The Root of Good family is ramping up for an epic adventure across Europe during the summer of 2017. The five of us will spend nine weeks traversing an all new (to us) continent by train, plane, bus, car, and foot.
We really struggled to narrow down the itinerary to something feasible for a family with three young children. As a result this trip will NOT include London nor Paris nor a dozen other cities we would have loved to visit. What we will see are museums, parks, castles, palaces, cathedrals, caves, mountains, seas, rivers, lakes, and canyons scattered about the rest of western and central Europe.
Many will view this as a “trip of a lifetime” or a “dream trip” but I choose to view this as just another cool vacation in a series of vacations we have already taken and will continue to take.
However, this Europe trip is in some ways the realization of a dream. As a wistful traveler / college student yearning for adventure before embarking on my 10 year corporate grind, I ordered a stack of maps from AAA back in the dark days before the invention of Google Maps. What better way to think, plan, and dream about where you want to explore than a pile of maps for all the countries in Europe? For 15 years I kept these maps in a shoe box in the closet. Now I’m figuratively dusting them off and planning on hitting the road soon (I’ll leave the maps at home since I’m going all digital with Google Maps on my computer and phone!).
This Europe trip is unique compared to our typical budget travel two months in Mexico and road trips through the US and Canada. We’ll spend two or three times as much as we usually do on our grand summer vacations. And it’s Europe – a place we have never visited before, and in a cliché way, a must-have on every legitimate traveler’s resume.
Where are we going?
In mid-June we depart Raleigh for a flight across the Atlantic to Lisbon, Portugal where the adventure begins. From Portugal we fly to the Andalusia region of southern Spain for a bit over a week before flying onward to Italy for a week. After landing in Italy we travel overland through Slovenia, Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic before arriving in Amsterdam where our vacation ends with a flight back to Raleigh.
The itinerary for nine weeks:
- Lisbon, Portugal 5 nights
- Malaga, Spain 2 nights
- Granada, Spain 3 nights
- Seville, Spain 4 nights
- Milan, Italy 4 nights
- Venice, Italy 2 nights
- Ljubljana, Slovenia 7 nights
- Bovec/Bled, Slovenia 4 nights
- Salzburg, Austria 2 nights
- Munich, Germany 7 nights
- Prague, Czech 7 nights
- Berlin, Germany 7 nights
- Koblenz (Mariaroth), Germany 7 nights
- Amsterdam, Netherlands 3 nights
- Back to Raleigh!
Transportation: Getting around town. And country. And continent.
To get around Europe, we’re relying primarily on buses and trains. We are also taking a pair of flights for those travel segments that are difficult, expensive or take a long time on ground-based transit. Overall, transportation in Europe is quite a steal IF you can snag the advance purchase cut rate fares. Budget airlines aplenty such as Ryanair and EasyJet offer tickets for USD$10-20 in some cases.
Buses and trains can be even better deals for families with kids since children’s tickets are often heavily discounted or free altogether. I looked into rail passes and quickly decided purchasing tickets a la carte would be much cheaper and easier than understanding the rules for different regional rail passes and days of validity versus days of travel.
All together, we spent 300,000 United Airline miles plus USD$544 cash for plane tickets. More than half that was taxes on our transatlantic flights from Raleigh to Lisbon and Amsterdam to Raleigh. The other bit is a roughly 1,000 mile flight from Seville, Spain to Milan, Italy on Ryanair at just under USD$40 per person (and a meager 2.5 hour flight time).
The flight from Lisbon, Portugal to Malaga, Spain was free since we booked an award flight to Europe. You get a one way flight within the region you’re visiting with United Miles redemptions. The award flights that we booked for 300,000 miles plus $350 in taxes would have cost $6,000 to $7,000 had we paid cash. In the end we obtained between 2 to 2.2 cents per mile of value out of these points, which is pretty good for United miles. All thanks to travel hacking some credit card sign up bonuses over the past few years.
