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Traveling with Children

Most of the information in the London Guide is aimed at younger to older adults who are travelling solo, or perhaps with another friend. For those of you who have accepted the challenge to see London with their entire family, we thought we'd put together a few tips and ideas to help you out.

 

1.  Trips with children will be at a slower pace and you should have a few contingency plans (Plan B,C,D,E) because you may have to adapt, depending on the child's interest and patience.  Better yet, have older children fully participate in the trip planning so they feel they are a part of the experience which will lead to less complaining.

2.  Before take-off:  To keep your child's ears comfortable, while the plane is taking off have a baby suck on a bottle, a toddler suck a lollipop and older children chew gum.  The passengers will thank you.

3.  On the plane ride over surprise your child with an activity package in a stiff manila envelope (or give out one piece every half an hour to keep them entertained):  travel-size game (i.e. checkers), crossword puzzle or search-a-word books, puzzles, re-usable stickers, colouring books, crayons, finger puppets, travel-size Magna Doodle, small lego sets, reading books (maybe you can use London as the theme for the package).

4.  Take a change of clothes for yourself and your child in your carry-on luggage.

5. With babies:  a good child carrier may be easier than maneuvering a stroller through the crowded streets of London, the tube also gets extremely busy during rush hour so it is virtually impossible to get you, the stroller and the family on.

6.  Carry baby wipes in a ziploc bag regardless of your children's age because there is bound to be a case of sticky hands.  A few band-aids may also come in handy for small cuts or blisters.

7.  Have some type of ID for older children, other than their passport.  You may want to carry a couple of extra passport photos, just in case they are required.

8.  Bring dark colored clothing that can be layered and coordinated easily.  You do not want to spend your entire trip doing laundry.

9.  On the Heathrow Express to Paddington station up to four children under 15 can travel for free as long as they are accompanied by one adult.

10.  You can buy Family Travelcards which are valid on the tube and most buses.  Can be used for one to two adults travelling with one to four children under 15.  Children that are 14 and 15 require child photocards which are made at the tube station for free (here is where a passport photo will come in handy).  A Family Travelcard for Zones 1 & 2 will cost 2.60 for adults and 0.80 for children.

11.  London is one of the most child-friendly cities in Europe.  Many parks and gardens offer year-round entertainment, whilst shops, restaurants and attractions have improved facilities to cater for kids.

12.  The following museums in London are free for children and often offer interactive displays where your child can learn while having fun:  Science Museum, Museum of London, Imperial War Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, Museum of Childhood, Museum of the Unknown.

13.  On Regent St you will find Hamley's, a seven floor toy store that will take your child's breath away or the Warner Brother's store.  On Oxford St you will find the Disney Store.

14.  Other attractions that may interest your child(ren):  Legoland, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, London Zoo, London Aquarium, Open Deck Bus Tour.

15. While in London keep your child (and yourself) happy by keeping them busy: have your child read the tube map and navigate to your destination, buy them a disposable camera and have them take pictures of the major sights, have them keep a journal of the trip where they can draw pictures, write stories and glue brochures onto the pages, find a museum map before you arrive and have your child plan what exhibits to see.
 
 
Hopefully these tips and ideas will assist you in planning your family trip to London.  You'll find that many attractions in London will provide entertainment for both adults and children.  London is a fabulous city for children of all ages, crammed with places to visit, amazing sights, parks to play in and, of course, toystores galore to explore.
Happy travelling . . .


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