Our first trip with our little son outside Austria took us to Prague. By train. Why Prague? And why by train? Well, Prague is located at a distance from Vienna that on the one hand side can easily be combined with “baby sleep during the day” (it is about four hours by train), and on the other hand side, the train journey was very appealing to us in terms of simplicity. Simply boarding the train at Vienna Central Station: A man, a suitcase, a pram, a baby. And simply getting off at Prague Central Station. Easy, right?
Haha. It was (almost) as easy as that!
Here are six travel tips for getting on the way with baby, and a little more about our experiences in the Czech capital. My first tip is for:
1. Taking a great hotel and the (family-friendly) train!
The Austrian Train Service ÖBB really did surprise us in a positive way: The so-called “family compartment” kept its promises, the seat reservation with the small table worked, play tables and a small film theatre with benches were available for bigger children, and the changing table inside the spacious (handicapped) toilet as well as the storage space for the pram were well thought of. It all meant we could focus entirely on our train journey with baby. Lovely.
In Prague, it paid off to book a nice four-star spa hotel (after all, it was also a matter of celebrating my birthday on the day of the trip! 🙂 ). We received a free upgrade for a junior suite and ended up spending a lot of time there cuddling and sleeping with baby. Liam also loved the whirlpool tub in the bathroom, and the way to the spa area, where we simply put Liam on a couch with us, was never far! Service, breakfast and the beautiful restaurant area with a view of Prague fortress all had us say: Hotel Hoffmeister, we will be back!
2. “Must-Haves” and “Nice-To-Haves”: Passport, travel insurance, seat reservations, etc.
Tip number two is about getting (more) organised with baby. We took out a cancellation insurance for both the hotel and the train (in case of the train, there was an extra charge of just a few euros). Seat reservations in the train were a must, too, we believe, and you also need a passport for travelling abroad with baby (in Austria, the baby passport is valid for two years, free of charge, and delivered within one week by the authorities). So much for planning and preparing. The rest was really that easy: “Just get in the train, just travel, just relax”.
3. Packing for the three of us: 1 suitcase, 1 pram & 1 baby sling!
Wonderful just how much storage space a baby pram can offer beyond your own handbag! We easily stored the pram’s rain protection, Liam’s carrying aid, an umbrella, several sets of spare clothes for him, diapers, wet wipes and toys there. Everything else (for four days of travel), we packed in our (shared) family suitcase (if you want to read more about a baby packing list, I have published one here). It was nice to have everything together in one suitcase, and if Liam wanted to get out of the pram (natural for him to be wanting to “see everything”, at the age of four months), we just put him in his little baby sling and carried him this way. That too proved easy, even though he already weighs quite a lot at almost eight kilos!
4. “Slow Travel”: Adjust your expectations.
With a small baby, who also needs his naps during the day, our advice is to travel without a checklist (this museum, this place, this tour, etc.). Just go with the flow, that’s the motto! After breakfast, we always let Liam have another nap and only left the hotel in the late morning; in the afternoon, he fell asleep in his sling or inside the pram. We managed to explore Prague Gardens, the city centre and the district near the famous Charles Bridge. Once I even took the opportunity to “steal away” on my own – with baby staying with daddy in the hotel room!
5. Flexibility is everything (baby already teaches you that).
Rainy weather? We simply opted for a boat tour on the river, which you can easily do with baby and pram. Baby has fallen asleep and will soon be awake again? No problem: Google Maps helped pointing us to the nearest cafés (after all, breastfeeding and diaper changing is not always easy out and about, especially when the weather is cooler and the baby is getting bigger and bigger inside his little pram). However …
6. Don’t forget to have fun!
Last but not least: With all the excitement that a first trip abroad with a baby means (for the baby and for us as young parents!), it is important not to take everything so seriously. The baby spits at the breakfast table? Everything can be wiped away. Baby needs nappie time? Reading in bed in your hotel room can very well double as quality time on your holiday, too. And after all … it was fun for us to see how we could continue to indulge our wanderlust with baby.
Right, little Liam?
In my next blog post, I will tell you more about the city of Prague and our impressions of how to best escape mass tourism (which we didn’t always succeed, however…). Amazing just how much is going on in Prague!
What are your impressions of Prague, and / or travelling with baby and toddler?