For as long as I can remember I’ve yearned to visit Europe. I dreamed of going as a college graduation trip. It didn’t happen. I could barely afford to put gas in my car. I imagined a honeymoon in Paris when I was engaged to be married. It didn’t happen. We went to South Padre Island, Texas. Then we purchased a home, gave our savings to extended family who had fallen on hard times, and eventually had our daughter. I was beginning to think I’d never get to venture across the “big pond”. However, I’m not dead yet, so I kept dreaming. Then last year I was named the Fort Worth ISD Teaching Chair of Excellence in Elementary Science. It is one of the highest honors a teacher can earn. Along with this prestigious title came a cash reward. SCORE! I was finally going to Europe, but not alone. I had the privilege of sharing this dream with my entire little family. Together we put together the “trip of a lifetime.” We visited Paris, Rome, The Amalfi Coast of Italy, and various spots in Iceland. I’m sharing tips for each location. 1st stop: Paris! What should you keep in mind when traveling to Paris with a child? Here are some tips.
- Purchase your passports 6 months in advance, if you don’t have them.
- Make a copy of your passport. Leave your passport in a secure location when out of the country. You don’t want to risk losing it. Instead, carry the copy with you should you need it.
- Pack yours and your children’s medication. It’s difficult to determine what medicine to purchase and take when you’re in a foreign country.
- Purchase universal outlet adaptors! We loved the Loop blue cubes. They light up so you know that your device is getting power, can we used worldwide, and have 2 built in USB slots.
- Buy a durable lightweight stroller if you don’t have one!
- Pack outfits that are versatile and easy to wash.
- Go to your bank. Order $100-$200 in Euros to have on hand.
- Consult your mobile device contract to find out fees if any for roaming and phone calls made while traveling internationally.
- Download child’s favorite shows and games to a tablet. Don’t forget the wireless noise cancelling headphones for the flight.
- A portable charger is a essential for travel! The Kmashi Portable Battery Pack was able to charge my Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Jocelyn’s tablet, and my tablet multiple times in one use.
- Take a few of your child’s toys to play with during your vacation.
- Request family boarding if by chance your airline doesn’t automatically provide this. Family boarding allows you to enter right after first class/business class to give families a little more time to get small children situated.
- Pack a travel umbrella or raincoat for your kiddo. Adults will endure being drenched, but children will make a fuss.
- Learn a few french greetings and teach them to your child. The locals will discern that you are tourist. However, they will treat you so kindly if you make an effort to just try. Also, teaching your child greetings will help them to remember the trip more vividly.
- If you’re able, sign up for airline programs/credit cards that allow you to earn mileage thru purchases and/or flights. Pay your expenses with the card then PAY OFF THE BALANCE each month. If you’re diligent you can earn enough mileage to earn a round trip ticket.
- Consider leaving from another airport than your home airport. It may be cheaper. For example to fly out of Dallas/Fort Worth to Paris it cost $1,000 USD per person. However, by leaving from Boston to Paris it cost $444 USD. We used our mileage vouchers to fly from Dallas/Fort Worth to Boston for FREE. Then we left from Boston to Paris. The result: the round trip flights for our family of three only cost $1,600 USD including the taxes and fees!
- Look for airline deals! Jason discovered Iceland Air’s “My Stop Over” Special. When you fly with Iceland Air, you can stop over in Iceland for FREE up to 7 days. We choose to Stop Over in Iceland on the way back from Europe.
Where to Stay:
Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world. Inexpensive large sized dwellings are hard to find. In addition to this, traveling with child/children can be more stressful due to more luggage and a child’s unique needs. Instead of a hotel, why not stay in a home?
We rented an apartment for our family. It’s more private. It often has more space than most hotel rooms. You can utilize the washer/dryer. Kids wake up hungry and have little patience. We bought groceries and had breakfast at home, in a full kitchen, thus cutting down on the cost of eating out for each meal. There are no maids coming in/out of our room for us to worry about. Most of all, we really got to immerse ourselves in Paris. We felt as if we really lived there.
We rented Tanio’s 2 bedroom/1 bath apartment in Paris. It was clean, safe, and centrally located! We will definitely stay here again. Please use our AirBnB code: Jason30 for a discount on your stay in Paris or any other location.
- The Metro/Subway. The most economical way to get around Paris is by using the Metro. We recommend you purchase the 5 day or 7 day pass for $15 EUROS. This will give you unlimited usage, and will allow you to take the Metro outside the city to the Palace of Versallies at no extra cost. *Please print out a 1 inch by 1 inch photo to glue to your Metro Pass. Then sign your Metro Pass. Both steps are required, and most tourist are unaware of this.
- Uber/Taxi. Currently Uber’s and Taxi are roughly the same price. We only took a taxi to and from the airport while in Paris, so we didn’t have to maneuver the subways with luggage. This made flights less stressful.
