Yes, we are slightly crazy for taking our two-year-old to Italy for a month, but honestly, it was a month packed full of memory building as a family and something we can't wait to do again now that we have a second child.
We spent a month in Italy - with our home base in Florence - and we took day trips and weekend trips out to nearby cities like Venice and Lucca. We packed everything in backpacks and carryons - that's right, no checked bags for a month long stay with a toddler!
Here are the must-haves we had while traveling to Europe with a toddler! Even if you aren't planning a long-haul flight with a little, these are great investments for travel with your family near and far.
Of course we used in-flight entertainment too! Especially when our departure flight got delayed over two hours on the tarmac in Milan. Screen time definitely came in handy!
This snack spinner is a game-changer. We still use it for car rides, but it came in clutch on the airplane and on long train rides while in Italy. It's compact so doesn't hold a ton of snacks but cheerios, blueberries, gummies, etc. fit in here great. Snacks are always a great distraction for littles while on long travel days.
For a little non-screen time distraction, the popits are great. They are truly mindless fun and give those little hands some quiet fidgeting. It's also one of those "disposable toys." We once left our popit behind at a resort in Mexico. No biggie - they are cheap and easy to replace!
These books are the gifts that keep on giving. Paxton has the alphabet one and has entertained us at home as well as on airplanes. The water dries out and can be used again and again! All you need is a little bit of water in the handheld brush.
I really didn't want to be THAT parent. But I'm telling you for safety purposes, we really liked having the backpack leash. We could throw wipes, a diaper, water bottle and snacks into the backpack and strap it on him for a day of exploring museums or parks. This gave him plenty of independence, but allowed him to explore safely. No shame in the leashing toddler game, y'all!
This is a non-negotiable for me as a mama. This is truly how I survived lots of walking on cobblestone streets, train trips, and day trips, as well as airplane travel days. We still use this for days at the park, events where strollers are hard to use and navigate small spaces.
What sold us on this travel stroller was the foldable portability. You can completely fold this stroller and it fits under the airplane seat as a "personal item." This also worked great for day trips when we would take the train as we could fold it down for the train and pop it back up for navigating cobblestone. And Italy has some serious cobblestone. This survived it - it's not a luxury ride, but it's definitely a great travel stroller for when you don't want to have to gate check a stroller on a plane.
While some airlines state they do not allow these footrest pillows, we didn't have any issues using this with United. I was very subtle about it and waited until they turned the lights down low, and put Pax in the window seat. He slept so great and honestly I was able to stretch out on it too and get a few hours of sleep as well. I've even used this without my kiddo, and you could even use in the far for longer rides when your kid is older and out of a carseat.
When we were in Florence, our first full day we headed to the most amazing toy store! European toy stores have so many amazing toys we don't have in the states. We found a super fun wooden garden game that ended up being a toy we played with over and over again during our month-long stay. We didn't have enough room in our luggage to bring it home, but a toy from a local toy shop in your destination could also double as a souvenir for your child to commemorate the trip.