Does this headline “Tips for Traveling to NYC with Small Children in a Big Family” scare you? Reading it makes me think, ‘that kind of vacation sounds daring!’
As you may know, I have four small children with my youngest being 9 months old. We had yet to travel with all four of my kids but I have flown a few times with my other three.
Last month we traveled to New York City to meet with our West Coast family and while I was excited during the planning process, I had some worries that this big city trip would be too ambitious for my group at this point in their lives. But, our reservation was booked and it was non-refundable, so we went! 🤣
Here’s what I know about traveling with small children so you don’t set yourself up for a stressful time. Because let’s face it, us moms and dads often need a vacation after our “vacation.”
Don’t over plan and keep your expectations reasonable. Anytime I’ve planned too much and we didn’t get to it, I would feel like we missed out. For this trip, we only stayed one night and we planned one thing each day. That doesn’t mean we didn’t do more, it just meant we only told our kids about that one event.
- We arrived in NYC on a Saturday morning and checked in right away to our hotel. We didn’t pay for early check-in, but asked around noon if they had any rooms available and they did! It was great to put our stuff away and relax for a bit. Next, we visited The American Museum of Natural History. We loved it and spent about 3-4 hours there. That was our big “must-do” for the day.
- Tip: While there are three places to eat inside the museum, I would recommend bringing your own snacks, too, because seating is limited.
Find a hotel with enough space for your kids to shake their sillies out. It is possible to find a hotel that is big enough for a large family. I’ve found quite a few that were very reasonably priced and are almost 600 sq. feet!
I chose the Affinia Gardens NYC hotel for a number of reasons.
1. They were having an awesome New Year’s sale where rooms where almost 40% off. We reserved a room for 6 people for $266!
2. All of the rooms in the Gardens NYC hotel are suites, equipped with a full kitchen and enough beds for all 6 of us. Having the full kitchen allowed us to either bring food from home or buy food from a local grocery store so we could have snacks and breakfast at the hotel. Not only is that feature convenient, but a huge money saver when you’re traveling with a large family. I loved that the hotel provided us a courtesy high chair and pack n’ play. So helpful when traveling with an infant!
Use Uber or Lyft for rides. Our hotel gave us a $20 Lyft credit upon check-in and it was so helpful. The weekend we visited it was 16 degrees and using Lyft really streamlined our transportation because we booked ahead of time and waited indoors until our ride arrived. Plus, I felt it was safer for my crew to stay inside rather than hail a cab for 6 people on the curb. What I like about Lyft and Uber is that you can select the kind of transportation you want. Waiting around for an SUV taxi that could fit 6 people was not something I wanted to do with small children. With our Lyft credit, we paid $10 for each ride, including tip! Totally worth it. Alternatively, the subway is a cost-friendly option. But, we had two strollers with us and it was our first time traveling to the city with small kids, so I decided against it. I didn’t want to be too ambitious! Maybe in the summer we will travel that way.
Our trip went really well and we can’t wait to go back. If we are fortunate enough to go back in the spring, we will certainly check out playgrounds and the Central Park Zoo. Our hotel was located on the Upper East Side and was close to both. I would certainly stay there again, or some place similar.
Have you traveled to New York City with your family? If so, what are your must-see spots with kids?