Have you ever dreamed of traveling through Europe with your children? Host of The Parent Report radio show, Joanne Wilson decided to make her dream a reality. As the final installment in this six part series, Joanne shares her ideas with you, on how to keep kids safe while “Traveling Europe with Kids”!
Insure The Fun
There isn’t anything that can ruin a family vacation more than an illness or an accident. But incidents can happen and you’ll want to have precautions in place to either prevent them, or cope with them, in your travels.
First and foremost, make sure you get adequate medical and trip cancellation insurance. It may seem a little costly at the time of purchase, but it is much less expensive than having to cancel a trip due to illness or injury without insurance in place. So, budget for it, because chances are when you are traveling with children, it will be used. In our case, over the one month we traveled, two of our family members needed to be seen by a physician, and our luggage was temporarily lost. Our insurance covered both the medical costs and the cost of purchasing some clothing and toiletry items while our bags and suitcases were being located. In the end, insurance is worthwhile, even if it only provides peace of mind.
Always Do Your Paper Work
Losing or having a purse or backpack stolen is one thing at home; it’s a whole other story when you’re abroad. Your entire trip could be jeopardized if you lose your passport, credit card, plane tickets, etc. So always take precautions.
Photocopy or scan two sets of passports, train and plane tickets, travel and medical insurance, accommodation vouchers, etc. Leave one set with a friend or family member back home, and take an extra set with you, along with a list of emergency contacts. If anything goes missing, you’ll at least have your photocopies to refer to. Just make sure you carry the photocopied set in a different place than your original copies.
Travel writer/broadcaster Rick Steves suggests bringing Walkie Talkie’s along, and we found them quite useful when our kids wanted to head off to one shop or restaurant, and my husband and I to another. They only work within a short radius, but they are a way of keeping in touch. A better option may be cell phones. Again, they will cost a little extra but the piece of mind can be worth it. If you’re planning on bringing along your own cell-phone from home, you better check to make sure it will work in Europe. Most don’t.
Keep Your Kids Safe
It’s important that when you’re traveling with your children that they always carry an emergency contact from back home such as that of a grandparent or aunt, as well as the name, phone number and address of the hotel or apartment you’re staying at in each city. (Some parents even have their kids carry a photocopy of their passport.) Also, get them a phone card to use and teach them how to use the public pay phone system in Europe as they are a little different than in North America. Even if they have a cell phone, it’s important that they know how to use public phones in case their cell gets lost. And make sure that your kids know a few key phrases in the language of their host country. Even just knowing how to say “I need help” and “Do you speak English?” can take them a long way in an emergency. And, tuck in enough Euros into their money belt so they can take a taxi back to home base if need be. Remind them that these Euros are there for emergency only, and not to be spent on ice cream or souvenirs! They should carry their money and emergency contacts in a money belt and be instructed to never remove their money belts when out and about.
Each time you go sightseeing, find a meeting point. Don’t make it a vague meeting place, but actually point out a specific landmark. Keep in mind; you may need to change these many times when at the same site. For example, we discovered while at the Louvre in Paris, because it was so enormous, we needed to designate a new meeting place every time we entered a new area of the same museum. This gave our kids a sense of freedom to explore things at their own pace, and us peace of mind.
Avoid Nasty Bugs
Washing your hands frequently and drinking bottled water are the two simplest ways for keeping your family healthy when traveling. Water changes from town to town, and it can cause indigestion, so go with bottled water. Also, try to wash your hands frequently, or carry antibiotic wipes with you so that your family washes up before touching food or their face. It’s not that there’s any more illness in Europe than in North America, it’s that you want to avoid picking up a bug while on vacation. However, even with the best intentions, illness can happen anywhere, and it’s good to know that the medical attention we received was very good.
One thing we found helpful and got use of was our First Aid kit. In a zip lock bag we placed an assortment of goodies such as Pepto Bismal, Gravol, Tylenol, mole skin for blisters, Band-Aids, antibiotic cream, prepackaged alcohol swabs, a tensor Band-Aid, a thermometer, and a hot/cold pack. And guess what? At one point or another just about everything in our first aid kit found use. Of course many of these things can be found at pharmacies in Europe, but some things such as antibiotic cream require a prescription from a doctor. Also, you may need items from the kit when you’re in transit or in the middle of the night. So, carrying your own travel First Aid Kit could save you a headache…literally!
With the right planning ahead and a few precautions, your trip to Europe is in the bag, or suitcase!! What an adventure … traveling Europe will open your children’s eyes to other cultures and provide memories your family will share for years to come.
If you missed any of our 6 posts on “Traveling Europe with Kids”, you’ll find the links below for the other 5 articles to help with your travels.
Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.