From toddlers to teens, check out my top 10 tips for taking kids on city breaks and get planning your next weekend break away.
Taking kids on city breaks may not be as daunting as you might think. Flights have never been so accessible, which has resulted in low airfares to many European cities – it would be a shame to not take advantage of them, well thats my excuse anyway!
Travel broadens the mind and is extremely educational for children. They will learn new cultures, see famous landmarks, try new foods and who knows, may even learn a bit if history too. Hopefully my handy tips and tricks will see you will jetting off on a family city break in no time.
1. Choose your city wisely.
There are so many family friendly cities to choose from but it is important to do your research. Old towns may be pretty, but cobblestone streets are not ideal with buggies.
If taking young children on a city break for the first time it can be a good idea to choose a city that you have already been to, and you would like revisit. You won’t feel it necessary to see all the top attractions the second time round, and you will have a more relaxed trip.
Alternatively, choose a small city where you don’t have ten ‘must see’ sights to see, because no matter how well behaved your children are, there are only so many museums and monuments that kids can take.
Travelling with tweens and teens is much easier. Long flights are no trouble, they will be impressed seeing important landmarks, and will have studied some form of history in school, so museums may be a lot easier to visit.
2. Get your kids excited before you go.
Find something that you know they would be interested in and focus on that. Perhaps there is a famous landmark, a football stadium, a theme park, or an aquarium that you know they would be excited to see. Google famous films that are made in that city and watch a movie together before you go.
3. Choose good flight times when taking kids on city breaks.
Very early starts are ok if your kids will sleep on the plane, but if this is not likely, then try to choose day time flights. Many hotels won’t have your room ready till 2pm anyway, so arriving at 11 am, after being asked ‘are we nearly there’ ten times, only to be told to come back in a few hours, is not ideal!
On your last day all children want to do is go to the airport, so try to get an early flight home and avoid hanging around. That €20 you think you are saving by coming back on a later flight, trust me you will spend it ten times over.
4. Choose your hotel wisely.
Try to choose a hotel that is centrally located, so you can walk to restaurants in the evening and sights during the day. If you can, try to get a hotel with a pool. It is a great incentive when out walking all day, to reward your children with a swim in the evening before you go to dinner.
5. Get the kids involved.
Give them maps and let them help plan your day. Try to encourage your children to take selfies infront of famous landmarks and bring them back and show their friends or teachers.
6. Choose museums that are interactive or child friendly.
Choose interactive museums where possible, and not the type where you will see ‘ Please do not touch’ displayed regularly. There are usually technology, science or transport museums in most cities that everyone can enjoy.
7. Plan one thing each day that interests them
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Try to fit some sightseeing in the morning while your children are fresh. Plan an activity for them in the afternoon, a visit to a park, zoo or kids attraction. Boat trips appeal to adults and kids and replace traditional hop on hop of bus tours with Tuk Tuk tours.
In Rome the Vespa or Golf Cart tours are particularly exciting with kids.
8. Bring portable toys, buggies or even scooters!
Bring pocket colouring books, lego, smart phones, tablets or anything that fits into a backpack. When you are taking time out for a coffee or standing in line in a queue, they can come in very handy.
Download movies or TV shows for kids to watch on the plane or bus journeys. Depending on your children’s ages you may want to bring buggies but if they are old enough a fold up scooter can be a great asset to get around a big city.
9. Try something new.
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Children will visit lots of aquariums, zoos or even theme parks in their lifetime, so do something different that they will remember the trip for. Maybe its something simple like eating the local street food, or taking a Tuk-Tuk ride around the city, but do something that you would not do in your own home town.
Viator and GetYourGuide have super family activities in all major cities and AttractionTickets.com offer discounted attraction tickets and theme park tickets. I recommend booking in advance, as the top attractions tend to get booked out.
10. Relax and enjoy it!
Don’t stress out if you can’t fit everything in. I’m sure you will enjoy taking your kids on city breaks, and if you love the city that much, you can always come back.