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Change of Heart about Taking our Kids to Europe

First, let me clarify. This isn’t Leana. If you are Leana’s kids and you’re reading this, rest assured your trip to Europe is still on! You are pros at flying across the pond, and you will have a great time visiting your family there.

This is Nancy, the one who wrote about how I’m not ready to take my kids to Europe any time soon. A lot has changed since I wrote that post almost a year ago.

Well, my husband and I have had a change of heart. We are not flip-flopping, but, as they say in politics, our “views are evolving.”

Change of Heart About Taking our Kids to Europe

Our Position Last Year

In case you didn’t read that post from last year, I laid out all the reasons why I didn’t want to travel to Europe with our kids. My husband has limited vacation time, and it takes a lot of points and cash to get all five of us overseas.

The biggest reason was that we just weren’t in the right season in our lives. Our kids were (still are) a handful. We have picky eaters, last-minute bathroom runners, and grumpy sibling squabbles.

We just didn’t feel like the benefits of traveling to Europe would outweigh the hassle and opportunity cost.

How Quickly Things Change

So what has happened to cause our views to evolve? Things have changed over this past year, and we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

For starters, my youngest entered kindergarten last fall. And because of that, she has grown up in a lot of ways.

While she is still a picky eater, she is no longer as difficult and impossible as she once was. She has surprised us at times throughout the year by trying new foods, even vegetables! Her palate is expanding, and it’s exciting to watch.

Of course, as our kids get older, bathroom issues become less of an obstacle. I’ll just leave it at that to spare my kids embarrassment.

Although sibling squabbles are still a major thing, dare I say they are becoming more manageable? Just recently on our Spring Break trip, we survived an entire week of sleeping all five of us in hotel rooms made for four. And it wasn’t as bad as I thought!

In recent months, my husband has also been able to transition back to working from home a few days a week instead of driving to the office every single day. With all three of our kids in school now, this has given us the opportunity to have a lunch date once every few weeks. And that’s huge! No need to pay a babysitter. Of course, it’s not as good as a weekend date where we don’t have to worry about getting back in time for a work phone call, but it’s better than nothing.

So now, when I think of going on vacation somewhere without a kids club, I’m not filled with dread at the thought of getting no couples time with my husband.

It’s Us, Not Them

To be completely honest, wanting to go to Europe now with our kids is more about us than it is about them. My husband and I are the ones who are itching to go for our benefit.

Change of Heart about Visiting Europe with our Kids

Oh, France! How I long to see you again.

Would our kids understand the history of places we’d visit better when they are older? Absolutely. But, that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy Europe at their current ages.

It really just comes down to this: the scale is starting to tip to the other side. The benefits of a trip to Europe will (hopefully) outweigh our inconveniences.

So What’s the Plan?

Actually, we don’t have a plan yet. Our vacation schedule is packed for the rest of this year and into early 2018.

Before we pulled the trigger on using miles for tickets to Hawaii for March 2018, we debated on using the miles to go to Europe instead. However, we decided to stick with Hawaii. We loved Hawaii more than we thought we would when we went in 2015, and our kids are the perfect ages for Disney’s Aulani and some of the more adventurous things on Kauai.

After that trip, our schedule is wide open. We could go as early as next summer.

Of course, we are not prepared with a stash of miles and points to book a trip so soon. So, we have some big decisions to make on our future credit card applications.

Undoubtedly, we still have many places in the U.S.A. that we’d like to visit with our kids. My wish list is way longer than our budget and calendar will ever be able to accommodate. But, now my wish list is even longer with more international destinations.

Oddly enough, our first big international overseas trip might not be to Europe at all! My husband really wants to visit a country far away that requires a really long flight that is nowhere near Europe. But, that’s a post for another day. (Any guesses?)

How have your parameters or views on travel with your kids evolved over time? Are you more open to visiting international locations as your children age? Or, have you done that from the beginning? I’d love to hear your stories.

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Author: Nancy

Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.

