Heading back to Europe with kids in tow

 In Europe, Solo Mom Travel

Europe is calling. Yes, it is true. The boys and I are heading back to Europe for another 5-week adventure. The last time we did this Dek was 3 and Ty was 5 months old. Now Dek is five and a half years old and Ty will turn three while we are in Paris.

I look back on my first trip to Europe with the boys and I think to myself “I must have been insane.” Looking down at my toddler now I can’t imagine doing that trip again with him and a baby, but really, aren’t the best adventures born from insanity? I seem to think so since I’m doing it again.

Family-in-Ferrara-001

Our first trip to Europe as a family of four back in 2012

This trip is a big one for us. Dek starts kindergarten in the fall. Our travel schedule will need to shift. We won’t be able to run away to Europe for a long trip on the off-season or even the shoulder-season anymore. We will be joining the millions of families trying to squeeze in the most travel possible while sticking to a strict school schedule. Yes, I could home school my kids if I really wanted to travel more. However, anyone who has met me knows I don’t have the temperament to home school two energetic boys, but enough about school. Let’s talk about this trip!

Where are we going?

  • Paris (5 days)
  • London (3 days)
  • Scotland (2 weeks)
  • Italy (12 days)
  • Switzerland (6 days)

I know what you are thinking—this is a whirlwind trip. Keep in mind that we are traveling for just over 5 weeks. We also won’t be seeing EVERYTHING each spot has to offer. Each destination will also have it’s own spin on it.

Keryn-and-T-001

Hanging out in Ferrara, Italy with friends in 2012 when Ty was 5 months old.

Paris

As many of you might remember, I won a trip to Paris last fall through Fat Tire Tours. This is the trip that kicked off our European adventure. The contest included airfare for two, five nights in a gorgeous 2-bedroom apartment and all the tours we wanted to take through Fat Tire Tours. Mike’s first question when I won the trip was “am I allowed to come?” My poor husband, he is so used to the boys and I leaving him home to work. He just isn’t sure when he is included in the adventure, especially when it is a trip for two that I won. I quickly confirmed with Fat Tire Tours that yes, the entire family was welcome to join in on the trip. Hooray! We are taking full advantage of the tours the company offers, hopping on one or two per day to do a blitz tour of Paris in five days. I’m exhausted and exhilarated just thinking about it. Follow along via #walkingonParis

Trieste-Italy-001

Exploring the town of Trieste, Italy in 2012 with the boys.

London

It is hard for us to go to Europe and not stop in London. Mike and I both feel at home in this cosmopolitan city filled with history at every turn. We also happen to have friends there that we can stay with. They had a baby a year ago that we still haven’t met, so naturally we will take the Chunnel train over for the weekend to visit with them. This will give us a moment to catch our breath and sit still for a few minutes before our next stop.

One of our favorite things to do with the kids in Europe back in 2012 was to go on bike rides.

One of our favorite things to do with the kids in Europe back in 2012 was to go on bike rides.

Scotland

The day the boys and I fly to Edinburgh from London, Mike will be heading home. When we moved to DC his vacation time was cut down quite drastically. He knew he could only spend about a week away. It’s OK though. He won’t have time to miss us too much. His project is going full speed ahead while we are gone so he will be coming home to lots of long hours at the office.

Meanwhile, the boys and I will fly up to Edinburgh to meet up with my parents for a 2-week road trip around Scotland. We’ve rented apartments along the way with stops in Edinburgh, Oban and the Isle of Mull. Why Mull you ask? Well my mother saw the 1945 classic film “I Know Where I’m Going.” Although the film quality isn’t the best to show off the epic Scottish scenery and there aren’t that many shots of the area in the film, my mom was hooked and has wanted to go to Mull ever since. We will do lots of hiking, exploring castles and hanging out with the locals in the rain. Follow along via #walkingonScotland 

Keryn-and-boy-in-Rovinj-001

A road trip with friends to Croatia was an unexpected adventure back in 2012.

Italy

After being wet for two weeks the boys and I will fly to Rome to meet up with my friend Tai from Chicago and her daughter. Tai and I came up with a harebrained idea that we should road trip the coast and Tuscany with our three children (all under the age of 6) together. Tai’s daughter is one and has not been to Europe yet, while Tai has been to Europe multiple times in her life and even lived in Italy for a while before settling down to life in Chicago as an interior designer. Tai’s husband also doesn’t get enough vacation time to keep up with her wanderlust, so we decided to do a trip together. It started out as a five-country road trip, but when all was said and done we decided to just enjoy some of the best spots Italy has to offer. Our main stops will be the Cinque Terre and Tuscany around Cortona. Fingers crossed we make it from Rome to Cinque Terre in time to catch the Lemon Festival. Keep an eye out for posts on the blog and live social media updates from both Tai and I as we cover the trip together. Follow along via #walkingonItaly.

