As with all forms of international travel, making sure you have the proper identification is very important. This will include passports for all children regardless of age. As child trafficking is a concern when dealing with international travel, it is also a good idea to bring along your child's birth certificates just in case there are any questions asked. If you are traveling with someone else's children, bringing their birth certificate and contact information for their parents is also recommended.
Nothing will ruin a trip quicker than a child who feels she is not adequately involved in the planning of the trip. If she cannot get excited about where she is going, complaints are sure to follow. Fortunately, Europe has its share of amusement parks and thrill rides. If you can follow up a trip to Notre Dame in Paris and a day at Disneyland Resort Paris, you may find the children more excited and engaged during the trip.
Watch Hiking Difficulty
Europe has countless acres of wilderness to explore. While you may be tempted to climb halfway up the Matterhorn because you heard it wasn't that difficult, if you are taking kids along on any hike, make sure it is tailored to their skills. The ratings on many hiking websites are for adults, not children, but many ratings systems will say whether the hike is suitable for children. If they get tired on the trail, it will likely make for a miserable day.
Arrange some down time on the trip, which is good for both kids and adults. As far as getting around the continent, Rick Steves, host of the PBS series "Rick Steves Europe," suggests driving rather than taking a train. Though train service is very extensive all over Europe, driving allows families to go at their own pace. Trains may be taken for day trips or scenic tours, if desired.
Another suggestion Steves offers is to make sure you do not overdo the food aspect of the trip. While getting your kids acquainted with European culture may involve sampling some of the local foods, a trip to a distinctly American fast food restaurant may be a welcome respite from the escargot and fish and chips they may try along the way. Of course, each family is different, and if your kids love snails, then happy dining.
When in Europe, remember that pubs are not the same as bars in the United States. While most parents would not normally think of taking their children to a bar, in Europe, pubs are family affairs. Generally speaking, as long as the hour is not too late, pubs welcome families and some even cater to them, offering specials and activities that kids will find especially fun. Your kids are likely to be more engaged and learn more about European culture at such venues than they ever would at the nearest opera house.
The European Union has made travel around the continent much easier, with the backups at the checkpoint crossings, a major hassle in years past, all but forgotten. However, remember that your travel documents should still be kept in a safe and accessible place, even if you choose to not carry them with you on every outing. Make sure you take the time to find your travel documents and, if you have them, paper plane tickets at least 2 days before you return. If these are missing, check with your airline or nearest embassy for further help.