I’m not sure if you’d call me mad or brave to take our 3 year old (Nova) and 1 year old (Kit) on a city break. Perhaps under normal circumstances you might not think it’s a big deal, but those of you who have been here for a while may remember that our last city break was tricky at times and our last flight back (which just so happened to be a longer one) was a disaster.
The city break was to Kraków in Poland and I found it a bit stressful. You can recap it here. And the the flight I mentioned was for a different trip. It was at the end of last year, so only a few months ago. Basically Kit screamed and cried for all of the journey. She was teething and over tired.
We’ve been so lucky in all our years of family travel, so it was bound to happen at some point, but I can totally see how it could scar some new parents. I saw every minute on that flight, wishing the time away, praying she’d finally give in and sleep. Spoiler alert, she did ten minutes before landing. We’d been in Egypt and I got ill for the second half of the trip (and was for a few weeks after) so yeah, that flight nearly broke me!
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Anyway, I’m telling you this because a lot of people were shocked when we said we were going away again so soon. In my mind I figured the flight couldn’t be any worse. I mean, it was three hours shorter, so I reasoned that even if she did wail for the whole flight it would only be a mere few hours out of our whole trip.
I also fancied trying a city break again because I didn’t want to write off something so doable and normally enjoyable, because of one bad experience. I feel that parenting can be so different from one day to the next and it rarely has anything to do with where I am. One day I feel like I’ve got it nailed and the next I can feel like a rubbish mama.
So yeah, we decided to go for five days in Valencia. And as much as we hoped for the best, we still went with realistic expectations, accepting that it might not be perfect all day long, every day.
Recommended reading: The Cost of Our Family Holiday to Valencia
Flying with Kids
We flew with no-frills airline easyJet. We didn’t pay for our seats, but when we checked-in we were all allocated seats together. Kit is under two years old, so she’s classed as an infant which meant she had to sit on my lap. During take off and landing their seat belt has to be attached to yours and that was a bit of a faff as she didn’t want to sit still. She wanted her own seat like Nova. Of course she did. We managed to distract her a bit until she could take the belt off. We also had to distract her from putting the tray table up and down before the person in front did. She didn’t cry or wail though – was just a bit wriggly, so hurrah!
On the way back I walked up and down the aisle a bit, holding her hands so she could toddle up and down. I probably could have kept her in the seat, but I was a bit restless so I didn’t mind entertaining her.
Nova was a dreamboat, sitting nicely in his seat, excitedly looking out of the window at the other planes, watching his iPad, eating snacks, practicing his handwriting. He’s such a little sweetheart!
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On our flight back as we were queuing to get off the plane I told Nova to have a last look at the cockpit as the door was open and the staff actually invited us in. There was a female pilot in there and she let Nova sit in the spare pilot seat and turned on some switches for him. His face was full of pure joy and to top it off she told me to get my camera out for some snaps of Nova as a co-pilot. How cute and kind is that?! I thought all that sort of stuff had stopped now, but apparently not.
All of our luggage arrived on the carousel safely and our buggy was completely fine. We always drop it off at the gate and never bother with a bag or wrapping it.
Packing for the Family
We’ve travelled with two mini-explorers quite a few times now, so we have our luggage down to a tee. We always check one suitcase in. Yeah it’s an added cost and it’s never full to the brim, but it makes things so much easier. Everyone’s clothes, toiletries and whatever go in there and I use these packing cubes to make it easy to find everyone’s bits. I plan all the outfits, only packing one spare set for all. This makes getting ready in the morning so much quicker (though it still seems to take forever!). I also take nappies for the whole trip so I don’t have to waste precious holiday time searching for a shop that sells them.
Recommended Reading: Family Packing List
Normally we take our car seats with us, but as we didn’t need a car for the whole trip we didn’t take them. We didn’t bother taking our travel cot this time either as Kit is getting a bit too big for it and wow, was it nice not having to faff about checking them in or trying to precariously balance them on the trolley. I usually push the double buggy and carry a backpack, whilst Jay has to balance the luggage and car seats and whatever else on the trolley – usually he can barely see past the mountain of stuff!
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Nova has a Trunki but we didn’t bother taking that. Instead we took two backpacks as our hand luggage. When you’re weighed down with cases and baby equipment it can get a bit too much, so we tried to travel as light as possible on this trip and it definitely worked for us.
Valencia With Kids
Valencia was great! I’m so pleased we decided to try another city break with the kids. The city centre is flat so it’s super easy to stroll about with a buggy (we had our double one). We spent our days roaming the streets, taking in the street art, eating gelato and chasing pigeons. It doesn’t matter where we are, that’s always a given.
We hired bikes and cycled through parks and to the beach. We had lunch with animals at the nature reserve and stocked up on sugary snacks at the local market.
We went in March and had two sunny days, one of heavy rain and two overcast days. The city is definitely geared up for sunny days and much more enjoyable then. On those days we were all super happy even if we were just sitting in a plaza (well, Jay and I sitting with a drink and the little two running about or dipping their hands in fountains). It was also easier at meal times as we could just sit outside. A lot of the restaurants and cafes were quite pokey so we struggled to get the buggy inside even when it was folded up. That said, everywhere we went had highchairs so I do think it’s pretty family-friendly.
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Travelling from the Airport
It’s only a 20-minute drive from the airport to the city centre. We didn’t book a transfer and instead went to the taxi rank. The first taxi refused to take us because he only had one car seat, telling us the police are really strict about it (which suited us fine anyway). The next one had two decent car seats and we had to pay an extra 5 Euros.
After many trips we’ve confirmed that one small room doesn’t work for us. We much prefer a space that allows a room for Nova, one for us and then a room or at least a space like a living room where we can put Kit’s cot.
We found a beautiful bargain apartment in the old part of Valencia. It was so light and stylish. Nova had a big double room with en-suite, as did we and Kit had the living room. The apartment also had a dining room and kitchen so we had loads of space between us all.
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We don’t stay out late with our little ones as it’s too much hard work with bedtimes, so we tend to stick to our home routine; eating at 5pm, winding down with a movie or reading then bathing at 6pm and bed by 7pm. The living space in our apartment really worked with that.
What didn’t work was the single pane windows and the cafes and bars that came alive from about 10pm until about 2am. It felt like we had a party in our apartment every night. Nova’s room was at the back so he couldn’t really hear it. Jay and I struggled with the sounds so we ended up playing white noise through our phones to lull us to sleep!
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Back home Kit sleeps through the night til about 7am. On the trip for the first four nights Kit woke up every few hours. It was like having a newborn again. I don’t know it if it was the unfamiliar room, her bed, her teeth, the noise – who knows. Anyway, we somehow just got on with it and did that parent thing where you manage to function on little sleep and almost forget that you’ve only slept for a few hours.
Typically on the last night she slept all the way through and they both slept past when they’d normally wake up. Our taxi transfer was booked for 8am so we had to wake them up. Why are the sleeping fairies so mean to parents?!
Valencia With Kids – Yay or Nay?
Most a definitely a yay! Our two loved it and Nova couldn’t wait to tell his nursery friends and teacher all about “‘Balencia”. If I was to go back again I’d perhaps go a little later in the year to try and get more sunny days. And I’d definitely pick somewhere with thicker windows!
Oh and Mother’s Day fell when we were away, so I guess I’m a little bit biased towards this Spanish city now. Jay and the mini-explorers had made me a card and matching bracelets at home and surprised me with them on the day, which was too sweet.
I’ll share my guide to Valencia and how much we spent shortly.