Road Trip Europe - Plan, Then Improvise!

June 22, 2011

road tripping europe hanging out at the pool

This is our fifth year of doing extensive 3 to 7 month road trips around Europe,  so we have it down to an art form now. I've written about our many road trips and our 4th Grand Tour of Europe  last year, along with best campsites in Europe, tent camping and best books for camping Europe to name a few. Free kids clubs in Europe also make it a language-learning fun time for families.

Partly, how we travel the world so cheaply on just 23 dollars a day per person in expensive areas like Europe, Australia and Bora Bora, is we know the secrets of camping Europe in a motorhome. In my top 10 family travel tips I list traveling in an RV as my number one tip. Home on wheels, no packing, meet locals, every amenity, cheap... are a few of the benefits. A motorhome is our base, but we also do cottages, pensions, budget hotels, B&B's, luxury hotels and more, plus trains, buses, bikes, sail boats and ferries.

Hanging out at one of the three pools like our daughter is doing in the above photo, at our favorite Barcelona beach resort with sea views and yummy croissants, is always part of our plan. We have dear friends that live here and actually know quite a few people by returning every year and beautiful Barcelona is very handy to ferry to Italy or travel to France or even the UK. Not to mention the great price of 17 euros a night!

If you read our blog, you know we have been planning to get to the Swiss Alps, Lake Como, Corsica, Sardinia, etc for a while. We planned to see the first two this year for sure, but life has a way of happening while we make plans, so we always go with the flow and our plans are always flexible because there is always next year for us.

Remember our dear friends from Sweden? We have sooo many stories yet to tell about our idyllic time in Sweden and it was all thanks to this wonderful family. They have decided to come visit us in Barcelona so we can vacation together here. Thus,  we coordinated our time for late July and will do France, Swiss Alps and Lake Como next year. Last year it was old friends from California, visiting us here, this year Sweden.

We've toured France extensively, over the years,  again last year ( but still have more we want to see and revisit), have also spent a ton of time in Italy ( but will always want to do more) and we have seen Switzerland, but want to do an extended stay in the Alps in summer. We have time though, and the number one rule in travel, is flexibility and improvise. Slow travel also suits us.

When I broke my arm biking the Danube, we had to give up our plans for Romania and other places which was disappointing. But we have just been invited to Romania, so will be spending most of August there probably, celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary in nearby Budapest. Exciting!

I haven't forgotten the third post on How to Raise a Bilingual or Multi-lingual Child, I've just been busy behind the scenes booking and planning things for our U.S.A road trip this fall along with our August sojourn into Romania and swim dates here with kiddo. I will try to get that up this weekend!

What are your summer plans?

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Karen Swim

I so enjoy reading about your family travels and seeing all the amazing photos. I just spent some time browsing photos of Italy and Barcelona and feel like I have just been on vacation! Thanks so much for sharing the journey! This is such an amazing thing for families to do!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Aw, thanks so much Karen! Fun to see you here and so happy that you got a little arm chair travel in while here. ;)


Very idyllic photo of Ms Mozart!

We are off in two weeks to Denmark, then on to Norway in August... We might go as far as the arctic circle because one of house exchange we're doing is in Trondheim "gateway to the arctic circle"! We'll be exchanging houses with family near Copenhagen, near Oslo, in Borsa, and Trondheim then slowly making our way back to France via Bergen, and Legoland.

I've still got to work out the details of the few nights we'll spend "road-triping" either camping (with a tent) or in cheap (well as cheap as possible considering it's Norway and Denmark!) accommodations. If you have any campsite or other you'll recommend for those places (Bergen, Legoland or somewhere on the road in Holland), I'm all hears!

I've got new respect for all the planning you're doing Jeanne... I new, in theory, it must be VERY time consuming. Now I KNOW firsthand (and it's just for 2 months).

However, I think I'm hooked now! ;-)))

Anna at LoveBaby LoveTravel

Wow, you have done a lot of travelling! Looking forward to reading more about your adventures.

This summer we've had a weekend in Switzerland and a week planned in Perthshire (Scotland). Can't wait!