To add to the value, we picked up the Chase Sapphire Reserve card earlier this year which gives us free Priority Pass Select membership. Priority Pass admits us to certain business/first class lounges in the airports we’re traveling through so we can stop in and grab drinks (alcoholic or non) and some basic grub before and after our flight in lieu of paying for the same at an overpriced airport restaurant or rushing to get to a food establishment before the kids starve OMG literally to death (or so they would claim, literally).
|United: Raleigh, North Carolina to Lisbon, Portugal x5||150,000||$175|
|United: Lisbon to Malaga, Spain x5||0 (free 1 way tix with United miles award booking)||$0|
|Ryanair: Seville, Spain to Milan, Italy x5||0||$194|
|United: Amsterdam, Netherlands to Raleigh x5||150,000||$175|
For buses and trains, we spent between USD$40 and $69 for all segments with travel times between roughly two to four hours. One exception is the Berlin to Koblenz train trip which is closer to six hours. Since it was a longer duration than other trips, we decided to indulge in a little luxury and spring for first class tickets on Deutsche Bahn for $32 more than second class tickets (that’s $32 total for the entire family!).
Though second class seats on German trains are more than adequate, we opted for the upgrade to get comfier more spacious seating (including a private compartment) and more importantly, first class lounge access for the day. We’ll be feasting on the all-inclusiveness with pastries, fruit, coffee and hot chocolate for breakfast in Berlin. After a four hour high speed train ride from Berlin, we’ll grab a quick bite and pop some champagne during the 35 minute layover in Frankfurt before transferring to another high speed train bound for Cologne, Germany. We have a three hour layover in downtown Cologne to explore on foot and have lunch with some beer or wine (and maybe an early dinner if time permits) in the first class lounge before heading a few minutes down the tracks to the airport for our rental car pickup. A day on the rails in first class, three snacks or meals in their lounges, plus a quick city tour for $84 for the five of us. That’s how you travel in style on the cheap!
|Bus/Train:||Cost (total for 5 tickets)|
|Bus from Malaga to Granada, Spain||$41|
|Bus from Granada to Seville, Spain||$40|
|Train from Milan to Venice, Italy||$49|
|Bus from Venice, Italy to Ljubljana, Slovenia||$69|
|Train from Bled, Slovenia to Salzburg, Austria||$41|
|Bus from Munich, Germany to Prague, Czech||$40 (estimate; not yet purchased)|
|Bus/train from Prague to Berlin, Germany||$53 (estimate; not yet purchased)|
|Train from Berlin to Koblenz/Cologne, Germany (higher cost due to 1st class tix)||$84|
|Train from Koblenz/Cologne to Amsterdam||$40|
We’ll be renting cars for three different periods during our trip. I’m unable to drive a manual transmission vehicle so I’ll be paying the 20-30% markup for automatic transmission vehicles. The extra $100 will be recouped dozens of times when I don’t stall the car or inadvertently roll into oncoming vehicles or back down the hill onto the hood of an about-to-be-angry driver. The frugalist in me says “learn to drive a stick to save a few bucks”. Then the realist shouts “This is why we saved up all this money. To afford small luxuries and conveniences.” Though learning to drive stick while destroying someone else’s clutch does have its merits.
I’m shocked at how cheap the rental rates are since we are doing one-way rentals for at least two of the rentals (and possibly the third rental in the Koblenz area if I can find a decent one-way rate). Another lesson learned is the lack of rental office availability on Sundays (note: never plan on conducting business or shopping for groceries on Sunday in Germany).
