Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Blogging about Travelling to Europe with Kids

So, you enjoy travelling,,,, or you did before you had kids.... argg... No,, just kidding.... Travelling with your kids as I have said before is an enjoyable experience while at the same time a trial in patience...... Good days followed by some bad.... It is just the way it happens.

Now,,, once those travels and experiences that you have had with your kids are done,,, you really need to share them. I do, and why not, they are the best experiences for me and I hope will be regarded as such in the future by my kids.

Safety , time, money, etc,, all items to think about and are of concern for parents travelling with kids. I know it has been such for me in the past, and likely will be for millions and millions of parents in the future.

I am going to be posting about my families experiences often, especially about past experiences and hopefully soon about new ones.

Please share your comments and reviews about your travels

Monday, 6 February 2012

Where to Travel to in Europe with kids ?

Very interesting question, don't you think ? or problem ? Depends on who you are , who your kids are and what you want to do with travelling to Europe with your kids. For us, we have done many different countries, Czech Republic, Austria, Turkey, Greece, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, just to name a few.

So, where do you want to travel in Europe with your kids? Do you want a relaxing get away, educational experience, or just plain experiences ..... Here are some things to ponder when planning where you could travel to in Europe with your kids.

1) Do you want the Europe experience, but rather just an over the top vacation ? If so, travel at low cost for the flights and get where you want to get to as fast as you can. An example would be saying, we want to take the kids to Europe, but really want to relax, so lets' choose Italy. From that point, after you know your destination, book the easiest route and most cost effective flights. If booking a unpackaged hotel deal, start looking online. See what meals could be included. Pool or lake or beachside ??? Who knows, your budget will tell you. Is a restuarant or multiple restaurants on site ? All things to consider if wanting things as a place to go too and then stay at.

2) Do you want to give the kids a cultural experience ? If so, maybe the flights or flight components might be open-jaw, whereby you fly into one country or town and then fly out of another. A great idea would be to travel to ancient Greece as your travel trip to Europe with your kids. You could start in Athens, see many things, continue to another major city, travel by boats to Crete, Santorini or others. So much to see and show the kids in an experience based trip for your kids. This one is depending on the parents and the kids. The parents will have to have hight tolerance levels and alternative ideas if the kids say " no way " we want something else to do.

3) A life changing experience for the kids and you as a parent ? via.... travelling to a more impoverished part of Europe. Possibly some Eastern European countries. Yes, we know that some of you may say,,,, wait,,,, safety is going to be a concern as the parent. Well, I live in Canada and the news is flooded with the scare tactics over travelling down to Mexico over the last several months due to some unfortunate beatings and shootings. Well, I am not scared to go to Mexico, and just the same, I am not scarred to travel to Eastern Europe. We have been to Romania, Croatia, Slovakia, Poland, Russia..... And,,, we have been in small , small towns and communities... It all has to be surrounded with be sensible and appreciative of where you are, not the opposite. We have been in small towns and been very welcomed, even without being able to speak the language because we were nice and appreciative, vs arrogant and saying things like " oh, they don't have what I want or how I like it" This is the whole part of the eye opening experience trip for the kids. You want them to be respectful and to show them the struggles of others so they have a deeper understanding of how you provided for them as a parent,,, so utimately they appreciate the everyday things you provide,,,, a little better.

Happy travels to Europe with your kids. Make memorable experiences and bring this world closer together !


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Getting there..... the faster the better

So, you have planned your getaway travel to Europe with your kids. What's next? Making the travel arrangements of course. Easy.... Well, it could be,,, or it could be a disaster.

Yes, focus on your budget and overall costs and plans associated to getting where you are heading. Remember, lowest ticket prices may not always be the best way to go or the most less stressful shall we say. When travelling to Europe with our kids, the first thing we look at is the price per ticket, then we look at the route, then we look at the total amount of travel time.

The price usually is the largest factor in many peoples decisions. Yes, you don't want to overpay, however, look at the route as well. Does a different route get you closer to your final destination ? or is there a better connection point. Sometimes, you can find different connection points to get to that will utimately have better inter-Eruope flights that you can buy as one offs. There used to be a company called Sky Europe that had unbeleivable cheap rates ,,,, before it went under. There are still lots though. Ryan Air is an example.

The shortest flight route is always best for Travelling to Europe with Kids we say,,,, especially when travelling during the day,,,,, if you were so unlucky to have to fly to Europe during the day. When we fly, we get night flights for the longest portion of the flight. Have the kids sleeping on their own schedule for more than half or three quarters of the flight is always a stress helper.

We travel to Europe with our kids and go for the night flights to Frankfurt, Heathrow or a few other easy to get from airports once you land.

