Hello there, We will traveling to Europe, specifically Paris for the first time next month with our three oldest children, ages 10, 8 and 5. I've read much on RS's various boards regarding safe travel tips in navigating the streets, money belts and being aware of pickpocketing, etc. What I'd like more information on however are tips specifically for families on being safe in crowded places, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. I'm I just being paranoid?
Safe in what way? Children aren't being snatched in Paris. Will they be carrying money? Yes, you are just being a bit paranoid. Children are not targeted at tourist attractions in any city that I know of. It is wise though, for your children to know of a common meeting point in case they get separated from you or lost. Have them carry a business card from your hotel, with your names on it or your phone number so someone can get in touch with you. They should leave their toys, or electronic items back in the hotel, not so much because they might get stolen, but more so they don't forget them somewhere. This goes for stuffed animals or any other treasured item. Do they usually wander off from you when you go to the mall or go downtown in Brush Prairie? If so, they just need to remember they will be in a big city and to pay attention to where you are, so they don't get lost.
Hi Elizabeth! My husband and I took our two kids (ages 13 and 9) to Paris last summer. We picked out a spot to meet if someone got lost everywhere we went. We also made a plan for when we rode the metro/bus in case someone didn't make it off before the doors shut due to crowds. When places did get really crowded (like the Louvre around the Mona Lisa), my husband grabbed the hand of one kid and I grabbed the hand of the other and we didn't let go until we were thru the crowd. No one ever got lost and no one ever felt unsafe. Just make sure you have a plan, everyone knows the plan, and then enjoy yourselves.
The safety of your children is no different than in other big cities. However, their ability to communicate with someonen if they become separated from you makes it more stressful than if you were to visit, say New York City. The biggest issue is if you become separated, and you need to have a plan for that. Our family's rules are quite simple: Stay where you are and we will come find you. If you get on the metro and the doors shut before we get on, get off at the next stop and stand right where you got off. If we get on and you don't, stand there and we will come get you - with a warning that it will be quite a while this way. And, uh, yeah, these things do happen to the best of us :) You can give your kids a piece of paper with your phone number on it that they can show someone if they get separated. (make sure you've written it out how it would be dialed from France) And I know this should be obvious - but don't let your kids carry valuables. The 10 yo plays with an ipod and then puts it in his pocket and you could be without it for the plane ride home. And one other thing - if you're crossing the street - be very mindful of cars not paying attention. If you're not in a big group, make eye contact with the drivers to make sure they see you and stop. This is an important skill for anywhere you want to cross the street in France! Enjoy your trips!
This is what my wife and I do: When arriving at a big, crowded site, we select a prominant place as a meeting-place and tell the kids "if we get seperated, come back here and wait for us." We've never had to really use it, but it provides peace of mind. The kids are now familiar with the drill.
All of these posts offer really practical advice and I hope they don't disappear so others with questions can find these answers. And the attitudes expressed apply to adults too.
I would add that if you're traveling with your children in Europe you definitely should have a working cell phone. It sounds logical, but there are lot of people who are minding their budget and get concerned. But when children are involved I think it's a necessary expense.
Following up on Pamela's suggestion, you can buy cheap pay-as-you-go phones with just a few minutes in almost any phone store in Paris. That way parents can split up and meet up.
I am so sick of this boards inability to post a post once you type it all out , it is so frustrating,, fix it please.
Anyways, sorry, just mad because once again I type out a post that for some reason cannot be posted,, frustrating. Elizabeth, I will condence it. I have travelled with my just turned 11 yr old dd once and once ( seperate trip) with my 13 yr old son. They have hotel address card on them.
They do not carry alot of money or valuables( a kid flashing a smart phone or expensive camera may look attractive to a pickpocket, plus my dd never closed her purse ) . I never felt they were targets anyways. My hubby did get seperated from our other son on metro. Son thought it was funny and smiled and waved as train pulled away. He did get off at next stop as instructed. I always taught my kids to approach paid staff if lost in stores etc, here at home, same as in Europe, in museums there are uniformed staff all over. If on street etc, I suggested to my kids a woman with children as a good person to approach.. ( another "mother " figure). My older son carried 20 euros for taxi. Inside musuems etc we did arrange meet up points if seperated. Kids are no more likely to be snatched in Europe then in USA , so all normal precautions, but nothing much extra.. Its not more dangerous, but there is the langauge issue. Your kids are young enough I think most staff or police would get that they are lost,, as I said, they should have a card with hotel name on it, and your name on back.
I have travelled with my kids (with and without my husband) all over Europe for years! Their first trip, they were 7&11. We do nothing different than when we travel in the States! Be aware of your surroundings, show them the police (who will be near all major tourist sites usually) so if they get lost they can go straight to them. Make sure you hold hands getting on/off metro or when my husband is along, he gets on first and I'm last, so if we are separated there is an adult with the kids :-)). My biggest concern was always how they would handle jetlag, but they sleep the whole way there and never have a problem adjusting...I'm always jealous!! Relax and enjoy your trip!
My husband and I stayed in a hotel on the east side of Paris. Not the best neighborhood but it was a well known hotel chain and we wanted to be on the east side to tour into eastern France and return to Frankfurt for our flight. Our room at the hotel was on the 6th or 7th floor. While I have found that lots of windows in Europe don't have screens, I was a bit taken back but the lack of screens or some sort of bar, etc. across the window. I kept having a feeling of falling out the window and if I had children, I would have probably been a lot nervous. For the other things, others with children will have better ideas than me.