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Advice on Family Travel in Spain

Glen Cove, New York
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Advice on Family Travel in Spain

My husband & I will be traveling to Spain for 2 weeks with our 2 year old daughter and 75 year old mother which poses some challenges.

We are flying into Barcelona and had originally booked a van rental thinking we would have so much (car seat/stroller plus luggage for 4) to transport but now I'm running into problems as none of the apartment rentals (so we can all stay as one unit) come with parking. We were hoping to book with freindlyrentals.com in Gotic or Born so once a car is parked we can walk or metro for the most part...unless a day trip is planned.

We will be in Barcelona for 3 days before we head off and travel the entire north coast and fly out of Santiago so a car is essential but is the car in Barcelona realistic?

Any advice would be great as far as - is a car helpful to have for day trips or is there really no reason to leave the heart of the city? What about car-seats for kids - I can't exactly lug it around and try to get in & out of taxi's, etc.. Do kids ride without a seat of the tour buses? Just wondering what other families have done?

Thanks so much!

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San Diego
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1. Re: Advice on Family Travel in Spain

Hi meamuck,

Welcome to the forums.

IF you compare Barcelona to Manhattan then you'll know that having a car in the city is not really necessary. There is a wonderful bus/metro system and taxis are really plentiful and can be hailed on the street. I don't know the rules in Spain for children's car seats in taxis. I have never heard of using car seats on buses of any kind.

There is certainly enough to see/do in the city for a short 3 day visit!!

I cannot see taking a day trip out of the city in that short time.

O Savinao, Galicia
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2. Re: Advice on Family Travel in Spain

A car in BCN is not realistic. If you hire a van then even if you could find some parking, there is loads of public parking, they are all underground, and space is normally quite tight. Going from one location to the next finding parking again is going to take up a fair bit of your day.

I would suggest you wait until you have to leave the city before hire any vehicle.

Whilst the use of a child seat is required in private verchiles taxis are except from this. The reason for this is because there are several sizes to fit the children as they grow up. So if a taxi would have to carry these around there would be no room for luggage. Also taxis can carry more than one child at a time; imagine the problems that would cause the poor driver. Some cars have a child seat fitted as standard in the middle of the rear seat. So you maybe lucky when you get into a taxi that it has one of those.

You could take your own, but as they take time to install you may have to pay for the waiting time. Fittings in Europe are different to those in the US and that may be a different problem.

When taking a taxi in BCN you should note that anything placed in the luggage compartment incurs an extra fee.

Barcelona, Spain
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3. Re: Advice on Family Travel in Spain

When my brother's family flies here the kids have the car-seats on the plane so then have them for their trip in Europetoo.

Just get a taxi from the airport and pick up a car when you are leaving Barcelona at the end of your stay here. A car is a big headache in the city and parking is really expensive, so one days' parking is more than the taxi fare from the airport before you add on more days parking, the actual car-rental etc. If you are only in Barcelona for 3 days you don't have time for day trips in any case.

Travelling on ordinary buses with a stroller is easy (there's a section in the bus for them and low-access buses these days). I think the Hop on Hop Off would be less good with a stroller and with all the waiting time at each stop as buses load and unload not a great experience for a small child in any case. Kids here are normally put on a seat and the parent stands which is an amazingly unsafe way for them to travel it seems to me but Spanish parents' risk assessment criteria are different in this (similarly the need for a car-seat has only been appreciated once the police started fining people for not obeying a law actually on the statute books from about 1990; taxis are still exempt from car-seat rule.)

Typing same time as last poster! just to add that my brother's kids' US car-seats have fitted in UK vehicles (and i wd assume also spanish vehicles)

Edited: 15 February 2011, 16:56
Barcelona, Spain
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4. Re: Advice on Family Travel in Spain

And also to add that a stroller is not charged for in the boot/trunk, nor is a wheelchair. Nor should a piece of hand-luggage under a certain size be charged for either (there are chargeable minimum dimensions posted) but I agree that if it's put in the boot you are likely to be charged 1€ for it.

Lunenburg, Canada
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5. Re: Advice on Family Travel in Spain

Hi Glen Cove!

Our preference in the major cities of Spain, including Barcelona, is to park the car and use the subway, buses and taxis to get around. You'll face the same problems in Barcelona as you would in New York City: difficulty stopping wherever you want, trouble finding moderately-priced parking, bumper-to-bumper traffic on the brakes, and unfamiliarity with the travel lanes making navigation hard, even with a GPS,

This being said, the cost of tour buses for three adults and possible difficulty with walking for a toddler and an elderly person, especially in hot weather, may militate against taking buses.

If I were you, I'd question further whether your apartment truly has no parking. Most places I've stayed, even when no in-house parking is available, can set you up with a nearby parking garage, for a price of course. I've never once booked a place where, when I asked about parking, the host just shrugged.

E-mail your host and see what he really says, not just what the on-line travel agency's booking engine says.

Outside Barcelona and Madrid, you'll be glad you have your own wheels. For that matter, nearby places like Montserrat, Girona and the Costa Brava are best by car. You could drive to Andorra, too.

Driving is easy in Spain. The road signage is the best in Europe and, if it's hot, your passengers and you will be grateful that you can just switch on A/C Max whenever you need it. Tour bus passengers usually can't!

Happy travels and let me know if I can help further!



Edited: 15 February 2011, 17:07
6. Re: Advice on Family Travel in Spain

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