Not to forget.... connection times and stay overs !!! Connection times can massively add to your stress levels when travelling for a long time to Europe with your kids.... for sure.... so try and get a short connection where if there are problems,,,, the airlines will compensate you with later flights.... Also,,, stay away from stay overs unless you plan to actually visit the place you landed in. If not, get through to your first destination as quick as possible. Why ??? because a night in a Hotel will add a large debit to your account that you may initally miss when booking your tickets....

So, be careful when booking , get a good price, good connections and the shortest route and fly / connections times....

Happy travels to Europe with your kids....

Monday, 23 January 2012

Sometimes you need to take a day off.... even when on vacation

Some of the best vacations we have had with our kids and that we have heard about from our friends and family members are filled with all the stories of what they did, where they visited and most importantly what they saw.

But,,,, what about the part of relaxation ? Well, going to Mexico for two weeks is a time for rest from a your regular routine. A time to recharge your batteries as they say. But, when you go to Europe with your kids, it is a fun filled (and I mean seriously filled) adventure of visiting people and places. That continuous routine of visits and exploring will tire out even the healthiest and most adventurous of parents.

So,,, what about a day off ? Huh ? What ? I am serious... Now, what does this actually mean. Well let's take a look at some ideas that can be used to re-charge you:

1) When travelling through Europe I know many many times we either come into a piazza where young kids either play, have fun at the local water fountain or are kicking a soccer ball around. You know what, have your kids join in while you sit at the nearby caffe and relax. Most places, cities and parents in the foreign land you are in will greet you with open arms as you have kids too... you will see such fantastic smiles on your kids faces that you can take very memorable pictures of.

2) Travel through the country and you will see lots of areas, parks, etc. where you can just stop the car or get off the bus and hang out at. In Switzerland as an example, we have been there for their national holiday and went into the mountains. Nothing but lush grass, views and fun times. Always pack a flat soccer ball with a small carry along pump that you can bring out at any time. We did that in this situation and it worked out so well. Get to the destination and settle in, then let the kids go and have their fun. Chances are like us, you will get a good few hours of resting for you and the kids are doing something that the regular local kids are doing and will have some great relaxing times.

3) What else ??? Really anything. The main thing is to take a break from the routine of whatever you have planned is. Kids are good most of the time, but if your European travelling with your children takes on a long winded and tiring routine, the kids are going to let you know about it. Either verbally or through a well placed temper tantrum in a nice local place where everyone can stare at you..... Yep,,,, has happened with us too....

Travelling to Europe with your kids is such a great experience. You can educate them through taking them to new places, seeing history and just by being with your kids. However, all things have a shelf life, and as such, we as the parents need to remember that the kids are just that,,,, kids,,,, and they need to be that even on vacation.... so take that day off and get recharged,,,, and most of all create a new kind of European kid vacation memory that they may hold in their minds for many years to come.

Until next time, Hope you have enjoyed this new read on vacationing advice for travelling with your kids through my favourite place,,,,, Europe !


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Experiences travelling with kids... trial in patience or wonderful experience ?

What a great experience travelling with kids. Yes, depending on the age of your children, you can have times or days of problems, complaining, etc... But,,, try to make the best of it. Put on the better face, re-assess the particular situation that has the kids in a fit and turn it around. A day grumpy, or complaining about something is always a day wasted I say.

We were in Switzerland and our kids were having a difficult time as the weather was bad, so the complaining started along with boys flighting,, great stuff. Yes, as a parent it gets on the nerves just a HUGE bit... But,,, take that step aside, compose yourself and re-enter the situation with a clear head, and hopefully so ideas on how to entertain the kids or at least find something new to change there attitude towards whatever the problem may be.

Sometimes with young, young children it is going to be very hard to get them out of a complaining mode, so the day unfortunately may need to go by the side, and you will just have to re-try the next day. We always found it good to talk with the kids you are having a bad day with at the end of the day right when the are getting off to sleep. Nothing major,,, just a re-visit of the day and make them aware that you feel the day was not good and that hopefully they ( the child) can change and be better as tomorrow is a new day. When doing this,,, we have always got a positive response out of our kids...

With the travels over the years we have done with the boys, it has been a mix, however overall, I think we are about 75% good travel days, and 25 % bad travel days.... I don't care what anyone says.... this is a great ratio ...... If you told someone who trades stocks that they would be having positive outcomes 75 % of the time,,,,, you would be considered a Wall Street Guru !!!! So,,, with travelling with the kids , the parenting and life lessons still continue... How we as the kids parents handle the situations in our travels and overall, will affect the kids in how they approach, or deal with their own future situations,,, but,,, it is also a test for you as the parent in the now of life...

