Travel Tips for Europe with Kids
Planning a family trip across the pond? If this is your first trip to Europe or your first European trip with kids, you may be a little nervous. My husband and I have traveled extensively around Europe with two little ones in tow, and have learned a thing or two about making it easier and less stressful to travel with kids in a foreign country. Here are some travel tips for Europe with kids:
Before the Trip
Learn the language “basics”
Some people overlook this very simple way to ingratiate oneself with the locals. No need for a whole language course, just learn a few words in the native language. “Good morning,” “Thank you,” and “Excuse me,” plus some numbers and directional words can be indispensable in negotiating around a new city.
Research the religious and national holidays of the country
National holidays can mean closed museums, monuments and shops, which could really mess up your travel plans. Common holidays honored by many European countries include: May Day (May 1st), Easter Monday (the day after Easter which changes every year), Whit Monday (50 days after Easter), The Assumption (August 1st), and All Saints Day (November 1st). Many countries like Luxembourg and the Netherlands also celebrate the birthdays of their respective royalty.
During the Trip
On the safe side
Always carry your passport on your person, AND email a scanned version to yourself. Most likely you will not have a need for it, but if you do, it will be infinitely easier (and faster) for the foreign embassies to confirm your identity and obtain another passport. In addition, make two copies of your itinerary with all addresses and phone numbers, so you and your partner each have one, in case you separate while traveling. I remember shopping alone in Paris on one trip and realizing with a start that I didn’t know the hotel address or the metro stop.
Bring the baby monitors and an outlet converter. Depending on the layout of your hotel room and its proximity to the public areas like the lounge, you may have the opportunity to relax outside of the room while your baby naps. This was indispensable for our kids who refuse to fall asleep while we are in the room. After spending several vacations forced to read my book while sitting fully clothed in the bathtub, it was true freedom to be able to have a drink at the bar WITH my husband, while still being able to hear my babies. Some hotels offer their own baby monitoring services using cell phones. Ask the concierge if your hotel offers such services.
“Only what’s necessary” is a daily decision
Pack bags that collapse into each other to make it easier to travel light. I always carry a backpack and a smaller sling purse that can slip into it, yet is big enough to fit the essentials. Then each morning, we can decide which is the best travel bag for the day’s activities and destination.
To stroller or not to stroller
Another daily decision is whether or not you really need the stroller. Depending on what activities you’re doing or what attractions you’re seeing, the stroller may be more of a hindrance than a help. You may not want to bring it if you are only walking short distances on ancient cobblestone streets. We have left broken umbrella strollers on the sidewalks of Spain and Germany out of exasperation. Depending on your kids’ ages, Dad can use a kid backpack or a Baby Bjorn.
I hope you will find these travel tips for Europe with kids will make your trip easier and more enjoyable.
Have you also traveled to Europe with kids? Please share any of your favorite tips in the comments below.
Erin is a native Floridian who has resided in Atlanta since 1995. Her husband Mike and she have two funny, smart, active girls and two cats.