Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

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hsv_climber
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Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by hsv_climber » Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:17 pm

Trying to figure out either it is a good idea or not to take a family to Western Europe next Spring break (kids will be almost 13 and 8.5). We have never been there, so specific country is not that important, so it could be London or Paris or London + Paris or Barcelona/Spain or Rome / Florence.
Ireland has St. Patrick's Day right on Spring Break and Easter will be earlier (03/27) next year as well.

I've read Rick Steves article about taking kids to Europe ( https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/ ... -in-europe ), as well as multiple other resources on this topic and they all bring up the point that if you'd go to Europe with kids then you should take them to zoos, playgrounds, pools, etc.
But that sounds to me like a bad time/money investment. Why would I need to travel across the ocean in order to go to a zoo/playground, if I could find a similar and better attraction much closer to home?

Please share your experiences / opinions on the subject: either it would make sense or not to take kids 8-13 years old to W. Europe in order for them to see museums, architecture, art, etc.? Thanks.

P.S. Alternative to flying to Europe would be to go camping / hiking in some US National Park (we typically do that several times a year) or skiing somewhere.

clutchied
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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by clutchied » Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:39 pm

unless your kids are very mature; they will most likely not appreciate the museums or the architecture.

They might enjoy the beach or markets.


Personally I'd do some type of adventure vacation. If you go places make sure there is some sort of quest or they have to find certain items at each location.


What it comes down to is how well you know your kids... would they be into it?

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by livesoft » Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:48 pm

Our kids have been to Europe at around that age. It gave them a sense of fearlessness and confidence when traveling and they learned how to use trains, subways, buses, taxis, etc. Later when they had to take art history and world geography, they could say, "I've seen the Mona Lisa in person." Or "I've been to the top of the Eiffel tower." "Yep, I know this spacecraft called Rosetta, but I've seen the Rosetta Stone."

I think kids will reflect the attitudes of the parents. If the parents don't enjoy it, then the kids won't either.
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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by 209south » Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:50 pm

We lived in London for two years and traveled extensively through Europe - kids were 12, 9 and 6 - they were surprisingly happy to spend time on tours and museums, so long as we interspersed with more kid-friendly stuff. 10+ years later, my older son has great memories from those trips but my younger son can, unsurprisingly, recall very little. Your kids are at the young end of the range but you'll have a great time - If you have the time and resources, I'd go for it!

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by Paladin01 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:54 pm

Grandparents have taken each of our kids to Europe the summer after they turned 14. Our daughter picked London and our son picked France. Some museums were on the itinerary, but the kids had input into other aspects. Each had a fantastic time. Not sure I would take a child in elementary school for the reasons you mention. Middle school/high school are perfect ages. BTW, we like the Rick Steve's books. Ignore his advice at your own risk.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by tyrion » Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:56 pm

We took our kids to the UK for a wedding when they were 5 and 7 (I think). The jet lag was an issue, but other than that they had a great time.

We did not go to any zoos or playgrounds. The highlight of the trip for my son was navigating by train into London and then by tube out to the airport.

Of course my kids also enjoy camping, had a great time in Hawaii, and are asking for another road trip up and down the West coast.

What do your kids like to do? What do you like to do? I would think those ages would be ideal for a trip to Europe. Mix in a little bit of everything - some hiking, some museums, some restaurants, a beach or two if you're near one, etc.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by jane1 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:58 pm

