When In Rome: Know Before You Go – Traveling with Children

Guest blogger, Kathleen Dwyer, couldn’t be more qualified to discuss traveling with children.  Kathleen has split her career between the travel industry and being a teacher.  Not only does she have a Masters’s in Elementary Education, but she also has traveled to over 100 countries!  Kathleen offers some great insight and information on preparing for family travel.

The excitement rises as you plan your first multigenerational trip with youngsters and grandparents alike.  Where do you begin?  You have elementary school-aged children who have never traveled outside of the country before and want to be organized and prepared for anything that might arise. You also want your children to be engaged, learning, and enjoying the trip just as much as the adult members of the family.

On your international trips with children, keep it focused on one city or region, overload and overscheduling organized tours can lead to frustration and distraction with little ones.  They do best if they are familiarized first with what they are going to see and experience.  Keep the engagement expectations to shorter spurts of time rather than an all-day tour of a historical site.

Start by listing what your child’s current interests are.  Do you have a budding soccer star in your household?  A practicing chef/foodie who loves working in the kitchen?  Do you have time at home for family read-aloud where you can infuse fun children’s literature into nighttime reading together?  All these activities will help to prepare your child for a trip of a lifetime and make it unforgettable.

Rome:  Here we Come!!

Rome, what a place to begin, one of the ancient capitals of the world that once extended south over the Mediterranean to Africa and as far north as Scotland.  The Romans gave us so many important innovations that we still use today. Engaging your children about the ancients’ ways and their achievements will be fascinating for your family to read and study before you leave.

Children learn best if it is in a method that compares their present-day life with those of their peers in the past.  What was it like to be a child in ancient Rome?  How did they live, go to school, and play?  Start with the school library or children’s literature websites to start the discussion rolling and the wheels turning.

Recommended book series can hook your child and broaden their reading content while learning about a decisive chapter of world history.  Here is a start with age-appropriate literature to heighten their interest:

Roman Invasion  My Story series by Jim Eldridge

The My Story series presents fictional diaries placing children in the action of history.

Roman Diary:  The Journal of Iliona  by Richard Platt

This is a fictional diary of a young girl captured by pirates and sold as a Roman slave.  A look in the day of a life of children from the perspective of both the privileged and the poor.

The Roman Mysteries: The Thieves of Ostia by Caroline Lawrence

The Roman Mysteries is a fun series for children about three girl detectives solving crimes on the streets of ancient Rome.

 Roman Mythology

Children love tales of gods and spirits and what they represent.  It is completely escapist, and in Rome, the pre-Christian gods are present on nearly every street corner.  Start with the tale of Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome.  Read up on other gods and goddesses that are a part of the vibe of the city, such as Jupiter, king of the gods; Neptune, the god of the sea; Venus, the goddess of love; Minerva, the goddess of wisdom; and Vulcan, the god of fire.

Roman Cuisine

Who doesn’t love a great Italian meal?  Take the family to a local Italian restaurant a few times to familiarize your children with what they will be eating while away from home.  If you have a child who loves to cook and wants to have a family experience with food, I suggest perhaps a market walk and even a cooking class with an authentic Italian chef in Rome.  I highly recommend chef Andrea, who opens his Trastevere restaurant for cooking classes and a communal meal.  I still use his recipes!

Visit Andrea’s website to view more information on his programs:

Roman Inventions

The Romans gave us so many things that are still a part of our daily life that should be appreciated and revered.  Give your child a little assignment to research Roman inventions and innovations that are still in use today.  (Hint Hint!  Concrete, building arches, newspapers, and plumbing are just some of them!)

You can choose to do an at-home project building a Roman arch, the basis for Roman architecture, by following these instructions on National Geographic for kids:

Make a Roman arch (

Roman Sports

How about a day or evening out for a soccer match?  The Romans are fanatical about their football teams and the camaraderie and atmosphere in their stadiums.  The two local professional clubs are SS Lazio and AS Roma. All the action takes place in the Stadio Olympico, which the two teams share.

Enjoy your journey, leave only footprints, bring home photographs and memories, and perhaps a brand new appreciation for a culture that is thousands of years older than ours.

By Justin