10+ Tips for Traveling to Europe with Kids

Taking your first trip to Europe with kids can be quite intimidating.  To help ease the way, I’ve gathered tips from friends who have taken their kids to England, France, Italy, India, Brazil, and beyond.  Plus, I added some tips of my own to come up with our top 10 tips for traveling to Europe with kids.

Also check out my post for ideas on how to prepare kids for vacation and see more tips for traveling to Europe including best times to go and best places to visit.

Tips for visiting Europe with kids

Tips for Traveling to Europe with Kids

  1. Call your bank ahead of time to let them know that you will be traveling overseas and which countries you are going to.  This will help alert their fraud prevention department not to outright deny charges just because they are from a foreign country.
  2. Avoid currency exchange places.  Their commissions are usually very high.  Before you go, order some of the currency you need from your local bank for the best exchange rates (you might even want to get some in advance when the Euro is low). Make sure you do this a week in advance. While in Europe, use an ATM card to withdraw money in local currency. Make sure you have local currency in hand before leaving the airport (and before leaving the international terminal.)
  3. Make sure you have a chip and pin credit card and/or ATM card before you leave for your trip as most European ATMs require this type of card and many credit card terminals do as well. Most U.S. credit card companies are finally catching up and issuing these cards but don’t forget to set up your PIN number — it won’t do you any good without it.
  4. If booking your own connecting flights involving multiple carriers remember that a delay in your earlier flight may result in you missing your connecting flight. Airlines are not always very accommodating so it’s best to book your entire itinerary on the same airline and be sure to allow for plenty of time between connections.
  5. Avoid the very last flight of the day as they are often delayed (especially during the winter season where there are often cancelled flights due to weather).  If you are on a late flight, you might want to get to the airport early enough and to request to be wait-listed).
  6. If you book in advance and the airline changes your flight time or plane, be sure to contact them in advance to make sure your seats are still confirmed.  I’d also request them to note that you are traveling together as a family with small children (if applicable) because they have an unfriendly way of shuffling seats when they change their flights around putting children rows away by themselves.  Dealing with this at the airport or on the plane is nothing but stressful.
  7. Make copies of your tickets, itineraries, passports and critical documents (leave one copy with a trusted friend or family member, upload others to secure Internet location)
  8. Download mobile apps for destination(s) including offline maps and WiFi messaging apps like Viber or WhatsApp. You can also use apps like TripScope and mTrip to keep track of your itinerary.
  9. Contact your carrier about an international roaming plan, or be sure to turn off your international data and voice roaming and just use WiFi.
  10. Don’t schedule heavy sightseeing for the first day.  After an overnight flight everyone will be tired and need a rest.  Plan to just unpack, relax, and explore the local area.
  11. Keep a set of toiletries and a change of clothes in your carry on as you never know when your checked in luggage may be delayed or lost.  I’d also recommend putting some outfits from each family member in each bag so if one bag is lost, little Jimmy isn’t stuck wearing dirty clothes while the rest of the family is fresh and clean.
  12. For overnight flights, pack a sleep mask, pillow, blanket, and ear plugs or headphones for all family members.  Flying back from Hawaii one time we were in the bulkhead right in front of a 40″ screen playing not age-appropriate movies all night.  It is hard to sleep with that in your face and airlines don’t provide amenity kits anymore.  Flights can get chilly and snuggling under a blanket can help get the body ready to sleep. You might also want to bring a snuggle buddy for the younger kids.

Looking for more suggestions? Check out these best travel tips for families. Also see my tips on what to pack for a long flight and tips for selecting vacation rentals.


10+ tips for traveling to Europe with kids -- what you need to know before your first trip

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Publish Date: June 18, 2013

13 thoughts on “10+ Tips for Traveling to Europe with Kids”

  1. Great tips! About visiting museums and churches with kids, we often play some little games like: who can find the more angels? who can find the painting/sculpture saw on the booklet? Let the kids take the camera is also great (why not also with a “theme”: faces, animals..): they have more fun being “special correspondent in charge”! About Paris (where I come from), Rome (where I leave), Venice (that I love) and more, you can check on my website for more practical informations. Hope it could help 🙂

    1. I think handing over a camera is a perfect way to keep little ones occupied. I’ve done this at a Botanical Gardens too.

  2. As far as kids getting excited about where they are going, I like to let my kids listen to podcasts about some of the famous places we are going. My 7 year old became an expert on the Louvre and was actually excited to go!

  3. Great tips Tamara,

    I too have made the mistake of leaving roaning off. I’ll definitely check out Viber.

    With all the history Europe offers, I encourage the children to do some research and let them contribute to the itinerary. That way when we visit a historical place, the children are not only excited to be there, you now have your own ‘mini tour guide’ 🙂

    Safe travels,

  4. Most places in Europe are very child friendly. Parks are easy to find to let the kids run off energy. In Italy our kids were the center of attention everywhere we went. We got compliments on their behavior and the locals just loved them! At restaurants the waitstaff would play with them or bring them small toys. In the Vatican museum, high school kids acted as tour guides telling our kids everything they had learned. In Venice people would literally stop us walking down the sidewalk or across the bridge to compliment the way our kids were staying with us (as if we would let them run off in a foreign country)!

  5. Thanks so much for the tips, especially about Viber. I wil be using this for an upcoming trip to Europe for sure.

  6. When possible I like to fly in the morning in order to avoid any possible delays, especially on short getaways.

  7. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    Thanks for the tip on the Viber app. Yes, I have made the mistake of not turning off international roaming, so I actually keep it permanently off now. We like to change some money before arriving at our destination. An late night hour spent at the airport running around trying to find an ATM that would take our card or an open currency exchange stand taught us that lesson the hard way.

    1. Michele, we also got stuck without a way to exchange money once so I have learned my lesson!

  8. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family

    Great idea to avoid the last flight of the day because of potential delays, especially on budget airlines.

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