Cewl- my family is Hungarian and I have been countless times so let me know if you want some off the beaten path suggestions. For example Google the "Cave Bath" in Miskolc-Tapolca, a must-see unless you are allergic to water. ;)

I'm actually going to be back in Hungary again in late August because I need to get my Hungarian passport prior to starting my PhD program in Amsterdam this fall, and my twin brother will be starting an MBA in Budapest at the same time. So as I said, give a shout if/as needed!

Heather and Nate Wells

I'm so happy I found your blog. My husband and I traveled around Europe for three months and then when we had a baby lived in France. It's fun to see a lot of the places we visited.
Great blog!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Gabrielle- Sounds like an exciting summer! Do you know Britt that sometimes comments here, writes a blog called house in the woods and lives in Trondheim? Tell her you are friends of mine as I'm sure she'd love to connect.

We did stay at campsites in Oslo and Legoland, but you are right, Norway is extremely expensive ( so we did it quite quickly to stay on budget). Nearby Sweden is also wonderful, but things get quite chilly in Scandinavia even in August.

I'll have to look up where we stayed and get back to you.

Yes planning does take time, but I enjoy it and this
blog actually takes more time than anything.


Jeanne @soultravelers3

Anna Oh that sure sounds fun! Thanks so much for your comment and visiting our blog!

Yep, we've done some serious travel and as much as we have on here, it is only about 1% of our travels as it's impossible to write about it all and do it at the same time. ;)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Wow, thanks Yvette, I really appreciate that. We'll just be in Budapest for 4 days, but I am looking forward to it as we saw it briefly the autumn that I broke my arm and loved it, but it was VERY rainy and cold.

I am hoping the weather will be lovely this time in August and I am thrilled that we will spend our 20th wedding anniversary at the exquisite Four Seasons there.

I think we will also spend a few days at a cool budget B&B to let our readers see both options.

Maybe we can meet up! We have friends in Denver that are Hungarian ( I wrote about their B&B) and also a family from Hungary are our neighbors in Penang.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Heather, I'm so glad you found our blog too! BIG Welcome!

We feel so blessed that we have been able to see so much of Europe and the going on our 6th year of non-stop travel and about to visit our 43rd country together as a family.

I've been to about 80 countries on my own, but seeing it with family makes my heart sing! I love the advantages of roadtripping Europe & extended travel.

It's gone by so fast and we are still hungry for more, so have no plans to stop. Always more great places to find,eh?

Always so happy to meet someone else who adores travel! ;)

We'll be doing a roadtrip this fall in the US...who knows, maybe we'll be able to meet up in person.


Thanks Jeanne! I'll go and look for Britt's blog then ;-) That would be nice...

If you do find the info about the campsite near Legoland, I'm interested! (but please don't go to any trouble).

Hope your enjoying yourselves, wherever you are!


Hi Jeanne, your blog is very inspirational to me. We have recently moved our family of 5 from California to Prague with plans to make a life in Europe and travel at least for a few years. Finding it challenging at the moment with 3 young kids and worried about homeschool vs. enrolling the kids in local school. Any advice on that? Thanks!

Jeanne soultravelers3

Thanks so much for your kind words! Life on the road does have some challenges, especially in the beginning when one is learning a new way of being. Prague is also quite cold now so I am sure that doesn't help ( I always try to be in warm places which helps me as traveling is easier in the warm sunshine).

We do a combination of homeschool ( all year round) and school for a few months in the winter for language immersion and consistent friends. We've tried to focus on languages that would be most useful to her in the future ( the 3 top languages in the world..Spanish, Mandarin and of course English).

It takes a while to really be fluent as a native so we returned repeatedly to the places that work for us and language and made them our bases in the winter. A small village in Southern Spain for 4 winters and now we are going on our 2nd winter in Penang for Mandarin.

Next kidlet wants to get fluent in her French ( which will be quite easy and quick for her since she is fluent as a native in Spanish so learning French, Italian, Portuguese, Latin is very easy for her now).

We mostly homeschool or worldschool, but find the immersion in languages is much easier done in a school where everyone speaks the language. I think giving a language to your child is one of the best gifts you can give them, but I also think one should pick languages that will be most useful in the future.

Mozart has picked up bits of many languages, but has learned the most by far with the ones we have focused on and used school with.

Good luck! Hang in there, I know a single Mom doing this with 5 young kids and thriving so it can be done. ;)

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