Thursday, May 2, 2013

Traveling Europe...With a 5 year Old in Tow?

So Don and I saved up a bunch of points so that we could vacation for a couple of weeks in Europe this summer and it is totally stressing me out!  Let me start by saying that I do ALL of our vacation planning.
  1. I pick the place.  Sometimes, I give him a couple of choices.
  2. I decide on the dates.  I run them past him so that he can confirm that they work with his crazy schedule.
  3. I book the tickets and hotel accommodations.  This part drives me nuts because I am determined to get the best price available, so I often book, cancel, book, and cancel.  Sometimes I have rooms reserved at multiple hotels as back-ups.  It is hard to keep up with all, but I keep each trip organized in a 3-ring binder (Of course, I do.  I'm Brandie!).
These are probably the easiest steps in planning a family vacation.  For this trip, we decided to fly to Rome for a few days and then take a Mediterranean cruise for 7 nights (Why cruise?  I've said before that cruising is the best way to travel if you have kids.) and then follow up with another two days in Rome before flying back to the states.  This will be Maddie's first trip to Europe so we are pretty excited...and stressed.  I have spent hours reading and doing research on traveling Europe with kids.  Let's face it, most kids don't really like museums and ruins, so I am trying to find one kid-friendly activity for each day of vacation.

Most recent vacation (Mexico, March 2013)

Cruising usually takes a lot of the guess work out of planning a vacation because the ship offers excursions.  However, excursions from European ports are PRICEY, so I have been trying to weigh our options.  An added stressor is that many of the ports where the cruise ships dock are 1-2 hours from the actual cities on the cruise itinerary.  I am using Rick Steves' cheat sheet for guidance on the decision to book with the ship or do it on our own.  Normally, Don and I would just head out on our own adventure, but buses, trains, subways, and taxis in a strange, non-English speaking city with a child at your side complicates things a bit.

The days are ticking away - and so are my nerves - as I try to figure out how to move our family of three around for two weeks in multiple countries and cities, while ensuring that everyone has a good time, that we see everything we want to see, and that we get back to the ship before it departs each day.

Don isn't stressed at all.  I keep trying to show him my binder.  He hates my binder.  He thinks we can just "wing it."  It doesn't work like that.  I hate waste - especially wasted time...and food - and I don't want to spend all of my vacation time stressing out about what to do each day.  I gotta have a plan, so that's what I've been up to during my "downtime."  Planning a trip to Europe with a five year old and a disinterested husband in tow!

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