When we attempted our first trip to Europe with Jacob, we decided the best thing to do would be to plan our outings and activities around nap time. The kid has always loved structure and does best with a routine. When we went to Copenhagen, he wasn’t even two yet, so he still took a nap in the middle of the day.
He’s almost four now and the kid still takes a nap. Even if he doesn’t sleep, he is pretty chill for nap time and seems to just enjoy the quiet time in bed playing with his toys. That little break in the middle of the day makes him pleasant the whole rest of the day/evening until bed time.
He is NOT car sleeper or stroller sleeper. Never has been. Too much to see! So, rather than having to worry about a cranky, overtired kid on our hands, we stick to our schedule and structure our days around his naps – even on vacation. We did it in Copenhagen and Ottawa and we’ll do it in Barcelona, too!
We start by making a bucket list of all the places we want to go and all the things we want to do while we’re on vacation.
Then we research each place, because we have learned that some places were only open on certain days, or some places offered free or discounted admission on certain days. This kind of helps us narrow down what days we could do things.
Just as an example, if a museum was closed on Mondays, we’d make sure to schedule it for another day. Or if the aquarium was free after 5 p.m. on Thursdays, we’d schedule that trip for the evening on a Thursday. That way we knew we wouldn’t miss out on an activity… or show up somewhere only to find the place was closed. You get the idea.
We fill in the MUST-DO activities (in pencil) on a little calendar to get us started. Then we look and see where the blank spaces are. We look for local events and things that we could do on the days where we don’t have any plans. And sometimes we just leave a spot or two open. If we have something big and exciting planned in the evening, we keep the morning kind of relaxing and low-key. Or if it is going to be a big morning, we have dinner in and just hang out for the night.
For our upcoming trip to Barcelona, we’re already talking about all the things we want to do. We just need to figure out what days we’re going to do them! So I created this handy-dandy little vacation planner to help us with that, and I decided to share it with you! It’s broken into AM/PM sections, which can be helpful if you, too, have a little one who still needs that mid-day nap to get through the day! There are places for you to jot down notes, ideas, meal plans, and costs, too!
And if you’re traveling with a baby/toddler, you might want to check out our printable baby/toddler carry-on packing list!