Last week we executed our first ever trip with two children (1 and 3 years old) to the beloved city of London.
Many will create havoc in listening to the words “travel” and “children” and I sympathise with them, but to be honest it is not as bad as it may sound. It is definite that sometimes you will find yourself cursing the time you decided to take them with you, but provided you take some good advice, things will be truly easier and more enjoyable compared to what you may initially think. You see, I won’t mention the sheer joy one feels when looking at those young humans cherishing their new experiences in foreign lands where they can discover new things – because at that young age discoverers they are primarily.
Duration. Cost and children uneasiness away from their place means that you need to arrange a trip for no more than 6 nights and for no less than 2 nights. Such duration is enough to acclimatise well in London (and in any other places) and to see things, but also enough to take it easy for a couple of days. We booked a trip of five nights.
Flights. Make sure you book early enough, because under normal circumstances, four people in an aeroplane and you are bound to pay more than 1000 Euros. We booked four months in advance an Easyjet flight for 380 Euros including seat allocation and two 20-kg checked-in bags.
Accommodation. Book in advance. You just cannot afford the chance to leave it for last minute – remember you are traveling with children. Find a hotel with as many amenities as possible – kitchen, fridge, dryer and washing machine, iron board etc. We booked Think Earls Court, at Warwick Rd, Earls Court – a superb new hotel with superb amenities (all the above) and ample – separate – space for kids and adults.
Supermarket. Make sure you stay close to a supermarket where you can shop stuff for the family. Breakfast, dinner and even lunch could be bought there and cooked in the apartment in case the weather does not permit it or if you just decide to stay in. We stayed next to a Tesco open 24 hours a day.
Transport. Make sure you stay somewhere where transport (buses and tube) are handy. You don’t want to be walking for ages or spend a fortune using black cabs every day. We stayed close to Earls Court. You get District Line to all directions and Piccadilly and Circle Line (when on time) and plenty of buses to all directions at Kensington High Street. Getting to Earl’s Court from Heathrow or Gatwick is also easy.
Things to do. Avoid the hassle and bustle of the city centre and see more typical London neighbourhoods where you can move around more easily and with safety. We tried Natural History and Science Museum at South Kensington, walked all of Hyde Park, Knightsbridge and Earls Court. Richmond is also a short ride with the tube and the London Zoo could be a good option for the children. If you are really after extravagant tourist stuff, try Oxford Street, Regents Street and London Eye. When it comes to shopping, although small children may …hamper the whole process, try Kensington High Street, Westfield in White City (10-minute bus ride), King’s Road (for the posh) or Hammersmith for low budget shopping.
Food and Drinks. Bayswater has plenty of options while Westfield in White city comes in handy. Earls Court is also good option. For drinks you can try any pub, ideally in Fulham or any coffee shop around Kings Road, Chelsea.
Cost. Accommodation and flights along with the essential need to go premium in hotels or restaurants when accompanying children (you just cannot give babies food from a dodgy take-away) means that inevitably you are looking at an average of 2000 pounds for a 5-night trip (Accomodation-700, Flights-700, Food and Transport-600). Still, if you take some careful steps, this may come down to 1500 pounds. If you decide to cook every day, trip cost will also fall drastically. We managed, shopping excluded, by booking early enough and flying Easyjet and staying at Thinks Earls Court to spend in total around 1200 Euros (Accomodation-480, Flights-380, Food and Transport-500). It may sound a lot, but for a family with two young children and for the London standards, I think it was a bargain!
For more information, just ask.