We are embarking on a grand adventure to Amsterdam this holiday season and nothing could be more exciting and daunting at the same time. You picture beautiful scenery, winter markets, romantic strolls and then the reality sets in...
The screaming, over tired kids that can't get along for more than a minute. The threats that we are leaving the whole thing turns into a nightmare. Here is what I have found helps when traveling with the kids on a long trip.
1. Melatonin- we were too afraid to give the kids a sleep aid because I didn't know how they would react. My suggestion is to try it out at home a few days before you leave and that way you will have peace of mind things should go smoothly. Our first big trip to London we did not utilize this great resource and all hell broke loose. Get the Melatonin, you will thank me later. We used Zarbee and they say don't use the gummies because the dosage isn't regulated.
2. If you are anything like me I have many high yielding credit cards and such credit cards give me lounge access. This makes all of the difference when arriving to the airport early. Nothing is worse than sitting amongst a bunch of people waiting for your flight during peak travel times (with kids we have no choice) I have AMEX platinum card and Chase Sapphire Reserve and both give Priority Pass lounge access. We tried the Centurion lounge and this trip I must say was disappointing. The food was lack luster and it was very crowed. We traveled on December 25th.
3. The best thing I did was choose a flight that was not overnight. We were still wasted by the time we got to the hotel and did take a nap but the overnight flight with no sleep was brutal on our last vacation to London.
4. Where we stayed... We stayed at there Hilton Amsterdam. I would have preferred the Waldorf but with a family of four and strict European rules, you can't have more than two in a room. This hotel was great, we had a junior suite and with that came executive lunge access, We did go there frequently for drinks and light snacks. The hotel was off the beaten path and honestly it was great for us. It was quiet, low key and out of the way. Having gold status through AMEX platinum came in handy and we had free breakfast for everyone each morning and that was perfection!
5. We did walk around the city a lot but sadly tourism has taken a huge toll on this beautiful city. People were everywhere but I can't imagine what it would have been like in the summer. This is why the hotel was perfect, it was a bit of a refuge from the commotion of the city.
6. Day trips... We went to Brussels, The Haque, Zaanse Schans and Harlaam and all were lovely. I think my favorite was Harlaam just because it gave more of the quaint Netherlands feel. The thing I did not enjoy about Amsterdam and the bigger cities were how Americanized they were. I would have much rathered a true Dutch experience. We did rent a car and a ticket appeared at our house a month later. Be careful if you drive there even 1 mile over the speed limit. They will get you!!! If you don't pay it could limit access to Europe when checking passports. Also note, that due to the crazy amount of tourists they have now imposed a high tourist tax as well as limited options for Air B and B's.
All in all it was fun. The next trip needs to be more relaxing and that will be Costa Rica. Stay tuned.