taking children to Europe

Old Jan 29th, 2016, 07:21 AM
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taking children to Europe

We encounter quite a few threads asking advice on European trips that involve adults and children. What age were YOU when you first went to Europe? Memories? Have you taken children to Europe? At what age(s)? what did you think were "hits" with them?

I first went to Europe with my parents at about 12 years of age - England, Ireland, Norway, Denmark and France. I am sure I drove my parents a bit batty as mostly what I wanted to do was feed the pigeons in the large squares.I was thrilled to purchase a "family" of damn dolls in Denmark (anyone remember those?) I'm not sure the trip was very enjoyable to me....food was a challenge, we visited too many churches, At the end, we went to a beach in France, not sure where - I did enjoy that. But in my young adult years I had no desire to return.

So I waited until my children were late teens and went with them on EF student tours - the typical rush thru 5 countries in 12 days. But at that point in my life, I was wowed - I think visiting Italy had alot to do with it. Visiting Europe (esp. southern Europe) became close to an addiction for myself and also my young adult girls. We often combined city time with beach time - a mix of culture and art with the enjoyment of outdoor cafes, bike riding, and sun worship.

Anyways, on this chilly winter day, anyone want to share experiences and maybe add some tips to parents planning trips with children?
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 07:39 AM
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I was born in Europe...
I went first to North America when I was 10.

My children all boarded a plane at max 2.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 08:13 AM
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I LEFT Europe for the first time when I was 18...
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 10:31 AM
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My family didn't have money for trips to Europe when we were kids.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 10:42 AM
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I was 20 when I first went to Europe.

This summer I'm taking my kids for their first time at ages 9 and 11.

Would love to hear tips from others ...
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 12:06 PM
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I was 27 or so when I made my first trip, had no expectations, and fell in love instantly. We've now made some 70+ trips and enjoy each, both as we take them and as we look back at the journals, pictures and videos we keep from them. For us it's our raison d'etre.

Took our kids when they were 7 and 10 or so and had all the difficulties you have with kids in alien environments but also were amazed to watch them show their friends videos of the trips and explain far more than we ever thought they had absorbed.

We have just returned from the first trip with our granddaughters, 7 year old twins. We took them to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a place I recognized years ago as wonderful for children--less expensive but very nice and charming lodging and locals who love kids. They got to sled and ski (spent early years in Minnesota, now live in FL and miss the snow--as kids, but not grown ups so much, do. They were noisy in restaurants and didn't eat much of the "ethnic" food, but they really enjoyed the trip and we'll probably do something similar annually as long as we can keep it up both physically, mentally and economically.

Your 9 and 11 year olds should do well. Suggest you help them do journals to remember their trip and their impressions. Our daughter set up the girls' journals with topics like---foods I liked and those I didn't, things I saw and found different from US, etc. I highly recommend Germany and Austria as a venue with young kids for the reasons expressed above. Have a great time.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 12:13 PM
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I was 17 months old. Threw up on my momma shortly after we landed at Heathrow.

Junior was 19 months old. Threw up on my wife about 1.5 hours after we landed at Heathrow.

Obviously maturity increases between 17 and 19 months are significant.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 12:18 PM
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I was born in the UK, and live in the Netherlands.

We never had the money for trips to Europe, never mind further afield when I was a child.

The first time I went abroad was when I was 20, and we moved to the Netherlands for 18 months.
I was 23 when I first went to the US.


My oldest first flew as a baby between Amsterdam and London and hated it, screamed all the way. I was so glad it was only an hour flight! He has since been to Japan, Thailand, and assorted parts of Europe, so he got over his fears!

My middlest had a flight back to the UK with me when he was 7. He didn't fly again until he was an adult.
His two boys flew for the first time when they were 4 and 6, on a 5 hour flight to La Palma. They loved it, passed their time drawing, playing games on mobile phones and just being excited. They haven't flown since.

My youngest went as a UM when he was 12 or 13. That was his first flight.

If you allow kids time to be kids and give them some down time to just play and do not a lot I am sure they will enjoy any trip.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 01:57 PM
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I first went to Europe at the age of 20 on a USO tour to "sing for our boys overseas at Christmastime." Got hooked instantly and went back 25 times or so before I had kids. Went with my kids at least once a year from the time I was pregnant with them until they were in their 20s and could pay for their own trips. Bought a house in France in 1993 and live here now as I always knew I wanted to.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 02:50 PM
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Went first time at 19 with my boyfriend for 5 weeks before my junior year in college. Loved it and have been back more than 100 times since (but quite a few ere business).

As for out DDs we took them the first time when they were 11 and 14. The love it, were involved from the beginning of planing, picked out sights and restaurants and spent a couple of afternoons doing their own thing whle DH and I visited some galleries. (They were NYC kids used to dealing with the subway and both understood/spoke at least a little French.

We did not take them earlier since DHs ex had custody and sent them off to summer camps. We took them the first summer they lived with us (there were issues between the ex's new husband and the kids - on both sides).

I think travel with kids is certainly double a long as you consider their needs (lodging, climate, activities) based on ages and interests and get them involved in planning once they are old enough.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 03:24 PM
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We took our boys (from 11 years of age) to South East Asia twice (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia) before they had their first trip to Europe (from Australia).
They both love Europe, but I think it's because we matched our interests and preferred pace to our itineraries really well, and they were old enough to tolerate the discomfort of long haul flights/ being hungry and finding everything closed / running for the bus etc.
And we have a rule, everyone is allowed to pick some sights/ destinations, but no-one else is allowed to complain about it. That's how we got to the Schlumpf car collection in Alsace (I would never had chosen it, but we all loved it).
Other decisions that make travelling more bearable, not just with kids, is minimising travel between destinations. So we tend to be okay with paring down our wishlist and seeing less.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 03:32 PM
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My kids arrived in UK from Japan ages 7&4. From then we went to Italy every year until they were around 17 when they set off on their own. Those holidays in Isola D'Elba are the greatest memories of their childhood. They had weeks on the beach and more weeks in Florence Pisa Venice and Roma. And now in their 30s they go to Italy every chance they get. I can't imagine we could have given them a better start in life.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 05:48 PM
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I was born in France.. but my Canadian mom was not happy living with her French inlaws.. so we moved here when I was only 5 months old.

