Planning a Trip to Europe with Kids

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Tips and Advice for a Family Trip to Europe

You’re planning a trip to Europe this summer, with the kids. Or maybe you’re just at the I-can-dream-about-it-can’t-I? stage, where the spirit is willing even if the wallet hasn’t quite caught up. Either way, you want the trip to be a success on all fronts. Everyone, grownups and kids alike, should have a great time… while appreciating the art and history of Europe… and all without spending a fortune.

We traveled in Europe for four months, when our kids were 10 and 13, and are happy to share some of our best experiences to help you enjoy your trip and save money.  Here are five tips for planning before you go, and five more to help with your day-to-day logistics while you’re in Europe.

1. Push-Pin Planning

Your trip will be more interesting if you collect ideas for months before you go. Mount a large map of Europe on a piece of corrugated cardboard, and hang it on the wall in some well-traveled area of your house. Buy a small notebook and a package of push-pins, and number the pins, then invite everyone who enters your house to mark their suggestions on your map, with a corresponding entry in the notebook.

Patisserie in Paris, France.

Our son Sam, a Lego-addict, marked the original Lego Land in Denmark.  A friend stuck Pin #4 in Oslo, and jotted “great camping and Viking Museum with jumbo boats” next to #4 in the notebook. A neighbor stopped by to borrow a paint scraper, and made suggestions. Both our kids started paying attention to the geography of the map, as the possibilities in each country made the trip more real. By the time we left, we had some great ideas.

2. Think House, not Hotel

You could easily pay $300 a day for two modest hotel rooms at about 100 € each. Or, you could rent a two bedroom house or apartment for as little as $800 a week. Not only will you save money, you’ll have more room, a kitchen where you can do simply cooking and save on restaurant meals, and a special glimpse into local life.

With the internet, renting a house overseas is surprisingly easy. A few of our favorite Europe-wide sites are Flipkey Vacation Rentals (owned by Tripadvisor),, and

Or, consider a home exchange, and eliminate your housing costs altogether, by trading houses with a European family. Finding the location and timing you want can be tricky, but you’ve hit a home run if it works.  Take a look at, where you can browse for free.  (When I stopped by their website today, there were 1658 choices just in Paris!) If you find something you like, you can pay $9.95 for a month’s membership and get contact info for your favorite listings, to start lining up an exchange.

Especially if your kids are younger, staying in one house for your entire vacation can make life much easier – or if you’re staying a few weeks, pick a few different locations for a week each.

3. Hostels have Family Rooms

Maybe your kids are older and you want to see more of Europe, stay a day or two each place rather than a week (the minimum on most rentals and exchanges).  Consider youth hostels. No, you won’t be crammed into a giant single-sex dormitory, with backpacking strangers snoring next to you. One of the big secrets of European youth hostels is that around 80% have family rooms.

You’ll have your own private room, usually with two bunkbeds and a sink. A few newer ones have en suite bathrooms, but more often you’ll have to trek down the hall for the toilet or shower.  Hostels cost about $18-$20 per person per night, a considerable savings over hotels that can help your budget go a lot further – while also affording you some great opportunities to meet travelers from all over the world, in the hostel’s common rooms. Get info at

4. Camping – without the Bugs and Tents

Our final tip on lodgings is to look at Europe’s campgrounds. While you may associate camping with mud, mosquitoes and cramped tents in the middle of nowhere, Europeans like campgrounds near cities and towns, and fill them with bungalows and multi-room mega-tents, with beds, refrigerators, and lots more amenities. Swimming pools, bistros, and other mix-with-the-locals facilities come along with the lodging.  The swankest campgrounds are called holiday camps – check out sites like and to get an idea of what you can expect.

Hostel and hotel in Denmark.5.  Travel Light

Limit each person to one carryon-size suitcase. If we did it for four months, you can do it too! You’ll see different people every day, so they’ll never know you’re wearing the same clothes over and over. We also recommend bringing:
• a small album of photos of your home and neighborhood, for making friends
• a few small presents – state pins or badges are good
• versatile toys, like Legos, that can be used over and over in new ways
• a small notebook, for each person, to use as a journal
• a small daypack for each person, for snacks, water bottle etc. on the road

Once you’re on the ground in Europe, the planning continues, from day to day. Here are five more of our favorite tips:

6. Follow the Leader

Allow each person in the family, in turn, to choose the day’s activities. On Tuesday, Dad picks the science museum, and everyone goes along, even though it sounds suspiciously educational. On Wednesday, 9-year-old Steve chooses to rent bicycles to the dismay of his parents, who haven’t biked in years. Mom opts for a cheese factory on Thursday, and the samples turn out to be delicious. On Friday, 13-year-old Beth calls for sleeping late, then visiting the flea market.

With this system, everyone gets exposed to new interests, you avoid the paralysis and lowest-common-denominator tendencies of group decision making, and everyone shares the work of planning – instead of all of it falling on one person’s shoulders (often Mom’s).

7. Art is Everywhere

Art appreciation can happen lots of places besides in stuffy museums where the kids have to be quiet. Walk down a canal in Amsterdam, and see how many types of gabled roofs you can spot. Make a photo collection of gargoyles. Visit an outdoor sculpture garden – preferably one where climbing is allowed!

If you do visit an art museum, try starting with the gift shop first. Have each person choose a few postcards of artworks that appeal to them, then set out to find each person’s “own” art.  Some museums have Treasure Hunt guides for kids, too.

8. Everyday Life is the Best Entertainment

Don’t get caught up in doing everything in your guidebook. One of our best days was spent at a small school fair in rural France. We loved the hotdogs, served with bearnaise sauce instead of ketchup, in a hollowed-out baguette instead of a bun. Sam won a prize at archery, and we marveled at the families vying to win rabbits… who would one day end up on the dinner table. We never made it to Euro Disney – in fact, we avoided most places with an entry fee.

