We took a totally amazing trip to Stockholm in September of 2015 with our (then) 16 month old toddler. Initially, I was very worried almost to the point where I didn’t want to go. I was anxious about the flight, the time difference, the exhaustion…but everything worked out and Adam and I say all all the time how it was actually one of the best trips ever! Who would have thought!
I get asked all the time about the trip, along with basic traveling with kids info, so I thought I would share today.
First of all – the flight. It’s long. It’s brutal. You just have to breathe and get through it. When we booked our tickets, I had specifically asked for seats in front that had the bassinet feature. When we boarded and found our seats, Adam and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. There was NO WAY our almost 30lb toddler was going to fit in that bassinet. No way. Grayson had been on tons of flights, but never an overnight flight so this was uncharted territory. So, I gave the kid some bendaryl, popped him in the Tula and hoped for the best. Y’all, it was rough. We live in California and he finally fell asleep over Greenland. It was a long night…but totally worth it when we touched down!
For international flights with young kids, here is what we recommend in your carry-on:
Diapers, diapers, diapers…and more diapers. (we had just transitioned out of cloth diapers then and used Honest, which I highly recommend!)
Small toys that you have individually wrapped in tin foil. Trust me on this. Half of the “fun” here is opening the packaging…plus, it takes longer. I went to the dollar bins at Target and just bought a lot of little things that I wrapped up. It was our saving grace!
Change of clothes for child and for you
About 5,000 snacks
Packets of instant oatmeal for breakfast. Have the flight attendant just give you some hot water so you can mix it yourself.
A few new board books that will keep their attention
Their “lovey” from home – blanket, stuffed animal…
Baby carrier (we used our Tula on the plane and on our trip and highly recommend it)
We landed in Stockholm in the late afternoon and took public transportation from the airport to downtown. Then, from there, we walked to our Airbnb flat. On one hand, it was nice to take a brisk walk outside after being cooped up on the plane for the past 12 hours…on the other hand, it was brutal to carry our bags and Grayson for about seven blocks. Thinking back, I don’t know why we just didn’t get a cab. I don’t think we knew how far it really was and we were just so tired that we went for it. Mom fail.
Our flat was AMAZING. If you go to Stockholm and have kids, you need to stay here. Seriously. It was in a great, safe location with quick walking access to lots of parks, restaurants and coffee shops. It was the perfect size for a small family and since the family who lives there has four kids, there were tons of age appropriate toys for us to borrow. I am so glad we decided to spend a little more and stay somewhere nice like this — it made the biggest difference.
We spent the next week with no real agenda, just exploring the city!
Here are some of the favorite places we visited:
Old Town (Gamla stan) – this is the most adorable old town I have ever been to! Lots of great shops and restaurants here. We spent our first afternoon exploring and had the best time. The cutest toy stores!
Vasaparken – this HUGE park was near our flat so we frequented it often during the week we were visiting. It has a lovely playground for the kids and lots and lots of green space to run free.
Skansen – kids will love this huge open-air museum. Plus, to get there you need to take a ferry…which is an experience in and of itself. Grayson LOVED riding the ferry around! Skansen is literally something out of a movie – it’s hard to explain, you just need to visit! If you love history (and dressing up like pioneers), you will love Skansen. Enough said.
NK Stockholm – this is the biggest department store I have ever been in! It’s a must for shopping and their children’s department is just amazing.
Museum of Modern Art – This was a fun morning activity for us. The highlight was the absolutely incredible (and very kid-friendly!) restaurant at the top. It had 360 degree views of the city and a big buffet of every kind of food possible. We loved this!
Fotografiska – My favorite museum that we went to. This is a photography museum and I wore Grayson in the carrier while strolling around. They have a wonderful cafe and shop as well.
And here is a list of the restaurants/cafes we went to and loved:
Sven Harrys – it’s attached to Vasaparken so you can play at the playground then go inside for a hot lunch.
Urban Deli – our favorite restaurant that we ate at! Half of it is a little gourmet market and the other half is a restaurant. They have a wonderful kid’s menu and food from all over (it’s not just herring…cough cough). Plus, the neighborhood that this restaurant is in is really neat with lots of cool shops and a great playground.
StikkiNikki – delicious ice cream in about a thousand flavors
Fabrique – BEST bakery with the most incredible cardamom buns and coffee. I am pretty sure we went daily 🙂
Joe and the Juice – great spot for yummy green smoothies and snack items
Garage del Gusto – the loveliest little Italian restaurant that we ate at twice. Adam and I said this was the best food we ate on our whole trip – highly recommend!
After spending a week exploring the city, we took a bus to a little country home on Varmdo, one of many Stockholm’s archipelagos. This was SO nice. And I felt like I hit the Airbnb jackpot because our cabin was absolutely perfect. I mean, just look at how cozy it was!
