If you've dreamed of taking a family vacation to Europe, then 2015 is the year you need to take action. The exchange rate for the U.S. dollar is seeing one of the most favorable exchange rates against the Euro in decades. This means your money buys more-giving families more vacation fun for their money.
Speaking of money and budgets, how much will it cost to actually take the family to Europe? The answer certainly depends on a lot of different variables...How far out you book your trip? Travel dates? Number and ages of passengers? Level of service? How many "must sees" on your wish list?
As a rough, ballpark, average guestimate I would suggest a budget of $2000-$6000 per person. Figure flight prices from the East coast of the US to Europe will cost at least $1000 per person and about $2000 for flights from the West Coast. What about kids rates? Yes there are kids rates for hotels and sightseeing but if you are trying to figure out a budget, bear in mind that many European hotel rooms are tiny by most American standards. Your family may need to take two or more rooms to fit everyone which means your kids may end up paying adult hotel rates.
The most popular destinations for US families to visit in Europe are:
It's best to start planning a European family vacation about 9 to 6 months in advance for the best pricing and availability. With today's hectic schedules, the majority of families make their plans about 3 to 4 month prior to departure.
Give your family as much time as possible for a European Vacation. Considering the cost of flights you will want to stay as long as possible. Many US flights are overnight or "red eye" flights so the first night of your trip will most likely be spent "sleeping" on the plane. No doubt the following day will mean serious jetlag for most. For these reasons, you should schedule a very easy 1-2 days upon arrival before embarking on any seriously sigthseeing or strenuous adventures. For these reasons, I would recommend a minimum of 10 days for any European family vacations. If you can afford the time and money to stay longer it would certainly be wise investments.
There are MANY different ways to vacation in Europe with kids. Your ultimate choice will probably be a balance between budget and your family's travel personalities. Here are a few different choices to help spark your travel planning imagination...
1. Guided or Escorted tours - There are many guided tour options with specific itineraries for families. These tend to price on the higher side but the huge benefit is that they allow parents to relax and enjoy a stress free holiday. You will have knowledgable guides along with you every step of the way who speak the language, understand transportation schedules and have insider knowledge that will most certainly enhance your experience and appreciation. Guided tours offer a great blend of interactive sightseeing that will appeal to both adults and kids. Some tours, like Adventures by Disney offer exciting one of a kind experiences that you can only experiences with one of their tours.
2. Independent Itineraries - Generally these fall in the middle of the price range and are great for free spirits and experienced travelers. This is a pre-set itinerary complete with hotel stays, sightseeing and transportation but you and the family go it alone. Maybe you want to explore your ancesty or have a particular interest you want to indulge. Maybe you have visited Europe before, seen the major sites and want to follow your heart to explore more off the beaten track. If you can imaging it, we can make it a reality for your family.
3. Villas, Apartments & Self Catering - These are great for larger families looking for their "home away from home" that will allow everyone to stay together. A luxury villa may include restaurant style meals or even chefs and housekeepers. A budget style apartment will mean you cook your own meals and tidy up after yourself.
4. European Cruises- Cruises are perfect for families who want to see and experience a great deal of territory in a short amount of time. Again, as a ballpark, 7 day cruises price starting from $700 per person and do include all of your meals so they tend to be a very affordable option. Many offer onboard child care. This is perfect for parents who may want to explore and enjoy an art museum that their toddler won't appreciate. Cruise ships offer accommodations for larger families and plenty of amenities that work will for Multi Generational vacations.
5. Group Travel - Shared memories between family and friends make those bonds even stronger. A European family adventure is an excellent way to celebrate a milestone birthday or family event. Groups can get perks like private tours, services and special pricing.
Properly planning your family's vacation to Europe means a big investment of money and time. This is one of those situations where it pays to use the services of an experienced travel agent. You will need the help of a professional who has "been there and done that" to help you make wise decisions as well as save you from potential costly mistakes that many novice travelers take for granted. A great agent will offer insider tips that can most certainly enhance your enjoyment from restaurant suggestions, sightseeing and even local contacts. Of course, if you're taking the kids to Europe, it's important to work with an experienced European travel agent that is also family friendly.