Europe with Kids

Jun 22nd, 2015, 01:12 PM
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Europe with Kids

I know there is no solid answer for this question, and every kid / family is different, but can anyone weigh in on experiences traveling with kids to Europe? Best ages to go to which countries, what has worked and not worked out so well?

Our kids are now 10 and 6, and great little travelers. We're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and getting the Europe itch. I think we're still a couple of years off, but I'm curious to hear what others say. I was thinking that they would both love Germany (Bavaria - castles for the girl, and hiking for the boy - win win) and Italy (food is a big plus but maybe too much art for their ages)?

Anyway - just curious what experiences others have had! Thanks!
4sammy is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2015, 04:09 PM
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No Europe experiences yet, but we are taking a 2 year old and 6 year old to France for 5 weeks and Iceland for a 1 week stopover. Setting expectations of immersion, less so ticking off sites on a list. This forum has been a help.

This post gave me some courage:

Also a podcast by Rick Steves - Globetrotting with kids. Several other family travel podcasts helped me think it through, also.

Our little ones have fared well on the flight to Hawaii and I think they add a perspective to our travel that I never had. They notice everything.
jas_miner is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2015, 05:18 PM
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Your kids are old enough now - as long as you are willing to modify the trip for their needs.

First - not a lot of moving around. Spend a week in each place - either a city with a lot to do or a smaller town from which you can do day trips.

Get either an apartment or an apart hotel so you have a kitchen. Not to cook regular meals but so you can at least do breakfast and snacks without having to go out or do room service.

Keep weather in mind - since there is a lot less AC in europe than in the US. So either cooler countries or not midsummer trips.

Remember that people everywhere have kids so there are always parks, amusement parks, zoos and similar activities. Also there are boat rides on almost every river or lake and kids love those.

This is in addition to the castles, kids museums, natural history museums, and the opportunity to hike or bike in a lot of places.

Just be sure to get kids involved in advance so they know what to expect and have things they are looking forward to.
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2015, 06:56 PM
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Hey may i know which part of Italy are you going? I have suggestions exploring Rome with your children, hope it will help in your planning in some ways.

1. Gelato Making Class
You can choose and peel your favourite fruit, select the ingredients and mix together to get your own unique concoction. In just half an hour, your own home made gelato will be ready.

2. Treasure hunt at the Vatican
with this treasure hunt tour, they will be intrigued by the artworks and history of the Vatican. With this 3 hour tour, you will be able to skip the entrance line and be lead through the museum with clues and puzzles that will reveal secrets embedded in masterpieces. The tour will bring you to Laocoon, works of Michelangelo in the Sistine chapel and St Peter’s Basillica. You can be absorbed in the history while the kids are entertained. You get the best of both worlds!
3. Dining

9 Monte de’ Cenci
I recommend the Piperno in the Jewish Getto. They are known for their fried artichokes and fish. Their spaghetti all gricia, with guanciale and onions, is also a Roman delicacy that you must try. Since no cars are allowed in the Jewish Ghetto, you can eat in peace as you don’t have to worry about your kids moving around.

Alessandro’s Home Restaurant

Alternatively, you can book a barbeque experience with Alessandro at BonAppetour. The kids can grill their own vegetables , bruschetta, chicken wings, steaks etc while the adults sit and relax with their glass of wine. Not to mention that Alessandro’s is just a short distance away from the Vatican city.
4. Accommodation
For accommodation, you would want a place to stay with plenty of space for your children to run around and a large sleeping area.

Internazionale Domus

Internazionale domus offers family friendly apartments at moderate prices. They have the choice of 1 or 2 bedrooms and all of them come with kitchen. This gives you the opportunity to make healthy breakfasts for your children and snacks for them to bring along the way. Their apartments are large so you do not have to worry about the entire family cramming into a small space.

Hotel Grifo
Pic: http://mylittlenomads.wpengine.netdn...tels-grifo.jpg

If youre travelling on a budget, this is definitely the place for you. They offer quadruple rooms with 2 twin and 1 queen sized bed. They have fuss free and clean decorations and is very near to the Roman forum, colloseum and Palazzo Venezia.
SJesN is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2015, 09:07 PM
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Great replies!! Jas_miner... You are very brave. 6 weeks!!! What an experience!