Should be good for the 13 year old. Might be early for 8.5 yr one. You don't want the older kid to miss out.
I believe in exposing kids to different cultures, lifestyles, history early on. If, financially, it will not be a huge burden, go for it. If this is a once in a lifetime trip, then better to wait 2-3 years so they can remember and appreciate better.
Have they been to NYC, DC recently? Did they enjoy it? Alternative to NPs could be cities here in the US.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by hsv_climber » Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:13 pm

jane1 wrote: Have they been to NYC, DC recently? Did they enjoy it? Alternative to NPs could be cities here in the US.
Never been to NYC. Spent a week in DC <2 years ago. They did not really like any of the Art museums, but had a good time in Air & Space (~8 hrs.), History, Newseum (also spent ~8hrs. there), etc., as well as paid attention in Holocaust museum.
When we were visiting Newport, RI mansions last Fall, I was surprised that they've not complained and had a good time while visiting 5 mansions on the same day.
On our 1-day trip to Boston last Fall, when we were coming back from Acadia NP and were planning to see the city, we've ended up spending the whole day at Boston Science Center. But I can't say that they like science. They like pushing buttons (i.e. interactive things).
Their favorite place - St. Louis CITY Museum (we've been there 3 times already).
Last edited by hsv_climber on Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.

tigermilk
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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by tigermilk » Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:19 pm

Have you thought about someplace like Tokyo instead? Kids are more likely to get enthused about technology than art museums, architecture, etc. The culture is 180 degrees from US or Europe, and even a kid could appreciate the big cultural differences. Even going to a baseball game there is a completely different experience than in the US. And believe it or not, Japan is pretty cheap for vacations - easily comparable with Europe. Even Tokyo is not expensive.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by hsv_climber » Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:24 pm

tigermilk wrote:Have you thought about someplace like Tokyo instead? .
It is an interesting idea.
But we live in the Southeast, so I am guessing that travel time to Tokyo would be ~24+ hrs each way. That is a big deal, considering that we don't typically have too many days, since our plans are bounded by school calendar and sport activities during the summer.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by Naismith » Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:29 pm

Good for you for taking advantage of Spring Break!

I guess I am not following that if you went to Europe you would want to do the museums/architecture etc. but if stateside it would be a hiking vacation? As jane1 points out, we actually have a lot of museums & architecture here in the USA.

And it may enhance their education to visit some of the sites. When our kids were that age, for our spring breaks we did a lot of week-long trips in the states, more educational than recreational.
- A week in NYC including a tour of the United Nations, Ellis Island, the natural history museum, etc. For kids that like pushing buttons, don't miss http://www.sonywondertechlab.com/
- A week in Chicago including a day at the Field Museum, a day at the Museum of Science & Technology, etc.
- A week in California that included San Diego Zoo and Joshua Tree and Death Valley
- A week in Austin & San Antonio TX including the excellent Texas Cultural Center, Johnson Museum, Alamo, etc.
- A week in Philadelphia, which has an incredible Civil War museum as well as the obvious Revolutionary war sights (one daughter was going into the AP American History exam shortly after that trip and she said it helped)

We didn't take our kids to Europe until they were in college.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by jane1 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:45 pm

hsv_climber wrote:
jane1 wrote: Have they been to NYC, DC recently? Did they enjoy it? Alternative to NPs could be cities here in the US.
Never been to NYC. Spent a week in DC <2 years ago. They did not really like any of the Art museums, but had a good time in Air & Space (~8 hrs.), History, Newseum (also spent ~8hrs. there), etc., as well as paid attention in Holocaust museum.
When we were visiting Newport, RI mansions last Fall, I was surprised that they've not complained and had a good time while visiting 5 mansions on the same day.
On our 1-day trip to Boston last Fall, when we were coming back from Acadia NP and were planning to see the city, we've ended up spending the whole day at Boston Science Center. But I can't say that they like science. They like pushing buttons (i.e. interactive things).
Their favorite place - St. Louis CITI Museum (we've been there 3 times already).
Given this, I would consider taking them to a US city like NYC, Chicago, SF or LA next year (assuming it is cheaper) and maybe Europe the following year. You can combine city with some nature/hiking and spend time in science/hands-on museums as well as some art museum. Could also take public transport within the city. All this will tell you when to take them to Europe.
More and more museums are doing kid-friendly stuff. For instance, an assignment having them 'treasure hunt' and find major works of art (gets parents to see those pieces and gives the kids the joy of locating them and ticking it off in their project with a small reward in the end).
If they enjoy NYC or Chicago, they will likely enjoy London. If the costs end up being comparable, go with Europe.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by hsv_climber » Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:53 pm

