Just over a month ago, our Travelove team conducted a survey to find out how and why families travel around Europe. The outcome we got from it was upsetting – I found out why families actually don’t travel with their kids! “What a shame,” I thought as read. I wanted to tear all the “why not to travel with kids” reasons apart and to show everyone that there are few moments on Earth better than exploring the world together with your children.
The top two reasons you listed for why you don’t travel with your kids we really:
- Kids wouldn’t enjoy it
- It’s too expensive
We’ve written about why it’s a good idea to travel with your children before, but I feel like we should do more to help and encourage you with your family travel plans. So in response to your hesitations, here it is: my little manifesto for showing your kids the world. Or for now, at least . . . Paris.
Kids wouldn’t enjoy traveling
Yes, you’re right, kids do enjoy playing Minecraft on tablets and hanging around an all-inclusive beach resort with unlimited access to ice-cream. But that’s only true until the moment you inspire them to go on a real trip with you, until the moment they start planning and dreaming with you about the places you’ll see.
I’ve tested this many times both with my kids and others’ kids and it works — even with kids of 3 or 4! Of course, on a family exploration, you can’t be lazy. It’s much easier to book a beach hotel in Hawaii, Mexico or Bali and have the family vacation figured out in few clicks . . . hopefully the kids will at least remember where they actually went with you.
How to do it differently: Making kids excited about travel
Instead you decide to show them Paris and start researching, telling them stories, showing them pictures, asking them questions. Download our Paris intro fun sheets and print them out for your little ones (both for 4 to 6 years of age and for 7 to 12 years of age). This will help you start working on your mutual travel dream come true.
Children can learn where to find Paris on the map and in which country. Maybe they’ll know some of the famous sites. Do they know any French people? Do they like any French food? What would they like to see and do if they ever went to Paris? Then you can start planning your trip together.
If your children are part of the whole planning process, they’ll be keen to see it all once you actually hit the road. Of course you can’t plan 10 museum visits and 20 miles of walking a day. But even a walk can be fun if you look for clues along the way and turn a boring museum visit into a scavenger hunt. Preparing awesome activities that are fun for both for you and the kids isn’t easy for everyone. But you can use existing tools such as geocaching and scavenger hunts prepared by professionals to make it easier. Check out all experiences for families in Paris prepared by our trip designer Jitka.
Can you tell whether they enjoyed the family trip with you?
On New Years Eve I asked my seven-year-old son what the best moments were in the past year. He gushed, “our trip to Paris in spring, to Netherlands in summer, visiting Grandpa in Bulgaria and the backpacking trip to the mountains with the boys.” Of course, these adventures are the best time we spend together! There are no work e-mails (at least not until we’re back at our hotel in the evening), no laundry and no babysitting hours. We explore, learn and enjoy things that are new both to me and to the kids, together, as a family. It’s the best quality time spent together. Have you been afraid your kids wouldn’t enjoy traveling? On the contrary, there are not many things kids would enjoy more than traveling with you!
It’s too expensive
It comes as a shock for every parent that airfare and many other travel expenses are the same for children as they are for adults. While you might know children will pay the same fare, you don’t truly feel the weight of it until you’re shown the total amount for your air tickets for the first time. It really is twice as much!
Yet, again, this shouldn’t stop you from showing the world to yourself and your kids!
Tips on making family vacation more budget-friendly
Start planning and looking for the best air fares well in advance
No matter how far ahead and how hard you look for airfare, you’ll still have to pay for every person over the age of 2. But you can look for great destinations that have direct connections with your airport to avoid overly expensive airfare. And Paris offers direct connections from so many destinations. You can buy round trip from New York to Paris for less than 500 USD. Your daily lattes add up to more than that. Don’t buy them in 2016 and put your two kids on board a flight to Paris instead. From London, you can fly to Paris and back for round 70 GBP. Yes, airfare is expensive for families, but it’s not a show stopper.
Don’t stay at hotels without special prices for kids . . . Or don’t stay in hotels at all.
Homestay-like accommodations are booming and your expenses for accommodation can be dropping accordingly if you use this option. The choice of accommodation in Paris is huge and you can use any of the well known portals such as Airbnb, Holiday Lettings, HomeAway or Wimdu. One fine stay portal has the option to add children in your request form and offers beautiful Parisian apartments. House trip doesn’t have this option but you can always write to the hosts and ask for a better price for your children. Homestay will allow you to truly bond with the locals. You can even think about boutique luxury for very reasonable prices at Sawdays.
Take advantage of free fun for kids
You don’t need to spend hundreds of euros for babysitters, specialized guides for kids or for Disneyland. With a bit of imagination and creativity you can turn any walk into fun. You can download couple free experiences from our Travelove trip to Paris and see that even few clothespins can turn a walk round Paris into an adventure.
Free experience: Notre Dame, Bridge, and Chocolate
The first free experience called “Notre Dame, Bridge, and Chocolate” takes you around the most famous sections of central Paris, all the way from the Cathedral through the Latin Quarter, across the Pont des Arts bridge (less romantic for some now that its love locks are covered to prevent the bridge from falling), all the way to Louvre and the Tuileries Garden. Children will remember the Hunchback of Notre Dame, find the oldest tree in Paris, look for cats in the narrowest street of the Latin Quarter, learn about archangels, bouquinistes, and artists and discover the historical axis of Paris.
Free experience: Walk in the clouds
The second free experience called “Walk in the Clouds” is our favorite off the beaten path activity. Promenade Plantée takes you from Montgallet all the way to Place de Bastille. What is this Promenade Plantée? It’s a hanging garden, built at a height of around 10 feet above street level on the site of the former railway line to the city of Vincennes. You will enjoy not only the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers lining this wide promenade, but also the interesting views of the surrounding neighborhoods and the impressive homes of Parisians living along the promenade. And you’ll play a fun game with your children along the way, just see the instructions in the downloaded experience.
Use public transportation
With Uber around, it’s now very easy to get around places for little money. Still, public transportation is often much cheaper. The Parisian metro is extensive, easy to get around and your children will love it. You can even feel like a real Parisian for a moment while being pushed into an overcrowded metro train. And save money for Uber.
Show your kids the world!
So don’t be afraid — show your kids the world! And maybe next time you ask them what they’re saving their pocket money for, they won’t say “a new iPad”. Maybe they’ll say “a flight ticket round the world, for me and you”.