How many times did you ask to yourself, while preparing for an international trip, what can I do to entertain my kid(s) if they get bored? Perhaps, sometimes you are travelling to a country where you don’t speak the language, where you don’t know which kind of child culture/habits/care they have towards children.
Sometimes this thought can become another source of anxiety while travelling with kids, so here I’m giving some few tips&tricks to help family find their own way to deal with entertaining superactive kids while still enjoying the trip&being together.
Children don’t need a playground to play but sometimes it could be an easy choice to rest and to “free the beast” easily, without any danger. There is a nice app to download if you are travelling to Italy. It is called “Playground around the corner” and its for Android phone (btw I think it works on Iphone too). Basically it works as a google map for the public playground and you can even add a new playground if not signaled.
Generally, when we travel with Gea, I make a plan of the major parks around the place in which we have our flat/hotel and I check on google earth if they have any playgrounds. Sometimes you can even directly check on google maps using the geolocalization of the services around you putting “playground” in the search bar.
We use playground as a pause once in a while during the day or as the final reward after a morning walking. Generally we do not plan a full day visiting otherwise it could be really become a nightmare. We just take the time for the whole family to get satisfied with the day, so the morning is for visiting and the afternoon is for chilling, playing, having coffee and strolling around.
Museums are not anymore (if ever they were) boring places. Almost every museum has now the audiguides and specific paths for kids (usually starting from 5-6yo) and some of them have specific activities children can do related to the main ongoing exhibition. Nevertheless, if you have small kids in the age range between 2 and 4 yo you can still enjoy the exhibition with some clever tricks. FIRST: opt for an interactive visit, vith videos, animations, etc…this could give you the time for a quick look to the pictures while kids are enjoying the animations (maybe you can turn with your partner to just have a look on the kids in the meanwhile). And btw, the visual museums are extremely cool even for adults!
Ethnographic museums: these are simply the best for the whole family. They allow you to dive directly into local culture, discover customs and traditions of the place you are visiting and at the same time children (of all ages) are amazed by the colors, quantity of objects, figures and mannequins in actual size. Most of them are caughts in everyday life duties poses, often inside houses/huts. One of the most spectacular ones is the Amsterdam Tropenmuseum . I simply loved it and so did Gea! Antoher very small but extremely interesting is the Folklore Museum in Crete, it shows the traditional everyday life displayed in a traditional cretan house.
Natural History Museums
These are a magic place for children of all ages. Usually these museums display all kind of local animals (dead or alive, it depends) and plants from the very old ages until nowadays. It’s an alternative way of knowing the history of the place you are visiting and for the kids it’s simply terrific! I experimented twice these museums with Gea and both times she was amazed by basically everything and we spent more than one our and half there. We visited the Natural History Museum in Krakow that has a whole sector dedicated to every kind of tropical bugs (very disgusting for me and very exciting for Gea) and some small pools with tropical fishes.
While the one in Brussels is amazing even for the activities they propose for the kids (aged 2 to 12 in different hours/days). Check their website for reservations, the activities are in English, French or Dutch.
It’s raining? Your kids are particurarly quirky and moody? Then one possible solution is to look for a Children Museum in the city. We found ourself in similar situations several times and thanks to our moody child we discovered two beautiful museums in Rome and in Athens. Explora Museum in Rome has a lot of activities for small and grown up children and some more special ones during the seasonal exhibitons and it’s open all day long, Sundays included. Next to the museum there is a super good neapolitan pizzeria where you can enjoy a pizza after the visit. The Hellenic Children Museum is located in a super nice building home for the Athens Conservatoire and it has a lot of Montessori Activies for children. It has a super nice sunny terrace to enjoy the Greek sun!
Do not underestimate the fascinating power of Royal Palaces and churches. Children love to just run over and over along the wide corridors and rooms that are generally open to visitors. Colors, shadows and echoes of the big cathedrals are another source of inspirations for kids. Try, at the end of the day, if they are not enough tired (sometimes it happens with Gea) to recall the memories of the day spent outside through drawings on a blank paper. It will help them in categorize things and collect memories.
Pedestrian city centers
When travel with kids, in order to not being too much stressed opt for cities with pedestrian city centers. It’s true that sometimes big cities don’t have big pedestrian areas and that’s exactly for this reasons that, since Gea is born, we choose small cities to visit. Bordeaux, Aix en Provence, Tours in France; Utrecht in The Netherlands; Gent Sint-Pieters in Belgium are just few examples of super nice and historical cities with amazingly big pedestrian city centers.
If it is sunny, you can always check for Botanical Gardens or Zoological Gardens in the city you are visiting. One of our favourites are: Napoli Botanical Garden inside the Royal Palace in Naples (Italy), Antwerp Zoo and Botanical Garden in Antwerp (Belgium), Gardens of the World in Berlin (Germany)
Briefly, these are our main tips&tricks when travelling in a foreign country with kids. I hope they can help you in enjoying more your international trips with your children and help them to not get bored while visiting cities!
Let me know if you are interested in something more specific and I will be glad to go in deep in the topic!