I’m also shocked at the opaqueness of rental car pricing. It jumps all over from hour to hour and day to day. And there are quirks. Sometimes the price to rent for seven days is the exact same as for five days. And sometimes the total price DROPS if you extend the rental period. Our Ljubljana, Slovenia rental was $20+ cheaper for a 13 day rental compared to a 10-12 day rental. Ummm, okay, I can store your car for you for a few days in exchange for $20.
|Rental Car:||# Days||Cost||Cost Per Night|
|Ljubljana, Slovenia to Bled, Slovenia||13||$161||$12|
|Salzburg, Austria to Munich Germany||4||$113||$28|
|Koblenz, Germany (Via Cologne)||7||$181||$26|
We will be taking public transit during about two thirds of our trip. Most cities have multi-day or weekly transit passes and discounts for children (or they ride free with an adult pass), so transit costs should be fairly moderate overall. Except in Venice where it’s $8 per person for a boat-bus called a vaporetto! I’m sticking $750 in the budget for all transit costs. Other miscellaneous transportation costs include parking and tolls at $75 and gas for the rental car at $250. The gas cost is based on 1,375 miles at 33 miles per gallon with gas at $6/gallon.
|Gas for Rental Car||$250|
To sweeten these deals, I’m always checking online cash back shopping portals like Ebates. In this case, I didn’t have much luck finding the European train and bus companies on Ebates (but there are some travel consolidators that sell train tickets and qualify for cash back). However, most rental car companies qualify for 4-5% cash back (like Hertz and Sixt) and the big travel sites like Expedia and Travelocity offer a couple percent cash back on rental car reservations. I booked two out of three rental cars through Ebates so I should get another $10-20 cash back once the car rental is complete this summer.
If you’re interested in getting cash back at hundreds of sites where you are already shopping online, check out Ebates. And click through this link for $10 bonus cash back for new members!
At first we planned on a combination of hotels for short stays of two or three days and apartment rentals for longer periods. After digging in to available hotel and apartment offerings, we quickly discovered that apartment rentals offered a much better value even for short stays. Most hotels in Europe offer standard rooms that sleep two or possibly two plus a kid. And you pay extra for guests in the room beyond one or two people, including kids. For our family of five this put us in large hotel suite territory (think $$$) or paying for two rooms, the second of which might come with extra person fees for the third kid.
We moved on to Airbnb, our choice for vacation apartment rentals. I’ve used VRBO in the past when I couldn’t find anything on Airbnb. But this time around, the inventory and options available in all the cities we are visiting was simply overwhelming so I didn’t need to expand my search beyond Airbnb.
I love their search tools because you can filter out properties that don’t meet your criteria and then save your favorite properties on a map so it’s easy to see where your most desired properties are located. Once you know exactly what you’re looking for, the thousands of properties in a city drop to several dozen or several hundred.
My typical search criteria was:
- Whole house rental (not “shared room” or “private room”)
- 2+ bedrooms (unless there aren’t many properties or they are super expensive or we’ll only be there for a couple nights, then 1+ bedroom)
- 4+ guests (many times there’s an extra bed or couch where a small kid can sleep or a huge bed where multiple kids can sleep; 5+ guest weeds out too many perfectly acceptable rentals)
- Air conditioning if it’s hot (summertime anywhere in Spain, Portugal, Italy)
- limit price to a max of 60-80% of the average for the city (and increase price limit to show more properties if nothing cheaper looks appealing)
Though not included in our search criteria, we highly desire:
- washer, and preferably dryer
- pet free
I find that limiting a search based on these latter four factors will eliminate nice properties that will work for us with some flexibility. Sometimes there’s a washer available on site for free or a small charge that isn’t included in the listing. One place we booked charges €3 per washer load, for example, but costs $40/night less than other comparable apartments! If the cost savings are huge (as in $100+), or the property is really luxurious or in a sweet location, it might be worth making a trip to a laundromat a couple times to make the apartment work for us.
Internet is another weird one. Almost all rentals that aren’t absolute bare-bones have internet these days, but some don’t list it or only list “wireless internet” or “internet” (they are two separate check boxes on Airbnb’s search). However, virtually all that have “internet” have a wireless router. The key is reading the description or asking the owner if it’s in doubt. Again, if the cost savings are huge or the property is otherwise wonderful we could forego internet. However, I can’t recall seeing a really nice property that didn’t have internet, which is why I ignore this as a search term but double check that internet is available before booking.
