Family Travel in Europe

Old May 10th, 2006, 05:31 PM
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Family Travel in Europe

Hi,
We are traveling family of six throughout France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland/Germany a little and UK. Kids ages range 8-13. Any good tips to share?
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Old May 10th, 2006, 05:47 PM
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Uh, take plenty of tranquilizers?

Seriously, we travelled as a family of 4 when the kids were younger and it was fine. Just realize that Europe is not as "kid friendly" as the US. In general, kids do not stay free in the room and most restaurants do not have a cheaper childrens menu. Basicly, you will be paying 3 times the price of just Mom and Dad travelling. Some hotels will have you staying in 3 rooms or at least pay as if you did.

The cheapest way to travel will be by auto (you can rent a van big enough) but make sure to take at least one day trip by rail.

Give the kids a little European history and art history lessons before you get there. They don't often get much before high school.
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Old May 10th, 2006, 05:54 PM
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I've traveled with wife and one or more kids in parties of 3 or 5. With the 3, we always got a double with a rollaway, With 5, we always got two rooms. So it's not triple.

But double is bad enough.
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Old May 10th, 2006, 06:02 PM
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I would suggest renting apartments or cottages or villas, and then making daytrips from a home base. Less wear and tear on everyone that way.
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Old May 10th, 2006, 06:58 PM
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Are you traveling by car?
If so, a couple of tips:

Stop for simple picnic lunches in local parks etc to let everyone stretch and blow off steam. You can often find tubes of mayo/mustard in grocery stores along with the cheese/meat etc. Buy what you need (knife, corkscrew etc) there.

In your planning, let the kids have a voice in things they want to see/do. A castle? A funicular ride? A torture chamber? A movie? Of course, you'll have to figure this out with your family, but sometimes one more museum is just too much for some kids, while a night hanging out in the hotel and watching foreign TV shows might be just the ticket. (Of course, there seems to be more easy access to porn channels...)

Let the little ones ride "shotgun" sometimes!
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Old May 10th, 2006, 09:09 PM
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Switzerland was the only place where I felt some people were not so tolerant of children.
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Old May 10th, 2006, 09:51 PM
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When I was 13 (and the oldest of 5 children) my family took our first trip to Europe. There were seven of us crowded in a Volkswagen campmobile and we had a great time (even my parents say its true.) We camped about half the time.

My parents did prepare us well -- lots of talks about no fighting, showing Europeans that American children can behave well, etc. We also learned a bit about European history, art and sights we would see.

We tended to "picnic" for breakfast (if it wasn't included in the hotel price) and one other meal by shopping at the local markets. We usually ate one main meal out at a restaurant each day.

The advice about stopping at local parks was great as it was fun to investigate playgrounds and meet other kids.

Have a great trip!
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Old May 11th, 2006, 05:23 AM
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I think Italy is very kid-friendly overall. Restaurants were always welcoming and acommodating. Granted, we didn't eat in any upscape places but did have some great meals.

We've also been to Paris and London. The biggest problem for us was that many restaurants didn't open for dinner until 8ish, which is late for my kids. We would have late afternoon snakcs to hold them over. We'd pick up some fuit, or get a fesh baguette or something like that.

We also allowed the kids to pick some things that they wanted to see and do. I'd buy the eywitness guide books with all the photos and let them look through it. In London, they agreed on a play to see, in Italy they wanted to go to Pompeii (they also wanted to see the leaning tower, but our schedule could only fit either Pompeii or Pisa but not both). In Paris, they wanted to see th Mona Lisa (although they were disappointed because there was such a mob scene at the painting, it was covered with plexiglass and it was much smaller than they anticipated).

My son is also a sports fan. Wherever we've been to he'd buy some kind of team apparel, and would wear it as much as he could. When people would see him with the local soccer team jersey, they would stop and chat with him. He got a kick out of that.

We also always spend some outdoor time. We'd go to a park, sometimes bring a frisbee or football. My kids, especially when they were younger needed down time from museums and major site-seeing. If there was a carousel, we'd let them have a ride. We'd also seek out some non-art museums (we've found some nice science museums) and some smaller museums that aren't so overwhelming (Picasso in Paris, Van Gogh in AMsterdam, etc).
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