More and more people want to travel with their younger children. In doing so, a whole new generation is learning the art of globetrotting from a young age. However, traveling with little kids in tow is very different than an adult-only world exploration. If you are hoping the pond with your littles, here are some of the tried-and-true tips we give to keep the whole family loving the Euro experience.
As adults, we tend to want to cram our vacations with as much value (i.e., activity) as possible — most people over cram their vacation days in Europe. But for children, doing too much makes them tired, cranky, and overstimulated. It’s also hard for them to remember and process so many new things at one time. Giving them time to experience each place along with enough rest makes things go smoothly for everyone.
Expert tip: List out everything you want to do, and then back off to about 70%.
Some cities in Europe are more kid-friendly than others. Some have better transportation connections than others. Picking one place to stay and then taking day trips if necessary is often easier than moving children and their stuff between several cities. Time on transportation can be particularly hard on kids. It’s also essential to pick child-friendly hotels.
Bonus tip: Our pick for a first-time Europe hub? London!
Kids don’t always have a real appreciation for famous things. As we grow and learn more history in school, we develop a sense of what is famous, remarkable, and significant. Most younger children don’t have that. So, it’s an excellent plan to explain before traveling about the places you will be exploring. It’s also important to explain why sites are of importance. Tell stories not facts. Kids love stories but get bored quickly with facts. Libraries are fantastic resources for videos and books from different places.
It’s tough to be the parent, navigator, and tour guide when you are on a trip. It’s a lot easier if you can be on a small-group tour of large museums or famous places. Many tours now offer child-friendly guides that are trained to engage children. Small or private groups are essential so children can ask questions and interact. You might also consider doing an early morning or late evening tour after-hours in a museum or site to allow kids not to feel crushed by crowds.
Bonus tip: We highly recommend doing a private city guide your first day in a new city. Spending time with a guide on tour allows kids to see a lot (even if they will see it again later), let’s you get your bearings in a new city, and allows a child to ask questions of a local. This experience is a hidden gem. People routinely tell us this is one of the best things they had included on their trips and it totally surprised them.
Adults forget how long a day can be with little legs. We recommend more help and support when traveling with kids. For instance, prearranged transportation or use of cars can be helpful, even if adults love taking the subway. Staying at a hotel with a concierge that knows local customs and recommend child-friendly facilities is a must. Picking a centrally located hotel keeps kids from too much time on transportation. Smaller, lightweight, foldable strollers are a better choice while in Europe. Packing plenty of simple, familiar snacks can ward off meltdowns when food is too unfamiliar. Blow up footrests help for long flights. In short, make it easy where you possible so that you can focus on being together and seeing the world.