Living abroad with kids is one thing, traveling with them is another. While I would assume the former is more complicated, I’m sure traveling across Europe multiple times with 3 children in tow has it’s difficulties as well. Rachel has a wonderful blog full of bicycle adventures and housing swaps, and she’s agreed to share a small peek here.
When the opportunity arose for our family to go on secondment with my husband’s firm in London, England, we jumped at it–we’d been hoping for this opportunity for years. And, knowing we would be living as expats for 2-3 years, we prepared our family of five to fully take advantage of the opportunity.
We quickly learned that intending to live abroad was significantly more complicated than planning to travel abroad. One of the big decisions we made was keeping our children out of public school for the first year to accommodate our travels–-an education in and of itself.
We took public transportation everywhere. Trains planes and automobiles–then bikes and buses at our destinations!
As for our accommodations, we used our lovely London rental to our advantage by registering with homeforexchange.com. Through this housing swap 95% of our stays in visited countries ended up on an exchange, and free of cost to us.
Someone in Amsterdam would email us saying, “Wij zouden willen bezoeken Londen voor twee weken volgende maand”…and then we’d use Google translate to interpret their request. Since my children were not slaves to an educational system and its designated holidays, we could leave our flat to our Dutch guests while we enjoyed their charming gabled home in Amsterdam Centrum–two blocks from Vondelpark. True story.
In our 2 1/2 years abroad we were able to visit 17 different countries around Europe, and picked up a few child-friendly traveling tips along the way.
- Keep a travel journal (or four). I prepped my children’s before the trip with leading questions, activities, maps, and places to glue in ticket stubs, currency, pictures, or postcards.
- Don’t plan too much on any one day. If it’ll be a short stay, make a very short list of things to do.
- Find a playground in every city you plan to visit. Seriously. It will save your relationship with your children.
- Dream big, but make sure to include your children in the planning. And roll with the punches! So, the kids want to sleep in: let them. The kids want to wear the same clothes they wore yesterday: that’s just fine. They want a photo of themselves next to the statue of Ain Ghazal instead of Mona Lisa: more power to them.
Read more planning tips and travel adventures with kids on Rachel’s blog! All photos were kindly shared by Rachel.