Special Edition: Get to Know the SDR Team

By Nate Lyon

To some of our family and friends, the prospect of my wife and I flying to Europe with our nearly 2-year-old toddler last fall seemed unwise. With a roundtrip total of four flights and about 30 hours in transit, not to mention countless “Underground”/Metro rides, bus rides and a train between London and Paris…I can’t say we completely disagreed with their notion. However, the upside ultimately outweighed the negatives, so we kindly ignored their advice and proceeded on our way.

Toddler Travel Tip #1: Request, request some more, and then BEG for the airline to reserve extra seats for you in your row. (Note: this will obviously only work if the flight isn’t full, but it was a lifesaver for us.) The little guy slept most of the way there (see photo below). Hurray!


Our trip from Denver to London went quite smoothly, and before we knew it were exploring sites like Kensington Palace, Portobello Road, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace (overrated in my opinion due to huge crowds), Hamleys Toy Store, Big Ben and The London Eye (So cool at night! Our son called it the “Spinney Pods.”) We rented an apartment, which was great because we were able to eat in and avoid some pricey dinners. The Underground system was pretty easy to navigate, but we really liked using the bus system because you could see much more from the top of the double-deckers. Plus, the bus toy made for a cute souvenir.

The London Eye

Toddler Travel Tip #2: Avoid huge crowds when you can. Find some off-the-map destinations. We had a great time at the Diana Memorial Playground exploring a pirate ship and meeting some locals. Our son met a three-year-old Londoner who very formally told his mother, “Mummy, you’re being very naughty” (insert British accent) after she took away his toy.


From there, it was off to Paris via a trip through the Chunnel. The journey to our apartment was long and exhausting, but worth the effort. We found ourselves on a lively, cobblestone street with hundreds of vendors selling delicious pastry options from éclairs to crepes (my personal favorite). We spent six days in Paris and did a LOT of walking, much of which was with our son on our backs.


The experience was unforgettable, and our son still talks about the Eiffel Tower and feeding French Fries (or just “fries” in this case) to the pigeons. He learned the words “Bonjour” (Hello), “Merci” (Thank You), and “Au revoir” (Goodbye), which is honestly about as much as I learned too. Walking along the river was very memorable, as was the Arc de Triomphe, the Musée d’Orsay, and the food and wine (of course).

Eiffel Tower

Overall, we were happy we pushed through some of the difficulties of traveling, and we’d do it again in a heartbeat!

Notable tourist fails…don’t judge

  • Nearly burning down a 400-year-old building when we attached a bed sheet to a light in order to create a makeshift room for our son (Note: we didn’t originally intend to turn the light on. Whoops!)
  • Attempting to visit the Louvre on a Tuesday. It’s closed Tuesdays. Sorry Mona Lisa – next time.
  • Trying to dry clothes using the combination washer-dryer. I’ll stick with my American-style setup, thank you very much!