Family Travel Question:

Q | Can you recommend a tour operator that can help us with family travel in Europe?

Can you recommend a tour operator that can help us with a travel package through Europe? We would like to take the stress out of booking everything individually and would love to work with someone who caters to travel with younger children. -Marcia, Australia

A | Top tour operators for European family vacations

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My bear in Paris, France

Coming from Australia, your first family trip to Europe will be a long and tiring adventure, so I understand why you’d like the assistance of a professional tour operator. Tour operators and travel agents not only make the trip planning less stressful, but they can also be a useful advocate during your trip if you find that the accommodations are not what you planned, the children need some medical care, you want to change your itinerary, or many other common hassles.

I can speak generally about your plans, but would have to know more about your dream destinations and the age of your children before I make specific recommendations.

Over the years we have compiled a list of the top rated family travel tour operators who have been rated by Family Travel Forum after getting feedback from our freelancers, staff and lots of site visitors. As you can see, the list is broken down by type of trip: Educational and eco-oriented, filled with active adventures, or with a cultural and historical theme.

All these companies (with the exception of the adventure tour operator Wildland Adventures) run guided, small- group trips to Europe, with special staff along to mind the children.

With a very young child, you are probably best to confine your touring to one country or destination per week, so that you can settle into a hotel and get the little ones used to a routine, without hours of traveling every day. If you would consider just a custom itinerary combined with villa rentals, for example, you might find it a more relaxed way of sightseeing. I always found that younger children responded better to rural settings than noisy, crowded cities, but of course the cities of Europe have the greatest number of cultural attractions.

Depending on your kids’ ages and your interests, you may find that a cruise is best for your family. Cruising with Costa or Holland America might work well for you, because both have free children’s activity programs and private childcare (for a fee). More pluses for a cruise: A cruise means not having to pack and unpack while being able to see many new places. There’s a lot of variety in ports of call, onboard concierge service in every language, and a full range of foods at no extra charge that any child would enjoy.

Lastly, if you are so inclined, the Disney company runs some excellent family tours in Europe that welcome children age 4 and above. Find more information about the Adventures by Disney program with details on England, France, and Italy guided tours that might be of interest to you.

Keep in mind that most of these tour operators will happily customize a tour for your family alone, though the cost will be higher.

Photo courtesy of Kyle McCarthy

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