Exploring a toy store in Germany, or a hardware store in Italy, can be fascinating.  Vying to find the most unusual snacks in the supermarket (shrimp-flavored potato chips, anyone?) can open everyone’s eyes to differences in local foods. Street fairs are everywhere, and it’s commonplace to pull along the side of the road and freely explore the ruins of a castle or a Roman aqueduct. Some of your best memories are not listed in any guidebook, and they’re often free.

9. Picnics Save Money

Plan to eat just one meal a day at restaurants, and you’ll save hundreds of dollars. If you’ve rented or exchanged a home, that’s easy – eat breakfast and dinner at home, and have your money-meal at noon, when you’re out sightseeing. If you’re staying at hotels, breakfast may be included; if it’s not, stop at a bakery for juice and a cheese-filled pastry, or grab yogurt and fruit from a convenience store. Have a big lunch out (restaurant meals are often cheaper at lunch, too) then picnic on a park bench at the end of the afternoon. Bars sell ready-made sandwiches, or you can enjoy the adventure of exploring a grocery store.

10.  If your Kid’s Picky – How to Avoid MickyLegoland in Denmark.

Kids can be picky eaters. So how do you get them to try new foods – and how do you counteract the magnetic attraction of McDonald’s? We found it useful to allow Micky D’s once in each country – we’d stop in, and make a game out of finding out how McDonald’s in Spain, for instance, is different from in the States. (That said, McDonald’s and other American fast food restaurants are a godsend when you need a bathroom in a hurry, so appreciate them for that!)

Most restaurants in Europe post their menu out front. Check to make sure there’s at least one choice that everyone could enjoy before picking a restaurant. Once inside, order a few “safe” choices and a few “adventures,” then share everything.  After living on French fries for the first few days, our kids soon started branching out, and I have fond memories of Sam (then 10) trying snails one night, poking with his tiny fork into the shells and saying, “Come on out, little guy!”

Have a great trip, and when you come back, share your experiences with us. Email me at [email protected] – and we’ll post your ideas and tips on our blog at Bon voyage!

The Author: Cynthia Harriman, author of Take Your Kids to Europe

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97 questions and comments

  1. Near London with 2 Young Children


    I am due to take my kids (3.5 and 1.5) to England in Feb. I will be working during the day in Crouch End and my mother will be watching the kids during the day. Any recommendations on where to stay? We are thinking of renting a apartment/condo for 7-10 days, any neighborhoods that are great for kids? It will be easier for me to travel to work than her to travel with 2 small kids each day.

    Also, 10 hour flight ALONE with 2 kids… We fly often, but never more than 5 hours. Tips?

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Taking your kids’ ages into consideration, I’d suggest renting an apartment in the South Kensington area, since it’s right near two museums which are excellent for small children. Crouch End is also fairly easy to get to on the tube from South Kensington tube, with a change at Leicester Square to the Northern Line.

      The Science Museum has lots of hands-on sensory exhibits to play with and two areas specifically for toddlers. Right next to it, the Natural History Museum has its Dinosaur Room (great for under-5s), plus the Mini-Beast Room with lots of buttons and hands-on displays, as well as the Investigate Room for older toddlers (this one tends to be booked for school groups on weekdays, so it’s best to visit in the afternoon). South Kensington is also near Hyde Park, where your mother and the kids can go walking, feed the ducks and play on the playgrounds. South Kensington is also a short tube ride from Regent’s Park, where there are also play areas, as well as London Zoo.

      Covent Garden/Leicester Square would be another good place to stay because it’s really central, your mother could take the kids to the National Portrait Gallery (, which toddlers tend to find entertaining, plus there’s also the excellent London Transport Museum where kids can climb aboard different modes of transport, dress up in the designated play areas and play with model cars and buses. Your mother could also take the kids on a boat from Westminster Pier to Tate Modern, where there are family activities on weekends (11am-4pm) and digital sketch pads for the little ones to create their own masterpieces at the Bloomberg Connect Drawing Bar on Level 3 of the gallery. Leicester Square is even more convenient for your commute to Crouch End (straight up the Northern Line), but the drawback of staying there is that there are no green spaces/playgrounds nearby, unlike South Kensington.

      As for apartments try lets you specify the neighbourhood and your accommodation preferences. can also be a good option, since you can also look for apartments for a short-term stay in your preferred part of London. For flying, make it fun. Kids pick up on your energy. If you’re worried and anxious they will be too. If you say, “wow, this is going to be great,” then it’ll be fun (hopefully).

  2. Europe in Winter

    Dear David,

    Thanks for your service with this blog very generous. I am moving with our 17 months daughter and husband to Dublin. We will have 6 weeks before he starts working in January so I am exploring options to travel in Europe with a baby in such cold weather. I was thinking to travel to Poland, Prague, Switzerland, Spain, and Portugal. Is that too much with a baby? We definitely could do it but never travelled to Europe with her before.
    Should aí include or drop any country? Would love to do Sweden, and Denmark but not too sure about weather and kids-friendly options.
    Also I wanted to include London but I realised that I will have many other opportunities as it’s so close to Dublin. Could you help a little to choose the right itinerary? So lost!!!!
    Gabriela Romero

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      If it was me I would stick to the southern countries. Fly to Porto, Portugal then train through Lisbon, Madrid, Seville, Barcelona, South France, Tuscany, and fly back to Dublin from Rome or Naples. Unless there is some specific appeal to northern Europe in winter I would save those countries for warmer months.

