Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Help!! 2 week Europe trip with 6 year old daughter in December!!

Help!! 2 week Europe trip with 6 year old daughter in December!!

Oct 11th, 2016, 06:50 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,157
You give the dates December 20-January 2. Is December 20 the day you leave Canada? Is January 2 the day you fly to NYC? If yes, then those days are totally about travel so you really can't consider them part of your days to explore Europe and you have only 12 days.

Are you firm on flying into Copenhagen from Canada? Do you have chosen city for your flight to NYC?

When considering your transportation options, also consider all the time it takes to connect the dots. For example, to take the ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland, you will have to travel to Harwich somehow. You have not said where you will visit in the UK, so let's assume London. One night ferry I see leaves at 23:00. (Can your daughter stay awake for that late departure?) To get to the ferry from Central London, you will probably have to travel across London to Liverpool St Station for the Harwich train. The London/Harwich train is 75 minutes. From Hook of Holland to Amsterdam, the train takes about 90 minutes and then you must find your hotel. So add 4 more hours onto your travel.

Each time you change cities, whether by train, ferry, or plane, there are these additional travel times that add a good number of hours onto your total travel time from one place to another.

Drop Spain and Greece since they are much further away from your favorites you have mentioned.

The trip you suggest demands close planning to work, so plot out you movements day by day listing arrivals and departures so you can see the time you have left to actually enjoy yourself. Also realize that if there is bad weather, you may run into travel delays which could wreak havoc with a very tight schedule.

Must Copenhagen stay in your itinerary?
ellenem is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,312
Hi quitagg,

I have taken those North Sea ferries between the UK and Holland or Belgium several times when travelling by car, but wouldn't dream of doing it otherwise when flights are so cheap and quick.

Don't forget, you will have to travel from London to the port at Harwich, then from the Hook of Holland to Amsterdam, if that is your destination, and that will add hours to your journey... not to mention the inconvenience of changing modes of transport from train to ship and back to train with a 6 year-old in tow. Flying time from London to Amsterdam, on the other hand, is only 1hr 10min.

It seems to me you are trying to save on hotel bills by looking for night trains and overnight ferries, but will incur other costs both in time and money. One of my pleasures of overland travel is looking out the window of the car, coach, or train as I travel, but you can't see anything at night.
Heimdall is online now  
Oct 11th, 2016, 07:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,424
Personally, I don't think 6 year olds need to be out on the town for NY eve anywhere.

It is going to be freezing and public NY eve festivities in the streets can be quite hectic in big cities. They are not for children.

I believe Berlin would NOT be the better choice, as Enviergies concurs, for NY eve for children. I don't think Prague is either, I wonder if you've ever taken a small child out for NY eve in public spaces in big cities like that? Prague has masses of crowds, bars and clubs are hopping, and they do have fireworks. People gather around the river/Wenceslas bridge for them, of course. Many people fool around with their own devices they set off, I would not take a child to public NY eve on an open square.

Here is some info and they note that Prague City Hall has an event planned for families at 6 pm on New Years Day, that sounds like a good idea for you

I think you should stay in, watch it on TV, and then maybe go to that family thing the next day. They do accept children age 3+ on some of the river cruises for NY Eve (I would recommend the jazz cruise as most casual and with a buffet), but they are very expensive. If money is no object, that's an idea also

An adult fare is about 150 euro, for example, and the child fare around 100 euro.

Finding a hotel with a view of the fireworks could be very expensive.
Christina is online now  
Oct 11th, 2016, 07:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 47
We did a 7 day cruise last year..

So she wants to see Eiffel Tower, she talks about it all the time.. The plan is Disneyland for Christmas..

The reason Berlin was an option for New Year's Eve was because it is working our way up to where we are leaving from.. Copenhagen on the 2nd. I didn't think about spending more time in London.. I will do a little more research with that.. I think my thought process was that London is easier and cheaper to get to from US.. So I didn't plan really much time around that..

I don't have unlimited budget lol but taking cheapest routes..

We do all kinds of stuff in states.. We take some trips where we are stationary.. (7 days in same spot is not really as interesting) but most we are moving around and seeing places..
If we go somewhere and there are popular cities close by we will most likely go.. If we are driving somewhere and cities on the way we stop and do like the most popular attraction..

One Example we are leaving out of NYC to get to our hometown she wants to do Statue of Liberty.. We are getting to NYC Monday night, staying in hotel getting up and eating breakfast and do the whole Statue of Liberty crown attraction thing.. And that's it.. There is lots to do in NYC but that is the only point of interest this time around.. We do stuff like this all the time, I guess that's why it doesn't cross my mind in the way it does for you all..

I have invested in some nice comfortable UGG snow boots for her since I am already aware we will do lots of walking and I want her to be comfortable.. Coats gloves and hats and thermal type stuff I have as well.. We are both taking only a backpack and lately that's the way we have been traveling to sort of prepare us for Europe..

