30 January 2009

Queues and kids can be fun!

Queueing and kids can be a nightmare. Plan well, and do everything you can to avoid the queues.
  • Anticipate where you might be queueing and get to popular sights early (this means well before opening time). We have done the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, and the Vatican museums early and wasted minimal time lining up for entry.

  • Book ahead where possible. We pre-booked our entry to the Alhambra in Spain three-months in advance and it took less than 5 minutes to collect the tickets at the entry. We also pre-booked the two-day hop-on hop-off bus tour in New York because we didn't know what sort of queues we might encounter when we got there (none, as it turned out).

  • In cities, buy city passes where possible, as these often enable you to skip the queues completely, or at least give you shorter queues. Kids are often free, so it is your adult tickets you’d be waiting for. The city passes are very economical if you plan to visit lots of popular sights. The Paris Pass (www.paris-pass.com) is worth every cent paid for it, as long as you do go to a number of the sights available: we took 10 minutes to walk into Versailles (held up only by the ubiquitous X-Ray scanning of our backpacks) on a blisteringly hot day, as opposed to the 4 hour ticket queue which we would have faced otherwise.

  • Queueing is usually not a problem in locations which are away from peak tourist destinations.

  • Transport passes for whole days, or multiple days will mean you can hop on and off transport much more easily, and often travel more cheaply. You may even be able to pre-purchase over the internet. Just be careful to keep the tickets in good condition: our 4-day Paris tickets stopped working after 2 days, and we once had a pointless argument in Melbourne over a train ticket that got folded in half which could not be read in the barrier.

  • Keep a snack and drink on hand, in a small backpack (larger bags often have to be left at cloakrooms) for the queueing and post-queueing experience.

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