Face it, it’s going to be a pricey vacation to take the family to Europe. When we told family we were taking our then 3, 6, and 16 year olds on a European tour our family assumed our kids would never remember, we got looks that ranged from “bless their hearts” to “where did I put that straight jacket I always knew she’d need?” And really, with so many theme parks and destinations in the United States, why take your kids so far from the welcoming hands of their grandparents when they’ve tested your last nerve? Here’s why.
1 – They LOVE kids in many European cities. Population is on the decline throughout Italy, for example, and they don’t see as many kids as you might think. We knew we made the right choice to visit Rome for the first time with our then 9 year old Brighid when she sneezed in the taxi on the way to the hotel, and our cab driver pulled off the highway, got out of the car, and rummaged around in his trunk until he found tissues, a blanket, and vitamin C lozenges “per il bambina!” Kids were welcomed throughout Europe, and they always got an amazing amount of attention.
2 – You might be from there. If you’re like many Americans, your family may have emigrated to this country from a European country. No matter how recently your family crossed the pond, your kids can’t get a real feel for where they come from unless you take them there. Besides, they might enjoy meeting someone who looks like their grandfather.
3 – They will learn about other cultures. Even taking your children to places where people speak the same language, there is much to learn by visiting Europe. They will see things older than their own country, and learn that history goes back way further than we do. Show them some of the pomp and circumstance they’d never find here – like the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. See the Pope. Visit museums.
4 – They will learn to appreciate other cultures. We have the global community at our fingertips, thanks to the internet. But to immerse your kids in the culture of another country gives them an understanding of people you can’t get playing Minecraft with a kid from the Bronx. I am so grateful for the experiences my girls had in Europe, and love it when they remember how people did things differently from the way we do them. I mostly love it when they want to have afternoon tea. There is never really a bad time for scones.
5- They might learn something about you. Why are you in love with a simple lunch of fresh crusty bread, incredible cheese, and perfect grapes? Why do you cry when you stand at the Pieta? What’s the big deal about the Beatles? Giving them the experiences that made you who you are might give them a glimpse they wouldn’t have normally had.
6 – By the time you get home, they’ll know better than to wash their hands in a bidet. ‘Nuff said.