We are a 40 year old couple with a 2.5 year old and I have some extended time this summer from early June to early July and would like to go back to Europe. Have done two long trips (5-6 weeks) and one shorter 2 week to Benelux and Normandy. Just wondering if anyone has particular areas that might be especially kid friendly? Thinking maybe Black Forest, Switz, into Northern Italy as prelim without much thought. Any thoughts would be great. Ryan
Last year, I went on a very child oriented trip. My daughter will be back from Romania in a couple of days, if you want details (uh, like the names), but in Tuscany there's a drive and feed the animals adventure. Animals will stick their heads in your car and slobber on you for a fee. The toddler girl loved it. In Naples, I truly thought my daughter insane, but sucked it up to go to this child fantasy: a restaurant with a car park that smelled like a zoo. We walked through (empty because early) to sit outside. In my mind, I wasn't driving, so I planned on drinking my dinner in the hope of forgetting the evening. That was my mindset. Through the restaurant, on the other side, was an outdoor area with no odor whatsoever. The children went to a petting zoo, and there was climbing equipment for them, and some whirly things that were age appropriate. I don't remember the coperto details, but the children got plates instead of ordering, no problem. I have to hand it to my daughter: the children were happy, we got up only to go supervise the petting zoo and the zip line, and I had a fantastic whole fish. All of the food I had was really great. There are two amusement parks in Naples. It sounds like you like your child and want to keep him/her around; skip those.
" My rule of thumb is that children should be able to stand a day of walking, be ready to eat what's in front of them, and be comfortable sleeping in strange beds. They should be able to carry their own daypacks with some clothes, journal, and a couple of toys. We found that a child is ready for an international trip at about the same age they're ready for a long day at Disneyland." Rick's statement is one that we have embraced when young folks ask us.
The 2.5 year old will be happy most anywhere if they are fed, rested and loved along with as much patience as you can muster. I would try to avoid a ton of chaos, but if you can handle your child at home you can handle them in Europe. I would most definitely think of Germany or Italy (where they appear to make a fuss over children... and the child will love the attention) also, don't rule out Paris... there are so many parks and areas that you can retreat to with her... and she just might love Disneyland Paris. Have a great time.I went with a friend who took her 3.5 year old and they loved Disney, as well as the rest of Paris.
We were about your age 30 years ago when we took out 3.5 year old daughter to Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark for a bit over 3 weeks. We did Hawaii the year before as a tune up to see how she handled time changes (went well). While some of the details may well be outdated, I think some of the basics still apply. While we had good kid related experiences everywhere, Denmark and Copenhagen in particular were the places where people really went out of their way to be fuss over kids. Tivoli Gardens, Maduradam near the Hague and the original Legoland went over well but the top attractions for our would-be princess was castles. Wake her up with, "We are going to see a castle today." and she was up and ready to go. We have always traveled by car and I think the time flexibility that a car provides is big help with the little ones as the car becomes a familiar part of their routine. The only bad part about the whole rip is that although it is a great developmental experience our daughter does not remember a bit of it today. I hope your trip works out.
We did a long road trip in Europe one summer when our two boys were aged 1 and 4. People said we were insane to do it, and maybe we were, but the kids and the parents handled it very well. As long as you don't push it too hard during the day, your child will be happy to be along with you and nobody will get stressed. You'll find parks wherever you go. We tried to be outdoors a lot so the 4 y.o. could run and play and the 1 y.o. could do some walking. We looked for hotels with swimming pools which we all enjoyed in the afternoons. On travel days we weren't on the road past 2:00 p.m. When we got to Portugal the guys loved the beach south of Lisbon so we went practically every day. So you might think of someplace in the South near a beach. In June Europe can still see cool weather which is less likely to make it down to Spain, Portugal and the South of France.
I travel with a three year old runt quite a bit. From when we were were mucking around at Thanksgiving, she remembers that she liked the playground at Kensington Gardens better than the park at Lux Gardens, that the tube was more fun than the metro, that the British Natural History Museum had better dinosauers than the French one, and that the Eurostar had better food than the planes. Paris did win for sidewalk ants, however. She also believes that Monkey Mountain in Park City is the best place she's ever been and that Grandfather's beat-up jeep is more fun than Daddy's eighty grand Lexus SUV. Kids don't know the geography of where they've been. They can have fun anywhere. Everybody likes the little suckers. They don't need even a silent vote in the destination selection.
Thanks everyone. All very helpful stuff. We leave June 9th with an open end so we will see how it goes. Thanks again