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Suggestions for a first trip outside the US for 5 and 7 year olds?

Suggestions for a first trip outside the US for 5 and 7 year olds?

Feb 9th, 2010, 05:19 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
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Suggestions for a first trip outside the US for 5 and 7 year olds?

Hi Fodorites,
Our family recently enjoyed a longer plane trip with our kids in the US. The kids were great travellers, and did fine on the plane, sleeping in strange beds, having less of a set schedule, and problem-solving in the moment. All in all, I think it was a great experience.
My husband and I would love to plan a trip to Europe next year, and take the kids, but we're not sure where to start. My husband and I have been to the UK, France, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. We could go back to any of those places, or explore somewhere new. What are your suggestions for a first family trip abroad? Or would you suggest we stay stateside until they are older? There are certainly wonderful places in the US we could take them; we just love Europe and want to go ourselves, and would not leave them behind.
If we go, do we plan a trip around "kid friendly" sights, or do we take them to the normal places and interpret the attraction/church/building within the kid's frame of reference? Is group travel the way to go with children, like on Rick Steve's "family" trips?
Thanks for your suggestions and insight,
RaleighLaura is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 05:33 PM
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Why stay stateside?

I suggest going where you parents want to go. Kids like to be around happy parents. Except please be nice to other travelers who have saved up money to see museums and churches -- which kids the ages of your kids can't be expected to be quiet and respectful in. You're kids are too young to get any meaningful "kid's frame of reference" for a Picasso or the Reichstag Dome. Take turns as adults seeing the adult stuff, and leave the kids outisde to play.

If you feel like you want to sometimes escape your kids, if you go with a group of families, you can probably cut deals on babysitting.

Why don't you return to a place you have already been that you like? That way you won't be simultaneously struggling with logistics and the kids.
primeranoche is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 05:47 PM
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We brought our kids to Europe when they were 10 and 15 and they got a lot out of the trip. I think that we felt like taking them when they were a lot younger would not perhaps have been worth the expense of flying from Calif. and then ending up in a vacation situation that was not very different from what I could get at home (lakes, oceans, mountains). Sitting in a cafe in Paris with a 5 year old is not that fun after awhile,so one probably ends up at the Luxembourg gardens play structure. We did start taking them to places like NYC and DC as they got older, Europe we saved for when they would really appreciate it. The 10 year old (who is 20 now) is leaving for his 4th trip to Europe this May. So I know he loves it there.
macdogmom is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 05:55 PM
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I don;t see any issue with taking kids that age to europe. they're old enough to enjoy many sights - as long as the trip is paced realistically for them. I would stick to only a couple of locations, renting an apartment in each in an area with a playground and other families. then visits sights in the city - and take a couple of day trips - from each. (A couple of things kids always seem to like are zoos, boat rides, castles and those fold museums that show how people used to live in the countryside - lots of animals and different activites.)

Get the kids involved in the trip so they can understand what's going on and can pick some places they like (Eiffel Tower, Windsor Castle etc). Let them look at tour brochures and picture guides in advance - and make sure there are enough breaks for them to just be kids.

I might tend to do one week in a city and a second week in a more country area - but with plenty of sights nearby.
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 06:00 PM
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My parents pulled up stakes and took us to Spain for a year when my sister and I were 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 years old.

Go for it!
Leely2 is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 06:00 PM
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Suggest Holland. Specifically Madurodam in The Hague and Duinrell in Wassenaar for two sites. Also windmills.

The Dutch love kids, and Americans. You will be the center of attraction where ever you go.

You would probably get more responses if you divulged the ages of the kids, 2 or 20?
spaarne is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 06:04 PM
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uh-- spaarne? Check the title of the thread.
primeranoche is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 06:14 PM
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Anyplace would be good - If you loved London or Paris or Rome or where ever - take your kids there. My only concern would be places like Italy or Spain in the summer. VERY hot and probably not best for little kids. So if it must be in Summer - I'd probably choose the UK (London, some countryside, and maybe Edinburgh), or London & Paris.

If it could be in the Spring - then Italy would be fine.

But wherever you enjoy -- so will the kids most likely.
janisj is online now  
Feb 9th, 2010, 07:46 PM
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My suggestion for a first family trip abroad - would be a place where YOU feel comfortable and perhaps speak a little of the language. But having said that, our first trip out of the country with children was two months in Japan when our older son was almost 5, and it was fabulous. So forget that suggestion and just think about where you would like to go. : )

Would I suggest we stay stateside until they are older? - no, no, no. If you like to travel, then go where you want to go, whether it's in this country or elsewhere.

Do you plan a trip around "kid friendly" sights, or just take them to the sites you want to see? I think a little of both. Especially at the ages of your kids, there are some things I might not do with them, but a little flexibility will let you see what you want. Want to see an art museum, but not deal with the 5-year-old attention span? Find a nearby park and take turns.

