Children, just like adults, can get a lot out of the experience of visiting Europe. Whether they get to tour German castles, relax on Portuguese beaches, or hike through the Swiss Alps, these experiences will never be forgotten. Unfortunately, many parents are worried about traveling overseas with their children. If you are planning your own European family vacation, use these five helpful tips yourself.
1. Let Them Plan the Itinerary
Whether you are dealing with elementary school children or teenagers, there is always a chance that your children will object to each and every destination you visit along the way. To reduce that chance, let them help plan the itinerary. Find a location that you really want to visit, and then let every family member pick at least one day’s worth of activities so that everyone is excited about the trip.
2. Always Buy a Seat
Unless you have significant financial constraints, it is always better to buy an extra seat on planes, trains and buses if you have a baby. Although shorter rides around town may not be a problem, long flights where you are forced to hold the child on your lap can lead to lack of sleep and irritability when you do arrive at your destination.
3. Backpacks for All
Experienced family travelers always give the same recommendation for traveling through Europe with children: backpacks. Have each family member pack a small backpack that is filled with a spare shirt, a few toys or light books, and a snack. This will be your emergency survival kit if you are in a long line, have to skip a meal, or take longer at an attraction than expected and your children are bored or hungry.
4. Finding Suitable Accommodations
If you are searching for comfortable accommodations that suit the whole family, consider self-catering options like an apartment rental or even a whole house. You get the spaciousness of a private home, a kitchen and separate bedrooms, and the cost will typically be less than at a hotel, especially if you need two or three rooms in a hotel to sleep the whole family.
5. Staying Safe
A big concern for many parents is how to keep their children safe while in a foreign destination. Teenagers should have 20 euros in their pocket with the address to your accommodations at all times, so they can head back in the event that they lose you. For younger children, create a plan of action and a place to meet whenever you head into a busy square or shopping center. This might be as simple as meeting by a large and easily recognizable fountain or even meeting in front of the bathrooms, which are typically easy to find. To better protect the whole family, make sure you have a reliable auto insurance policy if you decide to rent a car to get around while in Europe. Forgo the rental company’s coverage and instead use a car insurance company to provide insurance; this usually results in more comprehensive coverage and better benefits.
Having the opportunity to visit Europe is a cultural experience that children of any age will appreciate as adults and remember for the rest of their lives. By using these helpful tips, parents can enjoy the trip and know that their children are happy, comfortable, safe, and always learning something new along the way.