Naismith wrote: I guess I am not following that if you went to Europe you would want to do the museums/architecture etc. but if stateside it would be a hiking vacation?
Pretty much :-).
We've already been to Alamo / Mission trail couple of years ago.
Thanks to ASTC membership, we've been to many science centers across US: Columbus (rated #1 by Parents magazine), Boston, Cincy, Orlando, Nashville, BHM, STL, etc.
Last Spring Break we went to Stl (zoo/science center/city museum) and Springfield, which has an outstanding interactive Lincoln Museum, which covers Civil War in great details.

But that is my major concern with going to Europe, which I was trying to outline in my OP. If going to Europe then I would not want to spend time in Europe's Science centers & zoos, since these activities are equal or better in US, but I am concerned that kids might not like spending time on art and architecture.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by jane1 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:00 pm

Naismith wrote:Good for you for taking advantage of Spring Break!

I guess I am not following that if you went to Europe you would want to do the museums/architecture etc. but if stateside it would be a hiking vacation? As jane1 points out, we actually have a lot of museums & architecture here in the USA.

And it may enhance their education to visit some of the sites. When our kids were that age, for our spring breaks we did a lot of week-long trips in the states, more educational than recreational.
- A week in NYC including a tour of the United Nations, Ellis Island, the natural history museum, etc. For kids that like pushing buttons, don't miss http://www.sonywondertechlab.com/
- A week in Chicago including a day at the Field Museum, a day at the Museum of Science & Technology, etc.
- A week in California that included San Diego Zoo and Joshua Tree and Death Valley
- A week in Austin & San Antonio TX including the excellent Texas Cultural Center, Johnson Museum, Alamo, etc.
- A week in Philadelphia, which has an incredible Civil War museum as well as the obvious Revolutionary war sights (one daughter was going into the AP American History exam shortly after that trip and she said it helped)

We didn't take our kids to Europe until they were in college.
All great suggestions. I would also include
- A week in SF incl Exploratorium, the Tech Museum, Alcatraz Island or Bay Cruise, Muir Woods, Pier 39, Cable Car, Beach, etc (and Yosemite)
If you go to Chicago, do so between Memorial Day and Labor Day (not Spring Break). Lot warmer and huge number of activities going on then!

OP, if you are not sure that kids will like Arts and Architecture at this stage, use the next couple of years to expose them in the US and figure out before you make the Europe trip.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by btenny » Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:32 pm

I took my kids to Europe when they were 13 and 18. It was great but they were old enough to like the museums and churches and stuff like that. We went to 7 countries and England on a 3 week tour. The tour company did all the moving of bags, getting hotels set up, tours of special sites, etc.. They played bad guy and organized everything so it made early start times OK with my kids. They provided a on bus guide that acted as a history teacher and country guide and tour guide all in one. He was English so you get the idea. It was great and everyone learned a ton. Plus the 18 year old was old enough to have wine and beer which got him interested. Plus he found out European girls are different so he also liked that. The kids had a ball. We had a ball. Our kids were the youngest of the tour group of 38 people. So maybe I would wait a few years to take your kids on vacation to Europe.

