Autumn arrives as swiftly as our summer holidays fly by! With the school year commencing and our little one returning to kindergarten, I barely had a moment to grab our family camera and relive the memories of our epic summer adventure. Picture this: traveling with three kids and two dogs from our cozy West Sussex home through the Eurotunnel to one of Europe’s most enchanting cities—Prague.
We sprinkled in a delightful overnight stay in the picturesque Belgian gem, Ghent, and revelled in the warmth of summer with our dear family and friends in the heart of the Czech Republic. As lovers of the mountains, we couldn’t resist extending our journey to the Bohemian Forest, navigating it with a pram, and then exploring a region that seemed plucked from the pages of a fairy tale—the Bavarian Alps.
Our Bavarian adventure led us to the shimmering blue depths of Lake Königssee and the tranquil serenity of Lake Obersee. Of course, no European journey is complete without indulging in Alsatian ice cream in the charming town of Strasbourg, followed by relaxation in a quaint French village nestled in the Champagne region. Then, it was time to bid adieu to continental Europe as we headed back to Calais, hopped on the Eurotunnel, and finally returned home. What a whirlwind adventure it was!
Before I will write about our experiences of traveling with kids through the eyes of a mommy in my next blogs and stories from every stop we had, I would like to share with you my top 10 tips for making the most of your family road trip through Europe via the Eurotunnel. These tricks helped us ensure a relaxed and unforgettable journey, and I hope they do the same for you!
10 Tips for Smooth Traveling with Kids Through Europe
1. Stock Up on Baby Crackers and Snacks: Babies and toddlers have a knack for getting hungry at the most unexpected times. Ensure a peaceful journey by packing an abundance of baby crackers, snacks, and finger foods to keep their little hands and mouths happily occupied.
2. Invest in a Tablet Holder for the Car Seat: A tablet holder can be a lifesaver when it comes to keeping young ones entertained during long drives. It’s not just a convenience for them but also for you! No more sore arms from holding a phone or tablet to ensure everyone has a clear view. Hands-free is the way to be!
3. Optimize Seating Arrangements: When you’re traveling with three kids (almost three under three), seating arrangements become crucial. For our epic European road trip, I made a surprising decision: I offered the coveted front seat to our beloved Labrador (who, incidentally, had the comfiest spot in the car!). I nestled myself in the middle of the baby car seats. With a 7-seater car that accommodates multiple kids’ car seats, I was also able to assist our toddler, who sat behind me, and keep an eye on our second dog.
The rationale here is simple: visualize your journey before you embark. Babies and toddlers require plenty of attention, be it for feeding, drinking, or entertainment. Being physically close to them in the car can be a game-changer, reducing the chances of tantrums and making it easy to address their needs. Plus, for nursing mothers, it’s a blessing in disguise – yes, you can breastfeed during the journey, providing comfort and serenity to your babies as they drift into peaceful slumber.
And of course, Double-check that all car seats are properly installed and secured before hitting the road! Additionally, familiarize yourself with the child safety laws and regulations in the countries you’ll be traveling through. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
4. Plan Your Trip with Multiple Stops: If you are traveling with kids, long journeys can be a challenge, especially with little ones in tow. Instead of aiming for a single, non-stop trek, plan your route with several strategic stops along the way. This not only breaks up the monotony but also allows everyone to stretch their legs, grab a snack, and explore interesting places en route.
5. Prioritize Comfortable Clothing: Dress your kids in comfortable, breathable clothing for the journey. Layering is key, as temperature variations can be significant during long drives. And don’t forget to bring extra clothes – spills and accidents are inevitable!
6. Pack a Car Organizer: Invest in a car organizer or backseat organizer. These nifty compartments can hold everything from snacks and toys to wipes and extra diapers, ensuring that everything you need is within arm’s reach and well-organized.
7. Create a Travel Playlist: Music is a universal mood enhancer. Prepare a travel playlist that includes your family’s favorite songs, sing-along classics, and calming melodies. It’s a fantastic way to keep everyone entertained and make the journey even more enjoyable.
8. Traveling with Pets via Eurotunnel? Prepare for Possible Delays! If you’re traveling with pets and plan to take the train via Eurotunnel, there’s an important consideration to keep in mind. If your vehicle is equipped with a roofbox mounted at the top, you will likely be directed to the ‘Large Vehicle’ line. This lane often experiences higher demand, which can lead to extended wait times, sometimes reaching up to 3 hours or more. Yes, we experienced a 3-hour wait in Calais while eagerly waiting for our turn to board.
So, here’s an additional piece of advice: be well-prepared for potential delays. Ensure you have ample entertainment options for your children to keep them engaged during the wait. Take breaks to stretch your legs, let the kids and dogs move around, and perhaps even enjoy a short walk. Having a great movie on hand can be a lifesaver. We chose to watch Madagascar, and it was a hit with our kids, keeping their spirits high even during the longer-than-expected wait.
9. Plan Memorable One-Night Stays:
For an unforgettable family road trip and traveling with kids through Europe, make sure to include one-night stays in places you’ve always dreamed of visiting. It’s a chance to turn those dreams into reality! Whether it’s the picturesque Belgian city of Ghent or the charming town of Bruges, these overnight stops offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a destination. Instead of rushing through a whirlwind tour, take leisurely evening walks, savor delightful dinners, and truly connect with the local culture. It transforms your journey from a hurried race to a relaxed and stress-free experience.
Prioritize the well-being of your kids and pets by strategically planning these one-night stays after approximately 5 hours of travel, allowing a maximum of 7 hours with potential unexpected delays. This approach ensures not only the comfort of your loved ones but also creates lasting memories of your travels. Embrace these enchanting stopovers to make your road trip an unforgettable adventure.
10. Embrace Flexibility: The most important tip of all – embrace flexibility. With kids, unexpected situations can arise. It’s essential to stay calm and adapt to changing circumstances. A little flexibility goes a long way in ensuring a smooth, stress-free journey.
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Last but not least, a big thank you to my incredible readers – you folks are seriously the best! I’m beyond excited to share more amazing moments and stories with you. Your experiences and thoughts mean the world to me, so please, feel free to share them in the comments section below. Stay tuned, because together, we’re making this journey extra special! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so you never miss out on new posts!