This summer my family visited Europe, starting and ending in Barcelona. We had an amazing time enjoying the sights, eating the food, learning about the culture, and enjoying the wonderful sunshine of Barcelona. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to take my children on world travels at a young age. I love watching them explore and be inspired by the world around them. I love hearing my kids talk about Guadi, the Arc de Triomph, Picasso and Monet, and Mont St Michel, like it was in their back yard. This was our second family trip to Europe, so having the experience of our first European vacation under my belt made a big difference. I hope I can inspire and help you to do the same for your kids too.

Here are my tips for traveling with young children to Europe.


Packing and unpacking are my least favorite parts of the trip.  But I have learned a few tricks to make it more bearable, especially when packing for four kids.  For both trips, I bought them a lot of new clothes from European brands like Jacadi and Hanna Andersson.  The kids just want to be comfortable and I just want them to look cute.  The first time around we didn’t see eye to eye and they were upset with their choice of clothes because i did all their packing.  The second time around, I made sure they were involved in the packing process.  I layed out the clothes for them to choose from and they picked what clothes they wanted to bring.  This made me happy because I weeded out their ratty t-shirts and jeans with holes, and they were happy because they weeded out the scratchy, uncomfortable things.  Make sure you prepare your carry-ons sufficiently.  I always bring toiletries, PJs for the kids, and a change of clothes for each kid and myself.  This came in handy this last trip because I spilled an entire glass of water right on my lap.  In addition to the necessities, I have the kids bring one back pack carry-on with their personal things.  Our first trip abroad, I allowed them to carry-on way too much stuff and it made our lives cluttered and cramped, even in Business class.  This time, I told them one stuffed animal they can also use as a pillow, and nothing more than what they can carry in their back pack on their own.  It worked out great because they had enough things to keep them busy through out the trip, plus they had room for their souvenirs on the way back. Since I am a shopper, I tend to bring as many bags as possible for the trip and I do not pack them full.  Sometimes, I just pack some extra empty duffle bags in my suitcases to fill with my European purchases.

Getting there:

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

My motto when traveling with children is convenience.   I am willing to pay a bit more to make our trip less hectic.  For me that means convenient departure airports, less time in layovers, and less legs of travel because my main goal is to get there as quick and easy as possible.  So start looking at flights early to make sure you are getting the best options at the best prices, and you might think about getting the help of a travel agent when booking international flights. When I have done this they have found better deals and schedules than what I could find online by myself.

Economy vs Business Class

Business Class: We flew business class for our Paris trip.  Obviously, if you can afford it, this is the way to go.  There is plenty of space, great food, wonderful service, and most importantly, fully reclining seats.  The flight attendants were very accommodating to my children,who at the time were almost 2, almost 4, 6, and 9.  They provided them with swag bags full of games, crayons, a coloring book, stickers, and toys.  If I had known about the swag bags, I would have saved myself time, money, and baggage space, by not buying and packing new toys and trinkets to keep them “happy” on the eight hour flight.  On top of that, the kids totally enjoyed all the entertainment offered on their personal computer screen.  They could play video games, watch movies or tv, and listen to their choice of music.  All my kids ate and slept well in their fully reclining seats. 

Economy plus:  Economy is all about saving money.  We saved $14,000 by flying in the economy plus seats this time around.  I was cramped and uncomfortable and I didn’t sleep really at all. The kids complained a little about not being comfortable, but eventually they passed out. The entertainment in economy seemed to be the same as in Business class.  But the main difference is the food, space, and reclining seats.    The food and service was what you would expect in economy.  My main problem was lack of space and comfort.  In my opinion, I do not think the economy plus was worth the extra $200 a ticket.  I couldn’t really see much of a difference between the plus and regular economy seats.  Next time we’ll go all the way, either in business or economy, and not waste money in economy plus. 

VIP service at the Airport

Did you know you can pay a fee for a VIP concierge to meet you at the airport? Yes, for about $600, you can have your own personal fast pass at the airport that translates and guides you right to your gate or ride.  This personal escort will help you with all of your bags, whisk you to the front of the line at customs, security, Tax Refund and more.  For me, this service is worth every penny, and I will not travel to a large international airport without it.  I think it is especially helpful upon arrival to a foreign country, especially, when you have four tired young children. It is so nice to be greeted by a friendly, English speaking person who you can trust, and follow like a zombie through the airport.   Our airport arrivals and departures are a breeze when we use this amazing service.