Nytraveler, good points. The kids always love to be outside and be active, and water is a huge draw.

SjesN - so much great info! Oh Italy... I love it so much. I've done the sights in the big cities but Rome is a definite again. I also think Venice is pretty intriguing to them. We would skip Florence this time around. It's hard to pass up Cinque Terre though I think of it as a romantic trip... Thoughts on that? Maybe when we can ditch them in the hotel for the evening for an adults only dinner... they are not quite there yet
4sammy is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2015, 09:12 PM
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Nytraveler - I like the idea of staying put in a central location. I imagine dreamy days in Tuscany but like I mentioned above - think Rome and Venice are the big interest draws for the kids. But maybe a Bavarian base- that would allow lots of daytrips- hmmmm - that's definitely one to consider!

Any other great base locations come to mind ?
4sammy is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2015, 09:27 PM
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Hi 4sammy,

I hope I'm not being stupid or aggressive when I say I don't understand the question. I think the right ages to take your children to Europe are . . . when you take them to Europe! My first trip was when I was 5 weeks old (1955), and we went every other year after that, until I was 13 years old. It was obviously much tougher on my mom, travelling with an infant (me) and a toddler (my sister) in the 1950s, but, somehow, she managed. You will too!

I now live in Garmisch, and would recommend it as a Bavarian base. Let us know if you have any specific questions about Bavaria.

Have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2015, 10:15 PM
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My family went to Europe when I was 14 and my youngest brother was 8. We had a terrific time and frequently spoke of our experiences to help keep the memories fresh.

I am excited for you and your family as it will be fun to introduce your children to the wonders of travel in Europe. I think it is nice to introduce the to some art but it doesn't have to be a museum heavy trip.
KTtravel is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 01:57 AM
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Saraho is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 04:38 AM
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There are great countryside central locations in many places:

The rhine/Moselle


The Loire

Eastern Belgium and Luxembourg

Northern Italian lakes (Maggiore with Borromean Isles, Como with great boat trips, Garda with lots of kid friendly activites and then a week in Venice - with a couple of day trips and Lido beach)


Many, many more.

For instance you could easily do a week in Rome (for the ancient/gladiator stuff, fountains, castel Sant Angelo, Ostia Antica etc) and combine with a week in Tuscany
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 06:19 AM
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Hi swandav2000, more of a conversation than a question. Just polling for feedback on people's experiences traveling with kids in Europe and what worked / didn't work. Garmisch is so beautiful... that is high on our list of possibilities! How wonderful that you get to live there!

I am loving some of these suggestions too! In particular - nytraveler - yes thank you for reminding me of the northern Italian lakes - that is a region I haven't explored and that does open up Italy as a more kid-friendly options.

KTtravel - where did you go at 14 and 8? Great to hear your brother at 8 enjoyed the trip! I think we're getting into a good age for them to enjoy it!
4sammy is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 06:33 AM
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I think Alsace is a wonderful place to visit. It's a mix of French and German cultures, with a beautiful capital, Strasbourg, and fairy tale villages. Seriously the villages are out of this world, the kids will absolutely love it. Check out these beauties: Colmar, Riquewihr, Eguisheim, Dambach-la-Ville, Hunawihr, Obernai, Ribeauville and Kayserberg. The region is also quite famous for its excellent wine, and cuisine. Definitely give it a try, I personally loved Alsace.
PetrosB3 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 08:06 AM
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Travel with kids is a wonderful experience and great way to bond as a family. I began taking my kids to Europe in 2007 when they were 4 1/2 and 11. Our first 2 trips were to England. A great starting off point with no language barrier (except for some accents!). Both trips were shorter stays and we used B&B's and hotels. I learned a lot about how we all adjust to jet-lag, how long we could stay out and about and how many museums/sites we could really fit in.

Our next 3 trips were all to France (because we fell in love with it) and we utilized the week-long stay in a house or apartment. This was so freeing! We had lots of space and could prepare meals and picnics to save money. Our last trip in 2014 my kids were 18 and 11 and we added my niece who was 9 (this was her 2nd trip to Europe with us).

