The best ways to travel through Europe with young children:
2. Really. Don’t. Kid swap with another couple–travel alone while they watch your children, and vice-versa.
3. Or go on a trip with the girls. Or boys. Leave the spouse with the spawn.
4. If you must travel with the children, take a cruise. Embrace the on-board kids’ club.
In total disclosure, I have done only the girls’ trip thus far. Highly recommended. But we recently swapped with a couple, so option #2 is on the horizon.
Now, if the above (preferred) options are not available, consider the following
5. Walk to someplace fantastic. Listen to them complain. Make the noise stop with something bread-based. Go to another historical, artistic, or stunning locale. Buy them ice cream. Wise choices about food are for better people. This is survival. Follow the carbs and sugar.
6. The occasional hiss in the ear, along the lines of, “You are GOING to love this museum of Roman Antiquities or I will MAKE YOU LOVE IT,” will result in good behavior, and a trigger for future panic attacks.
7. Embrace the shame that your children will be looking at Rodin’s The Thinker while discussing, loudly, video games. Assume that English is not one of the most wildly understood languages in the world. (Note: this doesn’t work in Germany, where they all speak English better than most Americans).
8. Walk past lace shops in Belgium or stores the specialize only in handmade leather gloves in Rome. Perfect the act of weeping silently as you just keep walking.
9. Accept that the grace of traveling with children is that you love them so much. You trace your finger along their jawbones, watch them wrap their arms around each other as they walk along the dreamy, eternal alleyways. You love them despite it all, and because of it all. They remind you that there is beauty in cracks and edges, all the more so because you feel the unevenness, and continue to walk forward anyway.