We also looked for places that had ratings of 4+ stars with at least a few written reviews. There’s no way to limit this with the search terms, but I would often skip over properties with poor ratings or no ratings. Too many other polished gems out there to research! However, if you’re on a very tight budget or not able to find much availability, there are certainly hidden gems waiting for you to find them. We’ve had to stay at a few places with zero or one review due to reservations falling through at the last minute and suddenly needing to book a new apartment on short notice. They all worked out fine after discussing the properties with the owner.
If you haven’t tried Airbnb yet, you should do so on your next vacation. It’s an incredible way to save money, stay in a much larger, nicer accommodation than a hotel room (especially relevant to families!), and end up in a cool non-touristy neighborhood surrounded by locals (part of the reason you’re traveling, right?). Right now you can take $40 off your first Airbnb stay through this link.
Here are all the apartments and houses we booked for our nine week trip:
|Destination||Nights||Cost||Cost Per Night|
|Koblenz (Mariaroth), Germany||7||$383||$55|
|20% savings w/ gift cards||$4,198||$66|
We booked 14 different properties for a total of 64 nights at a cost of USD$5,247, or $82 per night. Most are apartments with two bedrooms, a full kitchen, a living room, and one bathroom. A few places are three bedrooms with multiple bathrooms. All but one place booked for three or more nights have a washing machine.
Our goal isn’t to stay in the cheapest lodging possible, but rather to balance cost with comfort, luxury, convenience, cleanliness, and location. We could have saved 20-40% in most cities if we were traveling on a bare-bones budget and didn’t mind making sacrifices.
We have enjoyed a half dozen very positive Airbnb rentals and only one “rental from hell”. Feel free to read more about the latter experience. We learned to be wary of the lowest price properties and go with our guts when it comes to Airbnb places. If there’s a hint that a place is unclean, it doesn’t make it on our list.
I amplified the cost savings on apartment rentals through Airbnb by buying Airbnb gift cards at a 20% discount through Giftcardmall.com. Lots of them. Roughly $5,800. I clicked through Ebates to make the purchases at Giftcardmall, thereby adding ANOTHER 1% discount to the deal in the form of cash back. Sadly the Giftcardmall promotion ran for just a few days in December. However, keep your eyes open at discount sites like Slickdeals and you’ll occasionally see Airbnb gift cards on sale for 10-20% off face value (usually in limited quantities).
And don’t forget Ebates for cash back on hotels if you don’t go 100% Airbnb. Most hotels qualify for 3-6% when booked directly at the hotels’ website (12% for Hilton!!) and about the same if booked through Travelocity or Expedia. If you go the Hotels.com route (possibly with discounted gift cards from somewhere like Raise.com), you currently earn 6% cash back through Ebates on hotels.com purchases. Sign up for Ebates through this link for $10 bonus cash back for new members.
To summarize, you should be able to take at least a few percent off the cost of lodging using Ebates, and possibly 10-20% by combining discounted gift cards and shopping through Ebates.
In my case, I paid $4,198 cash for the gift cards used to purchase $5,247 worth of Airbnb rentals, a 20% cost savings (plus I got 1% cash back through Ebates).
Eating all the food
Most of the other areas of our trip are pretty well planned out, booked, and paid for. Food is the one area where we’re going to make it up as we go along. Belly rumbling means it’s time to eat.
Since we’ll have a full kitchen in all the Airbnb rentals, we have the option to cook essentially all meals. We (and specifically the kids) enjoy basic breakfasts including cold stuff like fruit and yogurt or cereal and milk. Sometimes we might get fancy and make some meat or eggs. Or get pastries from a nearby bakery or grocery store.
For lunch we’ll grab lunch on the go while we’re out sightseeing during the day. Some days we might pack a picnic lunch if we happen to have good ingredients on hand. Otherwise, it’ll be a mix of street food and sit down or casual restaurants and cafes.
