The whole idea of traveling is to explore new places, have an adventure, learn something about the local culture and most importantly, to have fun. Traveling with the family, especially the kids, can pose quite a challenge.
To take a bit of the horror out of the whole idea, let me share 5 ways you can make your family trips to Europe memorable.
1. Plan Your Time
If you go off on a solo adventure, it is all very well to fly by the seat of your pants and make your path as you go along. Family trips will require a bit more planning.
You will need to plan your itinerary and budget very carefully. You want to have a fun, memorable trip. Do not try to squeeze too much into your time as you will not get to see much, you will spend the majority of your time traveling between destinations and get home exhausted. Rather be selective and visit only a few places that are not too far apart. That way you can immerse yourself and the family into the local culture and really appreciate all it has to offer. It is important to remember that children have different needs and some things will take longer as a family than if it was just you and your partner.
Popular tourist destinations will often have very long queues. Take this into consideration when planning the itinerary as young children do not want to stand for ages waiting to get in.
2. Plan Your Air Travel
Expect a bit of jet lag after a long flight and be prepared for some sleep disruption. Take plenty of snacks both for the flight and when you get to your destination.
Always print your boarding pass and check-in on line. This will save time and money.
Try to keep luggage to a minimum. Hand luggage would be ideal if possible. Again, this will save you money, time and hassle.
3. Plan Your Train Travel
Buy a Eurail pass. Children under 4 won’t need a pass, and those 4-11 years will be free but will need a pass.
Try to select seats near the end of the carriage so the family can hop off quickly. As with air travel, carry extra snacks in case they are not available or are overpriced. The last thing you want is a child hungry and grumpy. Children will often not appreciate the scenery and views as much as you do so take something to entertain them while you travel.
Of course, the best way to travel with family is a car rental. There is a wide range of affordable cars for lease services. That way, you really get to experience the areas you visit.
4. Plan Your Accommodation
Always check the hotel or accommodation policy as well as charges relating to children. Keep in mind that European hotel rooms are relatively small. It is important to establish all the facts and details to avoid any inconvenience or unplanned expense.
5. Plan Your Meals
European dinners are often served later than many people are used to. Have a later lunch if possible and remember to carry those handy snacks. Many restaurants do not offer children’s portions and if you have younger kids, most do not offer highchairs.
Lunch is normally less expensive than dinner so try and have your main meal then. You can always get food at supermarkets or select something from the local pastry shop or deli occasionally. When you have good weather, pack a picnic basket and enjoy the outdoors.
I know all this planning sounds really boring but trust me, the more you plan, the smoother the whole experience will be. You and your family will enjoy a brilliant, memorable holiday in Europe and you will save a significant amount of money.