Traveling with children can be an intimidating prospect if you’re a new parent or if you’re living in Europe for the first time. Luckily there’s plenty of traveling families who have passed down some tried and true hacks to make sure a family vacation goes as smoothly and stress-free as possible.
Prepare Kids for the Trip
Kids feel secure and confident when they know what’s coming next, and this doesn’t just work for bedtime routines at home but also when it’s time to take a vacation. Introduce kids to the city or country you’ll be visiting with cartoons, movies, and books and try teaching them a few words in the language (hello and thank you are good starters). Let them know if there will be a long drive or time on a train or airport, and prepare them to know that when the waits are over, there will be adventures when you arrive.
Have a Plan, Not a Schedule
When scheduling a day on vacation with kids, a plan to follow helps adults set the tone and have goals for the day, but don’t let it be so tight that it becomes a schedule, which can quickly make a fun day seem like a chore. If you have something that is time-dependent, like an arranged tour or a return time for a cruise port stop, then start with this and arrange the rest of the day to flow more freely around it. Children need time to explore and be curious too, so a loose plan allows for extra moments spent at a sweet shop or dancing to street music, and will take a lot of stress off of us parents to make sure we are constantly on the move.
Embrace the Simple Moments
Not all the time on your trip will be spent at Instagram worthy sites. Even the mundane to adults, like waiting around the airport, for example, can be a fun adventure when seen through the eyes of a child. While walking from point to point try counting the number of dogs you see or have children guess how many flags you can find between where you are and the next destination. VIew even the boring moments as time spent as a family and with your kids, unbothered by multitasking or laundry, and you may even be surprised how fun it can be.
Don’t Overpack but Be Prepared
Nobody wants to spend their time on vacation dealing with luggage and repacking suitcases. Thinking about what your necessities really are and be prepared for the “what ifs” by knowing what to do in those situations. Where can you buy extra diapers or formula? Are there is laundry facilities or a laundromat near your lodging? Perhaps allow the kids to chose a new toy or soft friend on the trip instead of packing all their favorites from home. Staying in family-friendly accommodations can help by providing baby cots and highchairs and other family needs meaning you can pack less.
Budget for Easier Travel
The college-aged backpacking days of taking the cheapest train or bus across the country at all hours of the night won’t work when you’re trying to travel stress-free with children. Money is well spent to get to your destination as soon and as easily as possible, be it non-stop flights or a private transfer instead of the subway. Any parent will tell you that time is valuable so more time spent on vacation and not connecting in airports to save a little bit will be well worth it.
To help you plan the perfect family-friendly European vacation, contact Jennifer Barnard at Endless Routes Travel, a mother of two and a European travel expert.
If you plan to travel with really young children (4 & under), check out Tips for Traveling with Young Children.
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