Plan an International Family Vacation (With Toddlers in Tow!)

We're in the heart of vacation season and thinking about what we want to do with our family after camp is over but before school starts. Generally speaking, going on an international family vacation doesn't come to mind. But, why not? Oh, the money, date restricted limits, and even if that wasn't the reason, where would we all go?

Money might be an issue but, not as much as you would think.

The average cost for a family of 4 to go to (including travel) Disney world/Disneyland is $3,500. For the same amount, you can fly the from NYC to Lisbon and stay for 10 days (including the cost of 4 passports if you don’t have them already).

So, here's how to take a family (with small children) on an international vacation.

Stay Flexible

The key to traveling with family is flexibility: where, when, or why (cultural, beach, nature, shopping, etc.). Recently while planning my joint family summer vacation with a friend we had to deal with the time restriction. As a result, we were able to use our flexibility of where and why. Need more info about flights and how to spot a glitch fare? Keep reading!


“Staying” outside your comfort zone

Finding a place outside of major city center (rent an apartment/house/finca), can get you extra space, save money, and perks that are unavailable or unaffordable inside the city center. Even better than staying just outside of the city center is focusing your search on smaller towns and villages a few train stops away from the city.

Since you’re looking outside the heart of the city

Suburbs, towns, and villages a train stop or two away from can give you a home away from home. Besides looking on the big brand website for home and apartment rentals, check local real estate sites and home swap cooperatives to give you all the creature comforts of homes. If you need more information about alternatives to the big-name sites, look here.


Look for supermarkets

The best way to save when traveling with family is looking for local markets and supermarkets to allow for greater control of not only your budget but on dealing with little ones not quite ready to try all the new things at once or being out of sync with the local schedules. Remember when traveling abroad do a little research about where you are going so you don’t get caught shopping during siesta.


Many people will tell you that traveling with small children is impossible. It's not. Europe specifically, has a child-friendly culture that's both open and engaging. Research discounts for trains and museums and parks for your little ones. Plan ahead and be practical.

Traveling internationally is an enriching experience for parents and toddlers alike, and these are the memories that you'll both cherish for many years to come. It's definitely worth making the effort to plan your international family vacation!

Let the adventure begin!

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Diane, a Philadelphia native, entrepreneur and busy mother of 2 currently living on the outskirts of Madrid.  Between baking cookies and doing business consultations she loves spending time with her family intentionally getting lost and table-top gaming.