Spring break in San Diego would be great for your age kids IMO. Go to the Zoo, go to Sea World, go to Lego Land, go the Mission Bay beach for a day and drive through the San Diego Wild Animal Park (? Name) for a day. Then maybe do some Navy stuff with the Midway Museum and the Maritime Museum etc.. out on Coronado Island for a day. And then top it off with a trip to Disney Land for a day. Fun stuff for kids and adults alike.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by claudia » Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:35 pm

We took our daughter (now 4) to Asia every year to visit our family. I understand that some people may say that it is a waste to travel with young kids because they don't remember and may not appreciate as much. But I disagree. I think you are paying for the experience as a family. To help them gain the most from the trip, here are a few things the kiddos can do: make them try some new food; learn a few words in foreign language; ask them to help pick some meaning souvenirs for the grandparents; ask them to help plan and prioritize the schedule; let each kid pick one thing to do (e.g. zoo, museum, park, etc.); tell them the history of the country you are visiting, etc. You can make this trip fun and educational. 13 and 8 are definitely old enough to handle all these tasks and enjoy the experience. Good luck.
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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:07 pm

claudia wrote:We took our daughter (now 4) to Asia every year to visit our family. I understand that some people may say that it is a waste to travel with young kids because they don't remember and may not appreciate as much. But I disagree. I think you are paying for the experience as a family. To help them gain the most from the trip, here are a few things the kiddos can do: make them try some new food; learn a few words in foreign language; ask them to help pick some meaning souvenirs for the grandparents; ask them to help plan and prioritize the schedule; let each kid pick one thing to do (e.g. zoo, museum, park, etc.); tell them the history of the country you are visiting, etc. You can make this trip fun and educational. 13 and 8 are definitely old enough to handle all these tasks and enjoy the experience. Good luck.
+1

I don't recall anyone ever saying that my kids were mature for their age, but we've travelled with them and they not only behaved well, but enjoyed the trips and mention them to this day. On the way to South Africa, we stopped in London for a few days, and I was the grumpus who had predicted that it would be wasted on the kids. Not only was I wrong (which is not noteworthy because it's too common), but I saw my kids in a different way afterwards and had a higher opinion of their curiosity and engagement.
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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by JupiterJones » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:08 pm

hsv_climber wrote:I've read Rick Steves article about taking kids to Europe...
The topic of traveling with kids was on a recent-ish episode of Rick Steves' radio show/podcast.

As I recall, one tip was to involve your children in the planning, letting them research the area on their own and pick one or two places/activities for the family to do in each place. I think they also talked about giving them an allowance of local money that they can spend how they wish. At a certain age, they might even be able to wander around on their own for a few hours (make sure they have the address and phone of the hotel first!)

Anyway, listening to it might be more useful than reading his article. I've dug up a link to it for you:

https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-l ... rogram-386
Stay on target...

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by tigermilk » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:13 pm

hsv_climber wrote:
tigermilk wrote:Have you thought about someplace like Tokyo instead? .
It is an interesting idea.
But we live in the Southeast, so I am guessing that travel time to Tokyo would be ~24+ hrs each way. That is a big deal, considering that we don't typically have too many days, since our plans are bounded by school calendar and sport activities during the summer.
It shouldn't be so bad. Two scenarios:

1) Europe - leave on a Saturday afternoon which means you get to Europe early Sunday; it's nearly a wasted day as you will be dead tired. Maybe a little walking around. Come back on the following Sunday and arrive same day. Total "good" days is Monday-Saturday.
2) Japan - yes it is a long travel day, but if you are near an airport with a direct flight to Tokyo, it's a 14 hour flight give or take. Leave Saturday morning and get in Sunday night. Leave the following Sunday and arrive the same day (and even before you left in Tokyo!). Total "good" days in Monday-Saturday.

Personally I always found Europe tougher the first day - arriving early morning has always been tough for sightseeing. By the time I'd get to a hotel it would be around lunch and I'd need a nap. What remains is just a couple of hours of potential sightseeing.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by ge1 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:22 pm

We just did a trip to Rom / Florence with our 5 year old and had a great time. I strongly believe in exposing our daughter to different cultures and it was amazing to see how much she enjoyed seeing the colosseum in Rome, walking up the steps to the Dome tower in Florence or just enjoying another gelato. We don't go to church usually, but she was very impressed with the churches in Rome / Florence / Siena and we had many very interesting discussions because of that. When she got tired walking around we rented a "bike-cab" (for lack of a better word) to drive us around in the city and she had a smile on her face the whole time!