  3. Where in Europe in December?

    Hi! Great site!
    We are looking for a European destination for a short vacation, mid December. We are traveling with a 6 month old baby and a nine year old so we are mostly worried about the weather. What would you recommend? Elana

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Spain and Portugal are your best bets: Porto, Lisbon, and Seville are all good choices.

  4. Spain and Portugal with Kids

    Hi David,
    I love your site and always enjoy reading your post. I’m beginning to research and plan our 4 week trip to Portugal and Spain. It will be my husband and I and are two girls (14 & 8 at the time of travel). We will be visiting end of June through end of July 2017. We are very excited and it’s the first time doing Europe with the kids. We enjoy sightseeing, museums, architecture, food, people watching and beaches. We will be doing Airbnb and Hostel for stay and mostly public transportation but a certain part of Spain might do a rental, just because it would be easier. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated. We are simple budget travelers and love integrating with the local culture when we travel. I also speak Spanish fluently.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Do at least one walking food tour and one cooking class. They’re marvelous, easy-going, fun ways to get to know a culture. And kids (generally) love them.

  5. Month in Europe with Kids

    Hi David
    Awesome site.
    We will be travelling with children aged 9 and 11 in September next year from Sydney.
    We are looking at spending a few days in Singapore then onto Europe We will have 2 and 1/2 weeks to see as much as possible,then we are travelling to Athens and islands for another two weeks for some chill out time before travelling home.
    Our must see list is London, Paris, Barcelona, Florence, Venice, and Rome.
    I have a few questions.
    Can you give me your suggested itinerary?
    Is there any other places you recommend we see ?
    How would you travel between these places ?
    Do you think two and 1/2 weeks is long enough?
    Which islands in Greece do we definitely need to visit?
    Any help would be appreciated.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Getting Around: London to Paris take the Eurostar train. Fly or train Paris to Barcelona. Fly to Italy, then train within Italy. Fly to Greece.
      Where To Go: Those are all great places, but it’s a lot for 2.5 weeks so might need to drop one (probably Venice or Florence).
      In Greece: Naxos is the most kid-friendly and has great beaches. Mykonos is busy but lots of fun. Ios has a handful of incredible beaches. Santorini is not known for it’s kid-friendliness but it’s so incredible do at least a few days there.

  6. Good Base for Exploring Europe

    We’re considering renting a place in Europe for 2 weeks in April with our kids (10, 7, 3) and in laws. We have been to Paris and London. Any recommendation for somewhere with a decent climate and a good home base with family friendly day trips? Southern Spain? Italy? Other?


  7. Unsafe Areas of Europe for Family

    Hi David, My husband and I have decided to pack up our three children, aged 8,6 and 4 and take them on a year long adventure around western Europe and GB.
    We are from New Zealand, so its a big and rather scary adventure. We have booked one way tickets into London on May 2 and from there will be Motor homing for 10-12 months!
    We will be on a very tight budget and plan to mix between wild camping and staying in camping grounds..
    This has been a dream of ours, and we are so excited to finally be embracing on our big journey.
    I am finding lots of information on places that are great for children etc, however – I wonder where is NOT good for children, and/or not safe.
    I also would love any other advice you have for us.
    I look forward to hearing from you
    Thank you for your time, Allie.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Certainly there are less desirable areas in Great Britain and Europe (busy highways and areas with no parks or sidewalks) but generally they’re pretty obvious to the eye and too numerous to name. There are no shortage of wonderful areas so with a little research and a destination in mind each time you start the engine avoiding the uglier parts shouldn’t be much of a problem.

  8. Europe with Kids

    Hi! I love your website. We are a family of 5, Dad,Mom, 17,15 and 7 year old boys. Our kids have never been to Europe. I have 2 questions. If we arrive in London 24 of June and leave Rome on the 19 of July. What would be your ideal itinerary? What travel guides do you think have fun, interesting facts. We can’t pay for a private tour guide but would like them to learn facts that will make it interesting and unforgettable for them. Can decide what tour guides to read or what to look for?

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      I would definitely hit Paris and Amsterdam. But after that, there are so many places that’s it’s hard to narrow it down. The good news is that you can’t really go wrong. South France or Tuscany or Bavaria. Are they different? Sure, very different. But you have to choose one over the others – and in the end your choice won’t matter a great deal. For the big cities the Rick Steves’ Guides are quite good and very detailed for specific sights and attractions.

  9. Paris and What Other City with Kids in April

    Hi – great website, thanks for all the useful information! We are taking the kids (aged 4) to Paris mid-April. Can’t decide where else to go to (got a 7-8 days besides Paris) which will be interesting for us + them and not having to travel too much… having considered: Barcelona, French south coast, Rome, Amsterdam. Have left off London from the list as additional visa required plus have been there a few times recently. Any suggestions?


    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Amsterdam can be wet and rainy in April and the south of France (though pleasant) doesn’t offer as much to do as the large cities when it’s not beach weather. So, I would do Barcelona or Rome – both great cities but I would lean towards Rome.

  10. Europe in November with Kids

    Hi David,
    I’m planning to travel to Europe for 2 weeks with my husband and 3 years old son in November this year for our wedding anniversary. Which countries do you think we should go to? None of us have been to Europe.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      I’d either visit Paris and London (which have lots to do any time of year). Or the southern countries – Italy or Spain – which will have the nicest weather.

  11. First Time to Europe with Kids

    We just booked tickets for our family of four including two little guys (7, 3). We are flying into CDG and have two weeks. Suggestions on focus for our trip. My husband and I have been to England and Italy, but that’s it as far as Europe. This will be the kids first trip.


    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Paris is a great place to start so definitely spend a few days there. There is no end to the number of places I could list off but in general I’d choose between heading west and north (Atlantic coast beaches, then Amsterdam and area) or going south (French Riviera with a stop in Lyon and Provence on the way, maybe even continuing on to Barcelona).

