expected to be children, very nice.
Our kids have played hide and seek in St James Park,
they have ambled down Regent’s Park people watching after a morning at the zoo,
they have gone with a “treasure map” looking for Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens,
and they have chased squirrels in Greenwich Park…
Our London friends were all very keen for us to visit the children’s play areas within the parks – but ours were thrilled to be out in the open air, and to be honest the play parks looked really crowded and somewhat frantic. They open areas were lovely full of all sorts of natural things to poke around and examine – wonderful and relaxing for all of us.
More about London tomorrow…