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Driving to Italy with children

(10 Posts)
CurlyLizzie Fri 17-Mar-17 14:38:48


I'm new to mums net but hope someone can help.

We're travelling to Italy with a two year old and six month old in a few months. Leaving Dover on the Chunnel on the Friday and aiming to be in Parma by the Monday.

Does anyone have any tips on travelling with children? And any good routes? Places to stop and have lunch / play and also any good hotels en route?

We're thinking of going down via Dijon, Strasbourg and then stopping in Switzerland. Then returning via Mont Blanc tunnel and Geneva / Annecy.

Thank you in advance!

childmaintenanceserviceinquiry Fri 17-Mar-17 14:53:41

check the swiss tunnels for closures. The detours if so are very very lengthy.
Strasbourg has a good number of hotels for stop overs eg ACCOR.
Dont under-estimate the amount of time with 2 such young children that you will be stopping off for rest breaks. Some of the rest stops no cafes are brutally stark. We preferred at one to change our 9 month old on the car park floor - it was cleaner.
you will need a pass to go through Switzerland on the motorway. Annual pass approx 20-40 swiss francs.

We only did the return drive once in our car. We then always flew, but had friends who routinely drove to North italy.

thunderpunt Fri 17-Mar-17 15:23:58

We do this annually to Tuscany, always stick to France, have the Libert-è tag which gets you through the fast lane at the tolls. We invariably stay in the Mercury hotel in Chamonix Les Bossons (have family rooms) and then through the Mont Blanc tunnel into Cormeyuer. Scenery is fantastic around the alps.
We take a picnic for the journey down and stop at the various Aires/service stations for food, leg stretches.
On the way back we normally make our stop around Dijon area
Have a great trip
(If your kids have iPads- BBC iPlayer downloads are your friend!)

thunderpunt Fri 17-Mar-17 15:26:13

Oops sorry - just seen you want to make several overnight stops...we only stop once, but our kids are older so understand why you want to stop more than that

namechangingagainagain Fri 17-Mar-17 15:50:31

Oh my favourite topic! we love doing this... have done the trip twice ( both times to venice) with all 4 children. The first year we did it straight- left calais at midnight, in venice by 6pm..... incorporating quite lengthy breaks in switzerland. Their service stations are generally great and often have lots of space to run around. plus surrounded by fields with cows with bells on! We preferred getting the majority of the trip done whilst the children slept.

The second time we went slow time - over to hook of holland on ferry and a few days in germany before heading over brenner pass- but thats a bit east for parma I think.

My favourite route was going over the san gottard pass...... traffic can be horrendous on the run up but the trip over is absolutely stunning- one of the highlights of our trip. there are lots of little pull over stops so you can get out and enjoy the view ( more so on the italian side). Generally i found the french bit of the trip a bit dull...... so we tried to do that overnight. we stayed in a v cheap basic hotel room for one night..... it wasnt plush but it was literally to sleep in so didnt matter and more importantly was really easy to find off the main road.

The worst driving wise was the motorway bit near Milan - lots of crazy drivers!

On the italian side I can recommend Bergamo as a lovely place to spend a day or two..... near Milan it's a little town with lovely little streets to bimble around.

have you discovered the viamichelin website yet..... many hours can be wasted away planning trips on it! I'm currently planning france and spain for this summer smile I'd recommend starting there and working out where you'd stop. I find it easiest to so 6-8 hours straight when children are sleeping or watching tablets and then have a day to recover rather than 2 X4 hour days... but everyone's children are different. It always seem they reliably get a bit grumpy about a hour out from the destination no matter how far you have travelled...... kindles/ iplayer/ even bubbles used sensibly away from driver can all help.

My main tip is to keep the "cabin" of the car as clutter free as you can for the trip ( use a roof box if needed)-as you need to be able to stretch out a bit when spending that long in the car but takes lots of snacks and drinks.

namechangingagainagain Fri 17-Mar-17 15:57:03

I didnt clock the ages of your children! With a 6 month old I'd be guided by their routine. I know its a bit variable but if say they normally went down to sleep at 7 or 8 ish I'd be aiming to set off then and smash 4-5 hours of driving before finding a hotel near motorway to spend rest of night. two evenings of this should get you in the right area.

CurlyLizzie Sat 18-Mar-17 19:35:39

Thank you so much for all the advice. Excellent tips here!

Driving through the night isn't an option for us as we want to enjoy the route and see a few places. We're planning on doing about four hours driving a day (two in the morning with some iPad time and toys) and two in the afternoon when they both usually nap. Stopping off for a few hours for lunch and then stop somewhere in time for tea and a play before bed. Is this realistically doable in three four days?

Do people prebook hotels en route or see where you end up?

allegretto Sun 02-Apr-17 15:14:56

We do this every year but through San Gottardo, Switzerland and stopping in Alsace and Reims. I recommend not stopping st motorway services in Italy - generally awful! Much better in France and Switzerland. When ours were babies we always took a travel rug fir them to lie on /crawl on during breaks otherwise they dont really get a chance to stretch out if just in a car seat and buggy.

allegretto Sun 02-Apr-17 15:16:10

We now prebook hotels as we go to the same ones and with five of us it is hard to fine rooms in the chains sometimes.

CurlyLizzie Sun 02-Apr-17 21:51:07

Thanks allegretto - really helpful. That's the route we plan on taking. Any hotel recommendations?

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