Traveling with the Happiest Kids in the World

27 May 2014



Dutch kids are known to be the happiest kids in the world. And the Dutch are among the world’s most avid travelers. It wouldn’t be surprising if the two were somehow interrelated!

It’s no secret that one of the things I love most about Dutch culture is their love for traveling. There’s a saying among the Dutch that “You can find a Dutch person anywhere in the world.” It’s quite impressive given that the population of the Netherlands is only around 17 million people. Traveling is simply ingrained in the culture. It is part of the Dutch work-life balance equation rather than some alternative lifestyle for the jet-set, adventurous crowd. Whether it’s traveling within the Netherlands, heading over to neighboring countries or having more ambitious plans, the Dutch love to explore and learn about different places and cultures.

For some people, traveling with babies, toddlers and kids would be the last thing they would want to do. Many people assume that once you cross over parent territory, passports and wanderlust would have to be put away. Not for the Dutch.  They just get creative, modify their plans by traveling locally or simply baptize their little ones straight into international travel.

Every Tuesday (Travel Tuesday), I plan on sharing some things I’ve learned about traveling with my little one as a baby and as a toddler. I’ll be writing about some insider travel tips for families visiting the Netherlands, or expat families wanting to learn more about all the wonderful family-friendly stuff available in the Low Countries.  And I will also be including travel essentials – what to bring and what not to bring depending on where you plan on going to. The tips will be inspired partly from the Dutch culture, but also from my own experiences.

What better way to officially start than to share a few of our favorite things and “tricks” to entertain Bram while we’re en-route (plane, car, train, bus), at a restaurant or having to do some waiting time. And as parents of babies and toddlers know, having an “activity kit” to entertain their short attention spans can both be a sanity saver and make the experience a lot more pleasant.





Here is Bram Junior’s “activity bag” that we’ve prepared for our upcoming trip to Paris (clockwise):

Any small bag would just do. Or even what ever diaper bag you are using. Since we are traveling, I choose the Skip Hop Zoo backpack he already has – it’s the perfect size and has amazing storage capacity.


Something to Eat
Toddlers are often notorious for being “hungry” at inopportune times. It’s always handy to be carrying along snacks. Bram loves the stuff from Ella’s Kitchen (100% Organic Baby Food) which can now be bought at Etos. And since he only gets it when he’s traveling, it becomes an extra special treat.


Something to Read
Carrying around a tiny mini-library of some sorts can do wonders to keep a baby and toddler preoccupied. Since we’re absolute fans of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (who isn’t?), we’re bringing along this ultra compact mini-library which he got as a gift from his fabulous aunt.

Something to Create
Having crayons (Wasco Playon Crayon Primary), an activity book with stickers (Leukste Doe Book Voor Jongens) and a pad with paper and an attached pen (Paddenstoel Notitiehouder) can really entertain a baby and a toddler. It’s why most family restaurants have some sort of crayons and coloring sheet! And what better way to have it in your bag just in case you may need it.

Something to Play With

An awesome trick I’ve learned is to wrap small presents for Bram to unpack. Whether it’s a new toy or an old one he’s forgotten about, it doesn’t matter. I am a bit convinced though that’s the novelty of the wrapping paper and process of unwrapping that babies are most fond of. I’m partial to lovely wooden toys and couldn’t resist getting him a little red mouse compass (muis compass), a clown top (blauw tol, clown met trektouwtje), and a pirate tic-tac-toe game (Spelletje, boter, kaas & eieren, piraten).