So it’s your first trip abroad with your young family! There’s no better destination than Spain. Glorious beaches; swimming pools and sunshine; beautiful scenery; fascinating cities; tapas and paella. But there’s a lot to remember now you have a little one with you.
Here are some top tips to help you organize and plan your first trip to Spain with small children.
Make Sure You Authorize Your Trip
The first part of booking any vacation abroad should be checking what you need to enter the country. To visit most European countries, including Spain, you might just need a valid passport.
Citizens of the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Brazil, and a number of other countries worldwide are all visa-exempt for Spain and the other countries in Europe’s Schengen Area. If you have a passport issued by one of these countries, congratulations! You don’t need a visa to take a holiday in Spain!
It’s worth bearing in mind that from 2023, you WILL need to register online for the new ETIAS visa waiver before traveling to enjoy a visa-free trip. Don’t worry though — this won’t take more than a few minutes.
While all the ETIAS details have not yet been released, you’ll probably have to register each traveler separately, including your children.
If you come from other parts of the world, you may need to apply for a Schengen visa at a Spanish embassy to visit Spain.
What Do You Need to Bring?
Traveling with kids for the first time can be a bit of a shock to the system. So many more things to remember to bring!
There’s the stroller and any baby carrier or papoose that you use for carrying your little one. There’s the diaper supply and the rest of the paraphernalia for changing dirty bottoms.
Of course, your child needs a case full of clothes, just like yourself.
Then you have to ask yourself: are you driving or likely to travel by taxi? Do you need a car seat? Is there a crib where you’re staying or do you need to bring a travel crib? Can you manage to carry a travel high chair?
Here is a useful checklist of the essentials when traveling to Spain with a baby or toddler:- Clothes — if traveling in summer, prioritize short-sleeved shirts and onesies and short pants to deal with the heat; check the weather forecast for where you’re staying and plan appropriately- Hats — to help protect your little ones from the Spanish sun- Swimsuit — if you’re visiting Spain in summer, the odds are you’ll be at the beach, a swimming pool, or both- Baby carrier- Stroller- Car seat (if needed)- Travel crib (if needed)- Feeding supplies — depending on the age of your child this might mean bottles, baby formula, breast pump, baby food, sippy cup, spoons, bibs, etc.- Changing supplies — diapers, wipes, cream, travel changing mat, etc.- Baby sunscreen- First aid kit — thermometer, infant pain relief, rash cream, bandages, nail clippers, etc.- Any prescription medications- Mosquito repellent
Take a look at these top 10 travel must-haves for more ideas.
Baby carrier vs stroller
There are a number of pros and cons of both baby carriers and strollers. Many parents (and even little children themselves) prefer one over the other. When traveling to Spain, there are a few things to bear in mind.
Carriers and papooses can be a lot easier to deal with than strollers on sandy beaches as well as in busy airports. You can’t beat them for maneuverability and when not in use, they take up a lot less space than a stroller.
A lot of infants and toddlers prefer carriers because they can snuggle up against you and feel your body warmth.
Of course, if you’re in the baking Spanish heat in the middle of summer, body warmth is probably the last thing you and your child want.
A stroller takes the extra heat off both your child and yourself, as well as taking the pressure off your legs. It also gives your little one a place to fall asleep during the day if they need a nap.
Honestly, you probably want to bring both.
Check What You Can Bring for Free
The list above may look a bit daunting. Stroller, car seat, travel crib… All bulky items. You’re probably asking: “How much is this going to cost me?”
The good news is that a number of airlines let you take some of these essential items for infants for free!
For example, if you’re flying to Spain from another part of Europe, budget airlines like Ryanair don’t charge you for taking a certain number of essential items like strollers and car seats. You’ll have to check the rules of the airline you’re flying with. You might find that it’s a lot more affordable than you think.
If it turns out that you’re going to have to pay, it might be worth checking if it’s cheaper to hire a car seat through your car rental company and see if you can save some money that way.
Where to Stay in Spain With Little One
There are plenty of options for accommodation in Spain, from hotels to flat rentals to villas. The best options for families are ones where you have your own space to relax with your kids.
Of course, it depends on what part of Spain you’re visiting and whether you’re staying in the city or in a more rural area. For more information, check out our parent’s survival travel guide for Spain.
Villas are generally the favorite option for many families with young children. Having a house to yourself, with space for the little ones to play, makes everything a little easier. Plus, if you manage to get one with a pool, this could be the perfect time to introduce your baby to the water — just remember the rubber ring and water wings!
By the same reasoning, flat rentals and AirBnBs are often the best option when staying in cities like Barcelona or Madrid.
If it’s a beach holiday you’re after, there are plenty of all-inclusive resorts on the Mediterranean coast. These can be very affordable, but with smaller rooms and plenty of other tourists, this might be a better option when your children are a little older. There are often events and activities catering for kids at resorts like these.
The important thing is to weight up your options and decide what is best for you, your kids, and your budget. Spain is such a great destination with so many places to visit that you are sure to have a great time.