Post contains affiliate links (read my full disclosure).
SHOP MY SUMMER TRIP WARDROBE:
Read My Packing Post HERE… “Packing 30+ Outfits in ONE Carry-On Bag…“
Really quick before I chat your HEADS OFF about our Summer travels, I just wanted to share that The Biggest Sale of The Year starts THIS THURSDAY! Make sure and get your card now (HERE) if you are interested in shopping early access which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! It is literally all of the best for Fall at amazing discounts! I will be sharing my faves and outfit ideas from the HUGE SALE starting on Thursday! Now let’s chat travel…
Two years ago I had the craziest dream. To travel the world every Summer with my girls. Not for one week or even two. For over a month each Summer for the true “life in…” experience. I have always been a dreamer and I have always wanted to travel the world. Well to be honest I have always wanted to LIVE all over the world. I literally remember vividly trying to convince Mark to move to Belgium with me twelve years ago. He obviously declined the crazy idea but it’s just always been in me to want to experience life all over the world for as long as I can remember. So one day this crazy dreamer girl had this crazy idea and her crazy husband said YES!!!
Fast forward almost one year later and we embarked on our very first adventure. My then nine year old, four year old and I flew about as far across the United States as possible to Portland, Oregon for the Summer. Mark joined us for the first five days and also planned on coming back for the last week as well. I honestly wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I wasn’t sure if we would get home sick, if we would be scared, if we would wish we could come home sooner, if we would get bored or maybe even exhausted… I had lots of thoughts and fears that first Summer but it went absolutely perfect! The girls had the best time and we made a lifetime of memories. I truly felt like it was such a gift of life and lessons for both of my girls that I wanted to continue giving it to them Summer after Summer.
Fast forward again just a few months later to last Fall and I was deciding where we would venture to for our second annual Summer adventure. I had learned soooo much about planning from that first Summer that I was feeling a wee bit more adventurous. How about Europe for the Summer??? This time around I REALLY wasn’t sure if Mark would say yes but he did and I was PUMPED.
As you may have seen on my Instagram stories over the last six weeks, we truly had the TRIP OF A LIFETIME! From France to Switzerland and day trips into the countries of Germany, Austria, Monaco and Liechtenstein, it was the most amazing adventure I could’ve ever dreamed times a million. And now that we are back, I am SO excited to share every detail with all of you! Including our entire itinerary, what I’ve learned, tips on planning a trip this long, tips for traveling with kiddos and recommendations for every city we visited!
One of the questions I have been asked most is HOW DO YOU EVEN BEGIN TO PLAN A TRIP THIS LONG? So today I am sharing what I do and what I have learned…
- Start Your Bucket List- First things first… Where do you dream of going? As a girl who has dreamed of traveling the world for as long as I can remember, I have been building that list for quite some time. About six or seven years ago, I had taken a girl’s trip to the Pacific Northwest for the first time and I LOVED IT! That was my inspiration for our first Summer adventure. For this Summer, I started with the idea of traveling to France. I minored in French in college so I have long dreamed of road-tripping the country. We had been to Paris twice just Mark and I about ten years ago so I had a general idea of at least the “big city France life”. From there it was literally a combination of cities I had heard about, pictures I had pinned on Pinterest and Instagram images I had saved. Since I wanted to do six weeks this Summer, I knew we would have plenty of time to road trip another country as well so I chose neighboring Switzerland since I have always heard it was everyone’s fave! My advice… start a Pinterest board, save Instagram travel images and even start a notepad in your phone of YOUR ultimate travel bucket list!
- Consider the Weather– As crazy as it sounds, the first consideration I make when planning a trip is the average weather for that time of year. This trumps every other consideration (except safety of course) by a mile! For example, I LOVE the Pacific Northwest but it rains literally October-May so I knew the Summer would be perfect! Another example is that I would LOVE to do a Summer in Australia BUT our Summer is their Winter so I have definitely crossed that one off of the list! I can honestly say that weather has been a huge factor in what has made both of our Summers amazing. Although it is IMPOSSIBLE to predict it 100%, at least make sure that the average temperatures and rainfall/snow for that time of year coincides with what you are dreaming of for YOUR travels!
- Ask Around– It never hurts to ask for recommendations! I am honestly SHOCKED every single time we go somewhere, even the craziest of places, of just how many people on my personal Facebook page alone have either been there or know someone who has. Add in my business FB and IG and there’s at least one person who has even lived there for a time! Literally. Blows my mind every time! For our Oregon adventures, I had actually met a friend who lives in Portland through Instagram several years ago and she helped me with my planning a TON! It’s always awesome to have someone at least point you in the right direction as far as what hotel/airbnb areas are in good parts of town. Especially since lots of our travels are just me and my girls. For this Summer, we actually have a a family friend who “Summered in France” several years ago so she was a HUGE help! And then with Switzerland, I posted a little something on my personal Facebook page and a friend of a friend had lived in Switzerland for several years and no lie.. she mapped out our entire trip! So start asking around and see if someone you know can help you with YOUR travels!
