Visitors Guide

Europe Travel Tips for Families

By Art Robinson, Contributing Editor

Unique Tips to Make Your Family’s Trip to Europe Great

Family trips are memory makers. Family trips to Europe are memory makers on steroids! They can be exciting and challenging but are well worth the effort.

How well your trip comes off is often determined largely by the planning that goes into the trip. Here are tips that may help you plan and enjoy a great family trip to Europe!

Push-Pin Planning

Your trip will be more interesting if you collect ideas for months before you go. Mount a large map of Europe on a piece of corrugated cardboard, and hang it on the wall in some well-traveled area of your house. Buy a small notebook and a package of push-pins, and number the pins, then invite everyone who enters your house to mark their suggestions on your map, with a corresponding entry in the notebook.

Our son Sam, a Lego-addict, marked the original Lego Land in Denmark.  A friend stuck Pin #4 in Oslo, and jotted “great camping and Viking Museum with jumbo boats” next to #4 in the notebook. A neighbor stopped by to borrow a paint scraper, and made suggestions. Both our kids started paying attention to the geography of the map, as the possibilities in each country made the trip more real. By the time we left, we had some great ideas.

Travel Light

Limit each person to one carryon-size suitcase. If we did it for four months, you can do it too! You’ll see different people every day, so they’ll never know you’re wearing the same clothes over and over. We also recommend bringing:

• a small album of photos of your home and neighborhood, for making friends
• a few small presents – state pins or badges are good
• versatile toys, like Legos, that can be used over and over in new ways
• a small notebook, for each person, to use as a journal
• a small daypack for each person, for snacks, water bottle etc. on the road…

Follow the Leader

Allow each person in the family, in turn, to choose the day’s activities. On Tuesday, Dad picks the science museum, and everyone goes along, even though it sounds suspiciously educational. On Wednesday, 9-year-old Steve chooses to rent bicycles to the dismay of his parents, who haven’t biked in years. Mom opts for a cheese factory on Thursday, and the samples turn out to be delicious. On Friday, 13-year-old Beth calls for sleeping late, then visiting the flea market.

With this system, everyone gets exposed to new interests, you avoid the paralysis and lowest-common-denominator tendencies of group decision making, and everyone shares the work of planning – instead of all of it falling on one person’s shoulders (often Mom’s). – via

Finding Your Best Destination in Europe

Europe is full of wonderful cites and beautiful countrysides. Choosing will be a challenge but must be done. Here are some things to think about as you consider the many possible destinations in Europe and which ones are right for your family dream trip!

Where to Go in Europe

If, like my kid, yours has a hankering to see some big-time monument — Big Ben or the Roman Coliseum, say — then you’ll probably want to center your trip around one of the classic destinations. In addition to boasting the iconic attractions, big Western European cities are comfortable places for families. “There are frequent flights and competitive pricing,” says Teresa Plowright, of

If your child isn’t dictating the destination, you have a little more leeway in where to vacation. “Everyone wants to go to London, Paris, Rome, but with young children, cities are exhausting and can be expensive if you haven’t done your research,” says Cynthia Harriman, author of Take Your Kids to Europe. “Little kids have no preconceptions, so be open about where to go — try some beautiful countryside like Umbria in Italy, the beaches of Sicily, or Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula.”

New York City mom Sharon Schuur remembers the trip she took with her kids, ages 3 and 5 at the time, to the West Coast of Ireland. “My younger one still talks about walking down paths, picking wild blackberries.” You’ll not only have a more relaxed vacation if you stay outside the big cities, but you’ll also cut your expenses.

So much choice! Where to start? Read travel books, surf the Web, and ask everyone you come in contact with for recommendations and tips. Then it’s time to do the budget. – via Parents Magazine

When will you take your family to Europe? Have you begun planning yet?

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