So, you and your family made it to Germany. Congratulations! Or, you find yourself settling into your first month here knee deep in travel books and planning your first adventures when you find out you are expecting. Surprise…and congratulations! With the change of country and/or the new addition to your family, the way you used to travel and live will change quite substantially. At least, for us it did.
We are surrounded by countries that take only hours to get to by car, train, or airplane and the possibilities of where to go and what to see are seemingly endless. However, adventurous traveling with a baby on board can be a bit challenging to navigate in a foreign country. Many people who are stationed overseas do not have the benefit of family members near by (really though, who in our community even has that in the States!?) nor close, long-term companions that you would trust leaving your child with. The turnover of families makes it hard to form those trusted friendships in a short time and if you are hankering to get out and explore this new world quickly, it can seem overwhelming to figure out the best way to do it.
There are several options for child and family-friendly accommodations while stationed in Europe. When being budget conscious (which for us, is most of the time) we tend to stay in apartments, cook our own meals, and create a home away from home. However, we discovered this magical resource that yes, requires us to splurge, but it’s proven to be worth it. When calculating the price out, it isn’t that much more expensive than doing it all on our own when you consider that the added stress and extra effort of meal planning and childcare is removed. This amazing resource is the European Family Hotel. I have stayed in a couple with my son and husband and wanted to share the wealth, so to speak. These hotels cater to families with babies, children, teens, and adults who prefer vacations that include skiing, rafting, hiking, canyoning, snowshoeing, wellness retreats, and pretty much anything that involves the great outdoors.
The large network of hotels offer in-house top of the line childcare, all-inclusive meals, and an extensive amount of activities and entertainment for everyone in the family. They are located in several countries including Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Croatia. Many are located near or on a ski resort with lessons available for the newbies or veterans looking to enhance their skills, and guided ski tours for the more experienced thrill seekers. Others are located on gorgeous lakes or beaches to swim in and are surrounded by hiking trails, gorges to explore, and peaks to summit in the summer. You can search any of the links below to see a map of their locations, or to order a free catalog directly from their website to skim through and pick out the best resort for your family. Each chain has a ranking system for their hotels to advise you on what’s included as far as childcare, facilities, lessons, entertainment, and more. The hotels range from luxury spa and wellness resorts to organic farm stays tucked away in the alpine wilderness.
The best part of these hotels, in my opinion, is that childcare is included with the times ranging from 10-100 hours per week. Yes, I will repeat. Childcare is included in the all-inclusive rates! Our son loved the drop off rooms and eagerly ran down to the playroom anticipating his “friends!!” as he always called out. Since he was too young to do ski lessons, we booked these resorts while he was under three so that my husband and I could have some mountain time together while our son could socialize and play to his little heart’s content. I never felt uneasy leaving him with the staff as they are all well trained, certified, and equipped to handle any issues that may arise. Activities were designed for children based on their ages and some hotels offer teen rooms and excursions for the older ones. Safety and fun are priorities and the staff always seemed excited and loving to our child.
There are also fun, well-equipped playrooms open for parents to play with their children in a variety of settings throughout the resorts. This allows for some great family time and helps tire the littlest ones out for bed. Speaking of bed…once the children are asleep, the hotels have a baby phone which acts like a baby monitor that you can program to your personal phone. It will alert you if there is a disruption in your room or, which is more often the case, comfort you in knowing your child is sleeping soundly while you and your loved one share a night cap in the hotel bar. That’s a win-win to me.
Some hotels offer childcare as early as six days old and some will start care at one or two years old. Each hotel will specify the age range and list if there is a charge for babies under one year old, which I have seen on rare occasion. You can filter your requirements for care within the search fields of each website to cater the results to your needs. The standard time that “most” hotels offer is 9:00am – 9:00pm, but it’s best to check with the specific hotel as these times do vary quite a bit from resort to resort.
Most of the hotels offer an all-inclusive package to create one epic, stress free vacation. The all-inclusive rates not only include childcare, but also access to pool and spa areas, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, live entertainment, nurses and doctors on-site, a delicious, healthy, and usually organic variety of food, arts and crafts, and many times a petting zoo and education center located on site. Along with those experience inclusions, the hotels typically provide free access to cribs, strollers, toys, bikes, diapers, bibs, etc. In my experiences, the staff has always been attentive and friendly to the children, parents, and work really hard to provide a vacation that makes spending a little more worth every single penny.
You can search for your next stress-free vacation here:
Kinderhotels (link to https://www.kinderhotels.co.uk)
Familienhotels (link to https://www.familienhotels.com)
Familotel (link to https://www.familotel.com/en)
For those who wish to experience the more outdoorsy version:
EuroCamp (link to http://www.eurocamp.com/)
Hopefully this helps you get out and explore Europe a little more in-depth and create some fabulous family memories. Enjoy your time abroad and share any other family friendly resources for travel you have found!