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.
Tips for Traveling to Europe with Kids
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- Contact your carrier about an international roaming plan, or be sure to turn off your international data and voice roaming and just use WiFi.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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What tips would you add?