There’s no reason to fear traveling abroad with children, even with babies and toddlers in tow. Thoughtful planning is the key to success and the plethora of online family travel information makes researching a family vacation abroad easier than ever.
Here is my list of five essential international family travel tips:Spend at Least 10-14 Days on the Ground. Make the transportation and time expense worthwhile by staying long enough to get into a travel routine and enjoy plenty of jet lag-free days. This strategy makes everyone more relaxed as it takes off the pressure to be continuously active. Create a flexible timetable with a balanced mix of playtime and sightseeing time. Also, note that many of the best kid-friendly hotels and resorts have weeklong minimums during peak travel periods.Keep Itineraries Simple With Minimal Accommodation Changes. More is not necessarily better when it comes to traveling abroad with kids. It’s best to minimize logistics and accommodation changes. A good rule of thumb is to spend at least 3-4 days in cities and/or a week per country if you get into rural areas where getting around takes time. Better yet is to just stay in one country and focus. See my article, Tips for Traveling in Europe with a Toddler, for a list of things to consider when selecting accommodations for international trips with young children.Follow the Crowd. Following the crowd is not a bad thing when it comes to exploring a foreign destination with children as “touristy” usually equates to more infrastructure — i.e. accommodation, dining, and activity options — increasing the likelihood that there will be something appealing for all ages and interests. In addition, popular travel destinations are more likely to have dedicated family resources like kid-friendly guides and hotels with kids’ amenities and services.Book Special Activities. With kids school age and up, plan 1-2 special activities like a walking tour or a family cooking class when traveling. Many times these structured activities that engage kids in local traditions and history end up being a memorable trip highlight for all.Car, Train, or Plane in Europe. The train system throughout Europe is exceptional and is a good choice for major transfers between large cities – provided families pack light so that getting on and off the train is not a nightmare. If the train is not a good option, Europe’s frill-free low cost carriers like easyJet are affordable and efficient. Note that car rentals are recommended in most countries for families who want to explore those nooks and crannies in the countryside. See our article, Europe Car Rental Tips, for more insight and information.
Happy travels! While your kids may not remember all of these experiences, you will cherish your globetrotting family adventures forever.