Europe Trip Planner
If you are looking to plan a trip to Europe, you have come to the right place. I’ve saved my experiences from our trip to Italy to preserve the memories and to instill wisdom for those planning a trip in the future.
Planning for our trip started back in the fall of 2019. The summer had come to an end, and while it was an incredibly exciting summer, I missed Italy. Our weeks in Italy the summer before were the best. The kids loved it more than I ever expected, and I desperately wanted to take them back. If you have never been to Italy, I am sure you will feel the same way!
I’m currently planning a trip to Europe and am sharing the process with you today and after we return I’ll update my experiences after we leave each stop.
Planning a Post Covid Trip to Europe
I had our itinerary almost set for 2020, so I started by browsing some of the same rentals, etc. As the months went on, I had to admit to myself: things weren’t opening up for Italy 2021 either.
We pivoted to Costa Rica, which was incredible, and I tucked my Italian itinerary away again.
In December 2021, the girls and I traveled to Europe. We visited friends in Amsterdam, and while it wasn’t easy to navigate all of the new rules that came along with European travel, it was a great feeling to know it was “allowed” again.
Right after Christmas, I started tracking flights, pulling together potential Itineraries, and saving houses in all different areas.
I was ready to plan our return to Europe! Of course, I wanted to return to Italy but flying a family of 7 to Europe is not cheap. I felt like if we were going to commit to a return to Europe, it made the most sense to try and show the kids new places too.
5 Things to Think about When Planning Your International Vacation
- Where do you want to go?
Make a list and prioritize your dream locations. This is the fun part! Dream big and decide what your must-see locations are and what time of year you want to be there. What is it like in the summer? Will you save money by going in the off-season?
- Research lodging and book ahead.
Once you know when and where you’ll be vacationing, you can research where you will stay and be on the lookout for the best deals.
- Research what you want to do.
Next, you can plan your itinerary and your schedule. What exciting activities are near your accommodations? Do you need to book in advance?
- Make a packing list and start buying everything you need.
Planning ahead decreases your chances of forgetting something. If you are traveling with kids, check out my Simple Packing Guide for Kids.
- Set your budget.
Find out what it costs to eat and any additional tours for things you must do. Look into local eateries and get an idea of what it will cost for each person to eat each day.
- Book your flights.
There are many great places to look for cheap flights. Google Flights is a great place to start. Inexpensive plane tickets are not hard to find. You just need to be patient and ready to book when you find the perfect deal!
It’s also hard to rationalize the cost of flying to Europe for 7 for just 7 days. I will talk a lot more about this in another planning post, but if we were flying back, we’d stay for a few weeks again. On February 1st, flights were booked!
So where to?! Here’s how we decided on Ireland, Italy, and Spain:
Amazing Places to Visit in Europe
Ireland: My parents would be joining me on the first part of the trip. I wanted to make sure they got to see a new place. When my mom planned her retirement in 2019, we talked about traveling to Ireland as it was somewhere they always wanted to see. So I hoped starting the trip in Ireland might convince them to join me + my 5 kids on an adventure.
Some really awesome sites in Ireland you might want to research for your travel are:
Dublin Castle is an unforgettable place to visit in Europe. It was once a Viking fortress and now is used for state business.
There are guided, and self-guided tours, and you can book your tickets here.
Don’t forget to add this beautiful architecture to your trip.
Grafton Street is a shopping hub that is bustling with live music, restaurants, street performers, and more! Grab gifts for your friends and family and yourself, of course!
THE BUTTER MUSEUM
Ireland is known for its fame in the butter trade, and The Butter Museum is the place to get the history of it all. Currently, Butter making demonstrations can be enjoyed on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 12.00 noon
ROCK OF CASHEL
Going back to the fourth or fifth century Ad, this structure is steeped in history. Today it is still stunning and so popular that you will want to book your tickets in advance and arrive early.
Book tickets for your tour here.
Italy: we all know why this is on the list! It will be the bulk of the trip again.
I recommend you plan to visit:
St Mark’s Basilica in Venice
This religious temple is one thing you should add to your Europe trip itinerary! This is one of the most beautiful cathedrals and is popular to visit. You can visit for free, but it is recommended to book a tour.
When in Rome, you must not leave without seeing the coliseum. This amphitheater was home to the gladiator games and will definitely leave you feeling cultured and honored to have seen such a breathtaking piece of history.
The Amalfi Coast
If you’ve seen pictures of the Amalfi Coast, you know why it is on this list. Beautiful beaches, the turquoise sea, and full of food and culture. There are amazing photo opportunities that are definitely worth taking the time to stop for.
Spain: Spain was added for a few reasons.
- Maggie’s favorite subject is Spanish, and I wanted to visit a country she could practice the language
- No one in the family has ever been but me
- I went to a travel press event about Catalonia travel, and a group of locals convinced me if I loved the Italian coast, then I had to see their coast
- When I was on my crazy cheap flight search, the cheapest spot for us to fly home from was Barcelona
Tips for Booking European Accommodations
Once we had flights and countries picked, it was time to divide up the weeks and find where to stay. For each country we would visit, I started with Kid & Coe. The last time we were in Italy for the month, we visited quite a few apartments & hotels, and using Kid & Coe in Venice (details) was a major highlight of the trip.
I can say with certainty that loving Venice with kids was 100% because of the location of the apartment, the apartment itself, and the hosts.
Because of that, I recommend that you start on that site if you are traveling with children.
Transportation in Europe
Once all the accommodations were booked, I started working on the transportation between spots. In addition to flights within Europe, the hardest part for a group of our size: cars. Like last time, we’ll use trains as much as possible, and shockingly DID find one rental car in one location that will fit us!
Check out Omnio to see local train and bus tickets. This is a priceless option for planning your international adventures!
So… next month we’re off! Lots of weeks, lots of stops, and lots of kids.
Traveling Europe with Kids
With almost a decade of traveling with kids under my belt, I knew that one of the easiest ages to travel with a baby is the months when they love being in a baby carrier and are not yet on the go.
After many conversations trying to convince (beg) Tom that jetting off to Europe our first summer as parents of 5 kids was a good idea…. He agreed.
I can remember our conversations about how important these weeks during the summer are because “think of how many summers we have before college”.
We started to talk about not going with a baby that small. Talks of “the virus” were still far, far away from home, but it was going to be a World Cup year in Italy, and we talked about whether or not we would want a baby in those crowded train stations before he/she had all of their shots. Little did we know how the world and world health would change in the coming weeks.
We do not regret traveling with a young baby and hope that we have encouraged you not to fear traveling with littles!
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