  12. Where To Go in Europe for Family

    Hi David,
    I love this site, thankyou!
    I would like to ask your advice.
    Next July, I plan to travel to Europe for 3-4 weeks with my husband and 18 month old son. We must go to London & Amsterdam to meet family. There are so many options, we are having trouble deciding where to spend our time whilst there. We have already been to France, Turkey, Italy & The Greek Island in the past, so would like somewhere different this time and toddler friendly. What would you suggest?

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Barcelona, Madrid, and Porto, Portugal are great destinations. The coast of Croatia is absolutely beautiful – Greek-like beaches and coastline. Prague, Budapest, and Krakow are all magical cities.

  13. Europe at Christmas Time

    This is such a great resource. We have christmas holidays coming up this December and no plans yet. Assuming we make it to Paris – what are your suggestions for things to do and places to go over Christmas and New Years? We have a 9yo son who wants to have a white christmas.
    Or is there anywhere else in the world you can suggest we spend our 3 weeks during that time?
    I’m stumped for ideas and we would be travelling from Australia.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Paris is wonderful at Christmas time but you wouldn’t be guaranteed a white Christmas – for that head east and north (Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and beyond). There is no shortage of great places to go in Europe.

  14. Where To Go in Europe with Kids

    Hi David, What a great site. My husband and I are planning a 3 month trip to Europe next summer with our two young children (ages 4 and 2 ). We are trying to figure out where to visit. We know that we probably will just choose 3-5 places and stay at each for a few weeks.

    I would love to get your opinion of some of the places on our list since we need to narrow them down! Here goes: Dublin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, the South of France or Italian Riviera (any thoughts?), somewhere in Switzerland, somewhere in Spain.

    Any thoughts or suggestions to help us narrow down our list? Also, if there is another location that you highly recommend (especially given the toddler factor), we are open to ideas!

    Alison Freedman

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Those are all great places. I have to throw in London as there’s just so many awesome kid-friendly attractions there (5x what Dublin has). South of France is more expensive than the Italian Riviera but also has more to do for families. The Italian coast is cheaper and less busy – though this changes as you move east. I highly recommend the Greek Islands for families. They’re just great – laid back, great food, great beaches, and so much fun island hopping on the ferries.

  15. Amsterdam, Paris, Belgium in March

    My wife and I are considering spending 3-4 weeks in Europe next Spring (March 2016); the timing and spot are linked to a meeting I will attend in The Hague, Netherlands in early March. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to travel with our two kids (son will be 5 and daughter 3). We were considering home exchange or apartment/house rental, either in Amsterdam, Belgium, or Paris, close enough for a short trip from The Hague by train.

    Our main concern is the climate and time of the year. We are from Canada, so used to cold and snow, but we wonder whether we would be able to take advantage of what these countries/cities have to offer in March (obviously too early for tulips, but maybe too late for real winter activities)…

    What are your thoughts about travelling to Amsterdam/Paris/Belgium in early spring (March)??

    Thanks, your input would be much appreciated,

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Paris will tend to have better weather in March than Amsterdam or Belgium. Amsterdam has very uncertain weather in spring so expect anything. But it won’t be anything like winter in Canada – you’ll certainly be able to get outside and enjoy the sights. Both Amsterdam and Paris have many indoor attractions that are fine in any weather.

  16. 2 Weeks in Europe for Family of 5

    Hi David

    Your web site is amazing with full on knowledge for everyone. I am planning to travel from 1st to 15th of August to Europe (1st time) with my wife and 3 kids aged 11, 8 & 6. We plan to get an airline ticket from Dubai to London & back from London to Dubai. It will make cheaper. We plan to spend 3-4 days in London, 3-4 days in France (inclusive of Disney land), 3-4 days in Switzerland (Zurich / Mt. Titlis) and remaining have not yet planned. Please advise and do correct of my previously mentioned plan if you think it is not appropriate. We are interested to go to Italy or Germany. Please advise accordingly.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      It sounds like a wonderful plan. I would focus on what you have already planned which makes for a nice loop of western Europe. Adding Italy or Germany will make for a busier trip and I think what you have planned is right at the point of doing too much (but still good). When it comes to Europe, travel, and kids, less is more.

  17. Europe in October

    Hi David,
    We are from Canada and want to take our two sons (12&14) to Italy in October for 11 days. My husband wants to go at that time of year for the grape harvest. After reading your posts I know this is not enough time to see and do all there is. I would like to see Venice. What would be your suggestions as to where to fly into, drive to, and fly out of given the time we have. We want to experience European culture and history. Beaches are not a priority for this trip. You had mentioned to another reader to go to Greece in October. Is this because the weather is not good?

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Yes, the weather in October is very nice in Greece – especially if you’re not interested in beaches as it can dip just enough to make it hard to enjoy the sea but is still wonderful for touring, hiking, sightseeing. I wouldn’t recommend both Italy and Greece for an 11 day trip, however – it’s just too much for a short amount of time. Sticking to one country or another with maybe one other city (say, Paris, Barcelona or Amsterdam) would be fine. For Italy, flying into Rome and out of Venice makes for a good trip with Florence or Siena in the middle.

  18. Vivian Lin

    hi, David. My husband and I are planing to spend 10 days in Greece , London and Paris in March 2015. We will depart from New York city, where shall it be our first stop? Any good ideas? Is it going to be rush for going to 3 countries? If yes, then can u pick one between London and Paris? Cuz Santonrini island, Greece is a must go place for us. Thanks!

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Yes, I do think that’s too much for 10 days but if you could get direct flights to and from Santorini and your flight from NYC to Europe went to Paris or London and you flew home from the other city (called an open-jaw ticket which would save a lot of time and hassle) then you could make it work. Both London and Paris are great but if I had to choose one for a first timer it would be Paris.