- Light-weight Strollers. You’re going to do a lot of walking in Paris….I mean a lot! Little ones tire so easily. Therefore a lightweight stroller is essential when traveling. We loved using the GB Pockit Stroller. The Pockit is the 2014 Guinness World Records™ most compact stroller. When folded, it is the smallest and most compact stroller currently available on the market, 11.8″ x 7″ x 13.8″ to be precise. It easily fits into my husband’s backpack, in the overhead bin on planes, and in the under restaurant tables. Both light weight and durable, it’s been perfect for getting around Paris (and later Rome) during afternoon naps.
Where to Eat:
Our favorite thing about Paris has been wandering the streets and trying all the little bistros and shops. Why go to Paris and eat American food?! We love the ambience and food of authentic Paris.
- Try the canard (duck) at Chez Papas, ask for it well done!
- Fill your sweet tooth at La Duree. I couldn’t get enough of the Macaroons. I think I are a dozen of them all by myself! And these cream topped ones shown below…just stop! Soooo good!
- Get street potatos and rotisserie chicken in any small bistro in Montemartre.
- Get Angelina’s chocolate milk in the Palace of Versailles.
What to See:
Oh gosh! There is just too much, but here are our Paris some must see spots, and will also keep your little ones entertained:
- The Eiffel Tower. Exit Trocadero to get a full view of the tower. You’ll find lots of tourist here but a great view. For an even better view, go where the locals go: Champ de Mars. If you have time, take the elevator up the Eiffel Tower. Go at sunset for a romantic view.
- The Louvre Museum. This museum is absolutely huge! There is no way to see it all in one day. We choose a few things that we really wanted to see and found them. This made both us and our daughter happy. We saw what we really wanted to see in our 3 hours, and she took a nap. Bring your light weight a stroller as small children often don’t want to walk and get bored. *Use the underground Metro entrance to the Louvre to avoid standing in the hot sun or the cold rain. The line is generally shorter here than at the main entrance. Save time by purchasing your online ticket in advance.
- The Luxembourg Gardens. The beautiful gardens are open to the public and a great place to have a picnic lunch. This is also a spot place for children. Rent a small sailboat for 3 to 4 Euros and let them to play with as you take in the beautiful grounds.
- Notre Dame. The breath-taking church was built in 1111 A.D Stand in awe and just take it all in! Tour this majestic building but be prepared for long lines to enter. Get up early to lessen your wait time. Afterwards, stop at the nearby park to allow your child/children to play on the swings for a while.
- The Palace of Versailles. 40 minutes by train will, followed by 10 minutes of light walking, will take you to the Palace of Versailles. Go early or at after 3pm to avoid waiting in long lines. Be sure to have chocolate at Angelina’s and prance like Charlize Theron down the Hall of Mirrors. Most importantly, try to eat well before you arrive. The restaurant and cafe inside of the Palace of Versailles are very expensive.
- Montmartre. Make your way over to where few tourist go by visiting the highest part of Paris, Montmartre. It was the last town to join the city of Paris. Wander it’s narrow streets to discover old world charm, Emilie’s Restaurant, The Wall of Love, and Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart).
- Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments, and a sight to see. I was happy to discover that you can also climb to the top for another great view of Paris. Don’t try crossing the busy traffic circle to get there. Use the underground Metro entrance.
- Avenue des Champs–Élysées is great for high end shopping! I was so excited to venture into the original Louis Vuitton store, just to look around. I was bubbling with excitement when we stepped into the Long Champ store. I snagged The Neo Long Champ bag in navy (shown below) and the large Le Pilage bag in wheat as my souvenirs. Both of them were excellent choices for hopping on and off the metro, sloshing around in the rain, and still looking chic! Yup, I’m one happy girl. *Don’t forget to ask the sales associate to complete your VAT Tax Refund Form. At the hotel, before leaving Europe show the item that your purchased and the completed VAT Tax Refund Form to receive a 10 to 14% refund on your purchase.
- Sunset Dinner Cruise on the Seine River. “Unless you plan on spending $150 USD per person on a dinner cruise, do not expect anything extravagant.” This was the advice given to us by our friend Angie who lives in Paris. We gave this a lot of thought. It wasn’t the dinner we really wanted. It was the experience. So we purchased a buy one, get one dinner cruise from Groupon. You can even take your little ones on the dinner cruise. They will love seeing the city lights. We were very happy with our Groupon choice and our meal. Best if all, we got to see the Eiffel Tower twinkle at night and more of Paris. *Check the sunset time before booking your cruise! Some sail before dark and you won’t get to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle if you go too early.
So there you have it- our Paris (with children) Travel Guide. There was so much we didn’t get to do, but also so much that we did get to experience- all with a 6 year old child. So take your time, be practical, and have fun as a family. Mainly, as you can see, we planned stops at parks and places to play each day for our little girl. We made it easy for her bringing a stroller and renting a “home” so that everyone was comfortable. Most of all, we just enjoyed being together! I hope you find these family travel tips helpful for your next vacation! Thanks for stopping by.