Where to stay

I love luxury hotels. I love all the amenities a luxury hotel offers at your fingertips, like fabulous fine dining, splendid spas, decadently decorated rooms, and close proximity to top sites.  However, when I am traveling with four children in Europe, the most important thing to me is space.  And space in a city like Paris costs  way more than I am willing to spend on 3 or 4 rooms we will barely spend any time in anyways. Plus, the inconvenience of us being separated into different rooms was not appealling either.   Therefore, we have opted for luxury apartments in the city and chateaus in the country.  In both Paris and Barcelona, we had very spacious luxury apartments with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, big kitchens, dining rooms, plenty of space for lounging, balconies, and also great locations.  These apartments were a great place to relax, unwind, and spread out, especially after a long day of tours.  I booked the apartments on my own through  I have had very good experiences with this site in the past and have used it many times.  However, I am very picky about the places I stay.  I make sure to read all the reviews and I research the location extensively.  I always make sure there is SUFFIECIENT air conditioning and plumbing (bad combination if both don’t work, trust me!) I like it when they say they are family friendly too.  I don’t want my kids walking into an apartment that looks like a museum and be worried they will break something!


Our stay in Normandy may have been the highlight for everyone.  The beautiful Chateau d’Argouges was ours for a week!  Everyone was happy!  We had so much room inside and out.  This home had a nice open kitchen, living room, den, billards room, play room, and plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms.  Outside the kids enjoyed the playground, trampoline, and heated pool. We all had a great time swimming and exploring the grounds.  I particularly enjoyed our wonderful chef prepared dinners in the comfort of our own dining room after a long day of tours.  


Excursions and day trips

Planning our day trips and tours is where I learned the most from my first international trip with kids.  I may have over booked our schedules just a bit (that’s an understatement!) So, the second time around, I learned from my experience and backed off.  I alternated site-seeing with a day of rest.  For the sightseeing days, I used a European luxury travel agency called Peplum.  There are so many benefits to using a travel agency based in the region you travel.  They know the best spots, have the best tips, and also, give you great ideas for what to do and see, especially off the beaten path of the main tourist traps.  In addition to being local, Peplum specializes in luxury, private, and tailor-made travel in France particularly, but also other countries around them.  If they don’t know, they have contacts with other companies of similar caliber to refer you to, such as Belliagio, in Italy. Through the Peplum agency, I was set up with the VIP airport concierge, private luxury transfers to and from the airport, as well privately guided, chauffeured tours with VIP access.  They made all the arrangement based on what I wanted to see, and planned each day to my liking.  All I had to do was show up on time! One of the best experiences they set up was a Behind-the-Scenes tour of the Eiffel Tower. We walked right up to security, bypassed the huge, huge lines, went through locked gates, and walked on walkways above the masses to our own private part of the tower.  That was amazing! 

Some other great experiences included a romantic night for my husband and I with VIP access to a private table for a show at the Moulin Rouge, VIP access at Monet’s home and garden in Giverny, a privately guided day at Versailles, a private tour of the best and oldest chocolate, candy, and confection stores in Paris, a semi-private, gourmet dinner cruise on a luxury vintage yacht, VIP access to Guadi’s many masterpieces in Barcelona, and reservations at amazing restaurants.  Having our own guide and chauffer allowed us flexibility which is key when traveling with kids.  You never know when someone will need to eat, pee, sleep, or demand to go home.  There have been many times, that we have dropped off half the crew at the apartment, and the other half kept going. 

Make the trip kid friendly

Every time I go on a trip with the kids, I make sure to get their input and include things they want to do and see.  Their input is especially important on the days I leave open for spur of the moment excursions.  Our first trip to Europe was pretty packed while we were in Paris.  But I did make sure they had fun. We played in the park, went to the carnival in the Jardin des Tuileries, and when we got to the chateau in Normandy, they had a lot of time to swim in the beautiful pool and enjoy the expansive grounds.  We played a lot of hide and go seek!  In Barcelona, I left more time and options for spontaneous travel.  We went to a famous old magic store, El Rei De La Magia, the world’s oldest continually running amusement park, Parc Tibidado, I took the kids shopping on Passeig de Gracia, we went to the beach, the park, and chased pigeons in the Placa de Catalunya.  I always try my best to make sure they are having fun, learning, and enjoying their experience.   One way to make the trip kid and parent friendly is bringing grandparents and/or a nanny along.  We have traveled with our nanny , a grandparent, and both, on several international trips and it is a luxury that is worth paying for!  She makes the trip easier for me, which makes it so much more fun traveling around the world with kids.  

Here are some useful sites to help you plan your next luxury European vacation with kids: