Home > Parenting > A European Vacation Experiment, Family Style

A European Vacation Experiment, Family Style

a backpacking travel to europe R002-005

The decision to travel to Europe this summer, en famille, was not a light hearted one. My children tend to complain loudly on any walk that is longer than the length of our driveway, so there’s that to consider.

And then the sheer expense of the sojourn – multiplying everything by 5’s was great when we were learning our multiplication tables, but when we’re talking dollars it can be painful and exorbitant. When people used to tell me, children are expensive, I was thinking more along the lines of the extra toothpaste requirements, not additional plane fares. Yowsers.

Yet we are dying to show our children places that we have fallen head over heels in love with, and France and Italy are chief among them. My husband is taking a rare sabbatical, six weeks off work, and so with such a luxurious amount of time – unprecedented and perhaps never to be repeated – we have decided to carpe diem.

Despite the fact that my six year-old tells me every night she wants to stay home and practice her new monkey bar skills, we are flying to London in a week. After a couple of days there we will be spending time in rural villages in Tuscany and Provence.

My nine year-old is most excited about the mere fact she will be leaving North America for the first time, while my eleven year-old is under the illusion she will be shopping in Paris.

I have attempted to play Italian language CD’s in my car to familiarize my kids with some basic words, but it’s been impossible to hear them over the peals of laughter from the backseat. Mature guys, very mature, I tell them. Then they laugh harder.

Which leads me to ponder whether or not they will appreciate the food, the culture, the language, or the lengths we are going to to show them these things. Children being children, I expect not.

I recognize we are lucky to be able to take this trip – it’s a huge privilege I am so thankful for. Yet when my friends ask me if I’m excited, I tell them excited might not be the best word. More like trepidatious, cautiously optimistic, fingers crossed, hoping for the best.

I have been a parent for long enough to realize this experience will certainly fall short of the Von Trapp’s dancing through the hills of Austria, yet hopefully rise above National Lampoon’s European Vacation. The Griswald’s set the bar pretty low, after all.

Exactly where our happy medium lies is yet to be seen, but come along for the ride for the next six weeks, and I’ll give you an idea.

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  1. Laurie
    May 31, 2011 at 6:37 am

    I’m coming along for the ride…at least, I hope to live this vicariously through the eyes of the girls, and through you! I’d love to be a companion on that journey. You know a big part of my heart lives in Italy. Buon viaggio!

  2. May 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    How great! I’m so looking forward to coming along via the blogosphere! Good luck, my friend!

    • May 31, 2011 at 2:38 pm

      I’m hoping our centuries-old accommodations have Wi-Fi!

  3. May 31, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Fun! I think you might be in the running for Coolest Parent On Earth for giving your kids this experience 🙂

    • May 31, 2011 at 2:38 pm

      Funny, they don’t see it that way, even though I keep telling them that is the case.

  4. May 31, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Very exciting, looking forward to hearing all about your trip via your blog. We’re hoping to do this one day as well but our kids are that much younger. We want them to at least remember it (the good, the bad and the ugly!). lol.
    Have fun and remember to breathe. 🙂
    Take care,
    Danielle

    • May 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks Danielle: sometimes writing enables me to see the humor in things better.

  5. Ellie
    May 31, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Have an amazing time! I bet your kids will get how lucky they are to be traveling and experiencing the world. Happy travels!

    • June 2, 2011 at 5:27 pm

      …And if they don’t, we will be sure to remind them everyday!

  6. Liz Brownlie
    June 2, 2011 at 4:42 am

    How exciting!!! And what fun for us readers that your blog will have an international flavour for the next couple of months.
    No doubt a fantastic experience and many adventures await you all. Enjoy every minute – the good and the not so good.
    I have been dreaming of taking my kids to Europe as well, so will see how you make it first.
    Bon Voyage and Bonne Chance!
    Liz

    • June 2, 2011 at 5:27 pm

      Merci, Liz! Really hope it’s an enriching experience for all of us. Have a great summer.

  7. Carina
    June 2, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Can’t wait to hear about it! Brock (my husband) went with his family to Europe for a month or two when he was 14, and his three siblings were 11, 9 and 6. And they camped! Good god. But he and his siblings have so many memories of that trip, it was a chance for them to really hang out together rather than with friends. So many family anecdotes begin with, “Remember on that trip when… .”

    • June 2, 2011 at 5:25 pm

      Now this truly inspires me – I am so hopefully that this happens with my children, rather than the ripping each others heads off I tend to witness.

  8. June 5, 2011 at 12:54 am

    Gee, Deanna…will you be my mom? I’ve always wanted to go to Tuscany…LOL!

    Have a great time!

    Wendy

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