This month, I reached out to fellow blogger, Jennifer, from the blog, Kid Friendly Europe 101 to talk about family travel and living life as an expat. This mama and her expat family have been living in Germany for the last few years, and she has a lot of good insight into things to do for families in Europe.
I like hearing expat family stories because it brings back memories of when I was a kid living in Indonesia. There is something magically wonderful about living in a foreign country when you’re a kid. It’s almost as if you’ve been let in on a little secret that no one back home knows about. I remember my childhood in Indonesia quite fondly – the hustle and bustle of Jakarta, spending time with my family in nearby villages, or vacationing on the beach in Bali. I often wonder when I’ll have a chance to give my kids a similar kind of overseas family travel experience.
Becoming an expat family
For Jennifer and her family, that chance came in 2014, when her husband’s company gave them the opportunity to relocate to Germany. Since then, they have taken full advantage of being overseas. One of the benefits of being an expat family in Europe is how close all the countries are, and how relatively easy it is to travel among those countries. I love reading about the different places Jennifer and her family have visited already.
Since we live in different time zones, we had our conversation via email. Jennifer was kind enough to take some time out of her day to answer my questions. Here’s what she had to say about her life being in an expat family.
You and your family are from Texas, but have been living in Germany since 2014. What has been the biggest adjustment to living in Europe?
Our biggest adjustment was the time change as well as being 7 hours ahead of families. We have to wait until about 2pm to call them.
How have you all adapted to the differences in culture? What changes have you seen in your kids since becoming an expat family?
Well we live on a military base so we don’t see very many differences. I do know some German. I try to know the basics when speaking to people. Most people in our area actually speak English better than I do. My children LOVE to explore. They know some German, but they do not know a whole lot.
What are some of your favorite things about being in Europe?
The travel. The food.
I love how you have taken advantage of being an expat family in Europe by visiting so many countries. What are some of your family’s favorite countries?
We loved Croatia. We are going there again this summer. We are going back to the resort we went to last year. We are also checking out Split. My husband and I loved Malta from our Costa cruise last spring break. We also love Paris and London.
What is the one biggest challenge that you have with traveling with your kids, and how do you overcome that challenge?
I think our largest challenge is just bringing so much stuff. We really try to downsize as much as possible. Though some places we go to do not have a washer & dryer so we have no choice in the matter. Living in Europe we have really learned to travel light(er).
How has your travel philosophy changed since living in Europe? What are some of the things you’ve learned these last few years traveling with your family?
You certainly only live once that is for sure. If you want to see something while you are in Europe, do it. My husband is always working and I finally had to just pack up the kids and go. I am for sure saying that I am the adventurous one. I am ok with staying at a hostel with my kids (my kids loved the one in Zadar) or staying in a Bungalow or even camping. I am totally open in any sort of experience. Next month we are staying in a castle!
What is your biggest piece of advice for families who want to incorporate more travel into their lives?
Do NOT have a day to day fully planned itinerary. Go with the flow. Of course there are some things that you will need to reserve for in advance. But spread things out. Don’t be in a rush. Relax. Have fun with it. Let your kids enjoy and experience new cultures.
It’s great to hear about families traveling the world. Who says that you can’t travel once you have kids? I think Jennifer hit the nail on the head when she said you need to let your kids enjoy and experience new cultures. I love how this expat family is making travel part of their daily lives. That is certainly the philosophy that I have with my family!
Do you love traveling with your family? Let me hear about it!
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