Also given how weak the Euro is, definitely a good time to visit.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by Watty » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:54 pm

Many hotels in Europe charge by the person, not the room so you need to keep that in mind when you are budgeting for the trip.

We went to Ireland with my son when he was 17 and stayed in Hostels and had a great trip so that might be an option. You would want to research the hostels since they vary a lot, and they are best outside the larger cities.

I would be concerned though is by "spring break" you are talking just a week or ten day trip. That is a lot of travel cost for such a short trip and you would be spending a significant percentage of your time traveling.

An alternative to consider would be to go down to see the Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan and spend some time on the beach and snorkeling. From many areas in the southeast you could leave in the morning and be at your destination by the early afternoon. If you don't do an all inclusive resort the prices can be very reasonable too.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by caseynshan » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:06 pm

Yes,

My kids have traveled extensively since they were young. We rent apartments (via VRBO/AirBnb ) and try to spend time w/ locals (or other travelers from different areas) whenever possible.

I think it has given them a much better worldview. They can appreciate some of the amazing things in the US and think about them critically, they found museums interesting from a young age, as long as they were in small bunches. (Cathedrals not so much)

Central/ Eastern Europe is especially nice to families w/ Children.
Also they learned it is possible to get places without getting in a car.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by jackholloway » Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:25 pm

Daughter loved traveling to Europe when she was 9. She loved the museums, the galleries, and the historical sites. She also loved staying in a castle, and hunting with a hawk.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by KlingKlang » Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:02 pm

If your vacation time is limited, be aware that travel to Western Europe realistically consumes an entire day in travel time (ground transportation, security/customs, flights, plane transfers, waiting) in each direction. Double that for Asia. Plus it's silly to spend that much for airfare and then go home four or five days later.

If you wish for your children to experience "trains, subways, buses, taxis", museums, cathedrals, world famous landmarks, shopping, dining (restaurants and street food), and foreign culture (not really being facetious here) then my first vote would be for Manhattan NYC with Chicago as a close second. Boston, Baltimore, Toronto, Montreal. and Vancouver would also be good choices. Sorry but I'm not a US west coast expert.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by celia » Wed Jul 08, 2015 9:39 pm

We did this with an planned U.S. trip, but it could work anywhere: Announce that you will have a family meeting in one week. You want to know about 3 places each person in the family wants to see IN EUROPE (if that is where you want to go, but you might need to narrow down the countries/cities beforehand). This will give them time to do their "research" whether watching a travel show, or reading their favorite books.

Then have a map spread out on the table, possibly with cardboard under it. Stick in pins where each person wants to go. But let them know ahead of time (before placing the pins) that you can't go to all the places but would like to see where the pins are near each other. Outliers will probably be ignored. Try to tie in the same number of sites for each person, then plan for that.

Don't be surprised if they want to go places they've read about in books, such as where Harry Potter or Madeliene lived. There are places set up for literary trips that kids can enjoy. If they don't have any places like this to name, then a library visit may be in order.

If you live in the U.S. and only have one week, it probably makes sense to stick with one city. London, Paris, and Rome are usually the lowest travel cost as they have the most flights. But at their ages, that will probably be enough. (Besides you need to allow one whole day for travel each way and another day if you change cities. That doesn't leave much in a 1-week vacation.)
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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by stan1 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:31 pm

Your kids are not too young to go to Europe.

If you want everything taken care of I have friends who highly recommend Disney vacations in Europe (just keep in mind having everything taken care of means paying to have everything taken care of).

With one week I would go to just one location: London, Paris, or Rome/Florence. I'd try to leave on a Friday night flight and come back on Saturday or Sunday. Sure it would be great to stay longer -- but that's not always possible. Plan on doing a few things the first day you get there rather than having the kids sleep, if possible. If they do something fun the first day they'll be ready for bed at 7 PM and wake up the next morning after a good long sleep. Use the subways which in London and Paris go everywhere and make every journey something new. Look at buying attraction passes to save money (the Paris Museum Pass is a particularly good value).

