Monday, June 22, 2015

Parenting Pointers: Multigenerational International Travel Tips

I've been traveling internationally the past few weeks, and there are definitely some things I've learned about traveling internationally when there are several generations involved. This trip is myself, my husband, our kids, and my parents. My mom has some knee problems; my kids are almost six and eight. Here are the things I've learned for European travel (some of which I have also learned on previous Europe trips).

- Know public transit, download the city's app, or stay in a place with wifi to allow you to plan out your following day. For tired kids and sore legs, it's worth spending a couple bucks to ride the bus instead of walk from place to place in a city; there's plenty of chance to walk once there.
- Have a safety plan. Before we went, we made sure the girls knew my phone number (we paid to have international service on it) as well as what to do if we got separated. If they missed getting on a train, they were to wait for us to come back. If they got on a train and we didn't, they were to get off at the next stop and wait. If they were anywhere else, they were to wait unless they saw a uniformed official.
- Look for group and family tickets. In Europe, the cost of a family ticket for two adults plus kids is usually only slightly more than two adults. On rail and public transportation, kids are often free or reduced (depending on age) and there are often group day cards, which allow you to hop on and off public transit all day long.
- Pee when it's free. In several countries in Europe, many public toilets (and some in restaurants) are partially supported by the people who use them, so it can cost from 20 cents to a Euro each time. Kids are sometimes free, and usually long-distance trains have free bathrooms.
- Relax the rules. My girls generally don't get much screen time, but with fewer toys, we have let the screen time on tablets be a little higher.
- Wifi is worth it. Find a place to stay with wi-fi, as it really helps with communication with people back home, should the need arise, as well as planning and getting ideas for the day's travel.

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