  19. 3 months in Europe

    I have stumbled across your website and am getting a lot of good ideas but am still stumped on a couple things mainly on duration and timing. I am planning a 3 month trip from Vancouver, Canada to Europe with my husband and will be 5 year old from April to June. I was considering starting in Paris. we would want to book apartments (airbnb and the likes) but I want to book in flexibility in case we love/hate a place. Is there a ballpark length per city you would recommend. We also really love the beach, so seeking out places places that might be warmer in May and June would likely be our thing.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      You can easily spend 10 days in the Paris and London. Bank on 5 days in Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam. 3 days in Florence, Milan, Munich, and Lake Geneva. For beaches you need to go south in May and June. Barcelona is fine for swimming in June (late June even better). For May you would have to be in the southern Greek islands like Rhodes or Crete.

  20. ccbeau

    HI everyone, I loved this article and all of the questions and replies that followed. We are a family of four- 2 adults and boy age 6, girl, 5. We are “considering” a 2 week trip through Europe next summer, July 2015, to visit some family in Portugal and France, and we would like to hit Ireland, London and Spain. The idea of being on the go with a 1st grader and kindergartner is a little intimidating for us. Are we crazy??? Trying to cram too much in a short time?

    Any advice for a trip with that age level would be VERY welcome!!

    Thanks again for the great article!

  21. Family holiday in October

    We need to plan a trip somewhere in Europe during Scotland’s school holiday (mid October) with a 6 and 7 year old looking for a bit of a holiday. We have a week, give or take. There’s Disney Paris (meh), but weather is obviously a factor as is the attention span of small children who likely will find a cathedral or gallery of minimal interest. Self catering the entire time would maximize adult stress. We are pretty flexible, but feel completely stuck. Any suggestions?


    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      What about Greece? Weather is still good in October and flights and hotels are cheaper than summer.

  22. Toryus Thompson

    Hello, im in the “dream” stage of planning a trip to Europe for my family of 5, 2 adults and 3 kids (6, 11, 16). We would like to make this trip the most cost effective. We are on a pretty tight budget. But I feel it is very important for the kids to experience the world and be well traveled. We have not decided on where we would like to go as of yet and we are wondering if you could suggest where a family should begin there first experience of Europe. I was thinking London, Paris and then down to Spain. But I know there is a lot more to see and dont really want to do the typical tourist scene. I am a chef by trade so food will be a big part of the travel. Also we were thinking the most cost effective way to see as much as possible and save money along the way would be to get around by travel camper and stay over night in holiday camps instead of Hotels. Can you suggest a place to rent a travel camper? Also any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  23. Steve

    Hello David,

    Love the site!! It’s already provided us with some great ideas for our upcoming 18 day trip to Europe and the UK. in July 2014. As my wife and I have been to the UK before to visit family we wanted to experience something new as we take our children (12 -10) along for the first time. We are flying into Paris and home out of Dublin with stops planned for Belgium (Brussels and Bruges), London, Bath, Colwyn Bay (family) and then Dublin. We’re planning to use the high speed train between Paris-Brussels and Brussels-London. I guess my question would be…how long to spend in Paris/Belgium? Was thinking 4-5 nights in Paris, maybe 1 in Brussels and 2 in Bruges or visa versa on the last two. Any thoughts?

  24. L.P.

    I’m an intern at a kid’s travel subscription site and these tips are great! I especially love #4, and hope to use it on our next family trip… It’s great to have variety and try new experiences that you might have not tried otherwise 🙂
    Cheers & happy travels!

  25. Curtis

    So just to clarify… Is that 100-250 euro per per person per day? Not 100-250 euro for the 3 of us per day! Thanks for all your help.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      That would be for everyone. But there’s no upper limit. You could spend 250 euros a day per person with very little effort. Good luck.

  26. Curtis Lizee

    Hey there, I am taking my family of 3 (myself, spouse, 10 year old girl) to Northern Italy (1 week), Switzerland (1 week), and France (1 week). Then the little girl is flying back home, and the spouse and I are going to Netherlands (1 week), Gremany (1 week), and Southern Italy (1 week) (3 weeks for the daughter, and 6 weeks for 2 adults). Accomodations are all paid for, and a car is leased. So i’m wondering if you can suggest a budget per person per day (in Euros) that would be reasonable to have a good vacation. Thanks.

    oh…timeframe is last week in August till first week of October 2013. sorry, and thanks again.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      There is a huge range of possible budgets. Since your accommodations and transportation are paid for it will primarily be your food, attraction entrance fees, and incidentals. You could get by on 100 euros a day but that could easily bump up to 250 euros a day without feeling like you’re being indulgent. Hope that helps.

  27. Fiona

    Hi David. Great site by the way. We are a family of 2 adults, 2 kids (13 & 15) from Australia and want to experience our first white christmas Dec 2013. Was thinking Europe for 3 weeks. Was hoping to spend New Years Eve in Paris. As we have never been to Europe is it better to cruise or not. Wanting to see Paris, Rome, Italy, Venice, Greece. Friends have also said Austria is great for the Christmas festivities and spirit. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Hi Fiona. That sounds great. I would not do a typical sea-cruise – getting around by train is much more interesting. Though a river or canal cruise would be cool (more info here.) But they won’t be running nearly as often in winter. Good luck.

  28. Hina

    Hi David,

    I am glad I found you site, as planning a trip without any advise is so complicated. Every package/ deal offered is different and so are the cost and believe me it does not help!

