It’s no secret that we think Europe is a great place to travel with your baby or toddler. In fact our very first trip with to Barcelona with our 3 month old first child was so rewarding it inspired us to create Baby Can Travel.
Since that first trip, we have traveled around the world with our kids, but we keep coming back to Europe. Of all the days we have been on vacation with our kids, over 50% of them have been within Europe, with a whole bunch more planned for later this year. Why? Because Europe is not only a world-class travel destination jam-packed with history and culture, but it is also easy, fun and rewarding to bring small kids there.
Here is only a small sampling of why we love taking our kids to Europe so much:
The People are Amazing
Without question, it’s the people who make family trips to Europe so special. Europeans are so friendly and helpful, you will be blown away by their hospitality. They love children and will make every effort to make you and your kids feel welcome. Here are just a few of the many examples of the hospitality of Europeans we have encountered with our children:
The reputation of very well behaved children in France had us a little insecure about the behavior of our 14 month old. I mean, she was a pretty good baby, but she wasn’t perfect. What if she cried at a restaurant or at the Louvre? I’m happy to report that it was never once an issue. The Parisians proved they love babies as much as the rest of the world, and we felt quite welcome everywhere we went.
After we arrived at the London Gatwick Airport, we took the Gatwick Express train and the Tube to Central London. Despite it being a bank holiday, the Gatwick Express was bursting with people commuting to work. When passengers saw we had a baby with us, they immediately offered up a seat for Celine and our daughter. Then, when transferring to the Tube station, we encountered a long series of stairs. I was handling the luggage and Celine had the baby in the stroller and it was mere seconds before locals jumped in to give us a hand. Talk about a warm welcome to London!
The Italians are just crazy about kids! Our neighbor on Isla de Elba was a classic well-dressed Italian man. Every time he’d see our kids, he’d make an over-the-top theatrical speech to them in Italian, guaranteed to get a laugh out of them every time. He’d often have little gifts for them too, cutting a fresh rose from his garden for our daughter, etc.
Another favorite memory is when we were hiking through lemon groves in Cinque Terre with toddlers. A local farmer came running after us and asked us to come back to his little plot of land. Once there, he cut a fresh lemon off the tree for each kid. They were so happy (and so were we when we made some delicious lemon pasta that night)!
There are countless little things that happen every day: people making silly faces to the kids on the subway, bus drivers refusing payment for a toddler, etc. Europeans are a pleasure to interact with every step of the way.
It’s Just Easy
Our definition of baby-friendly is not based upon whether a place has highchairs or change tables. You can easily pack one of these portable travel high chairs and a portable change mat. We think a place is baby-friendly if the locals are welcoming toward them.
Family life is so important in Europe, that it’s no surprise that the welcoming behavior of the locals make Europe such a baby & toddler friendly destination.
Speaking of gear, it’s true that traveling with a baby or toddler can be a bit complicated at times. Many of these issues can be solved by bringing or renting the proper travel gear. Thankfully, the Europeans have made it easy for parents at every turn:
Don’t want to bring your stroller all the way across the pond? No worries! There are baby equipment rental companies in all the major cities, many of whom will meet you at the airport or will drop off equipment at your hotel before you arrive.
Getting around with a stroller is much easier than I imagined. I figured there would be cobblestone everywhere and it’d be a nightmare to push one around, but this wasn’t the case. Sure, there is the odd cobblestone street, but this is the exception, not the rule. Most streets have flat, paved sidewalks and locals are quick to step out of your way if there isn’t enough space. Another thoughtful touch is the stroller parking offered at several of the major attractions.
There is an abundance of child friendly accommodations in Europe, including plenty of apartment style hotels. Having separate bedrooms is so important for young families when it comes to everyone getting a good night’s sleep. Plus the separate bedrooms mean that parents don’t have to spend the evening whispering in the dark as you would have to in a regular hotel room.
If you plan on moving around a lot, bring a toddler travel bed so your toddler has a familiar sleep environment!
You can leave your bulky car seats at home. European cities have excellent public transport or private transfer options to get from the airport to the city center. Once there, you typically can walk everywhere or at worst, take a short subway ride.
We have enjoyed every single day of our trips to Europe and it’s safe to say our kids have too. The high priority Europeans place on family life is evident everywhere you go. It not only rubs off on you, but it makes your trip so much easier and more fun.
This post was sponsored by Air Canada Vacations. The opinions are completely our own based on our family travel experiences.