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17 thoughts on “Change of Heart about Taking our Kids to Europe

  1. The turning point for us was age 6. We have not ventured to Europe yet but it’s when we started flying internationally. I’m looking forward to your posts as I’m always trying to figure out how to get our family of five to Europe reasonably.

  2. “Last-minute bathroom runners,” lol! I get it!

    Our kids are 5 and 8 and we’re taking them to Europe for the first time this summer. We leave in a few weeks, and I cannot wait. My youngest will actually turn 6 while we’re in Italy.

    Anyway, I definitely anticipate some shenanigans. I will have to make sure everyone uses the bathroom before we leave any building where a bathroom is located. My kids may only eat like 5 things while we’re there. But hopefully, we’ll have fun!

  3. We took my daughter to Europe for the first time when she was only 18 months old. Obviously, the goal was to visit family, not to sightsee. My sister just had her second baby, and I knew we were planning to try to have another child as well. So, we went. It was hard, but not too bad. We even managed to stay in some really cool hotels in Germany, including a castle.
    The worst part about the trip was dealing with a car seat. I had to install it on four planes and ten cars. Yikes! My number one piece of advice to those who are thinking about taking kids to Europe is to wait till they are out of car seats. Boosters are much easier to manage. It’s not always possible, of course, but dealing with car seats is a huge pain in the behind, and some cars in Europe aren’t compatible with American brands. That’s why we waited till my son was 4.5 years old to take him to Europe.

    • Oh yes, car seats, what a pain! When we were in Russia, we were all concerned about car seats, but everyone just told us to “put the baby on your lap”. They thought we were nuts.

  4. We have travelled to Europe with my daughter since she was a baby. I always said that I would rather change diapers in Italy than at home. For us, it was easiest to travel in the summer with good weather to provide lots of outdoor time. Eating al fresco also allowed her to walk around without bothering other patrons.

    We did slow down our sightseeing pace but still saw the regular sites. Once she was about 4, I would make a scavenger hunt book that included pages for each museum, castle, town that we visited. My daughter earned points toward souvenirs for each page she completed. She learned a little history, some Italian/French, and lots of culture. And we made a lot of playground and gelato stops!

    So it does take a bit more planning and work to travel to Europe with little ones but it is so worth it! (of course, travel with 3 kids would be a different story)

  5. My 7 year old daughter (and 19 yo daughter) have been going to Europe for a couple of years now and both have enjoyed it immensely! They loved Chenonceau and Amboise and Clos Luce!!! They have been to Italy, Ireland, France, England and Spain and loved them all. My youngest even enjoyed the Louvre and shushed us all to pay better attention while on the tour of Westminster Abbey and she was only 5 then! Her favorite was definitely the Mediterranean cruise we did though. We just made sure to build in play time no matter where we went and she was happy! There seem to be parks everywhere we end up so it works out.

    • @Sarah sounds like your daughters have had great experiences! A Mediterranean cruise sounds awesome, and we are considering that as well.

  6. I can relate to a ‘wish list longer than our budget’ for sure! And particularly a wish list longer than time will allow. My family traveled quite a bit while we were growing up and we definitely appreciated it as kids!

    • @Rachel I hope my kids will appreciate it when they are older and carry on the tradition with their kids. My wish list is way too long!

  7. I am so with you! My youngest is about to finish K. A big year although she still has more tantrums than I would like! Last summer hubby had a sabbatical of a month. We first wanted Australia but then decided Italy. We changed to Hawaii and had an amazing trip it was perfect for our kids ages. I do see Europe on the horizon for us!

  8. Nancy,
    I am with you. My son is 4 years old and I don’t think we are ready for Europe. He can do long flights because we fly to Brazil every year to visit my family, but he loves his routine so I am not taking a chance in ruining my vacation. I rather go to a resort now so he can enjoy the pool and wait a little until he is 5 or 6 so he can enjoy sightseeing. But plans always change and my uncle and cousins want to go to Japan next year and I am tempted to join them.I am not sure if is going to be a great trip due time zone but spending time with my family is always priceless and my son will have lots of people to babysit him 🙂

  9. Pingback: Paris vs. New Zealand for Family Overseas Trip - Miles For Family

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