Dinner will be a mix of cooking at the apartment and getting take out, with some dining out mixed in. You can’t go to Spain and NOT enjoy some tapas with wine or beer, right?
I know lunch is usually less expensive than dinner at restaurants, and we’ll naturally be consuming a higher proportion of lunches at restaurants given our schedule as tourists.
I found an app called “Too Good To Go” that I’m excited to try. The concept is simple – for a heavily discounted price, you purchase unsold food from a restaurant at the end of their meal service for pickup at a pre-determined time (usually around 3 pm or 8-9 pm). The price is generally USD$3-4 for a take out plate. I gather that sometimes it’s a mystery what they give you, and other times they give you a takeout tray to pick from their selection behind the counter or from their buffet. Definitely an interesting concept, but it leaves me wondering how fresh the offerings will be by the time you pick them up. So far the app is confined to a handful of countries in Europe plus 10 or so restaurants in New York City. Of the places we are visiting, the only city with a major Too Good To Go presence is Berlin with 50+ restaurants offering dirt cheap surplus food.
As far as groceries, I always enjoy visiting new grocery stores to see what’s new and different versus our experience at home. I’ve scoped out a few sales circulars for grocery stores near our rental apartments and confirmed that (1) Europeans do indeed buy food at grocery stores just like us Americans and (2) the prices are roughly the same on average, with some things a little more expensive and many things the same or cheaper.
For budgeting purposes I’m making an educated guess that we’ll spend an average of $20 per day on dining out and $20 per day on groceries (with the understanding that we can greatly exceed this budget if we find awesome places to eat!). That works out to roughly $1,250 each for restaurants and groceries, or $2,500 total for food.
We won’t dine out every day but we might end up dining out twice per day for several days in a row while we’re on the fast paced segments of the trip that find us staying in each city just two or three days at a time. We’ll have access to free food and drinks on some of the travel days at the airport lounges and the first class train lounges, so we might spend next to nothing on food for a few days of the trip.
We’ll be on vacation for nine weeks and don’t plan on packing in the museums, castles, and tourist attractions every day we are overseas. But when we do venture out for the day, we’ll inevitably buy numerous tickets for those museums, castles, and tourist attractions. I am pleased with just how cheap admission fees are in general. Many cities have castles, museums, and churches open for free visits all the time or on certain days of the week. We also enjoy walking around the historic districts, taking the kids to the park, and exploring natural parks and waterfronts (most of which are free or have nominal admission fees).
I’m budgeting $750 total for the various attractions that cost money. There are a few “must sees” on our trip that cost $40-100 for family admission:
- El Alhambra in Granada, Spain
- Postojna Cave and Skocjan Cave, outside Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Dachstein Ice Cave near Hallstatt, Austria
- Neuschwanstein Castle (admission is part of Bavaria pass)
We haven’t nailed down every single place we want to visit, but these locations stood out in our preliminary research as places we have to go. We’re brainstorming fun stuff to do and see in each city and we keep track of all that info in a spreadsheet. Then once we arrive in a new city we’ll dig through our list of local attractions to see what we’re up for at the moment.
Our goal is to pack light. By light, I mean everything should fit into regular size bookbags. The idea is we’ll be agile and mobile. We can hop on trains, toss the gear in lockers for a couple hours if necessary, stick the bags in overhead compartments (and carry them on board planes for free), and walk a mile or so with the bags on our backs (remember, we have kids including a soon to be five year old) to get from intercity train/bus station to public transit to our apartment.
We’ll probably take three changes of clothes since we’ll have a washing machine in every apartment and can do laundry frequently.
We will keep electronics gear to a minimum. Phones for the adults, Amazon FIRE tablets for the kids. We have a pair of ultralight laptops for the adults (the 13″ HP Probook 430 G3 at 3 pounds). All travel guides, leisure reading books, and entertainment will come from our tablets, phones, and computers. For photography, we have a basic DSLR, the Canon EOS Rebel T5i with a few lenses including a 75-300mm zoom lens.
