Yep, we did it. We packed our bags once more and set out overseas to spend 31 days abroad as a family of four. William’s unused paternity leave was the perfect excuse to ignore all responsibilities and spend the following weeks gallivanting Europe. At the start of our journey, Briar was just shy of 11 months old and Arlo was a tad over 2 and a half years [and might I add, fully embracing the ‘terrible twos’ stigma]. That alone is enough to make most parents go, “No, thanks. I prefer not to torture myself while on vacation.” Understandably so. It takes a lot of effort to travel with small children and the luggage alone is not for the faint hearted. But the stress and hassle of it all is a small, small price to pay for the experiences we had and being able to share them with those we love most.
Thrifty at heart, we took a lot of public transportation to avoid the hefty prices of a cab. From planes, trains, buses, subways, trams, trolleys, and any cheaper route that the city had to offer, we sought it out and conquered. I quickly adopted the name ‘the traveling circus’ for us as we were quite the spectacle to everyone we passed. Some took pity on us, some looked intrigued, while others looked beyond bewildered.
By trial and error, we started to achieve a rhythm and adopt a system for the days we packed up camp and headed out to a new city. Most times, we would anxiously wait on a subway platform wondering whether or not we were going to successfully board and fit everything on in time. It took a lot of communication and a set game plan that sounded a little like this…
“You take the kids. And the blue bag. And maybe the small bag if you can? I’ll load the heavy suitcase first and then lift the stroller. Or maybe we should fold up the stroller up and I’ll grab the backpack?”
“Oh man, I hope this train car is empty, we can’t afford to miss another one.”
“You tuck away the luggage, but make sure to always hold Arlo’s hand. He keeps trying to run away.”
“Arlo! Get over here sweetie. The train is coming! Stay with mommy.”
“Just squeeze and push your way through! Don’t worry about me, I’ll just throw the luggage on as quickly as possible.”
“Where’s Arlo’s bag? We can’t forget it this time.”
“Oh shoot, the train looks packed.”
“Go, go, go!”
“If I don’t make it on, it’s the fourth stop and I’ll meet you there.”
And here’s a little visual of our packed up ‘camp’…
With all that being said, we had some good laughs [at our expense] and made countless memories that’ll last a lifetime! Crazy or inspiring? The verdict is still out.
The following is the breakdown of our adventure and a little taste of what’s to come.
April 23rd – May 23rd
Day 1- Flew from Oakland, Ca to Rome, Italy via Norwegian Air.
Norwegian Air is a surprisingly delightful budget airline that I would happily take again.
Spend the night in Rome for one night before heading out to Florence.
Day 3- Train from Rome to Florence
Spend 3 nights in Florence
Day 6- Picked up a rental car and drive to the Dolomites
Spend 3 nights in the Dolomites
Day 9- Drive to Venice / Hop on a ferry to the island
Spend 2 nights in Venice
Day 11- Head back to Rome by train
Spend 4 nights in Rome
Day 15- Fly to Budapest via RyanAir [Avoid this airline at all costs]
Spend 4 nights in Budapest
Day 19- Train to Vienna
Spend 3 nights in Vienna
Day 22- Fly to Amsterdam via Austrian Air [I highly recommend this airline]
Spend 3 nights in Amsterdam [or all of eternity because it is the most amazing city]
Day 25- Pick up rental car and drive to Bruges
Spend 3 nights in Bruges
Day 28- Train to London
Spend 3 nights in London
Day 31- Fly home to San Francisco, CA from London via Norwegian Air
In the weeks to follow, I plan to write up an individual post of each city that we visited. I am super excited to share with you all of my experiences and the little gems that I found along the way. I find a lot of joy in writing for the sake of writing, but I also want this to be an informational blog to hopefully give a bit more insight with the nitty gritty details of my travels. So whether you are looking to read this for pleasure or because you are planning a trip of your own – I hope you enjoy!