When you say make reservations for dinner how do I look for that? This is not a Christmas trip it is just a trip during Christmas break.. We won't have the time to do this any other time in the year. So unfortunately winter break is really all we will ever have to do something greater than a week. For a while ..
quitagg is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 07:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,298
Here is some information on the overnight ferry:


Hubby and I have done it a few times and it is fine, however it would likely be quite a pain with a 6 year old in tow. You need to take the train to Harwich, then the ferry, then 2 trains to get to Amsterdam.

With 12 days I would pick 3 easily connected cities like London, Paris and perhaps Amsterdam (or Rome if you fly). Fly into London, take the eurostar to Paris and then fly to Rome and fly home from Rome.
jamikins is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 07:51 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 47
Thanks @christina and @heimdall

I was thinking night travel so we don't lose much time during the day. Sleep while travel wake up and we are in the next destination is how I was thinking of it. I know regardless I will have to pay for somewhere to sleep so it's not so much about saving on hotel because I have a site I use with a lot of cheap hotels in good locations.. Staying in a hotel every night in each city will make something like this basically impossible to do in 14 days.. So that is where the idea of night train came in..

Also I wasn't planning to be out during the actual countdown.. I did see one hotel that was under 100 not too far from the New Years thing in Berlin.. So I was thinking that could be an idea.. So we can see fireworks if we are awake lol

I am going to read about prague tonight @Christina
quitagg is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 07:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,298
I understand you are used to travelling like this in North American, but have you considered:

1. Not knowing the language and how you will deal with this
2. Not knowing how to get around (taxis, public transport, walking) and how long this will take every new place you get to
3. Very short days
4. Winter weather and possible travel delays
5. Christmas timetables (trains, public transport, sites, restaurants)

Travelling in Europe is not like travelling in North America in my experience.
jamikins is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,819
Quitagg -- in NYC, statue of liberty, you are very naive when you blithely plan on short notice/no notice to "do the whole Statue of Liberty crown attraction thing." ... these tickets must be reserved at least 3-4 months in advance -- more at peak Holiday times such as Xmas vacation. I'll bet you didn't think of that, because your answers seem to indicate you don't do that much homework (not even thinking about v. short days in N. Europe).

Furthermore when you say you travel fast in the USA, I'll also wager that 99% of such fast travel is by personal car. You cannot repeat cannot base your Europe planning on USA experience.
travelerjan is online now  
Oct 11th, 2016, 08:36 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,537
>> We will not be in any train stops in the middle of the night.. <<

yes you will almost certainly. Many overnight trains have connections/changes in the middle of the night.

>>I don't have unlimited budget lol but taking cheapest routes..<<

Uh - nope. You have choses a VERY expensive way to do this.

But I'll give up now since it is obvious you are ignoring all our best efforts.

Do realize that every single person who has posted trying to help you either lives IN Europe or travels there multiple times a year.
janisj is online now  
Oct 11th, 2016, 08:53 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 47
Actually I'm not as naive that you are making me out to be, I have already booked our tickets for Statue of Liberty for the Crown. I already have my plane tickets to and from Europe just the middle is unplanned as of now.

I have done lots of research, the way around for this trip has changed several times due to research.
I have viewed time tables and will not choose any overnights that stop in the middle of the night.. If it does that will not be an option.

I am not disregarding what anyone says. I am simply answering the questions that you all have asked. Someone asked do I travel like this usually, someone asked how did Berlin come about, someone asked if I'm trying to save on hotels traveling at night etc.

I have realized that Europe and United States is different. If I wasn't doing research why would I even be on this site?? I have not said anything mean or disrespectful to anyone. In fact I have already X'd out the ferry to Holland because of this thread.. So I'm not sure why you are upset. @janis
quitagg is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 08:59 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,537
I'm not upset - it is your trip after all.

It is just a nearly impossible plan (and it is pretty sure that at least one of you will come home sick because of the constant travel, little sleep, and being outside most days in the winter weather w/ no hotel room to warm up/dry out.)

This is one step below child abuse IMO . . . but hey - have fun.
janisj is online now  
Oct 11th, 2016, 09:00 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,134
Another consideration: will your daughter be jet-lagged? If so, dragging her on this whirlwind trip won't give her a chance to recover.

The consensus of Fodorites who've traveled with children is the kids prefer staying in one spot for longer visits -- like 5-7 days or more. They get acquainted with the neighborhood, the baker, the gelateria, etc. This is what kids remember.

And that's a real international experience, not a one city per day breakneck tour.

