Traveling to Europe with kids is an exciting, rewarding, and exhausting experience. You’ll create lots of family memories and give your kids invaluable chances to experience other cultures. At the same time, you need a lot more planning and plenty of patience.
Plan Travel in Advance
It is so important that you do your research. Plan your destinations and transportation on Europe-specific travel platforms like GoEuro before you leave. Decide how you’ll be getting from city to city, whether that be by bus, train, or plane, and book those tickets while you’re still in the states. The last thing you want to deal with is tired, hungry kids while you’re figuring out train tickets in an unfamiliar place where you don’t speak the language.
Concentrate on Fewer Locations
When you’re in Europe, you’ll be tempted to see as many spots as you can during your visit. Focus on getting the most out of just a few locations if you’ll be there for longer than a week, and concentrate on just one if you’ll be there for less than a week.
Planning your transportation through Europe is simpler when you aren’t hopping among five cities in four weeks. Similarly, if you focus on smaller destinations, such as Bath instead of London, you’ll have an easier time exploring with kids. Big cities can overwhelm children, but they’ll adjust to smaller places more quickly.
Leave Room for Downtime
When traveling with adults, you might be able to see four museums and monuments in one day without hailing a single cab. Kids get tired and bored more quickly, though. Plan for downtime, but be open to rescheduling or extending it depending on how your kids are feeling. Otherwise, you might have to cut short a visit to the Louvre or cancel a tour of the Colosseum.
Plan for Emergencies
Kids get lost even when you’re paying close attention. When it happens in a city where you don’t know the language, the experience is especially terrifying. Create contingency plans before you start packing. This might include giving your kids cell phones or GPS devices so you can locate them or telling them to stay put as soon as they realize they’ve lost you. Rick Steves has lots of great ideas for families who want to plan for this kind of emergency.
Try Not to Check Bags on Flights
When kids are young, they can only carry a small backpack containing a few belongings. You’ll have to carry the rest. In Europe, you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Imagine lugging two or three gigantic suitcases behind you while you walk from the train station to your hotel!
To avoid this situation, pack light. Cut down on toiletries and nix the non-essentials such as hair dryers and excess makeup. Plan to wash clothes while you’re there, and research accommodations that offer laundry facilities. Pack one carry-on per adult to make your trip simpler.
Traveling with adults has its own list of perks, but taking your kids to Europe is a rewarding experience. Plan ahead to design a trip that nobody in your family will soon forget.