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by alinna » Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:02 pm

My parents were college professors who attended conferences abroad almost every summer and took us kids along. I remember loving all the trips abroad with all the new experiences and interesting things to see. I was 12 and my brother was 9 when we visited London and Paris for the first time, after accompanying our parents to a conference in England. In London, we had great fun visiting museums, especially the British Museum (mummies!), the Science Museum and the Museum of Childhood. Paris was great too, especially the gardens of Versailles that kept my brother and I busy for hours.

I'd definitely take children on a trip - maybe ask them to research what they'd like to see, and tailor some of the trip to their interests?

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by Wolkenspiel » Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:23 pm

claudia wrote:We took our daughter (now 4) to Asia every year to visit our family. I understand that some people may say that it is a waste to travel with young kids because they don't remember and may not appreciate as much. But I disagree. I think you are paying for the experience as a family. To help them gain the most from the trip, here are a few things the kiddos can do: make them try some new food; learn a few words in foreign language; ask them to help pick some meaning souvenirs for the grandparents; ask them to help plan and prioritize the schedule; let each kid pick one thing to do (e.g. zoo, museum, park, etc.); tell them the history of the country you are visiting, etc. You can make this trip fun and educational. 13 and 8 are definitely old enough to handle all these tasks and enjoy the experience. Good luck.
Agree 100%! We take our kids (now 6 and 4) on a couple of long trips per year, typically one to Europe and one to Asia (or DC/Canada/West Coast/Europe this year). We visit friends and relatives, do some "kids stuff" (zoos, science and natural history museums, water parks etc), but spend most of the time doing what my wife and I would like to do in any case. The kids are now well trained, and deal with long plane and car rides, jet lag etc without real problems and do just fine in good restaurants (not Michelin-star-ed, but not McDonalds either).

Btw, if one goes to e.g. London or Berlin and spends most time in museums, the savings in entrance fees will pay for at least one plane ticket, compared to doing the same in the US (other than DC).

Edit: If at all possible, I'd either try to extend the schedule, even by just a few days, or make sure to keep the schedule relaxed/flexible on the first couple of days.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by Naismith » Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:04 am

hsv_climber wrote: Thanks to ASTC membership, we've been to many science centers across US:
Yes, I can't say enough about this. For parents who are not aware, membership in your local museum may also be a passport to so many others.

http://www.astc.org/

Because our local small museum has a very reasonable membership fee, it is a huge money-saver. And there are three other larger museums within a 2-hour drive, as well as the options to visit wherever we go.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by Naismith » Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:33 am

Watty wrote: An alternative to consider would be to go down to see the Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan and spend some time on the beach and snorkeling. From many areas in the southeast you could leave in the morning and be at your destination by the early afternoon. If you don't do an all inclusive resort the prices can be very reasonable too.
Absolutely. The flights are very fast, easy and cheap (JetBlue last trip) and no jet lag. We can't stand Cancun, but if we fly in there, we rent a car and head straight for Tulum or Isla Mujeres (although the latter is becoming overbuilt/commercialized). Or if you can fly into Merida which is a colonial city, and then head down to Uxmal and Ticul. One of the fanciest (but still much cheaper than Europe) places we love staying is
http://flycatcherinn.com/
which has air conditioning and serves a full breakfast.

If you can drive a stick shift, the cost of a car rental drops dramatically. And for a cheap way to feed people safely, follow this strategy: Enter the plaza area in the middle of any town, and drive around it until you come to the pub. Order the rice and chicken and/or beans, which will be served immediately because it is simmering in a pot on the stove. They may offer you slaw or sandwiches, but if you stick to the simple hot cooked foods, you will be safe.

Also in advance get the kids to practice showering with their mouth closed and brush teeth with water from a bottle. Okay, maybe that is too much culture...Europe would be first world.