I suspect the reason your daughter wants to see all these places is because you've told her she does. And your boredom should not be a main criteria when planning a trip for a child.
Mimar is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 09:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 47

That is the type of advice I was looking for when I posted to this site... I was giving background in topic.. Instead of receiving that most people are talking about my 'character' calling me naive etc. I asked before how are the public transportation around holidays? I had a hard time finding exact answers for that online.. Timetable not up for later December, so that was a concern. I did notice the shorter days some time ago but like I said originally I didn't know that, but after research I did find that. So that changed some things for me as well.

The language part I'm not sure but I did find some sites that told me what apps to have that work offline. Those are things I was hoping to hear fro my all. Like things to watch out for while traveling with a young child in Europe as far as safety.

I have one app on my phone now rail planner. So I am doing some research. I am jus trying to learn how things work over in Europe. So I can adjust our trip accordingly.
quitagg is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 09:16 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 47
Here we go again with the judgement.. My daughter comes to me with this stuff.. It is not because I tell her.. She told me she wants to go to top of Statue of Liberty so that's what I'm Gna let her do.. She wants to see Eiffel Tower so that's what I'm Gna do because I can do that for her. If you don't have anything nice to say why say anything at all.. Please keep your accusations and rude comments to yourself please.
quitagg is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 09:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,298
It's good to do the research. I think what everyone is trying to say is that due to the points I mentioned above you really need to readjust and think about spending more time in each city to account for these things.

Staying in 3 places for 4 nights will give you time to explore and work around these challenges. Trying to do more than that will become a logistical nightmare at that time of year, even without your daughter.
jamikins is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 09:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,298
I would also go over a guidebook with your daughter on each location. I am sure she will want to see more things in each town but just knows about the famous Eiffel Tower. If you show her what options are available you will be able to fill days in Paris, London and Rome for example. Just because she mentions the one thing she knows doesn't mean that is all she will want to see.
jamikins is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 09:32 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,563
Ok, let's take a step back from all the vitriol and commentary. I agree with the general notion but let's see how we can do this constructively if you're really willing to listen.

First, you're leaving from Copenhagen on 2 January. That means it's your last stop. Cut the fantasies about Berlin and Prague on NYE and just go to Copenhagen on the 30th or so.

Second, you must go to fewer cities and places because your wishlist was overambitious. To help with that, provide this piece of information: WHERE ARE YOU FLYING TO FIRST? If it's to Copenhagen, then go immediately to Berlin or Amsterdam or something of the type, then go to Paris on the 24th and then to Copenhagen on the 30th. If you can't figure out how to spend a week in Paris, that's on you because most folks would say that's a surface-scratcher. If you're flying somewhere else first, say where.

Third: LESS IS MORE. Absorb and embrace that mantra - you cannot do it all, nor can you do it all inexpensively. Even Western Europe is larger than New England - hopping from country to country is not as easy as bouncing between six of the USA's smallest states.
BigRuss is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 09:32 AM
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 25
Car experience is completely different then back-pack experience.. I do both. I especially like the conveniences of traveling in a car, like putting the heat on when it's cold, not having to carry belongings, feeling safe to lock the doors and drive away if in uncomfortable situations, etc.. And doing it in USA, can't compare to foreign countries with different languages. It's like having experience playing checkers and now you're going to play chess.

Travel is the best education and you really want yourself and your daughter to have a great time, have rich experiences and be safe.

I backpacked through Europe for 4 months and slept on train twice and those were my only uncomfortable memories and didn't get much sleep. Especially when being startled by 3 military men with machine guns in the middle of the night coming through checking passports. I couldn't understand what they were saying. With the political climate and refugee situation, I would not recommend living on a train in Europe with your 6 year old.

Your Paris part sounds like your daughter will enjoy. Maybe after Paris find a low cost river cruise.. so you can visit different cities with ease and be safe. Or visit one or 2 other cities and ask you daughter what she wants to see in each city.

You have a lifetime to travel and you will teach your child to take time to enjoy experience rather than visit places like a check list...
LuxuryTravelExpert is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 09:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,298
This thread might give you some ideas for things to do with your daughter in Paris

jamikins is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 09:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 47
Jamikins I completely understand what you are saying and I just feel a lot of people were being very rude, maybe this is common in Europe I don't know. I didn't think I would be called names and people judging my parenting, something they know nothing about. I ignored the first few comments but it started go get out of hand. There are nicer ways to state things.. Like how u just said what everyone else said but you didn't throw low blows while doing so...

I was just trying to move on and learn about how things are different and things to expect.. Not about people making comments about my character.. The idea was to learn about all of the stuff firsthand that everyone keeps saying I didn't do research on.. Yet I have done plenty research..

I still have yet to hear about the schedules around holidays but I have heard several times about what kind of person people think I am.. Not helpful at all.. So please can we move on and talk about things I am going to encounter regardless of how many days I stay..
quitagg is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:28 AM.