We get this question a lot: How did we choose where to go?
It’s kind of like asking, where do you start? That’s why I created travel products to support other families who might be wondering, how do I even begin to plan a meaningful family trip?
Here’s how it went for us:
A few years prior, I was dreaming up a world/homeschool experience where our family would explore, learn and discover together. I knew Ancient Rome and the Renaissance would be topics of study with our seventh grader. From the physical power of the Romans, to the flourishing of new thought during the Renaissance, these historical time periods reflect the inner changes of the pubescent child.
Actually, it felt like the whole family was on the brink of more expansive thinking and expression, not just our preteen. So instead of asking: where do we want to go?, it was more like: why not go to Italy? Why not go to the very place where the Romans built their great roads, aqueducts and arches? Why not go to Florence and see where the Renaissance was birthed? Why not view learning as a constant, always available opportunity that does not have to be contained in a classroom?
So . . . first up on the itinerary: Rome. We found a direct flight with Norwegian from New York. I love direct flights! Because we have family in Brooklyn and we’d been wanting to visit, we decided to begin the trip with five days in New York. After that, one red-eye would land us in Rome.
Through mutual friends, we knew a couple that had a B & B in Tuscany, not far from Florence. This made our next decision easy! Second stop: small Tuscan village.
I convinced Kai that because it’s so easy to move around in Europe, we should stay longer and explore more places. I had my eyes set on the south of France, while he searched out some of the top places for surfing. Once he pinpointed Ericeira, Portugal as his surfing destination, it looked like a natural ending point for our trip—with France and Spain in between. I chose Aix-en-Provence because it was near a site I’d long wanted to visit—the cave of Mary Magdalene. Then, looking at its placement on the map, and hearing so many great things about this city, Barcelona was an obvious choice.
We booked Airbnb’s for our next three stops: Aix, Barcelona, Ericeira. We did this thinking that we’d drive from Italy to France, then to Barcelona, and lastly, fly to Lisbon, Portugal. When we went to book the car, we realized our rookie mistake. Renting a car in one country and returning it in another cost an extra $1200. I researched our transportation options and found that flying with Vueling in between cities would be the easiest and most affordable alternative. (If you want to avoid our other mistakes, check out Practical Tips on the Travel Resources page!)
Here are the highlights of our trip (More on each destination in separate blogs):
Rome: 5 days
Private car pick-up from the airport arranged by our Airbnb host. Lots of walking and some taxi-taking. Eating lots of pizza and pasta. Gelato every day. Visiting the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica.
Taxi back to the airport. Rent a car and drive 3 hours to village just outside Lucca.
Tuscany: 12 days
Bike riding along an ancient aqueduct, walking the walled city of Lucca, learning about olive oil production and dinner on a Tuscan farm. Day trips to Pisa, Cinque Terre and Florence. Pasta and pizza, oh my!
Drive back to Rome, return rental car and fly to Marseille, France. Rent a car in Marseille, drive 30 minutes to Aix-en-Provence.
Aix-en-Provence: 5 days
Walking the small city of Aix, crepe making experience with a local. Day trips to the cave of Mary Magdalene and the coastal town of Cassis.
Drive back to Marseille, return rental car and fly to Barcelona. Taxi to Airbnb.
Barcelona: 3 days
Walking Barcelona and using public transport. Flamenco show, and visiting La Sagrada Familia.
Taxi to airport, fly to Lisbon. Rent a car in Lisbon and drive 45 minutes to Ericeira.
Ericeira: 9 days
Surfing every day (Kai), walking the small town and beaches, down time and day trips to Sintra.
Fly Tap Air Portugal home to Florida.
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And if you are wondering where to go and how to begin, find support in the products on the Travel Resources page.