You’re Crazy to Travel to Europe With Children

Europe with children

We believe travel to Europe with children is such a bad idea we even took our son to Giverny to experience Monet’s home and gardens.

I recently had a conversation with a few well-traveled people about the idea of travel to Europe with children. The consensus was that they wouldn’t dream of doing it, certainly not before the child turned 10. I politely disagreed, pointing out that we traveled to Europe with our son when he was 5. I was told we have a unique child, basically that we’re lucky.

Europe with children

Running on air in Scotland’s Highlands.

Yes, I guess we do have a unique child who was able to travel to Paris and visit several museums, churches and historic attractions with minimal complaining. The real point of the discussion, though, was based on food. And I guess we did struggle a bit with food. We thought our son would do OK with cheese in Paris and meat in England and Scotland.

In fact, cheese plates in French restaurants were wonderful. And what turned out to be our best meal of the trip in a café in Paris included salmon. It was my salmon, but it turned out to be Colby’s. I was stuck with the cheese plate.

Sausages in England and Scotland, shockingly, didn’t go over quite so well. Neither did fish and chips. But you know what? We dealt with it. Yes, we brought a jar of peanut butter from home that really helped the cause.

But being afraid of what the kids will or will not eat is no reason to not travel to Europe with children.

Europe with children

Another point that was mentioned in passing with this group of travelers was that younger children wouldn’t remember the trip. I will say that less than three years since he spent three weeks in Europe, Colby doesn’t recall as many details of the trip as he once did.

But travel with children isn’t all about the memories they will have down the road. It’s about that moment.

Europe with children

Yes, I’d say he enjoyed the moment in Scotland.

Watching Colby dance on the Eiffel Tower, attend a Premier League game in London, play in the surf of the North Sea, collect seashells on the beaches of Normandy, and dance on the steps of London’s National Gallery are memories I will always have.

I do hold out hope that Colby will remember some of these moments as he gets older; the videos and photos we have will surely help in that cause.

But more than creating memories for him, travel with young children helps create a traveler’s mindset as he gets older. It opens his eyes and mind to the world, learning that there are other people out there.

Europe with children

The language of laughter in Paris is universal with children.

There are many important roles I have as a parent. But one of them is showing my son this big awesome world, and helping teach him the importance of understanding other people and places.

Europe with children

Taking a break in the Scotland Highlands.

Another important reason to travel to Europe with children – or just a couple hours down the road – is it gets parents out and about. So many people shut down once they become parents, never going out, letting long-lasting friendships disappear and most definitely never traveling.

Many people say they’ll travel when the kids are out of the house or even later when they retire. I caution against waiting for retirement to travel. You can’t predict your health or financial standing.

Travel now, travel often and most definitely travel with children. Don’t let being a parent keep you from traveling somewhere wonderful, whether it’s Europe, Africa, Asia or Indiana.

14 thoughts on “You’re Crazy to Travel to Europe With Children

  1. People who say they will travel when the kids get older most likely will not because they have developed lazy habits and those are tough to break. So true about creating the adventurous mindset when young. That is funny that Colby stole your salmon. I would not touch fish until high school and the only reason I gave it a try is because it was fish I caught.
    Traveling Ted recently posted…Montreal Old City winter photo essayMy Profile

  2. Well said! Kids are as adaptable as you make them. Traveling with them is such a fantastic way to make them more adaptable. My kids would never have tried and loved black pudding if it hadn’t been for going to Ireland at the ages of 5 and 3. They would never have learned to play with kids who don’t speak their language if it hadn’t been for trips to Costa Rica. We use these trips all the time as reference points for things they learn about in school. When they don’t remember everything there’s always the pictures. Travel is the greatest gift I think we are giving them!!!
    Jeni recently posted…Selvatura Hanging BridgesMy Profile

  3. Well said, my friend. My oldest made her first trip to Europe when she was 2. She doesn’t remember a whole lot but she does remember the gelato in Italy! Her father and I have the memories and the photographs, and it laid the foundation for a lifetime of exploration. And wouldn’t you know – we’re headed to Indiana in just a couple of weeks 😉
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) recently posted…St. Joseph’s Day in Chicago: An Italian-American traditionMy Profile

  4. Good for you taking your son… i always feel we are at our best as people when we travel; we are alive, awake, aware… i am sure your son just didn’t learn from his surroundings, or from the museums, but learned from you and your wife. about emotions, experience, and what it feels to truly be alive….

    I believe travel is such a great educator on so many levels and available for all ages. kudos for you and teaching your son through adventures in europe and also learning with him too….
    stay traveling, Craig
    craig zabransky (@StayAdventurous) recently posted…The Spiritual Sunset and More From San Luis Potosi, MexicoMy Profile

  5. You’re right, it’s not always about the kids’ memories. Sometimes it’s about the moment. I think any opportunity children get to travel is a great thing. If anything, it opens their eyes to something outside of their bubble.
    Leah recently posted…Custom Travel Map GiveawayMy Profile

  6. Francesca, the foundation is key. Of course I’m starting to wonder if I laid a foundation for a sickness as a crazed sports fan with Colby. Travel would make his heart healthier I’m sure.

  7. Ted, I’m finding I have to share with Colby a lot, mostly because I’ll eat anything. so if we go to an expensive restaurant with something like a burger for $20 that he is not getting, he and I will just share some large entree.

  8. This post really hit home with me because I have heard so many of the reservations about traveling with kids from other parents. I respect everyone’s right to decide what’s best for their family, but I agree with your responses as well. I love to travel with my kids and believe that it will be such an important part of who they become when they get older. Yes, dealing with the food can be a challenge while traveling (we learned that when in Japan with my older son), but so what? 🙂
    Jenna recently posted…Visiting Museums with KidsMy Profile

  9. Good to find other like-minded traveling parents. We heard the same things when we took our daughter to Europe when she was turning 5. She remembers bits and pieces of it and when we went back to Europe when she turned 8, she was somewhat of our tour guide of places like Paris and London and always asks when we are going back.
    I also found that traveling has helped her overcome a bit of her shyness and language barrier and it also opens her eyes to the world and makes her more flexible when things don’t go as planned.
    Regarding food, I know what you mean with your salmon that becomes your child’s 🙂 It is fantastic how willing to discover new flavors on the road!
    Excellent post!
    Monique recently posted…Spring Break Road Trip: Toronto to The MaritimesMy Profile

  10. Jenna, dealing with food in the U.S. can be a challenge with American kids if you want something more than fast food and basic chain restaurants. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

  11. I love the idea of a return traveler being the tour guide. I’m not sure if we’ll be getting back to Paris soon, but a return trip to NYC after our then-7-year-old son experienced it last year could be fun.

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