- Plan Transportation FIRST– Yep, getting there is the most important part! If there’s one thing other than weather that can really make or break a vacation, it is how you arrive! Well, how long it takes and how stressful it was to be exact. We are “travel blessed” to live just 45 minutes from the busiest airport in the world and no, I am not being sarcastic… the Atlanta airport flies direct to soooo many places that we never ever have to connect. Which to me is AMAZING with kiddos! For our first Summer away, I knew I wanted to stay in Portland and Atlanta flies direct to Portland so that was easy peasy! For this Summer, I literally planned our entire trip around direct flights, train routes and driving recommendations. I saw that we could fly direct to Paris so I started our trip there. I then saw that Zurich was the best Swiss city to fly home from so we mapped out that trip around Zurich! From there, I mapped out other cities we visited based on which were good to drive into and which were good to train into… more on that in a future advice post!
- Consider Airbnb’s or Similar Listings– Sometimes a little more space and your very own washer/dryer are key! Although a fancy hotel is pretty much always my first choice, any type of extended stay calls for some laundry days and a whole lot of money! Yes, packing for six weeks is pretty much impossible and as you will see on #6, highly unadvisable SO an occasional airbnb type apartment/house/condo is PERFECT for catching up on some real life duties. Not to mention the fact that although extended vacations are almost never “affordable”, airbnb’s CAN make them a little more doable for the wallet. For example… We stayed in the most fabulous little Portland apartment last Summer and it was a little over $3,000 for the entire month! Sometimes places like this offer great deals if you are staying at least one month. Perfect for an extended Summer vacation! That breaks down to around $100/nt and it was a decent sized one bedroom apartment with a pull-out sofa bed, full kitchen and gorgeous high-rise views of Portland! We even ventured out several nights to other cities and paid for both stays because it was STILL more affordable than moving around the entire trip. For this Summer, I didn’t want to stay in the same place longer than a week but the week long stays were STILL more affordable than an equally nice hotel in the same area.
- Pack LIGHT!!!– Start wrapping your brain around packing light RIGHT NOW! Literally. Last Summer I brought a rather hefty suitcase but it wasn’t TOO bad since we mostly stayed at the same condo the entire time. BUT this Summer would have quite literally been IMPOSSIBLE had we brought more than a carry-on per person. Yes, I said IMPOSSIBLE. With plane flights, train rides, rental cars, cobblestone streets, the occasional Uber AND two kiddos that cannot always carry their bags up stairs and escalators, we could not have brought one extra thing and been able to handle it all. It is well worth the super planning to pack super light! Here are the suitcases we brought…
- Get a Credit Card– Okay wait don’t… I mean do… Agh! I honestly struggle with this bit of advice but IF you are able to and IF you know if won’t lead you into major debt, get a credit card with points!!! We are once again travel blessed to own a company that is able to put a TON on a credit card (that Mark literally pays off every two days- not even kidding) just to get the points. You guys would probably drive over and choke me if I actually told you how many travel miles we accumulate a year. Let’s just say that we NEVER pay for flights. Nor quite a few hotels a year. It is AMAZINGGGG!!!
Before I go, make sure and stay tuned for LOTS of upcoming posts with travels tips for kids, travel tips for Europe and ideas for traveling to numerous cities in France AND Switzerland! Sign up for my blog so you will never miss a post! Oh and as promised, here is our exact itinerary for both of our Summers away…
Last Summer’s Trek across the Pacific Northwest…
Condo in Portland, Oregon with 1-2 Night Stays in Newport, Oregon… Pacific City, Oregon… Seattle, Washington & San Juan Island.
This Summer’s Trek across France & Switzerland…
French Leg of Our Travels:
One Week in Paris, France… Two Nights in Marne-La-Vallee, France (Disneyland Paris)… One Night in Lyon, France… Three Nights in Aix-En-Provence, France… One Week in Nice, France & One Week in Antibes, France
We then flew from Nice to Zurich…
Switzerland Leg of Our Travels:
Three Nights in Zurich, Switzerland… One Night in Shaufffhausen, Switzerland… One Night in Friedrichshafen, Germany… One Night in Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland… Two Nights in Grindelwald (Bort), Switzerland… One Night in Thun, Switzerland… Two Nights in Veytaux, Switzerland… Two Nights in Bern, Switzerland… One Final Night in Zurich, Switzerland
WAAAAAY more on our trip coming SOON!
XOXO, Brittany Hayes