Is group travel the way to go with children? I personally don't think so. Planning your own trip gives you the flexibility to deal with how your kids are feeling on any given day. I think the best way to travel with children the ages of your children is to pick a base (or two) where you can stay for several days, ideally a week, get an apartment, and explore that area.

Janisj's point about considering the summer weather is good...I still remember being in Greece in August years and years ago...a very worthwhile trip for other reasons, but the most miserably hot I've ever been in my life.

Happy planning!
Barbara_in_FL is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 08:02 PM
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What about Portugal? The Portuguese also love children, there are fantastic beaches and you can rent villas with their own pools (assuming they swim) at reasonable rates. There are day tours you can go on, the colours are lovely and although the food isn't as lovely as Italy (IMHO), there will be enough variety to tempt children. I've only been to the south and Lisbon, so would recommend somewhere near Portimao, but others may have other suggestions. Have fun.
rickmav is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 08:19 PM
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Our kids were 4 and 7 the first time we took them overseas. That trip was to Portugal and we all had a wonderful time! Since then we have taken them to London, Scotland, Italy, and France (several times).

Even though the kids don't remember everything from the trips, we have no regrets on taking them along. They ate the local foods, adjusted to various customs (afternoon siestas, staying up late, etc), etc. We made some wonderful family memories and nothing can beat that
mms is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 08:19 PM
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Agree with most of the above, especially taking the children some place that you really enjoy and feel comfortable with. I'd just base in one or two places, preferably staying in an apartment rather than a hotel to give everyone some space and flexibility with bedtimes, etc.

I enjoyed sitting in outdoor cafes in Paris with my 6 yr old granddaughter last year and also watching her have such a good time in the parks. Perhaps if this had been my first time there I would have been less relaxed about spending time doing those types of activities.

I'd suggest photocopying and taking along pictures of places they want to see at your chosen destinations and have the children use them as a kind of treasure hunt game once you get there. Drawings from children's books are especially nice to use.

Happy planning, and have a wonderful trip!
grandmere is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 09:42 PM
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One of my regret with my children was not taking them to Europe enough before they were 12. Once they turned 12, the only things they wanted to do was to hang around with friends.

Children adopt to new environments quickly as long as they don't have to sit still for a long time. Castles and gardens especially the ones with mazes were hit. The palaces tended to bore and tire them.
greg is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 06:50 AM
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Oops, I missed the headline.

At 5 and 7 my suggestions are spot on. My daughter was in that range when we first went to Madurodam and a little older when we went to Duinrell. She loved them both.

Do your kids draw or paint? Don't forget museums. I challenged her and her friend to find their favorite painting in the Frans Hals museum in Haarlem. This really got them interested. Photography is allowed there except for some special exhibits.
spaarne is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 06:55 AM
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Farm stay (agro-tourismo? sp?) I've heard of these in Italy and France.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 07:01 AM
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Another vote for early travel for kids. Take them wherever calls to you, rent an apt or villa, focus on their likes and their needs and you will help them feel comfortable traveling.
jubilada is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 07:14 AM
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I sent a friend of mine this book which makes for some interesting inspiration in US and abroad for travel with kids: Storybook Travels: From Eloise's New York to Harry Potter's London, Visits to 30 of the Best-Loved Landmarks in Children's Literature by Colleen Dunn Bates.
laurie_ann is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 07:25 AM
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I agree with the posters - don't hesitate to take them to Europe. We started traveling with our kids when they were 9 and 12 and wished we had started earlier. Agree with others who suggest you go someplace you have already been - you will not feel so compelled to see everything you want to see, but enjoy seeing everything through your children's eyes. Definitely don't travel with a group- you will want to be on your own schedule. You may want to consider asking some grandparents to join you so you can have somewhat of a break. We are headed on our third trip with my parents next month and my kids are 17 and 14 - but it is great to share the memories with 3 generations!

Fodor's has some great books called "Around _______ with Kids - 68 great things to do together." I know they have them for Rome, Paris and London.

There is also a great classic children's travel series by M. Sasek that has been reissued called "This is __________" and incl. Rome, Paris, London, Venice, Ireland etc."

The Italy Discovery Journal (http://www.kidseurope.com/) is also a great tool if you decide to go to Italy - has great activities for the kids - like how many different shapes of pasta can you find, etc.
jgg is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 07:30 AM
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Our first family vacation to Europe with the kids was to Ireland. They loved exploring old ruins, running with baby lambs in green meadows and walking the beaches on windy days. The food wasn't too "weird," and all the B&B owners owned dogs or cats to play with in the evenings. It was a great time.
DonnaD44 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 07:33 AM
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There are also musuems that have programs that cater to young ones.

I guess part of the answer is deciding if you want city, city and countryside, or countryside.

When I first opened this thread, before reading anything, I was thinking of Ireland, a little stone cottage in the country.
Michel_Paris is offline  

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