One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.
A two-week road trip through Spain -- with a two year old. My husband and I have been traveling our whole lives. From volunteering in Tanzania to hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, we try to take at least one big trip a year. Enter our son, and it’s been more than three years since we left the country. It was time.
Spain sparked our interest after reading about its family-friendly culture – and two weeks of tapas and sangria didn’t sound half bad either. Everything came together when we saw this Top 20 deal for Air France. It was settled. One car seat, a pack-n-play, a stroller, four bags, two carry-ons, a fully loaded iPad and 50 diapers later -- we were off.
Air France’s partner airline, KLM, was fantastic. We called ahead for kids meals, which were a big hit. Not only did they serve his favorite food, but the meals came before the regular dinner service, which is huge when you have a hungry child in a confined space. It was an overnight flight so we followed our normal bedtime routine with pj’s and story time and much to our surprise and delight, we all wound up getting some rest.
We flew into Madrid and picked up our car at the airport. An international drivers license isn’t required but our insurance agent did recommend getting additional coverage, just in case. GPS isn’t cheap at 14 euros a day, but well worth it. The roads were all well-marked and easy to navigate -- but be aware of roundabouts. Luckily, we only had a few Griswold-esque, “Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament” moments. Bringing a car seat worked well for us as we drove up to five hours one day, so to have a familiar place where our little guy was comfortable for naps was really helpful.
In Madrid and Seville we opted for pretty basic lodging, as we knew we were only going to be in the room to sleep. This freed up room in the budget for great meals and fun extras in each city. The highlight was a casita near Iznajar, a small village in rural Andalucia. For five days we woke up to sweeping views of Lake Iznajar, olive groves and the beautiful sound of silence. We swam in the infinity pool and truly relaxed. There was a kitchen which made meal and snack time super convenient. It provided a nice break from the always-on-the-go feeling of exploring cities.
One of the coolest parts of the trip was to experience everything through the eyes of a toddler. We decided early on not to pack too much in to every day and leave room for lots of play. We Googled playgrounds in Seville and found a blog that became our city guide. See the Cathedral, and then find the playground with the giant red toy train. Wander the streets of Santa Cruz and then take a horse and carriage ride. In Granada, walking through the Alhambra became much more exciting when we pretended we were in the jungle looking for elephants and lions. (Note: If you have to reserve tickets for the Alhambra months and advance and they don’t allow strollers inside Nasrid Palaces.) Instead of just buzzing by street performers, we stayed for a while and watched giant bubbles float through Plaza Mayor.
At the end of the trip, as we lingered over drinks in a square in Seville and watched our son playing in a fountain with kids from around the world yelling Hola!, we smiled. We have a little traveler on our hands. I was one proud mama.