I am super lucky to have kids who love history, museums and good food! So far there favorite locations have been the Dordogne and Paris. My oldest actually prefers small towns/villages to big cities. Our next big adventure is June 2016 and we are trying out a Mediterranean cruise and visiting 4 new countries and ending with 4 days in London since we haven't been back since 2007.

Wherever you decide to go just know that there will be a learning curve on how everyone adjusts to this kind of travel. Know that you may not stick to your itinerary and may miss some sites you had really wanted to visit in order to rest more and eat gelato. Don't underestimate the value of local parks and playgrounds. Some of my best memories are of sitting on a bench and just watching them play.
trvlgirlmq is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 11:53 AM
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europhile is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 01:53 PM
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We took our children (both boys now 15 and 13) to Europe beginning when they were babies. You have to manage your expectations and you can't design an itinerary around seeing lots of museums and churches and musical performances, but you and your family can definitely have a wonderful time. By the time our oldest was 10, he had been to Italy 6 times. In the early days, we tended to rent a villa in Tuscany, Umbria or Le Marche for a week with a few days on either side for visits to Venice, Rome and Florence. We also went to Sicily. Our typical days were spent exploring a town or site in the morning, leisurely lunches (preferably somewhere outside where the kids could amuse themselves), then home for a nap/relaxing around the pool. We would make dinner ourselves. Sometimes friends would join us. I absolutely loved these vacations. Now the kids are older and our travel tends to be somewhat more active and adventurous. But I think as a result of our early vacations abroad, my boys are immensely curious about the world, adventurous eaters, and efficient packers (which makes their mother very proud). They also love truffles, which is a mixed bag.
txtree is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 04:08 PM
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Hi again 4sammy,

We actually went all over the place as my father had a sabbatical and my parents were both teachers. We travelled via a Volkswagen camper van through most of Europe for 6 months. There were actually 7 of us as I am the oldest of 5 children and my 8 year old brother was the youngest.

We enjoyed so many places. For me, I think during that trip I particularly liked London, Venice, Greece, the Netherlands and Switzerland but my siblings would probably all have different favorites.

I think we all learned to appreciate history, museums, art and different cultures during our trip. We camped a lot with the occasional hotel stay. My parents did try to pull into a campground early in the afternoon on travel days so we could set up our camp but also have time for the kids to run around as some of the campgrounds had playgrounds or open fields.

Tempting as it is to run around and see and do as much as possible, I think tailoring the trip to the interests and stamina of the kids with time out for picnics, playgrounds or just relaxing will add greatly to everyone's enjoyment.
KTtravel is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 04:19 PM
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We found traveling with a very young child, one and two, to be pretty awful. We had to do it while transiting Europe to and from work. We couldn't do the things we enjoy doing -- nice meals, galleries, walking -- without allowing for a cranky child. And we refused to subject others to our cranky child. We decided renting beach cottages would be the way to go for a few years.

About age six we visited in-laws in Germany. Stayed at their house, cooked food at home and took short day trips. That worked.

At age nine we took him to London, Bath and the Cotswolds and that worked beautifully. Ever after he was a good traveler.

All of which is but to say your kids seem about the right age.
Fra_Diavolo is online now  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 04:32 PM
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We (my Practice Wife and I) took our four kids to Europe when they were small. Two boys, eight and six, and twin girls who were four years old. We bought a boat in England and took her through the French canals to the Med (masts down, obviously), into the Med and wandered around for a few years as far a Lebanon. Then the money ran out and so did the Wife.

However, I have never regretted taking the kids on our adventure, even though the home schooling was a PITA. If nothing else kids are the greatest door openers that exists. A true "Open Sesame". One falls naturally into conversation with other parents, you get invited to dinner in homes, invited onto yachts, included in parties and picnics, and you can relax while the kids play with other kids.

Our advise to others who want to tour Europe and blend into the culture but have no kids is, "Rent some!"
nukesafe is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 06:13 PM
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Hi 4sammy
You might find this trip report and others from this poster helpful:
love_travel_Aus is offline  
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