Beyond clothes and electronics, we’ll have the regular assortment of toiletries and travel meds, snacks, water, and travel documents. That plus a spirit of adventure is all we’re taking, folks.
I admit it feels weird to walk out your front door for a two month journey with nothing more than a bookbag slung over your shoulder, but we did exactly that in 2015 when we spent nearly the whole summer living out of our bookbags while traveling around Mexico. It worked out just fine before with only 52 pounds of gear between the five of us.
The only tricky part about this trip is cold weather gear. It’ll be mild to warm in most destinations but the ice cave in Austria is supposed to be around freezing even in summer. I hate to bring a heavy coat and winter gear for this one cave visit, so I need to figure out a solution. So far I’m considering wearing socks on my hands, a long sleeve shirt, and accepting that it’ll be cold temporarily. Or find a thrift shop somewhere in Slovenia or Austria then ditch the clothes after the ice cave visit.
We are traveling with our three kids who will be five, ten, and twelve during our trip. The pace of the whole trip takes that into consideration which explains why we’re going pretty slow. We’re big fans of slow travel and loathe the idea of “popping off to another country for a quick weekend away”. Slow travel and kids go hand in hand.
The whole idea is to spend a relatively small proportion of the trip on a bus, train, or plane and most of the time relaxing or enjoying the places you are visiting. Initially we laid out a bold plan to visit 12-15 countries including 25 cities in the same nine week period. After realizing this was idiotic, we started amputating amazing destinations from our itinerary. Places like Paris – nope. The French Riviera – nope. Switzerland – nope. London – nope. Rome – nope. Belgium – nope. Budapest – nope. We eventually settled on eight countries with stays in 14 cities.
We designed our itinerary with plenty of time in most cities so we can take a day off every second or third day. This means we won’t see everything in every place we visit and that is okay, as long as we have a generally good time and all get along. Nine weeks on the road with exhausted children and frazzled adults is not a good time.
These “do nothing days” are golden. What a luxury to travel half way across the globe and NOT have to spend every waking moment sightseeing. It’s like a rainy Saturday back home when you don’t go out and spend the day reading, relaxing, catching some Netflix, and maybe an afternoon nap. Great way to battle travel fatigue.
Homesickness is a related issue we’ll face. We crave the familiar and the routine as much as we crave uniqueness. Sometimes you get tired of arguing with the guy behind the car rental counter or stressing out that you’ll miss your train. I find the “do nothing” days help it feel a little more like home as much as they provide relaxation and a day of respite. A nice juicy burger or a familiar home cooked meal helps too.
Along with homesickness is the yearning for people who just speak plain ole “regular” English. Conversing in a foreign language is tricky and mentally exhausting.
Foreign languages are challenging too. We are proficient in Spanish which will help for the nine days in Spain. I’ve completed a few dozen modules of German on Duolingo but I’m nowhere near being able to carry on a conversation. Otherwise, I’m hoping Italian and Portuguese are close enough to Spanish to let me catch a few words here and there. We’re totally screwed in Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Amsterdam since languages spoken there aren’t familiar to us at all.
I hope what they say is true – that everyone speaks English in Europe. For those that don’t, we have Google Translate on our phones along with mad charade skillz to mime what we need. I’d like to spend some more time on Duolingo learning the basics of Portuguese and Italian and refreshing my very rusty and basic German.
How we planned the trip
We started planning this trip in September of 2016 so that we could book plane tickets as early as possible in order to get the best flight schedules with convenient layovers. Our transatlantic flights are only 7.5 hours to Lisbon and 8.5 hours returning from Amsterdam (plus a one hour hop from the Washington DC airport to Raleigh here in the States). Seven or eight hours in coach isn’t ideal but overall our transatlantic flight itinerary is hard to beat. It’s only two hours longer than flying to the west coast from here and people do that without hesitation. And they still give out those tasty bags of peanuts, right? We might even get two bags on the transatlantic flights.
