9 tips to enjoying markets with kids

9 tips to enjoying markets with kids

by Courtney Woodruff
Stripes Europe

Today's Countdown to Christmas is sponsored by: 

Our boys were four and almost two when we eagerly made our way across the German border and into France to attend our first European festival. While our first fest experience as a family was magical in many ways, there were plenty of tears and moments of frustration, as well. It would be dishonest of me to say there was not a cloud of disenchantment hanging over our heads at the end of the day. It’s true, exploring Europe with little ones is an entirely different adventure. It requires a good deal of planning, patience, and preparation, but … it is all well worth it. Here are a few of the tips and tricks that can help you make the most of any European fest with kids in tow.

1) If possible, leave the stroller at home.

Attempting to navigate a stroller over narrow, uneven cobblestone streets jam-packed with fest-goers can be awkward and frustrating at best. Invest in a good-quality baby carrier for a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

2) Go early.

Festivals tend to get more and more crowded and rambunctious as the day progresses. To keep your family from getting too overwhelmed, head out in the morning to enjoy the sights, sounds and street fare before the evening masses arrive.

3) Bring snacks, naptime necessities and a favorite toy.

Hunger mixed with a dash of boredom and exhaustion is a recipe for disaster for young children. To avoid an epic meltdown, pack plenty of munchies, water or juice boxes to keep them hydrated, a blanket or lovey to soothe them when they get sleepy, and a cherished plaything or two to keep them occupied.

4) Consider staying in the area overnight.

If you’re attending a fest more than an hour or two away, book an inexpensive room at a nearby hotel ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about rushing through the day to get home before the kids’ bedtime. Plus you’ll have a comfortable, quiet place for younger ones to retreat to for nap time during the day.

5) Dress your kids in clothing that stands out.

Although it may sound a bit quirky, bright colors, matching outfits and funny hats — the more elaborate and silly the better — can help you to quickly pick your little ones out of the crowd in the event that you get separated. 

 

6) Know where the potties and playgrounds are.

As soon as you arrive, sweep the area like Jason Bourne to locate the bathrooms and parks nearest you. You never know when you might need to make a quick escape with a potty-training toddler or fussy baby.

7) Go with friends.

Friends make everything better. The kids can entertain one another while the grown-ups enjoy soaking up the sights, flavors, and beauty of another European city. Life-long friendships are forged in moments like these.

8) Prepare for unexpected weather.

Dress in layers, bring an umbrella or poncho and keep an extra pair of shoes for the kiddos in the car, just in case you run into a surprise rain or snow shower.

9) Have phone numbers handy.

Ensure you have emergency phone numbers, as well as contact information for local law enforcement agencies, your military unit, and each of the adults you are traveling with. Consider writing contact information on the label inside your little ones’ coats, or on the underside of an inconspicuous bracelet.

Come back tomorrow for the next day of our Countdown to Christmas! 

Today's Countdown to Christmas is sponsored by: 

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