    We as a family ( 2 adults & 10 yrs kid) are planning an Europe trip from Dubai this summer for 10 days..Our main aspect is to cover Disneyland for 2-3 days as my little one is very keen to see it. Appreciate if you could suggest a suitable itineray that will cover other places (Zurich, Rome, Italy, Paris, Geneva) along with Disneyland and that is cost effective too.
    In addition seek you valuable suggestion on budget friendly hotel/ hostel that offer family rooms.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      First off, the more you travel the more you’ll spend. There’s the cost on travel itself plus the longer you’re in one place the more your costs tend to come down. You get comfortable with an area, find the grocery store, the cheaper restaurants, a place to eat a picnic. The faster you’re moving about the more compromises you make and say, “Oh, lets just eat at that place over there – I’m tired, I don’t care how much it costs.”

      If it were me I’d head from Paris to South France for a few days and then onto Rome for the final 3 or 4 days and fly home from there. is the best website for finding discounted hotels throughout Europe. It searches every other major (and minor) site and gives you a list of available rooms and prices at each website.

      Good luck.

  29. Carmen

    Hi David, my husband and 2 kids (8 and 10) are planning a holiday to France this summer. We thought we would fly into Paris, rent an apartment for 2 weeks and then travel south for the remaining 2 weeks. Any suggestions on an itinerary of where we should go in the south, a great “home base” where we could take day trips and still enjoy the beach? Also, any tips on finding great but also budget friendly short term accommodations? Any ideas would be great!

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Renting a place in Paris for a 2 week stay is a great idea. I think you’ll love it.

      For a homebase in the south of France I’d say Aix en Provence would make a great choice. Central, lots to see, good transportation, charming city.

      I’ve made some suggestions here for family-friendly hotels in different French cites – but they’re admittedly not the cheapest places. For discounts you’re best to use,, or as they’ll find the best rates (rather than focusing on specific hotels).

      Good luck.

  30. Juan

    Hi David,
    Your site is fantastic and I’m glad I found it.

    I’m 21, and my family has put me in charge of planning our 18/19 day trip to Spain, Italy and France. We are planning on visiting Barcelona, Madrid, Alicante, Rome, Porto Recanit and Paris.

    We have home bases in Madrid and Porto Recanti (family, and we’ll be lodging there for a few nights). I was curious if you would recommend, if we start in Spain or Italy? What should we consider as a form of travel between the countries on a budget, we’ll all be adults by then and don’t mind traveling in unconventional ways, its all part of the adventure.

    Also, any recommendations as to what things in those cities most people tend to miss?
    (We’ll be there flying out of MCO on either 5/28/13 or 6/3/12 with 18 nights. What do you think?)

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Hi Juan. Firstly I would recommend flying into and out of different cities so that you don’t have to backtrack. It saves time and money. Maybe fly into Paris and fly home from Rome. It might cost a little more for the air tickets but it’s easily made up for by the return trip (e.g. from Rome to Paris) and hotel/lost time.

      I’d take the train between the major cities. It probably won’t be worth it buying a eurail pass. The cheapest way to buy tickets is through each individual country’s train website – so don’t book through the more general Eurail site. Italy’s website, in particular, offers good rates.

      Hope that helps.

  31. Gemma

    I’m planning a europe trip for my family (2 adults & 3 kids 7-9-10yrs). We will be travelling from cumbria in the UK and plan to see Paris, Geneva, Marseille, Barcelona, San sebastien, La Rochelle and Normandy before going home (all in all 3 weeks!) We had planned on taking our car, use the ferry crossings at Dover and Calais and we plan to either use hostels and camp. Do you think planes and trains would be a more economical way to travel? And are there any places you would recommend which would be great for the kids instead of the above mentioned?
    Thank you

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      That sounds like an awesome itinerary. There’s always more to see but I think those are great choices. I often recommend flying to save time and money but I think with what you have planned (especially with the camping) then taking your own car should work well and be a great way to keep costs down.

      Good luck.

  32. Loren S

    Hi David,
    My husband and I want to take our 2 children (Girl 8 and Boy 5) for an 8 – 12 week trip around Europe in June / July / August 2013.
    Obviously we would like to do this on a budget (more than likely family rooms in hostels) starting in London and working our way down through France, including Madrid (friend to visit), South of France and Italy possibly Croatia and back again to London (not sure via which countries at this stage) – would this be enough time?
    We are not too sure whether car, train or campervan would suit best to be able to do the major cities without having to rush from one city to the next. Any advice appreciated. BTW great informative site thank you.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Yes, I think that would be enough time. Croatia might be pushing it a little but then you could go north and return through Austria and Germany which would be fun. Most people plan to do too much and don’t leave enough time but I think 8 to 12 weeks to cover that territory will give you a good cushion to explore all (or at least some) of the sidetrips and smaller attractions that never make it into a hurried itinerary.

      If you’re thinking about doing a campervan these sites might help:

      But otherwise a mix of train and budget flights (for the longer legs) would be easy and fun.

  33. Anita E

    We are wanting to take our kids out of school for a period of 1-2 years and possibly place them into a school somewhere in Europe. Public or international school we are not quite sure. Where would be the easiest place for children aged 7 & 9 from Canada best integrate into? Would probably have to take our two dogs, so can a person rent homes in the countryside that accept pets? Just looking for some ideas that would be best for the kids and from there we could use it as a base to explore the remainder of Europe. Thanks for any suggestions.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      There are lots of great places and fantastic international schools all over Europe. The biggest difficulty will be securing a visa for that long (unless you have EU passports, but it doesn’t sound like it). Without a visa you can only spend 90 days in any 6 month period in all the Schengen countries (basically Western Europe and Greece). That’s 90 days total, not in each one.