Once the flights were booked we had our trip bookends. We are flying into Lisbon, Portugal in mid-June and flying out of Amsterdam a bit over two months later. Then we had to figure out where exactly we wanted to visit in Europe and how we were going to travel between cities. Portugal and southern Spain made it on the list as did northern Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands. The biggest jump of the trip is between southern Spain and northern Italy, so we decided on flights between these two points.
Other cities were close enough together that buses and trains offer reasonable transit times. As a form of due diligence I checked the prices between cities along our route to ensure that a bus or train link was available at a reasonable price (it was). Then we started booking Airbnb apartments in all our destination cities before all the cheap and good places were reserved.
Once the lodging was finalized, the train and bus schedules for our specific travel dates opened up and I booked most of the intercity bus/train tickets. All intercity travel is booked at this time except the segments into and out of Prague which go on sale at the end of April.
The only remaining bookings are a few of the most popular tourist attractions like El Alhambra that can sell out a month or more ahead of time.
In general, we booked the big ticket items first to lock in good prices and options, then drilled down to smaller details on the itinerary once we knew for certain we were staying in a particular city and traveling by a certain method.
This method has worked out well so far except for the rental car pick up in Germany. We are doing four one week stays across Germany and the Czech Republic and switching apartments on Sundays. The apartments are already booked and paid for, and come with cancellation fees to change the dates. We are stuck with Sunday travel days. Many rental car offices aren’t open on Sundays or open for just a few hours so we’ll end up driving an hour longer to pick up the car at the rental company’s airport location instead of their downtown city locations. A lesser inconvenience is the German grocery store. It’s closed on Sunday so we’ll have to make do for our Sunday evening meal and get some groceries on Mondays.
To economize on the trip, we used a few tricks:
- credit card sign up bonuses for free flights to Europe
- Airbnb for apartments that sleep 5 for 50% less than hotels
- Ebates for 4-6+% cash back on most car rentals, hotels, and gear purchases
There you have it. That’s how you do a nine week vacation in Europe for a family of five for around $10,000.
|Rental Car – 24 days||$455|
|Lodging – 64 nights||$4,198|
Most of the trip is already booked and paid for, so the hardest part is done. Now we get to enjoy the fun part of reading about each destination and figuring out what we want to do while we are bumming around Europe.
In some regards, this will be a budget trip because we’re not staying in fancy five star luxury hotels nor dining in three star Michelin restaurants (well, probably not). In other regards, this really IS a luxury vacation because it won’t be rushed and the itinerary is customized to our interests and tastes.
As this post goes live, we have just under three months till we leave for Europe. Soon we’ll be packing our meager possessions in our bookbags and bidding farewell to home so we can spend the summer exploring the world.
Are we crazy? Can this be done? Any suggestions on the cities we are visiting? General tips on travel in Europe? If you’ve been to any of these places, what is number one must see on your list?
Update as of June, 2018: We’re back home and we have trip reports from all fourteen cities we visited during our nine week European family vacation:
- Summer Vacation for 5 in Europe: 9 Weeks, 8 Countries, 14 Cities, $10,000
- Surprising Finds in Lisbon, Portugal
- From the Alcazaba to Sea in Malaga, Spain
- Exploring La Alhambra and the Narrow Alleyways of Granada, Spain
- Enjoying The Alcazar and Jamon Iberico in Seville, Spain
- Castles, Skyscrapers, and Prosciutto in Milan, Italy
- The Meandering Canals and Bridges of Venice, Italy
- Exploring Caves and Castles in Ljubljana, Slovenia
- The Hidden Gems of the Julian Alps and Soča Valley in Slovenia
- Explore Austria: Salzburg, Hallstatt and the Dachstein Ice Cave
- A Week in Munich, Germany plus Neuschwanstein and Dachau
- Czech it out: Exploring Prague in a Week
- The Wall and The War: Exploring Berlin, Germany
- Koblenz, Germany, Eltz Castle, and the Mosel and Rhine Rivers
- Amsterdam’s Cheese Museum and Bike Parking Garages
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