FAMILY TRAVEL-Tips for Summer Vacation in Europe
Traveling as a family through Europe will build a lifetime’s worth of memories for your children. Just make sure you follow these simple tips to help you get the most out of your experience.
1. Dress the Part
Chances are you’ll be doing a lot of walking, and nothing’s more miserable than uncomfortable footwear. Make sure everyone has a “broken in” pair of walking shoes (and that need not mean sneakers). For rainy days, folding pocket-sized slickers-available in many drugstores-can save you luggage room. Don’t forget caps and sunscreen: while some regions of Europe can be somewhat chilly in the summertime, it can be very hot in other areas (check with your favorite meteorological site before you depart).
TIP: If you want to avoid immediate identification as a “typical tourist”, ditch the shorts in favor of long pants or skirts.
2. Feeding the Family
Europe is crowded with neighborhood cafes that serve simple and often excellent meals-that won’t bust your budget. If you want to splurge, consider saving money at lunchtime-with a picnic. Most European cities have wonderful parks-all you have to do is buy some bread and cheese, and perhaps a bottle of wine, and you have a lovely meal-in lovely surroundings-for very little money.
TIP: Yes, the kids may nag for fast food-but perhaps you can at least get them to try some of the local favorites such as Britain’s Wimpy, France’s Delifrance, or Spain’s Rodilla.
3. Rainy Day Alternatives
The rule here is, be flexible-and have a list of back-up ideas for the days when you planned to go on a walking tour-and a typhoon intervened. Before you go, draw up a list of aquariums, children’s museums, and observatories that will keep the children (and you) dry and entertained.
TIP: The “Visit London” website has a list of rainy day activities; and don’t forget the grown-up museums-family members of all ages will be entranced by the mummies in the British Museum.
4. Save on Souvenirs
Don’t want to come home loaded down with junk? Well, naturally you won’t be able to resist those Eiffel Tower earrings, but one way to keep youngsters happy is to supply them with some of your leftover change-these coins may even spark an interest in building a collection.
TIP: Older children might enjoy a favorite book in another language-an edition of the latest Harry Potter, say-in French or Spanish.