Today I am sharing my Best Tips for Traveling with Kids out of the country.
Traveling with kids can be down right DAUNTING! Let’s face it, it’s hard enough to plan our own outfits, suitcases, accessories, tickets, hotel details, where to eat, and so on. Then take all of that stress and add KIDS to the mix. What will they wear, will they like the food, is it safe, can they handle that length of a plane ride?! The mind races with all these thoughts.
But before you decide to put off that trip to Europe until they are grown I urge you to reconsider. It can be done. I know this because I did it and better yet, I will continue to do IT! I LOVE traveling with my daughter.
So here’s my situation. I am a single mom and when I say single I don’t mean I have another parent (he passed away) to leave my daughter with much less a family member to have her either. Those people are all busy. So if I want to travel well I either have to wait till she’s grown or take her along for the journey. The ladder is exactly what I decided on.
Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t want to travel without her. We are a tight pair her and I. She is my bestie. The love of my life and when I see something beautiful I want her to see it too.
Before doing any sort of travel. I was filled with anxiety about taking even short trips. But the funny thing about our brains is that once you jump, you get braver for that next jump, and so on. I began our traveling with small trips to San Diego and Los Angeles for yearly trips to Disney.
At first, these short plane rides made my palms sweat. I was responsible for all luggage with her being so little and every single detail of our trip was on me.
I recall rolling two suitcases, holding my purse, and directing her down the aisle of the airplanes we boarded many times. Yes, you will find rude travelers who give you looks. You know the ones, who are in a hurry and god forbid you to take an extra twenty seconds to hoist your suitcase into the overhead.
But I say, let them be miserable people. There are the sweet courteous people out there that will help a momma get her bag from the across overhead too so truly it’s not all that bad.
When going further came to mind, it didn’t help that each person I would come into contact with and told I wanted to travel the whole world with my daughter now and not in the future would give me the look of “Are you crazy”?! Then proceed to tell me about the movie “Taken”. You gotta love people. But that didn’t stop me and it shouldn’t stop you.
What you must know is your kids will go along with any ride you take them on. Any of life’s adventures. It actually teaches them to be more open-minded about food and other cultures.
I will NEVER forget being at Barceloneta Beach and watching her swim in the Meditteranean. Watching her face as the bare-chested ladies walked by was hysterical, to say the least. It’s quite liberating to be around people who aren’t ashamed of their bodies.
Shopping in grocery stores where you don’t know the language is quite an experience as well. My daughter jumps in fully and picks up on the words used by the locals. Standing at the grocery counter in Rome my daughter excitedly placed our food items on the belt and explained confidently “Ciao!” and handed over her euro.
Entertainment on the Plane
Some tips I would like to give ahead of this experience. The plane ride is LONG however, they have a ton of movies to watch. We make it a game of how many movies can we watch before were there. You can sync the movies so your watching the same ones together on your screens too.
The kids get excited about the meals served too. Most airlines will bring you several small course items throughout the ride. Just be sure to double-check with the airline you choose or bring backup snacks so you’re prepared for anything.
Selecting Your Seats for the Journey
First off for international trips I like to book through this European Vacations site. They have in no way sponsored this post, I just find their website very easy to navigate and find what I need.
Seats are so important when traveling with kids. I would highly suggest when you pick your seats, make sure you pick the two seats on the plane and sit in pairs if you have a significant other. That way each of you has a child to sit with and your all together for bathroom breaks during these flights.
On one of our trips back, we failed to do this and were sitting in a three-row section with another person. They climbed over us several times and it was not near as comfy as the two seats together we sat in to get there.
If you’re a mom by yourself with two children then the three seats together work perfectly so you’ll just want to make sure you’re in the three-seat rows without an aisle separating you. I like to also make sure we are near the bathroom. I know, near the bathroom. Not my ideal choice for normal travel. But internationally speaking, it is important. Depending on how old your kids are, I like to be able to see mine from my seat if they need to go and mines are too old to be walked there.
I am part of a travel group online. Before going I got a ton of travel tips that I wasn’t quite sure were necessary or not. Some actually weren’t but this one was super helpful. That is to fit everything in carry-on luggage. For planes, each person gets a roller bag (standard is 14 x 22 including handle and wheels) and a personal bag.
For kids, I find a backpack is perfect that they can wear to help carry the load at the same time have their hands free so they can be responsible for their roller bag. Packing light with a carry-on helps with time, and there’s no risk of the airline losing your luggage! Yicks! I can’t imagine that and I am sure it’s as awful as it sounds.
On our most recent trip, I was beyond proud to have fit 14 days’ worth of clothing into each of our bags by rolling the clothes tightly. Make sure to buy travel-size lotions and soaps or you can buy the containers (3 oz) and fill those up. But don’t go too crazy here, Just remember that they have stores pretty much anywhere in Europe where you can buy toiletries. I found them cheaper than here and it’s a fun experience shopping in one.
One of the biggest aspects of traveling with kids is safety concerns. I purchased a fanny pack for my daughter to wear and I put a cell phone in it to have just in case we got separated. I had terrible nightmares about this happening and I am sure now that I have brought it up you will too so I apologize but take my tip here and we can both be at ease about it happening.
I also placed a 20 euro bill in there and an extra battery charger for both phones. This way if something happened to my bag we would have enough money to get back to our room. And of course, another phone to help us navigate.
The fanny pack works great too. I didn’t want her fumbling with a phone and knew that if she had the pack on it was hands-free and on her at all times. So whenever we went out I’d say, get your funny and we were off.
Side note: T-Mobile works great in Europe and they don’t charge for the service there. You simply put your phone on roaming when you arrive and your phone will send you a text when you arrive.
Things to do
While traveling with kids you really must consider them before purchasing tickets for things to do. Depending on their ages, I would highly suggest making sure you make time for kid-appropriate stuff too. Your kids are going to get BORED if all you do is make time for a museum-filled, walking expedition. Instead, opt for both. Do a museum, have a fun lunch, and then check out the local zoo. Now I know you might be thinking, I am not traveling all that way for a zoo but trust me on this one.
We have been to Le Aquarium in Barcelona and the Vienna Zoo in Austria. Both were amazing experiences. We were among all the city folk as most tourists don’t visit these sites when traveling so it was like we were one of the locals having a day out. Kids are much happier when you mix things up like that.
In Rome, we added a last-minute pizza-making class to our itinerary and it was just what my daughter needed to get excited about the trip. I made the mistake earlier in the day walking the city to all the tourist sites I was told to visit only to look over and see her tired face.
It was clear she was not having fun and that was not what we came to experience. So I went back to the room and did some googling. Found the class on trip advisor and headed there for dinner that night. It was a lot of fun and the bonus was that there were other families we got to hang out with during.
So add these in and don’t overbook yourselves. One museum, lunch, and a fun place or activity for the kids. Then dinner is the perfect recipe for trips like these I find.
I truly hope you consider traveling with your children. If they are a tad on the young side, it won’t be long before they can help out a bit more on these trips.
Traveling with kids expands their horizons, and opens the world up to them. They see new people, hear different languages and taste new foods.
My daughter and I talk a lot about our travels. Looking back on even the grumpy not so fun moments and having a laugh. It has been quite a time with lots of bonding and memories that will last a lifetime.
*Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through the links I provide (at no cost to you).