How Our Family Ended Up in Europe For Two Weeks

Somehow, someway we ended up spending 2 weeks in Europe. It would have been enough of an adventure if it was just me and my wife, but we also had our 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son with us. We’re fairly new to international travel so we’re not experienced in extensive travel. This would be our second international trip with our family. And it would be a big one.

How did our family end up with a two week trip to Europe?

Interestingly enough it started fairly small. We had been to Paris the previous year, in 2018 and we had such a good time that we were planning our return to Europe.

Eiffel Tower in Paris

Since Paris was our first trip to Europe we had quite the list of potential destinations. My wife and I had been to Rome in 2017, so Italy and Paris were the only two locations that weren’t on our list.

Everything else was fair game. Some of the top options were the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Croatia, and Greece. Portugal was at the top of our list.

We had managed to find great deals on our first trip to Rome and our trip to Paris, so the plan was to go wherever the deal takes us.

That’s when things started to get interesting. For Rome, we went without our kids, so we didn’t want to extend our vacation for too long. Our Paris trip was last minute, the result of a spectacular deal, and our first international trip with our family. The dates were confined to the airline deal that we got.

Jardin des Tuileries in Paris France

This time, we realized that we weren’t as restricted when it came to time. We were pretty set on June because it’s shoulder season for much of Europe, the kids would be out of school, it wouldn’t be too hot, and it’s our anniversary month!

As far as how long we wanted to stay, we could stretch it out beyond a week to maybe 10 days and see more than one country or location.

So now the fun began. Instead of searching for one destination, we were searching for combinations of different cities and countries. With Europe being so compact and with excellent rail systems and inexpensive regional flights, our options opened up.

The metro in Paris

So many places that I’ve merely read about were now possibilities and it was hard to choose. While we were figuring our plan of action, another variable was introduced into the equation.

As a result of phone discussions and text messages, my wife’s sisters, who also love to travel, were now thinking about joining us on our journey.

How interested were they, where would they want to visit? Some ideas were kicked around and discussed but nothing for sure.

We were planning a trip to visit my wife’s family in Toronto in a few weeks. The plan was that we would all gather our information, research, and ideas then discuss our plans. It was our big meeting to map out a potential joint family vacation. We had no idea how big it was going to get.

The Meeting

There would be several factors in determining where we would go on vacation. We wanted to go somewhere that we all hadn’t been to, but that wasn’t a deal-breaker.

The previous year, they had been through Portugal, Spain, and Morocco. As much as they enjoyed those locations, they didn’t want to return so soon. That helped simplify things since we then took those locations off of our list.

We wanted to go during June since it’s an ideal time to travel for price and it’s before it gets crowded and hot in most of Europe.

Someplace with plenty to keep the kids interested, preferably. Our family likes the beach, but we prefer places with a healthy dose of culture.

Arch of Titus in Rome

Of course, the price would be a major factor as well with us traveling with four people. Some of the places on our list came up in our discussions, such as the Czech Republic, Greece, and Croatia.

But what caught our attention was some combination of Amsterdam and London. They’re two spectacular cities that were linked by a reasonable train ride or a very short flight. London is a great city for families with its large variety of museums, many of which are free among its many other attractions. Amsterdam is also a very intriguing city. We started to work the logistics and pricing and figured out that we could very well add a day or two of Paris or Brussels into the mix  since the cities are well connected and fairly close to one another. It seemed like a great idea.

We slept on it.

The Meeting Part 2

We again assembled in the living room fully equipped with ideas, tablets and smores. We were ready for business. The proposal for London/Paris/Amsterdam was presented, but instead, more possibilities were presented to consider. Our attention was again drawn to Eastern Europe, trying to configure some combination of Prague, Budapest, Vienna among other cities, but we couldn’t quite get that to work for everyone.

It was then that the idea was brought up that we could split up and then join at a common location for a part of the trip.

That made so much sense for several reasons. With so many ideas and places that we all wanted to visit we’d miss out on so much if we stuck together for the entirety of the trip. Also, we had a pretty big age gap with a 9 and 7-year-old in our family and my wife’s sisters being in their 20s. We move at a much slower pace than they do and there’s quite the difference in interests as well.

So with that decided, we now had to decide where to meet up? So many possibilities, but the best choice was pretty obvious, except my wife and I had already been there the previous year. It was in Italy. While I’d wanted to visit new places, I loved Rome so much that I was already dying to get back.

Walking the streets of Rome

My kids had never been to Italy and I was already thinking of how excited I would be to show them the city that their mom and I completely fell in love with.

We had a loose outline of a plan. My wife’s sisters would start in France and meet us in Rome. We’d continue together in Naples. We planned to start in Venice and make our way to Rome then to Naples.

As we mapped out this trip it was now a 13-day journey for us to accommodate a short stop in Venice, a longer stay in Rome, and then a short stop in Naples.

It would make sense to fly into Venice, then take the train to Rome, then Naples, and fly home. With kids, though it seemed like London would be the preferable city to Venice. As much as I wanted to see Venice, it just seemed that London would provide that bit of variety that they would enjoy and add a little something extra to our trip.

London is a bit bigger than Venice so that added another day to our odyssey, bringing it to 14 days in Europe.

They would start in Paris, go through Nice, Switzerland, Venice then meet us in Rome. We would start in London then go on to Rome and Naples.

We had our plan in place. Our initial plan had expanded to something that for us was of epic proportions. Interestingly, once the plan was in place, we followed through without changing much.

How did the actual trip turn out? I have to say that planning a 14 day trip through Europe with family is one thing. Experiencing it was another. Click on over to find out what all happened!

Author

  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog, smilesonarrival.com, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

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How Our Family Ended Up in Europe For Two Weeks
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