How to Plan the Ultimate Long Summer Trip Adventure…
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 wanting so badly to move to Belgium twelve years ago. 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!!!
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. 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???
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. I had been to Paris twice 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!!! I am travel blessed to own a company that is able to put a lot on a credit card (that I literally pay off every few 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
Wow ! Enjoyed all your great tips on travel . How blessed you and your family are to NOT have to worry about the price of flights ! So nice you are making such awesome memories with your kids .
Brittany Hayes says
Thank you Kim! It is a huge blessing for sure! Every time Mark even breathes a word about ever selling our company I am like “noooooo!!!” Lol!
Leasa Reid says
Hi I’m from
Sydney Australia, loved following your trip. Just for your information on Australia the top end of Australia is perfect to visit in winter, your summer. Can get over 86o Fahrenheit. Darwin, Kakadu, Whitsundays, Cairns, Broome, Uluru in winter is the best time to travel to these parts of Australia. Not in the wet or cyclone season. Low humidity. Sydney weather a little more chilly. Leasa
Thank you for sharing tips on planning extended trips. You are blessed to have travel points to use for such amazing adventures! I love to travel but having to work to earn a living kind of makes that only a 1 week or on occasion 2 week type of of thing. It’s helpful to know how to plan it though and how you pack light, especially with make-up, toiletries, and cute clothes. Your girls also wore such cute clothes during your Europe trip.
Sounds like you had an enjoyable trip. I love traveling too and with four littles we are doing our best and had our first road trip to Florida this summer. They were great and it was so much fun. 🙂 Loved all your pics on IG.
Thank you for sharing! We are headed to Europe with our girls for three weeks in August. I love reading your suggestions…any tips on what kind of purse is best to bring on a trip like this?
Holy cow girl! That’s quite the intinerary! It was so fun following along with your adventures! When you left for your trip I was so excited for you and I was happy to see all of your gorgeous pics thinking I’d never travel abroad myself. A few weeks ago an opportunity popped up for my husband and I to travel to France and Italy this fall with a group of friends! The trip is all planned and booked, all I need to do is pack. I’ve been researching a little but I’m going to be following your blog, I’ll need all of the Eurpean travel tips I can get! Xo-Jen
Leaving for Paris next week, anything you did off the beaten path that is not to be missed? Doing all the “must do” tourist stuff of course. But looking for any hidden gems
I’m Australian and winter is the BEST time to travel in many areas of the country. This country is extremely hot in most areas come summer. I’d recommend Queensland, the Northern Territory and Central Aust (Uluru especially). We have just returned from two months winter travel around the country and swam a lot! Summer here is often too hot for any outdoor activities whatsoever so whoever told you to skip Australia in Summer is very mistaken. We reach temperatures consistently over fourty degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit for many weeks in many parts of the country in summer. Come winter we can breathe again! So come! You’ll adore it xx
ps. I’ve been reading your blog for years but never commented, I couldn’t bear you missing out on Australia because of misinformation x
Anne M Anzil says
Your trip sounded wonderful! We also went to Europe a few weeks ago and one thing I will agree with is to PACK LIGHT! I made a huge mistake and took a large suitcase! Those elevators in Europe are tiny and lots of stair so that was no fun! I will say that make sure your Air BnB has not only a washing machine but a dryer as well. We ended up in a few places that just has a washer and with not a lot of time to wait for clothes to air dry it was tricky!
Question: when going to Portland, how did you get around? Did you rent a car? I am wanting to take my kids On This kind of adventure, but I’m nervous about being without a car.
Hi – We’re considering Switzerland this summer. Do you have any details on where you stayed and what you did in each area? Any suggestions around what to do/not do? Thank you!