Rick Steves' Genius Tips For Traveling Through Europe With Kids

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Traveling with kids to Europe can create long-lasting memories and bring the family closer together, but it can also be tricky for youngsters to connect with the culture in the same way you do. Luckily, travel expert, author, and TV host Rick Steves has a few tips to make the trip more enjoyable for everyone via his website. His first suggestion is to start bridging cultural connections well before you actually go abroad.

For example, if your family is visiting Italy in the near future, show them pictures of the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Piazza del Popolo. To bring history to life, Steves has a video library called Classroom Europe with an array of three to five-minute segments on destinations and points of interest. You could also watch kid's movies set in the region you're visiting, like "Luca" for Italy or "Ratatouille" for France.

Of course, let's not forget about food. Take the time to visit new restaurants or learn to cook a few of the country's staples at your home. While you can't introduce your kids to everything before the big trip — and where's the fun in that? — it doesn't hurt to ease them into international travel with a few foreign dishes. You could also see if there are local events related to your destination, like a St. Patrick's Day festival for Ireland.

Help kids interpret their experience

Once abroad, purchase a journal or sketchbook at your first stop, according to Rick Steves' Europe. Not only will this help your kids enjoy the vacation, it will be something sentimental to revisit in the future. Use the journal to have your kids write down their thoughts, favorite smells or tastes, and cultural observations, says Steves. Invite them to get creative and draw a favorite landmark. You could also collect airplane boarding passes, train stubs, entrance tickets to museums and galleries, maps, and wristbands and glue them inside the journal. Perhaps stop inside photo booths for some silly family snapshots and add them to the collection.

That said, you could also print a few coloring pages of iconic landmarks from Supercoloring.com, a free database of over 10,000 printable designs. Then, be sure to visit the locations the kids are coloring in. Continuing with the Italy theme, you could bring a Kids' Travel Guide with fun facts about the country or an Italian Picture Dictionary Coloring Book with different phrases so they can master a few basics, like hello, goodbye, please, and thank you. In other words, anything to encourage children to connect the dots.

Give them breaks between tours

Museum after museum, gallery after gallery, it can be tough for kids to be immersed in "serious" activities all day. Therefore, be sure to incorporate plenty of breaks and let them partake in their favorite activities from home. In fact, on warm afternoons, you'll often find European families with children hanging out in the local town square or plaza, as per Rick Steves' Europe. This is a great opportunity to bring your kids for playtime and interactions with the locals. Look up parks, playgrounds, toy stores, theme parks, and kids' museums in the area to pique their interest.

If your kids say they are bored during the trip, don't fret, says Steves via Rick Steves' Europe. Even if they are homesick, chances are, they'll look back on this adventure with fondness. In fact, years from now, they might recall more about the trip than you realize and shock you with their knowledge about a place and culture. Think of your family trip as an investment; put in the time now, and you'll see the returns later in the form of your child's appreciation for this big, beautiful world.