Planning an International Family Adventure

Malcesine Lake Garda, Italy

Extended Family Vacation in Europe

School is starting and summer is on it’s way into fall.  With kids in school, weekend trips and family adventures in the works, you’d think that the travel bug would be in hibernation for a bit.    Instead, we’re taking this opportunity to plan a much more involved (and lengthy) trip for next summer. . . one that will take a good nine months of planning.

We’ve decided to attempt a European vacation for the four of us (2 adults, 2 kids).  Since flights are so expensive (a thousand dollars at minimum), we’re working on extending our trip for as long as a month and figuring out ways to make it both economical and adventurous.

Choosing an International Destination with Kids

Some factors that we’re considering as we begin the planning.

1.) Can we rent an apartment for a month?  Where? How do we go about finding the best resources? We require internet, a small kitchen (to cut down on eating expenses), and beds for four. A relatively safe locale, with easy access to grocery and other conveniences is also on the list.  So far, our best resource for investigating has been, but we’re still looking at expanding our resource list.

2.) Will we need a vehicle for all or part of the time?  If we go to most locations, a car is required in order for us to get to the climbing areas. Some locales will have opportunities for climbing within walking distance while others are more spread out.

3.)  Is there sport climbing available with a short approach and a landing that is safe/accessible for kids?  One of the main points of this trip is to do a bit of climbing.  Can we go climbing with the kids in tow and without another adult?

4.) How difficult is it to get there? Is it a direct flight, then a drive? Is it two flights and then a train? What is involved in the travel?

5.) What else is around to do with the kids?  This is less of a concern, as kids will make due, but we’d like some water (ocean or lake) and/or other kid friendly summer vacation options in the vicinity.

Stay tuned as we do more research and start to nail down a location.  For now, top on our list are Sardinia Italy, Arco Italy, Mallorca Spain and/or potentially France (generically, as we don’t know exactly where yet).  Chime in with your suggestions, recommendations, resources, and helpful tips for international travel.  In addition, if you have a room to rent in any of these locations, feel free to email us.


Top 5 Reasons to Camp vs. Stay in a Hotel with Kids

Following is a list of pros and cons for tent camping with kids as opposed to selecting a hotel.  Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments list below.

1.  Hotel Cleanliness vs. Camping Cleanliness

Hotel Pro: Three star and higher, the room is clean, the sheets are soft, and television is only a click away.

Hotel Con: Actual cleanliness is always a concern (how well did they really clean your room)?  Television is only a click away.

Hotel: Bathtub.  Soap.  Hot water.

Camping Con: Maybe a shower. Maybe hot water. Bring your own soap.

Camping Pro: Who cares about cleanliness, we’re camping?  As soon as they step out of the shower the kids are dirty again anyway!

Camping Con: Bugs

Hotel Con: Bed bugs

2. Kid Friendly Sleep at Hotels vs. Campsite Sleep

Camping Pro: Everyone at a campground is an early riser, you and your kids won’t be the only ones making noise at 6 am!

Camping Con: No sound proof walls, if your child (or someone else’s) wakes up in the middle of the night, everyone will hear.

Hotel Pro: You have your own space, your own room.

Hotel Con: You primarily have one room in which to occupy your child once they awaken.

Camping Pro: The outdoors are entertaining for even the smallest child, and most campgrounds have kid friendly playgrounds, trails, and nature.

3.  Cost of a Hotel vs. Campsite

Hotel Con: Usually costs twice that of a campsite for one night stay.  Plus you can’t cook your own food, so add dining costs as well.

Camping Con: Startup costs are pricey as you pay for tents, sleeping bag, camp stoves and more.

Camping Pro: Once you have the gear, camping will be half the price.

4.  Location/Arrival Times for Campgrounds vs. Hotels

Hotel Con:  Quality hotels are often hard to find in the typical “rustic” outdoor location.  You often drive further to find reasonable priced hotels that are of good quality.

Hotel Pro: You can arrive as late as you want and no one will be disturbed.

Camping Con: Arrival at campsites is often unwelcome after a certain time (and setting up a tent in the pitch black leaves a bit to be desired).

Camping Pro: Campsites abound in most outdoor friendly locations.

Camping Con: Campsites vary in both quality and size.  Uneven ground, proximity to the bathrooms, and proximity to others can make or break the quality of your sleep.

5.  Experience at a Hotel vs. Camping

Camping Pro: My kids view every vacation as an “adventure” because they remember the campsite, the campfire, climbing, camp beaches, camp food, hikes, bugs, and more.  Staying at a campsite is as much a part of the vacation experience as going to the beach, visiting a water park, or heading to a National Park.

Hotel Pro: For those that don’t get to experience the lap of luxury often, staying at a hotel can provide quite the luxury vacation experience.  Room service, fluffy towels, indoor pools and more can truly add to the relaxation and “off duty” feel of a vacation.

Did I miss something? Add it in the comments below.