  34. Donna Dimmock

    My husband and i want to take our 2 children (boy 14, Girl 11) for a trip around Europe this year for our Annual holiday.
    We live in the midlands in England and were planning to take the Euro tunnel over to Calais in our own car and then travel Europe.
    we would like to do this on a budget and see as many countries as we can including the south of France and Italy.
    Can anybody suggest any tips or routes that they think would benifit us on our trip ,or places to stay or infact you think travelling in our own car will not be cost affective.
    Many Thanks

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Unless you’re traveling for more than 3 or 4 weeks I would suggest finding some cheap flights to Paris, Rome, Barcelona, or anywhere around Europe that you want to go. For example, if you wanted to see Barcelona, south France, and a bit of Italy, I would fly to Barcelona, train along the coast of France to Rome, and then fly home from there. If you really want to take in a lot of spots and are going on an extended trip then the car could save you some money. But a shorter trip that hits just 4 or 5 spots is probably cheaper with a combination of train and plane. I hope that helps. Good luck.

      1. N Andrews

        Im travelling to europe from canada August 2013, flying into paris (4 days) then travelling to barcelona( 3 days) rome for (7 days)

        I have flights to paris and from rome also all hotels booked, but am wondering whats the best (economical) way to travel from paris to barcelona and barcelona to rome.
        We are a family of 5 ..2 adults and 3 children aged 14 , 12 and 7


        1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

          Train is the funnest way to travel but flights often turn out to be cheaper (and obviously faster). Use to find the budget airlines for the routes you need. But remember that many budget airlines depart from smaller airports that are often well outside the city center, so be sure to factor the time and expense of getting out there when comparing to taking the train which will leave from a terminal within the city.

          Good luck.

  35. Ria

    Hi David! We are planning a six week trip to Europe this coming June to July 2013. We are looking for the best options/itineraries for a large family of two adults and 6 kids ranging from 16 to 2 years old. I have looked at house/apartment rentals which seem to make more sense economically. Can you please suggest an itinerary and transportation modes that will be convenient/less costly for all of us? We want to go as many places as possible but would also want to be realistic about it. Thanks in advance!

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      I’d pick out 8 or 10 places that you really want to see and then try to develop a line through a majority of them that starts and ends at different major cities. Fly into the first one and fly out of the last one. You save time and money by not backtracking. If it were me going on my first trip to Europe I’d start in Paris, train to Barcelona, then train to Rome with stops in the Cote d’Azur and Florence along the way.

      Train is usually always the best way to get around. is the best for finding hotel deals. is good for apartments and houses.

      Good luck.

  36. Steven

    I am planning to travel to Europe for about 8 weeks this summer with my 4 kids (all under the age of 10), we’ve been to Europe before (France, Spain, Italy, Germany) and this time I was thinking of a more northernly pursuit. Any suggestions of places to see that the kids will enjoy? Thank you!

    1. Toni

      Hi Steven – we are looking to go to England, Italy and France next summer 2013. Our kids will range from 2.5 – 10yrs then, what are your top five tips for another family of four?

  37. Tania Mokaraka

    I love this website. I have been trying to figure out how to start of a 6 week long trip for myself, my partner & our 2 children (5 & 12) to Europe/UK in Oct/Nov 2013 and I keep coming back to this website for advice & tips, its so informative, so thank you.
    However, I’m still confused as to what the best route/mode of transport we should take from NZ. We want to be in Scotland around 10th November for my partners grandmothers 80th and the other places we want to visit include London, Devon, Paris, South France, Barcelona & Gibraltar, Italy (prob just west coast places like Rome etc).
    We thought we could fly from New Zealand to Italy, France or Spain and move up towards England & Scotland but thought we would fly into Scotland or England, leave some gear with family in either place & travel down to Europe and go to Scotland and fly out of Scotland or England again???
    Its so confusing, we want to do it on a budget and have started the process of looking for couch surfers but I’m still unsure how to get from place to place.
    Any help would be so greatly appreciated.
    Tania, John & Kids

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      The best way to save money is to travel around as little as possible. So with that in mind, the best budget route would be to fly into Rome (or maybe Paris, Madrid, or Barcelona), travel north to London and then Scotland, and then fly home from there. Rectracing your steps is costly. (You could also do this trip in reverse but the weather will be much nicer in Italy and Spain at the end of October rather than the middle of November.) I hope that helps. Good luck.

  38. Vidhya

    Travelling to Europe with kids aged 4 and 2. Landing in London.Planning to spend a few days there. Following that, fly to Florence and take day trains to Pisa, Milan, Rome. How does that sound? Any other ideas?

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      That sounds great. Check out the new Kids Zone at the Army Museum which is perfect for those ages (though you need to book in advance):

      They’d probably like taking a look at the huge Hamley’s toy store on Regent street:,default,pg.html

      We stayed a week at the Marylebone Hotel which was great and has a pool (though it’s only open for kids from 3:30 to 5:00 which you need to plan around). But the staff are great with kids and make every effort to keep them happy. The neighborhood around the hotel is fantastic and very central. Good luck.

  39. Meg

    Hi. My husband and I have decided to take our 4 kids (13,12,11 and 9) to the UK and Italy, Spain and Belgium (family connections) for 9 weeks beginning in March this year. We are still undecided on the best mode of transport – trains/public transport seem too expensive, car ok but then we need to find accommodation; motorhome seems good option but so large and very expensive …. ahh! Does anyone have any suggestions? We are happy to see less and experience more, and would love flexibility to change plans as we go… We have no experience of youth hostels or their cost/availablity, or of actually driving around in a motorhome – indeed of anything much! Ideally we would camp but feel the weather may be far too cold and maybe wet? Some may say we are travelling blind! thanks in advance for any comments.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      When you factor in the costs and hassle of getting your own vehicle, I think the train would win out. The good thing is that you should be able to find great deals on hotels that time of year. Look for longer term options on or even Good luck.