Because we had five children, Mexico was a great place to vacation. Lots of hotel rooms with three double beds, and/or hammock hooks.

One thing too, which we also found in Southeast Asia: A lot of times if you eat at a restaurant, you are welcome to swim in the swimming pool. At lunchtime in a place without AC this is a great idea for people of any age, but particular a nice break for kids:)

workingstiff
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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by workingstiff » Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:57 am

I was a bit worried (actually, more than a bit worried) when we took our kids to Rome for a week. They were younger than yours, I think about 7 and 9. I was worried about abduction (hey, it's Italy, and my daughter is a blonde... I guess I'm paranoid). We kept a very close eye on them. My dad was along, and actually the only problem we had was that there was a brief downpour at the Colosseum that caught us running around out in the open and he got pick pocketed. Fortunately he had taken most of the stuff out of his wallet before, but he was still pissed off it happened. So just keep a close eye on your kids, and a hand over your wallet. :)

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by hsv_climber » Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:13 am

Wolkenspiel wrote: Btw, if one goes to e.g. London or Berlin and spends most time in museums, the savings in entrance fees will pay for at least one plane ticket, compared to doing the same in the US (other than DC).
That is not correct. There are many great free museums in US outside DC. For example, check out St. Louis. Art museum, science center, history museum, Zoo (btw. great zoo), etc. are completely FREE.
ASTC membership (typically ~$70-$80 / year) would allow you to visit most Science Centers free, which include other museums, not just Science Centers, as well, e.g. just in IL/Chicago: http://www.astc.org/passport/?country=& ... &keywords=

bonaire27
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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by bonaire27 » Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:45 am

I think there is more to do in Europe than museums and churches. I live in Switzerland with my family, including 9 and 10 year old kids. Honestly, if I don't step inside another historic church for the rest of my life, that'd be fine by me. They all start to blend together for me. As for museums, I find them fairly dull after awhile. Maybe I am a kid? I think it is much more fun to walk the towns, get off the beaten path. Coming in late March the weather can still be fairly cold and rainy. So I suggest heading for somewhere like Barcelona for part of your trip. There is a church there I'd visit again, La Sagrada Familia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Fam%C3%ADlia. Another great place by Gaudi that adults and kids will enjoy is Park Güell: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/ ... guell.html. Get lost in the narrow, winding, confusing streets of the Gothic District. Walk the boardwalk on the Barcelona Beach....great people watching. But give the kids half a day. Visit the zoo or aquarium, they are in the heart of town and so do one in the morning. No big deal but the kids always like it. Maybe spend the other half of the vacation hiking between the Italian villages of Cinque Terre: http://www.buzzfeed.com/justinabarca/re ... .ia5qRGBQx. This kind of combines the hiking (very easy hiking) and amazing scenery and culture that Europe has to offer. Maybe 2 days in Venice would also be an option. To sum up, look around a bit, there is plenty to do in Europe that isn't just museums and churches. Dare to be different :beer

PS. I absolutely love hanging out in London (and Paris isn't far behind) and there is tons to do there, but that time of year may be the cold and rainy that makes walking around not as enjoyable.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by rjm_cali » Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:51 am

Unless you're going for two weeks I wouldn't waste travelling time on visiting two countries. Stick with London (I'm a Brit so biased) as there is so much to do and importantly , experience there.

We have done many trips to the UK and France with les enfants terrible from an early age. Their more youthful memories are often not so much places as just doing stuff. Sitting in a streetside cafe eating croissants in Paris, canoeing on the Dordogne, hearing all the languages you do in London, getting up early to get the Eurostar to Paris. (you can do a day trip to Paris from London if you get up early enough).

