Travel with Kids: Lessons Learned in Europe

 In Travel Tips

Anytime we hit the road or hop on a plane I fee like I learn something new . Never more so than when the boys and I travel alone. While we traveled through Europe in October 2012 I picked up a few more tricks to make visiting churches, castles and old ruins fun for toddlers. This allowed us to get a little extra time exploring the sights we traveled so far to see.

Hand the toddler a camera or camera phone. Dek almost lost it in the Duomo of Siena. We were only halfway through one of the most incredible religious monuments I’ve ever seen and Dek was done. There was no way Mike or I were going to head outside so he could run around. I handed Dek my iPhone in camera mode and let him go to town. He could not have been happier.

Old ruins are the best European playgrounds you can find. While in Sicily we headed to the ancient Greek ruins in Agrigento. To get Dek there we told him we were going to check out some big rocks. As a little boy who loves rocks he was all for it. Many of the ruins are roped off, but they have left some exposed. I’m not sure if they meant for it to become a crazy toddler playground filled with places to hide, climb and squeeze through, but that’s what Dek turned it into. He loved the ruins, temples and even the olive trees we hid under when it started to rain.

Playing hide and seek in the big rocks

Let the boy have a stick. A simple stick found on the ground can go a long way. It could be a sword, a walking stick or an exploration tool as we roamed around hillsides, up steps and through hill towns. Just watch where that stick goes. Even the simplest swords can poke an eye out if not carefully attended.

Rocks are your friend. Dek can drop pebbles into drains for hours. There are many drains throughout Europe. I’m not saying he should fill up the drain, but no harm will come to the world if he throws a few in while I snap a couple of pictures of the building in front of us. He can also move a few rocks from one gravel path to another. If it keeps him happy and us all moving forward as we explore, so be it. Move a few rocks kiddo.

Toddler photo time at the duomo in Siena, Italy

How do you entertain your kids while you explore historic sights around the world that they may not interested in?

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Showing 11 comments
  • Rachel

    Your kid might become a geologist or something when he grows up, but you never know. You both look so cute!

  • Kim - Liv Life

    My kids are teenagers, and giving them the camera still works!!

    • © Keryn Means/ walkingon travels

      Oh! Good to know!!

      • Tonya @ The Traveling Praters

        I agree with Kim. Kind of. That is it works with teenagers unless they all want mom’s nice camera at the same time. 🙁

  • Steve

    I’m not sure who you guys are giving your cameras to, but when I give my camera to my teenage daughters all I get back are pictures of cute boys.

    • © Keryn Means/ walkingon travels

      Steve I fully anticipate my camera being filled with pretty girls 10-12 years from now. Still not sure how I’ll feel about that one!

  • Alyson

    Cameras all the way, we bought them one each. My boys also like to get involved, they had a quick pray with the locals in just about every temple in Thailand. People are very forgiving with children and they learnt a lot about how to show respect to the Buddha and the Thai ways of doing things. They were fascinated by just about everything in London, but a lot of it is about picking the right places to take them, we’re at a stage now where we travel for them, mostly.

  • Cheryl

    I will usually hand over the camera to my kids as well to keep them entertained (although they are quite young so usually there is a finger taking up some of the picture ha ha ha). It’s always interesting to go through them afterwards to see what it is they are looking at.

    Cracking up at Steve’s comment!

    • © Keryn Means/ walkingon travels

      Oh you have no idea (well maybe you do) how many photos I have to delete off my phone each time I hand it to him. I literally will have 25 pictures of his feet as he hits the button over and over again. And if I’m really lucky, he will switch it to video and give me some footage of his feet as well. But every now and then I get a true gem from him. Now he has stolen my tripod. I guess things can only get better!

  • eileen at FamiliesGo!

    You can give the little girl a stick, too! Nothing makes my Tiny Traveler happier than finding a good stick. She also enjoys collecting “gluckstein” (lucky rocks, which is pretty much any rock that strikes her fancy.” I believe that in moderation it’s OK to take kid to places you want to visit that don’t revolve aroound them. They’ll find a way to engage and amuse themselves or they’ll be bored for a little while. And either way, it’s OK.

  • Sonja

    Your ideas are absolutely true! Find any healthy way to engage them and keep them entertained. Hey – I didn’t know about Travel Tips Tuesday – I’m going to have to participate in that!

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