    2. Rae

      Hi Meg
      I have four children (17,12,10,6) and we are planning our trip 2014 , would love to hear how your trip went with a large family .

  40. Jaya , DehraDun , India

    Hi…I love travelling and so do my Family..We’ve done d entire India n Me n my husband have done few South East countries. I have two great daughters aged 10 and 8 Years and would want to take them out for the first time outside India..although they hav been to our neighbouring countries. It would be in Oct for 10 days Max and I would want to budget my that I can show them a new country every year..where in Europe would you suggest..that appeases to all and make memories ..and how much would be the budget and how can we make use of Eurorail ???

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Hi Jaya. Train travel can be expensive in Europe so my first piece of advice – especially if you’re planning to return multiple times – is to focus on just one area, one country, or a couple of cities and keep the travel (and train ticket purchases) to a minimum. Generally the north and west of Europe are the most expensive countries. As you move south and east things are cheaper – often much cheaper. Greece might be a good first trip ( The islands are great to visit and kids love the ferry trips. Greece is much cheaper than, say, France or Spain, (though not nearly as cheap as it was 10 or 20 years ago), and you can often find great deals on flights between Athens and Mumbai or Delhi. I hope that helps a little. Good luck.

  41. Ashley

    This summer my Australian husband and I are moving from New Jersey to his native Australia with our two year old daughter. We have time, so we’re saving money and buying around-the-world tickets, planning on visiting Iceland, England, Spain, Italy, the Greek Islands, and South Africa before heading to Australia. This trip will probably take us about 8-10 weeks. We’re all pretty seasoned travelers and our daughter has flown many times, so we’re pretty cluey, but have never done anything of this magnitude with a kid involved. We’re interested in doing a blog about our preparations, the move, and of course, the trip itself, but we’ve never done one before and are looking for advice. Any tips on that?


    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Hi Ashley. I’m going to be doing a blog post on this soon — as I get lots of questions on it — but here are a few quick ideas:

      – If you’re serious about your blog and about (maybe) putting some serious time and effort into it, then go with a WordPress self hosted blog. That means you’ll have to buy a domain, host it on a site (like Godaddy for example) and then use WordPress to run it.

      – On the other hand, if you just want a site for friends, family, and people you meet along the road, then is perfectly fine.

      – Plan before you start blogging. There are lots of little decisions you’ll make along the way, and doing a little prep work (or a lot of prep work) before you start will save you having to tear things down and start again.

      I hope that helps, let me know if you have a specific question.

  42. JV from Kolkata

    Dear Friends, We are a family of 4 , 2 adults and 2 kids ( 16 & 8 ) from India.We plan to visit Europe in May 2013 for 10-12 days. My budget is around Euro 1250 per head. Total Euro 5000 . Can somebody please suggest some itineraries? This will be my first trip to Europe and any suggestions/advice are welcome.
    Best wishes.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Hi JV. If I had to suggest some spots it would probably be a route between 2 cities, say Paris and Rome (or Paris and Barcelona). Fly into one, take the train between them, and then fly out of the other if you’re able to – thus saving the time and expense of backtracking. My perfect trip would probably include a few days in Paris, followed by 2 or 3 days in the south of France. Then on to Florence or Siena. And finishing in Rome. If anything take a stop out before adding any more. Keep it simple and don’t rush and you should have a great time.

      Good luck.

      1. JV, Kolkata,India

        Dear David,
        Thanks a lot for your comments. I really appreciate it. Any other suggestions/comments anybody.
        Best wishes to all

  43. Loraine from Kentucky

    What keeps our travel dreams on hold is flight cost? How do you cut that down?

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Hi Loraine. I agree that’s a huge part of being able to travel – the initial cost of plane tickets. My biggest suggestion is to be flexible – as flexible as you can. The more you’re able to pick and choose from the different seat sales – whether it be the dates, the days of the week, the destination, or all 3 – the better the deal you’ll get.

      The good thing is that many places that require a bigger expense on the tickets side: Thailand, Vietnam, Greece, Turkey, Venezuela, offer great value to travelers. So once you’re there, if you really watch what you spend you can make that big expense up front pay off.

      Mexico is one place where you get both great deals on airfare and – if you stay away from the big tourist resorts like Cancun or Puerta Vallarta – you can still get great deals and very affordable accommodations.

      I’m currently writing a piece on finding great deals on air travel. I’ll be sure to send it to you once I’ve finished it.


  44. Lana Brink

    Thanks for this nice Post. Our youth-travel hollidays last year in Spain and europe was amazing.

  45. Lisette Murie

    I loved reading this article I will be sure to tell my friends about this and link to it as well. Thanks 🙂

  46. soultravelers3

    These are wonderful tips for families traveling to Europe! We have been on an open ended ,non-stop world tour as a family since 2006 & many of our 32 countries & 175,000 miles ( most overland) so far have been in Europe.

    We travel & live large on just 23 dollars a day per person. We’ve done everything from 5 star hotels to hostels, cargo ships to camels, but our main lodging AND transportation mode is by small motorhome.

    It is a fantastic way to see Europe with most campsites being 5 star resorts near all the sites with easy access via mass transit, biking or walking. Great for families as there is no packing & unpacking and almost all have kid’s clubs and great pools, restaurants, stores and beaches for after touring days.

    It’s a wonderful educational opportunity that will last you a lifetime!

    1. Krista

      What a wonderful adventure for your family!! May I ask who/where did you rent your motorhome in Europe? This idea really appeals to us. Thanks

    2. becky

      soultravler3: I am very, very interested in your travels, planning, tips, ideas, anything! how do you do it on so little money? how did you decide to “leave it all behind” and travel the world? what a classroom for your kids. I am so interested in your travels, any information would be very appreciated.

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