Traveling with kids is a blessing. You get to explore the world with your kids, show them new things, practice another language and turn them into global citizens. This is all well and good, but let’s be honest, traveling with kids can also be exhausting. If you have younger kids, museums can be painful, you don’t get to stay up late at night eating at the restaurants you have read about during your trip research, and you have to be in early for bedtime.
Sometimes you just need to get away on your own, and that is OK. I dream about the day my husband and I can run away for more than a night or a weekend without the kids. It is good for us to do. I’d even take 36-hours in Paris, you know, if the plane tickets didn’t cost so much for such a quick trip.
One day my boys will leave my house and start their own careers and families. My husband will always be here though. I need to remember why I love him and what we have in common. Travel has always been something we love, so why not start to prioritize a few trips together before the boys head off on their own. Where would I go without my boys if I flew to Europe? The options are endless, but here is our wish list for the year.
CroisiEurope River Cruise
The popularity of European river cruises is on the rise, and for good reason. You get all the benefits of a cruise on a smaller boat that can get you to places the larger ships just can’t reach. I always figured I would have to wait until our boys were long gone before my husband and I hopped on a river cruise, but which one would I take? The options are growing, but let’s get real, while you may go to Europe for the sights, I go more for the food.
CroisiEurope has gourmet cruises and features French cuisine on all of their ships. Itineraries can bring you to Naples and down the Amalfi coast, or Paris and Normandy on the Siene. Right now I think I would go for the Blue Danabe to the Black sea cruise—12 days discovering 7 countries and ports including Linz, Melk, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Bezdan, Novi Sad, Belgrade, through the Iron Gates, Ruse, Giurgiu, Oltenita, Tulcea and Constanta. I’ve never heard of half of these please, but the photos look incredible and not having to pack and repack to see it all sounds like bliss to me.
Road trip around Ireland
I recently won a weekend stay at Ashford Castle in Ireland. I’m not sure we will be able to swing it since this is definitely not a place I want to bring my kids, but a mom can dream. I would fly into Dublin and rent a car to road trip around Ireland, or at least head down to County Cork where my great-grandmother was from. I’d then circle north up to Ashford Castle in County Mayo for a luxurious stay. Yes, the castle does have a family room, but I’d rather enjoy my afternoon tea tantrum free. We can plan a family vacation to Ireland another time.
Paris sans kids
In the spring of 2015, we brought our boys to Paris for a week of walking, museums, bike rides and eating. It was a rushed five days, but we had so much fun getting our feet wet in the City of Light. My husband and I feel like we missed out though. Paris is a walker’s paradise, and we have always loved walking aimlessly through the back streets of a new city. When in Rome for our honeymoon we walked 12 hours a day. While most people would take a taxi or the metro to different attractions, we chose to walk there so we could see more of the city. As art majors, we did get to see the highlights of the Louvre with the boys, but our visit to the Musee d’Orsay was rushed because the boys just wanted to be outside.
Hike and drive around Malta
Sometime in high school, way back when, Malta showed up in the pages of National Geographic Traveler magazine. I was obsessed with travel even then, possibly because I hadn’t been to very many places. I remember a picture of a cliff with the blue Mediterranean sea below. People might have been jumping off of it, but the memory is hazy. Since the day I saw those photos I knew I had to go to this small island nation. I would rent a car with my husband and just drive, finding the small towns and meeting the people who live in them. Most of all, we would eat pastizzi, bread pudding, honey rings and kannoli.
Walk the steps of Santorini
Long have those iconic white and blue houses of Santorini, an island off the coast of Greece, laid claim to my mind as the perfect romantic getaway. Climbing the steps that wind up the hills, watching as donkeys cart goods up to restaurants while we dine al fresco, sipping wine as the sun sets over the Mediterranean. It’s a dream I share with many other wanderlusters looking for that quiet escape from the norm.
My family would love to see the ancient architecture and history of Athens, but when I think about a trip to Greece, the island of Santorini is first on my mind. If I had enough time I would island hop, but put me in a little room in one of those blue and white houses with my husband, and I would be one happy mama.
Photo credits: Paris, Austria, Ireland, Malta and Santorini. Paris bike photo by Keryn Means.