Fingers crossed I'm not quite as jet lagged this time when I see Tara as I was back in 2012.

Fingers crossed I’m not quite as jet lagged this time when I see Tara as I was back in 2012.

Switzerland

In 2013, I was in Spain with Mike, the boys and my parents for two weeks. I regret not tacking on more time to go up to Switzerland to see one of my best friend’s Tara at the time. I’d seen her the year before on our first family trip to Europe, but when it is your best friend and you are on her continent and you don’t get to see her, well, you tend to mourn that lost time. Determined not to make that mistake again I decided to end our trip with her family. The boys and I will take the train from Rome to Bern, Switzerland so I can dump my suitcases and collapse on Tara’s couch for some much-needed rest, wine, fondue and catch up time. Tara and I have been scheming away on the future of Walking On Travels and a few other projects. It will be good to have some face time as we move forward with our plans. Follow along via #walkingonBern

So there you have it folks—our Europe Spring 2015 adventure awaits. We hope you will follow along on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I’ll be hashtagging #walkingonEurope plus #walkingonParis, #walkingonLondon, #walkingonScotland, #walkingonItaly and #walkingonBern during our travels. Make no mistake though, you will see a lot of content go up on the blog this summer and fall about our trip. Just try to stop me!

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Showing 8 comments
  • Tamara @ We3Travel
    Reply

    This sounds like an amazing trip! You are smart to do it now before the boys are in school. While elementary school is easy enough to pull them out, schools aren’t always happy about it. My husband is in the same boat with regards to his vacation time and so I enjoy taking solo trips with my daughter but always feel guilty doing anything too exciting while leaving him at home. I also find it so challenging to solo parent during busy travel trips when I’m also trying to keep all the balls in the air with regards to my consulting work and blog so I’m not sure I could manage 4 weeks alone unless I could be mostly offline for a while. My hat is off to you for making it happen! Hopefully meeting up with family and friends will make it even more enjoyable. I’ll be enviously following along!

  • Bethaney Davies
    Reply

    This sounds like an excellent trip!!! I’m interested to what you think of Scotland. I never made it up there while I lived in the UK. See you in Paris for cake next week!

  • Mom
    Reply

    You forgot that we’re going to Iona, …the spiritual center of Scotland and just off Mull. And, to further justify my choice of Mull, the travel time there is 1/2 that of Skye from Edinburgh and probably has fewer tourists because we’ve got to take the ferry there, not a bridge. I’m looking forward to the quiet, chance to meet local folks and the mystical sense of the presence of God when I am close to nature in all its forms, especially on the North Atlantic coasts…foggy, windy, brooding, romantic and yes, a little rainy! Boswell, Johnson and Stevenson thought Mull was worth a visit, and I can’t wait to share it with you, Dad and the boys!

  • Gillian
    Reply

    Hello. I found your blog through Instagram and I’ve just spent a lovely morning having a browse! I agree wholeheartedly with your ethos. I was a flight attendant for 20 years and my children (I have 5 ageing from 20 to 8)) were lucky enough to enjoy all the travel perks that came with the job.
    I just wanted to mention there is a children’s television series called ” Balamory” which is filmed (and based on) the colourful town of Tobermory on Mull. It’s educational and aimed at nursery (kindergarten) age children and younger. You’ll find it on YouTube now as it’s no longer broadcast on the BBC. Hope you don’t mind me suggesting it. Your boys would probably get a kick out of seeing some of the houses featured when you visit – I know mine did when they were little. I hope you and your parents have a wonderful time when you visit Scotland. We’re a friendly bunch and very proud of our beautiful little country! Regards Gillian

    • Keryn Means
      Reply

      Thank you so much Gillian. We are in Paris right now and I’ll definitely be looking up the show for the boys to watch! I’ll let my mom know too. She will love it! So happy you found my blog. Hope to see you here again!

      • Mom
        Reply

        Hi Gillian, Thanks for the suggestion. We’re busy packing, but when we need a break, I’m going to make sure I spend some time with Balamory before we leave!

  • Allison
    Reply

    It’s fun to watch your European travels on social media! Look forward to reading your tips for families when you return.

  • Colleen Lanin
    Reply

    So excited for you! Enjoy!

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