Traveling with kids can seem daunting. Exhausting. Expensive. Not worth the trouble.
But it IS worth it!
Last month, my husband and I took our four-year-old and eight-month-old to New York City. NYC is one of our favorite cities and we had the itch to take another trip to the Big Apple and decided to share the trip with our kids. At first I was very hesitant to take the kids because it seemed like too much stress with air travel, car seats, strollers, sleep schedules, and what the heck is there to do in NYC for kids??
After many hours of research, rest assured that a trip to New York City WITH kids can be a blast for the whole family!
1. Air Travel
No matter the mode of transportation, traveling with kids can be tricky. If traveling by air, try to find a non-stop flight. This way once you board the plane you can relax (eh, maybe not, but at least there’s no stress of lugging carry-ons through another airport at lightning speed?). If you can only snag a flight with a connection, try to give yourself at least an hour lay over — planes start boarding approximately 30 minutes prior to departure and with a potty break, a toddler that “needs a rest,” and maneuvering your carry-on luggage through a busy airport you’ll want some extra time. Another tip: If you have a connecting flight, you may want to check all your luggage minus a diaper bag with snacks and toys.
Research your airline to see what they allow you to carry on in addition to your “carry-on.” For example, United allows a diaper bag and a breast pump to be carried on in addition to your typical carry-on. Also, if you’ll need to bring formula or breast milk, make sure you double check what your airline (and security) allows. Many airlines will give you ice to keep breastmilk cold and even warm up breastmilk and formula.
While infants and children under two do not require a ticket and may be classified a lap child, it is recommended to use an FAA approved car seat for air travel.
2. Car Services
If you don’t want to mess with car seats through an airport, rest easy knowing you can hire a car service that will have car seats installed when they pick you up! We used Jupiter Car Service and we were able to tell them we needed a rear facing infant seat and a forward facing toddler seat. They were correctly installed, clean and worked perfectly for our travel to and from the airport. The car seats added $5 per seat to our fare — totally worth not having to lug them through the airport!
I highly recommend bringing a stroller with you, however you may want to leave the BOB at home. The lighter weight strollers work perfectly for air travel, and carrying up and down the subway stairs. I did a lot of research on lightweight options that offered more than just a typical umbrella stroller. I decided on the Zoe XL1 Deluxe ($129.99). The selling points that interested me were the following: It’s only 10 pounds and you can purchase a backpack to store and carry the stroller in — worked great through the airport so we didn’t have to push the stroller AND our carry on luggage. I will admit, the backpack is wider than I am, so it seemed a bit bulky, but again, I loved the backpack carry option. I also wanted a seat that would recline; while this one doesn’t recline flat, it still worked great for us. It also includes two cup holders (one for the adult and one for the child), a snack cup that attaches to the stroller, and a belly bar to keep the wiggly ones in. The Zoe XL1 Deluxe also includes a basket under the seat and an extra large shade. Another great option is the Baby Jogger City Mini. It is pricier and heavier, so I highly recommend figuring out the options that are most important to you.
4. What to do in NYC
The moment I decided to take the kids to NYC, is when I came to conclusion that there are many families that live in NYC so there HAD to be a lot of options for kids. There are SO many options to visit the city and keep the kids happy and entertained.
- Yankees Game: We attended a night game with both kids and we all had so much fun! A night game may be hard on your family’s schedule, but it was shaded and cooler than a day game (and the only option while we were in town). If you make it to Yankee Stadium and it’s your first game, make sure to stop by Guest Relations in section 128 to snag your “First Yankees Game” certificate for free!
- Coney Island: After watching Uptown Girls years ago, I knew I needed to ride the tea cups, so a trip to Coney Island was a must! After getting off the subway, you’ll see a vintage amusement park and the ocean! Coney Island offers rides for toddlers up to adults. Feel free to a pack a beach bag and enjoy the Atlantic Ocean and the beach while you are there. There is a boardwalk with perfectly delicious food options. The original Nathan’s Hotdog stand is here. SO much fun and so cool to see!
- Central Park Zoo: It’s a small zoo, but it is definitely one of my favorites!
- Central Park: SO much to see and do here. In the summer, there’s a small carnival/amusement park set up and in the winter it’s an ice skating rink. There’s water, grass to play, bridges and arches to see — check out the Bethesda Fountain! You can ride a horse and carriage for a tour around the park. Bring walking shoes and the stroller!
- Staten Island Ferry: Free 20 minute ferry ride to Staten Island — 40 minute roundtrip — and you get a great view of the Statue of Liberty. We didn’t have time to do this, but it’s on the list for next time!
- Check out this list for even more!
- Contact a photographer for a photoshoot while in town! My husband and I did this on our last trip without the kids and I love having such cool backgrounds! We used Photography by Asiya.
- Other obvious options include: Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, and Times Square.
The #1 tip for traveling with kids: If your budget allows, always splurge for a suite! This past trip it cost an extra $14 a day for a suite-totally, which was worth it for us! When we travel to NYC, we usually stay at Wellington Hotel. It is located on 7th Avenue, just a few blocks from Times Square and Central Park. It’s been a great choice each time due to its proximity to everything, including the Subway. There is a Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts across the street, as well as a diner right beside the hotel.
6. Tips and Tricks
When planning your trip, take into account your children’s schedules and don’t overbook your days — for YOUR sanity! Give yourself some wiggle room and if needed, time to head back to the hotel for a nap.
Take the Subway! It’s cheap and a neat experience. Feel free to talk to the attendant while purchasing your Metro Card if you have any questions. You can use Google Maps for directions and it will give you the train you need to take and when it will arrive.
If you have a baby, bring a baby carrier — the Ergobaby is my favorite.