I’ve mentioned a couple of times on my Instagram what our plans are for the summer, but I thought it would be fun to write it all out in one place. While we haven’t completely nailed down all the details yet, we have a pretty good idea of the countries we will visit and for how long.
My husband works for a company that gives 12 weeks of paternity leave. Before that, he worked for the federal government, which grants 0 days of paternity or maternity leave, so pretty much this feels like magic to us. We knew we didn’t want use that time just staying home, especially since we were having our 4th baby and we didn’t feel like we had an enormous adjustment period. A couple of our kids were already in school, so we had to be in the swing schedules and such. So we decided to use the time for an extended trip.
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We seriously considered just pulling the kids out of school for a couple of months, but because of a few commitments at home, it made more sense for us to go during the summer. We recognized that it would be significantly busier in the places we’ll explore, but it was worth the trade off this time to be present for a few events.
Our older two kids have visited Amsterdam and Greece before (and I suppose our oldest visited Madrid for a day as an infant…), but haven’t ever spent any extended amount of time in Europe (nor have Dan & I since 2009). As we’re both big history/art/architecture/music buffs, we figured it was high time we took our kids there. They’re at great age to observe details in buildings and artwork, and are beginning to be excited about cultures and languages. Plus, we all love food. Which, if we’re being honest, is at the top of the list for why we love to travel.
Here’s what our plans are for this summer:
Italy: About 12 days, during which we’ll visit Rome, Florence, and Venice.
Southern Germany/Austria: We’ll only spend about 4 days roadtripping to some castles, and, of course, to Mozart’s home in Salzburg, which our oldest has been particularly anxious to see. We considered a one-way rental, but it turns out returning a car in a different country than its origin is insanely expensive. It’s not nearly enough time, but it’ll be a fun little taste as I’ve never visited Bavaria before.
Scandinavia: 2 weeks. We’ll visit some friends, see some fjords, explore some cities, and enjoy Stockholm’s extraordinarily family-friendly public transportation system (kids under 7 are free, as is an adult pushing a stroller!). We’re planning on Stockholm & the surrounding area, Copenhagen, and Bergen and the fjords area. There’s also a small chance we’ll hop over to Tallinn.
UK/Ireland: 2 weeks. We’ll likely spend about 5 days in London, then rent a car to explore some other parts of Great Britain. Then we’ll fly over to Ireland and drink in all the gorgeous green there and in Northern Ireland.
Paris: 3.5 weeks. We knew we wanted one place where we had a bit of a longer stay. I’m confident 3.5 weeks still won’t feel like it’s enough for Paris, especially since we’ll have a couple of couple-day trips to Lyon (where I studied abroad), Bruges, and Normandie. Still, it will be nice to have a home base of sorts for a few weeks. This is also the one spot where we’ll do a home exchange, and we’re so excited to be staying in a family home in a residential neighborhood that’s super accessible to tons of sites. Daniel had a conference in Paris back in November and the baby and I got to tag along while the other kids hung at home with grandparents (in fact, all the pictures from this post are from that trip). That trip felt like an excellent opportunity to remember all the amazing things to do and scout out places we want to return with our kids.
This also feels like one of the most important part of our trip in terms of learning for our kids. It’s really important to us when we travel that it doesn’t just feel like nonstop vacation – treats and leisure and 24/7 fun (if that doesn’t make me sound like a grinch, what could?). I want them learning and growing and understanding pieces of other cultures. While we’ll still strive for that in all of the places we visit (and why we’re studying one country a week – our guides are over on my Instagram under the hashtag #LPgloballearningguides), it feels most important and easiest to do this when we’re in one place for longer than a few days.
And that’s it! We’ll be gone nearly 10 weeks. If you have any suggestions for any of these places, I’d love to hear!
Preethi, I'm pasting here what Richard Ross told us to do next time we're in France. Richard taught French at Agnes Irwin School and has gone there almost every year for decades. "On your next trip, spend a day at a French amusement park (with no rides) called Le Puy du Fou. They have spectacular shows in different venues: the Roman Coliseum (with real lions!), the Viking village, the fortified castle (jousting, horse racing). Everything is based on French history and the staging (and music) spectacular. I don't believe there is anything like it in the US."