Going on vacation for with your partner and kids can be great fun. Yet, those Mums who have travelled with kids know that this can also turn into a fraught and stressful experience. By taking a trip to Europe it is possible to experience new cultures and amazing sights in a short period of time, though this will necessitate time on the road. Your kids may not be so positive about visiting multiple destinations, taking long journeys in a rental car or frequent trips by euro train, but this can easily be made into a enjoyable part of your vacation.
Start by getting the kids involved and engaged in their journey. Plan routes together by looking at maps and atlases, and keep these handy in the car or train so you can track your progress. Research landmarks and scenic spots en route which your kids can look out for. If travelling by car, these can also provide ways to break up your journey and let the kids stretch their legs! Give each of your children a new notebook and set of coloured pens or pencils at the beginning of the trip and encourage them to keep notes and draw pictures on your journey. This could be anything from unusual sights from the car window or imagining what your next destination will look like.
Europe has many great cities: Rome, Paris, Berlin, London – the list is endless! Whilst the art galleries, museums and historic sites may be of interest to you and your partner they may not be on the top of your kids’ to-do list. Many museums are, in fact, ideal for families provided you make your visit as child-friendly as possible. Rather than trying to cover the whole area of a larger museum, choose sections as a family and decide which areas you would most like to visit. Science or natural history museums are always a fun option as they often involve hands-on exhibits aimed specifically at children.
The climate in Europe can vary hugely, so picking an appropriate time to travel is important. In the height of summer a sightseeing vacation in a busy city can be difficult. Instead, focus on beach or lakeside destinations where kids can quickly cool down. Countries like Hungary are less-visited and have family-oriented lakeside accommodation and parks. The bitter cold of winter can also be a tricky time for travelling with kids, making travel in countries in northern and eastern Europe more difficult. For a milder climate in the winter months head instead to places like southern Spain. Taking a vacation to Europe over Christmas can also make for an unforgettable trip and destinations like Germany and Austria really up the festive factor which will delight any child. Christmas markets in larger German cities like Berlin and Hamburg can be packed during the holiday season, so kids will likely enjoy an event in a smaller city. Try Goslar, which hosts its annual event in a beautiful medieval square.
As well as fun activities en route and whilst at your destination, when travelling with kids you should always remember some basic practicalities. When planning your vacation allow extra time at the beginning and end of all journeys. Keep a bag of essentials handy: healthy snacks, water, a favourite toy or comforter. Stock up on medication beforehand, as some over-the-counter US products may be harder to find in Europe. And finally – kids are influenced by the mood and attitude of their parents, so even in trying situations, stay positive and stay smiling!