All of our friends that have done extensive travel with their children always have stories to tell, both good and bad..... but once the trips are over and they are back to the regular grind,,,, one thing always happens and that is this. The next time after there trip that they look up and go through the old pictures on their Apple TV or product alike,,,, they smile and have vivid memories and flashes of all the good and great times on those trips,,,,,, they NEVER vividly recall and dwell on those bad aspects of the trips..... ok,,, ok,,, for those of you that actually due sometimes re-call those points,,,, you likely still smile and have a good little laugh.

Happy Travelling to you and your kids... Explore this world and bring it closer to yourselves...


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Dealing with sick kids

The worst thing when your child gets sick, right. You may both work, need to arrange differennt plans to take a day off work or find someone to watch your child while you go and make your living. But,,, what about when you child gets sick on your vacation..... uggg..

Most people, in fact every traveller needs travel insurance,,,, if you don't have it in place when you are travelling,,,, you are just asking for your financial well being to be destroyed possibly if some of your travelling party gets sick,,,, or has a major injury,,, be it mum, dad, sister, or brother.

We recently encountered a bug both me and my son acquired thanks to a sick many on our BA flight to London this summer. This guys was so sick he was in the bathroom for three quarters of the flight. And,,,, yep,,, within 24 hours of landing we got it.... However my son was later than me and he timed things perfectly... Picture this,,, 10pm on the train platform getting ready for a 10 hour sleeper train.. Both kids tired,,, and neither showing signs of potentially becoming sick yet..

Then ,,, when loading on the train,,, our oldest times it without missing a beat... Throws up all over the train car.... luggage,,, himself,,, bed,, floor.... and the smell....

Oh boy,,, now what,,, We cleaned up and got ready for bed. Thankfully,,, that was it.. nothing else,,, no fever, no signs of something that was concerning.... But,,,, could you imaging if it was????? What would we as parents have done? Get off a night train in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night ?? Not an option...

This is a tough one though... I don't think with what happened to us,,, there is really anything you could have done more.. It would have been an emergency issue... I mean, no doctors, or places open or not knowing where to go or what to do.. In that case,,, suggestions welcome here.

As regular precautions though...

1) Take any regular medicine if you have a history of something with your children. This is a no brainer. You as a parent have all their medical history so when planning for a trip overseas, you need to have that all in order.

2) Get iron clad Travel Insurance. We were away for many months recently traveling to 7 different European countries and a few Middle Eastern countries.... Cost was almost $900 !!! Yep,,,,, expensive.... Those that have never travelled for that length of time may say I overpaid,,, or that you have and have gotten it cheaper... Well,, those that got it cheaper,,,, you should really look at your policy as I am positive it is not as Iron Clad as you may think it is.... Also,,, the reason for it being so expensive is simple.. The insurance companies look at it this way. The longer you are on vacation,,, the higher chance of a claim happening on the policy.. If you are out of the country for more than 90 days,,, the cost per extra day is going to really start accumulating..... as the actuaries at said Insurance company have calculated that the chances of an accident happening after that 90 day period is increasing at a much higher rate than in the time period before the 90 days.

3) Be prepared to have Travel Insurance,,,,, and still not have stuff covered... SERIOUSLY !!!!
We have been to a country in Europe where Iron Supplements for our kids you could not buy over the counter,,,, they had to be prescribed.... And,,, to be prescribed you needed to get to a doctor...... So how do you get to a doctor when you don't have a referral or anything. Well in our case,,, we went to the hospital and found a on call Dr, that spoke English. He told us to go to the equivalent of a walk in clinic, one where he knew the clinic had English speakers. Once there, we told them what the issue was and that we had insurance..... wait for it... wait for it.... The Dr. says,,, well,,, I can't help you out with anything to do with the fact you have travel insurance. He stated,,,, it was a huge inconvience for him and process that would hold up him actually even being able to prescribe the Iron Supplements for my son,,,,, however if we needed pay him direct right then,,,, he could prescribe what we needed right then to solve the problem. So,,, what do we do..... argue ??? decline ??? go elsewhere ??? Nope,,, you have to pay to get the issue resolved.... People reading this might say,,, oh I would not have paid.... or gone elsewhere.... Yeah right.... I don't think so. Why ? Because chances are if that was your first experience,,,, it would likely happen at the next place...

WORST PART:::: after getting our prescription filled and dealing with this..... even afterwards,,,, your insurance company will not re-imburse you for the transaction happening in this manner....

So,,, bottom line when dealing with kids... when sick on long staying vacation... is you'll need to go with the flow and seriously hope that when away you don't have a major health issue with your children....

Share you stories,,,,