We are less than a month away from our big adventure to Portugal! I feel a bit behind on planning and packing but I work better under pressure so I know I will get it together at the last minute!
We were lucky to get direct flights to and from London. Normally if it was just the two of us I would try and get to Portugal as fast as possible and hop a flight there within a few hours of landing. But travelling with kids, we decided to get a hotel at the airport so we can clean up, and have a good night's sleep before we take the 2.5 hour flight to Lisbon the next morning. Likewise on the trip home we will stay a night at the airport to ensure we make our flight home as stress free as possible.
For Lisbon, we have booked 4 nights at an airbnb in the Santa Catarina neighbourhood recommended by The New Domestic. It's supposed to be a charming neighborhood that is relatively flat by Lisbon standards and central. After Lisbon we have rented a car and will drive to the Algarve Coast. We have two different rentals in two beach towns about an hour's drive apart. We hope to explore the coast in the car. As we are trying to pack lightly I found a car rental company that rents car seats for a small fee (warning some other car companies were charging huge fees for carseat rentals!).
When travelling with kids I find it best to plan for the best, but prepare for the worst. We need our accommodations to be comfortable enough that if we spend more time there than we had hoped (ie. sickness, weather, meltdowns, weird nap schedules) we won't be upset. I made sure all of our rentals have a kitchen and some have a washer and dryer. Doing this on a budget is challenging but hopefully we've made some good choices. So far Portugal seems very kid friendly as all of our accommodations offered a crib free of charge, so we have decided not to bring our travel crib and have one less piece of luggage.
We have an older McLaren umbrella stroller that we plan to bring even though everyone warns me we won't be able to use it in Lisbon. Even if we just use it in the airports and a couple other times the stroller will be worth it for us to bring. Especially since Mae tips the scales at 22 lbs now. Because it's older (we bought it second hand and then wore it out) I'm not precious about it and don't care if it gets damaged on the trip. I wouldn't bring our Bugaboo Bee on a plane, it is my main transportation at home and if something happened to it I would be lost.
Mapping it Out
I've decided to work on a rough outline of places we would like to visit in each area. But all of this will be very loose and flexible. Mostly I worry about eating at good places so I'm working on a Google Map of recommended places so that if we find ourselves in a certain neighborhood we don't miss our chance to see or eat something great! (Shout out to reader Madalena for her wonderful suggestions, can't wait to try them!)
Our big plan is to bring one full size suitcase and one carry-on suitcase for 4 people (+ backpacks and 1 stroller) . I plan to do this by packing only 4-5 outfits per person in a similar colour palette so everything matches. On the recommendation of a wise friend I picked up some packing cubes and am going to try those for suitcase organization. This will mean limiting shoes for everyone and only packing the diapers we need to get there and buying them in Portugal. I'm going to do a test pack pretty soon to see if everything can fit!! Hopefully our efforts to minimize everyone's closets these past few months has paid off and this won't be so tough. I will hopefully share our packing list here just in case anyone else is planning a Europe trip with a baby and toddler too!