They will remember the trip differently to you but they'll still have a good time as long as you don't drag them round stuff they can't relate to.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by letsgobobby » Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:06 am

I think the age is fine but the time (one week?) is not very long. You lose a day or two to jet lag. If you can do two weeks I'd go for it. Paris and Rome are phenomenal and are where I would start for a first trip to the continent. London, Amsterdam, Paris is an alternative Northern European itinerary.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by mojave » Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:13 am

My parents took us to Ireland when I was 16 and sibling was 11. It was a really great trip, we flew into Dublin, drove south along the coast over several days visiting key spots and small towns, ending in Galway to visit family. I had my first legal beer there in a 500 year old pub :beer The country is mystical and very different from the US which was part of what lured me in. Plus, they spoke English so I didn't feel uncomfortable there though there were a few times when the locals in small towns turned their noses up at us lol. The Galway area is much more interesting than Dublin. Dublin was not so different than American cities in my opinion. Galway was more "Irish" and in that area people still speak Gaelic, including my family.

ETA for what it's worth, I have always loved museums - art, history, science - any subject and I'm game. I think it's partly because of my parents (dad is an artist so we would visit art museums several times a year) and partly because I grew up in Chicago (museum district on the lake)

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Toons
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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by Toons » Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:47 am

Children that age,I would probably stay home.
You can always introduce them to worldwide sites,before they make the journey :happy

The Louvre Museum:
http://www.louvre.fr/en

Eiffel Tower:
http://www.toureiffel.paris/360-panoram ... ex-en.html
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

anonforthis
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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by anonforthis » Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:00 pm

tigermilk wrote:Have you thought about someplace like Tokyo instead? Kids are more likely to get enthused about technology than art museums, architecture, etc. The culture is 180 degrees from US or Europe, and even a kid could appreciate the big cultural differences. Even going to a baseball game there is a completely different experience than in the US. And believe it or not, Japan is pretty cheap for vacations - easily comparable with Europe. Even Tokyo is not expensive.
One of my favorite cities.


How about Disney cruise to Northern Europe? We are planning to take our kids there.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by halfnine » Thu Jul 09, 2015 2:41 pm

hsv_climber wrote: Please share your experiences / opinions on the subject: either it would make sense or not to take kids 8-13 years old to W. Europe in order for them to see museums, architecture, art, etc.? Thanks.
Financially. Probably not. For kids on a short 1-2 week trip there really isn't much that Western Europe has to offer that one couldn't find in the USA . And the reverse is also true. I did similar short vacations to Europe when I was a kid. They were fun and enriching, but no more fun and enriching than a equivalent trip back home was. I have fond memories of both.

However, if my kid was specifically asking me to go to somewhere in Europe I'd consider it. And a longer, deeper trip with more meaningful connections or family visit might be more worthwhile as well.
hsv_climber wrote: P.S. Alternative to flying to Europe would be to go camping / hiking in some US National Park (we typically do that several times a year) or skiing somewhere.
Might consider Belize. With a good week can go the beach, caving, and then out across the border to Tikal.

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Re: Is it a good idea to travel to Western Europe with kids?

Post by Dude2 » Fri Jul 10, 2015 9:22 am

I do not have kids. I probably have no business giving you advice, but here are some observations that I have made as an adult that I think may translate to younger people.

- They will see that many of the items Americans take for granted are lacking, i.e. lack of/difficult access to bathrooms, lack of being given free water with their meals, lack of free refills on drinks or the concept of "all you can eat". They may appreciate more their own lot in life as a result.

- They could experience with wide-eyed amazement how skinny everybody is and the greater emphasis placed on physical health and exercise. This could motivate them in that direction.

- They will be amazed to observe how many people speak English/ how many are multi-lingual.

- They can see how a united Europe is working. All of those cultures are interacting together and not necessarily becoming more homogenized.

You would be getting them a different (and more real) perspective on reality versus what gets delivered on TV. You could also take them to Germany and show them a culture that is extremely organized and rule oriented, and then you could contrast that with a culture like Italy - just take them through the Rome airport where flight times are "just a suggestion".

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