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 first part of the six part series, Joanne gives us an overview of how to ”Travel Europe with Kids”!
For many years, my husband and I talked about how we would love to take our children to Europe, after all, what better way could there be to teach our children about other cultures and countries than by being there? So, we packed our knapsacks and hopped on a plane to explore the sights and sounds of Europe with our kids.
Traveling Europe with kids sounded daunting, but we learned that with a little planning and creativity, it would be a rewarding once-in-a-lifetime experience that would provide our family with memories for years to come. We were right. Our trip to Europe was thrilling and we still relish the memories.
From planning to execution, the entire exercise was a learning process, one that I’m excited to share with you. If you’re thinking about traveling Europe with your children, I’ll help you with tips on setting an itinerary, finding great accommodation, money tips, health and safety issues and more, to make your trip to Europe with kids that much more enjoyable.
It’s a family affair so…
… don’t be afraid to include your kids in planning the trip. In fact you’ll be surprised at how much fun this is. Taking a trip to Europe is very much like the holiday season, in that almost as much fun goes into the preparation as is in the holiday itself. Enjoy it. As you read articles and books about your chosen destinations, share your discoveries with your kids. This is a great learning experience for them and helps them to take a little ownership in the planning. After all, the last thing you want to be doing is dragging your kids through Europe.
Overall, try to keep in mind at least one thing they want to do on the trip. For our son, a trip to Euro Disney seemed pretty cool. For our daughter, clothes shopping in Paris was a dream.
Family meetings are a great way to share your excitement, and for everyone to hammer out an itinerary that has a little something for everyone.
…so start saving your pennies early! Because we knew years in advance that Europe would be as much a part of our children’s education as university, we began with a savings plan not so different from our university savings plan, where for many years we put aside some “Europe” money. This meant sometimes scrimping on vacations at home, and opting for a tent in a national park instead of a luxury resort. Generally, you can count on taking a family of four to Europe for one month to cost at least twenty thousand dollars (CAD), not including air fare. This is living comfortably, but not extravagantly. (In your own research you may find other ways to cut corners.) We’ll have more tips on money and budgeting, as our series on Traveling Europe with Kids continues.
Part of your budgeting will take into account what countries you plan to stay in. Generally, northern European countries such as France and Switzerland are more expensive than southern ones such as Spain and Portugal. Also keep in mind the route you plan to take. Beginning in Paris and ending in southern Italy makes sense…back tracking to Paris may not. But even then, sometimes flying out of the same city may cost substantially less than flying in and out of two different cities.
Most important, ask yourself where do you want to go? Again, here’s where a family meeting is important. You may discover that your kids have a secret fascination with a certain place. In our family we discovered that our son loves Roman history and for him a stop in Rome was a must. Our daughter, on the other hand, dreamed of France. My husband and I dreamed of Tuscany, with its beautiful rolling hills, wonderful wines and charming medieval villages. With a little planning we were able to accommodate everyone’s wishes.
Once you have a basic idea of where you want to go and some of the special actives that were high on your list, it’s time to create a more detailed trip itinerary. My next article will explore exactly that…how and why to make an itinerary your next step in your trip plans on Traveling Europe with Kids.
Check out our next post on “Traveling Europe with Kids”.
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.