We only stayed there for three nights, but it was just perfect. One day we took the ferry over to another island and explored all day…it was so fun! The food wasn’t my favorite, but other than that it was perfect. 😉
I get asked a lot about tips for adjusting kiddos to time zones and unfortunately I don’t think you’re going to like my answer…or non-answer. The truth is, I don’t really know. I can tell you that right when we got to Stockholm, it was about 4pm local time but (obviously) felt like the middle of the night to us. Right when we got to our flat, everyone took a nap for ONE HOUR and then I woke everyone up and we got outside for fresh air, a long walk and dinner. That way, we were ready to go to bed around 9pm-ish. That first night, Grayson slept for like 16 hours! Adam and I struggled with the WORST jetlag but Grayson slept amazing the whole trip and we kept knocking on wood the whole time. Little people are so resilient!
So – if you are thinking about the idea of traveling abroad with your baby or toddler, I say DO IT. It’s not that scary and you will make lifelong memories. We talk about our Stockholm trip still all the time and can’t wait to go back one day. My dream is to do a Denmark/Finland/Norway trip one day. I love the Nordic countries (and, well, I’m nordic myself so it makes sense). My biggest tip, I think, when traveling with little kids is to just lower your expectations…and then take those expectations and throw them out the window. 😉 Seriously though. I mean you can’t really have an agenda and you just need to take each day/minute/second as it comes. The hardest part is always the flight and once you get past that, it’s wonderful. We can’t wait to travel more with our family in the days that come.
LauraFebruary 14, 2017 at 2:41 pm
Such an amazing trip!! I love the picture of you and Grayson in the hammock–so precious!
EmmaFebruary 14, 2017 at 7:25 pm
I feel I must add – time change adjustments are easy with kids, but only up to a point. Once the change is 12hrs+, it gets scary. I’ve got two little kids and we live overseas and do multiple Long distance trips every year and despite doing everything “right” to help adjust to a new time zone, the 12+ hour changes are just really rough.
katie sandersFebruary 16, 2017 at 9:31 am
I think it probably depends on the kids! My mom and I are tentatively planning a trip to Scotland in September but I have a son who will be just under two then…. He doesn’t adjust well even going to visit my parents one time zone away so I am thinking of putting it off..
Candice HigdonFebruary 14, 2017 at 7:42 pm
I am beyond happy that you are back. It’s kind of like an old friend coming home. 🙂
ShannonFebruary 15, 2017 at 3:53 am
First, I’m so glad your back! So, so glad!! Second, thanks for this. I’m in the planning stages of a trip to Iceland this summer with my husband and (will be) 20 month old. We chose Iceland because the flight isn’t as long (and we want to see it!). I remembered seeing you post about your trip to Sweden on IG. I’ll be keeping your tips in mind. Wrapping toys in aluminum foil = genius.
Jan AlexanderFebruary 15, 2017 at 6:05 am
Glad you’re back! Love the pics & tales of your trip#
Kalyn @ Goaloflosing.comFebruary 15, 2017 at 10:43 am
Great advice! I have a sister that will be traveling back home with her baby this year; I will pass along the information! 🙂
LauraFebruary 15, 2017 at 12:03 pm
My husband and I went to Sweden in February of 2015 to visit family and LOVED it! We spent half of our time with family in the country and the other half in Stockholm. We want to go back but I am scared to fly with a toddler! We flew from NC to TX when she was 11 months old and it was rough.
Why did you transition away from cloth diapers? I loved reading your posts on cloth diapering and it helped me when we decided to do cloth diapers.
jennaFebruary 16, 2017 at 9:41 am
We were dealing with constant rashes that, no matter what I tried, just wouldn’t stop. The only thing that made the rashes go away for good was switching to disposibles. 🙁
Christina @ montessoriishmom.comFebruary 16, 2017 at 8:29 am
What an amazing trip! I love the idea to wrap the toys you bring on the plane, I’m definitely going to try that!
KrisFebruary 16, 2017 at 3:47 pm
Loving your return to blogging! Thanks for sharing. Do you mind sharing where you got your rain boots in the adorable hammock photo 🙂
KAteFebruary 19, 2017 at 9:22 am
Glad to see you back!! Quick question on the flight- did you buy a seat for your son or have him in your lap? My husband and I will be flying to France from D.C. With our 10 month old in August and we are trying do decide if keeping him on our lap is feasible or insane!
jennaFebruary 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm
I had him in our lap!
CarrieApril 19, 2017 at 7:50 am
Hi Jenna! We’ll be traveling internationally with our 14-month-old this summer, and I’m wondering what you did about a car seat? Other than that, we’ll definitely be following your tips!
jennaApril 19, 2017 at 1:58 pm
We did not bring one! We relied on public transportation while there and the brief second we were in a cab, I just had him in my lap.
MicheleMay 11, 2017 at 10:41 pm
That Hammock picture is so cute. Where did you get your boots in that pic? I’ve been looking for ankle length rain boots.
AliaMay 11, 2018 at 10:44 pm
Hi there, i’m interested to know exactly which Airbnb u tayed in Stockholm?
EmmaMay 16, 2018 at 8:01 am
Thank you for your tips! I’ve made a note to wrap little toys in tin foil.
We have a 2 year old and we are going to Stockholm in July. My husband will be at a conference so my son and I will be exploring by ourselves. Not ideal, but I wasn’t going to miss out on a trip to Stockholm!
I’m planning to bring lots of cardboard “toys” to make with Jack. We will see how that goes.