First trip back I was 8.. my mom, sister and I all went to spend two months of summer holiday with my grandmother( she had come to Canada twice to visit us before that )..
We returned again when I was 10.

At 13 I was put on plane alone to spend summer with granny.. this went on a few more times till I was 17..

At 23 I made my first trip over with a friend to back pack around for 3 months.

My kids all got a one on one trip with either my husband or me .. we decided taking a family of five to Europe was too unweildly and too much money at once.. so I came up with the idea of the one on one trips.. which was great as I went first with our first son when he was 13,, then next year my hubby took our next son when he was 13,, then two years later I took my daughter when she was 11.

I personally think 11 or older is good time for kids going to Europe.. my first visit to Paris at 7.. I thought it was scary crowded.. too much traffic( I was not used to super big cities) I only liked visiting the parks and going up the Eiffel Tower.. other then that I only wanted to stay at my grannys house just outside paris, play with neighborhood kids and go to local swimming pool.

By 13 my granny would take us into Paris for the day to do business.. give me 20 francs.. and let me wander on my own for the day.. it then that I actually fell in love with Paris.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 05:59 PM
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ps never assume you know what your kids will like.

My oldest son ,, at that time was a skateboarder.. did not particularily like school, books or history.. he LOVED the Louvre and asked for a second visit..

My second oldest son , who has a severe learning disability among other issues.. was enthralled when his dad took him to a special exhibit of Leonardo Da Vincis drawings ( he is fascinated with " making stuff" and "fixing stuff" and loved the drawings of Leonardo that showed futuristic vehicles like helicoptors etc)

My daughter refused a visit to the Catacombs.. which both brothers told her were highlights of their visits.


My hubby rented a car in Germany and drove stupid fast on the autobahn.. highlight for my son( would not have happened with me in car)

My oldest thought it was fun when I gave him money to go to McDonalds and get a snack in early evening by himself ( it was just down street)

You never really know how kids will react about everything.. my oldest son refused a second visit to Disneyland.. ( I had bought a two day ticket because it was only a bit more then the one day ticket... but he did not want to go back).. my second son refused Disneyland but loved Thorpe Park in UK,, and my daughter loved Provins..
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 07:04 PM
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I went to Holland when I was 12 (flew unaccompanied!) to stay for 3 weeks w/ my great-Aunt and great-Uncle and meet various relatives. I went back again at 23 to do a 6-week backpacking tour. I've been back a number of times since.

I took my kids overseas for the first time when one was 3 and the other was in my belly. . Both went at about age 6 and 2.5 years to Spain, and have been overseas to Europe almost every year since. Last year was Iceland and this year will be Holland (family!) and Paris. I love traveling with my kids! The first year of my older son's life he flew almost 100K miles. I took him to Hawaii (twice) and to see relatives all over the US. My kids are well-behaved (mostly) and travel well and I enjoy planning around them and seeing and doing things w/ them that I wouldn't have done in adult-only travel (e.g. Isla De Magica in Seville). We read books about history before we go - e.g. Anne Frank, WWI or WWII books geared for their age.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 09:11 PM
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We first took our kids to Europe for a month when they were aged 12 and 9 and mostly we took them because we wanted to go and there's no way we would have left them at home. Although they had a great time, some years on I suspect they don't remember much of it but I cherish the memories of them there.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 09:38 PM
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We first took our son trans-Atlantic (Canada) at the age 18 months. Since then he's been to five continents and the Artic circle (now aged 10).

Great fun for us but he doesn't remember anything prior to the age of 5 which is a shame.

The experiences must have sunk in as he wants to be a marine biologist (if he fails to get in the England cricket team).
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Old Jan 30th, 2016, 08:45 AM
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Oh my kids travelled way before europe, to Mexico, Hawaii, mainland States and Caribbean...starting at 6 months!
Unfortunately europe is like 10+ hrs flight ( often making 20 hour travel days for us) , too long for most tots.
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Old Jan 31st, 2016, 01:14 AM
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Our children were 10, 8 and 6 when we travelled to USA from Australia and then 2 years later went to USA again and from NewYork to UK then back to Miami . We always discussed in the pre trip planning what places they wanted to go to
And ensured that lots of children's activities were included as we travelled around- they did tell us no more churches in England !
We all had great times and still talk about our travels - all have travelled extensively and lived in Europe .
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Old Jan 31st, 2016, 01:28 AM
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It is OK to take your kids to Europe as long as bring them home as well.

My parents and my wife's parents did not have money for elaborate trips, such as to Europe. Both we have a curiosity about the world and a willingness to accept what is different and, at times, embrace it.

Even when I went on business trips, I always wanted to eat in restaurants that had local food. And if I had time, would always try and see something of where I was.

On my first trip to Europe, we went to visit the farm where my FIL was born in Northern Spain. At that time, they were very poor, but extended a warmth and generosity that has lasted until this day. I was a street kid from Brooklyn who grew up in an apartment building with eight lanes of traffic under my window but this was one the great experiences of my life.
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