The inspiration for this came from some friends who took their 3 daughters on a fabulous, month long trip to Italy and France the summer of 2009. Both my hubby and I love to travel and attempt to instill this love in our kids by taking lots of road trips during Spring breaks and Summer vacations and exploring not only big cities, but National Parks and many other types of destinations. While they are not always the most willing travelers, I know that one day they will look back fondly on our family trips, and the travel journals they have kept will help. When my friend mentioned what a wonderful family experience they had, the seed was sown and the planning began. Since both my husband and I have (somewhat) flexible employment situations, we knew we could make a trip like this work. Travel is important to us and so we scrimp on other things in our lives in order to make it a priority.
Spain and Portugal became our destination since our kids are learning Spanish in school and hubby has a confident command of the language. We had both traveled in Spain before and absolutely loved it, but had never been to Portugal. Lucky for me, a client had a business partner who summers in Portugal each year and was only too happy to share what she loves about the country, specifically about the Algarve region in Southern Portugal, which was where we wanted to end our trip. We focused our time in Spain on cities in the North, with a stop in Madrid. Decent airfare to and from Lisbon sealed the deal. I checked an assortment of travel books out of the library and combined with some on-line research on sites like tripadvisor and Rick Steves, we were able to map out an itinerary and plan for what to see and do.
The next piece of the puzzle was transportation between destinations and while our initial thought had been to use the train system, we found that for a family of five, renting a car offered not only a better cost, but more flexibility and greater convenience. Probably the most difficult part of the plan was the lodging, because traveling with 5 people made using hotels a challenge (requiring at least two rooms) and we wanted to get most of our lodging secured in advance. In the end, we pieced together a combination of rented apartments and smaller inns, most of which exceeded our expectations.
The map below plots our route, beginning and ending in Lisbon and traveling in a counter clockwise direction. We tried to stay at least two nights in each town in order to minimize the packing/unpacking and make it a little easier on the kids.
One of the things that we did that turned out better that I would have imagined was to write a travel blog about our adventures. This was a way for our kids to carry on the tradition of writing in their own, personal travel journals, but in a new and exciting way. The kids never complained about writing and the combination of voices sharing our trip was amazing. The added advantage was that family and friends could follow along and we could document it all with photos. Writing that blog actually gave me the confidence to start Room Rx, something I never would have dreamed of before.
I must share that this was definitely a "trip of a lifetime" which I still can't believe we were able to pull off. Mind you it was not without it's moments, as any trip with teens and pre-teens can be, but overall, to be able to show our kids that there is a big wide world out there, made all of the "moments" worth it.
I would love to share more, but also do not want to bore you to tears if this is not something that interests you, especially here on a design blog! So, if you have a trip planned or hope to make Spain or Portugal a vacation destination, let me know by leaving a comment or contacting me directly. I would be more than happy to give you additional information about our trip, tips on what to see and do as well as a thing or two we learned about traveling with kids. Since I had excellent travel advice from a woman I had never met, I want to pay it forward with you!
What has been your "trip of a lifetime" or favorite destination? I would love to hear. Be sure to go on over and check out the amazing destinations people are linking to Centsational Girl's link party, there is tons of travel inspiration there as well!
Linking up on 11/18/13 to You May Be Wandering's "No Passport Required" link party
Does your room need a “prescription” for a change of decor, function or design?