Planning a five-month trip to Europe

Photo by Ken_Mayer

On March 12, 2012, my little family will be leaving for five months in Europe.  We fly into Lisbon on that date and out of Stockholm 24 weeks later.  (I know you are not supposed to give exact dates you are going to be traveling for all the internet to see, but our house will be occupied while we are gone, so I think that mitigates the danger.)

Our objective?  Not to rush about trying to see everything there is to see on the continent, but to spend a few weeks each in a number of places.  We want go at a pace that will give us more of a feeling for the area than just “zoom in, see the sights, zoom out.”  We want to rent a place, fend for ourselves, see the sights and the parks and libraries and coffeehouses and churches, volunteer if we can, and – hopefully – meet some people.  Not just the other tourists we used to meet in youth hostels, but “local folks.”

What about jobs and school for Q?  Luckily, David is able to take a leave of absence after a certain number of years with his district, so he is taking off the spring trimester.  My boss has been very gracious about letting me take the time off, since making the trip at this point in my life is much more feasible, MS-wise, than waiting until some future time, when my mobility situation might be much worse.  (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it never reaches that point, but there are no guarantees and no way to predict when or if more lesions will appear and what havoc they might wreak.)  As for Miss Quinland… we are going to home-school and train-school and plane-school her.  She has either the good luck or the bad luck to have one current teacher and one former teacher as parents, so she will find herself with either an enviable or an unenviable student/teacher ratio. It’s all a matter of perspective.

How much have we planned already?  Right now, what will happen during those 24 weeks is a mystery.  Not only are we unsure of what countries we will visit – other than the obvious south-to-north travel direction – but we are still hashing out our vision for the trip.  Urban or rural? Buy/rent a car or go by train? Go to places we know we love (and show them to Quinland) or boldly go where none of us has gone before?  One tiny knapsack each or slightly more luggage?  Cultivate a network of international Board Game Geeks to meet up with or not? Most contentious of all: Unplugged or plugged-in?  I want to write a book while we are there, while David – rightly, I suppose – fears that there are those in our party who might spend too much time online if we have a computer.  I also want Q to stay in contact with her classmates and friends, and I want to keep on blogging.

So, ladies and gentlemen, step right up and let me know if you have any fabulous recommendations for places we can set up housekeeping for a month or so.  Do you have a favorite European city or town that you have lived in / studied in / visited?  Friendly people and cheap prices are always a plus!  I’d also be keen on any tips (“English tips” – name that movie) you have on long-term travel, traveling with a teen, home-schooling while traveling, etc.  I’m all ears!

  • {Clutter} released: Seven pairs of socks that were really way too short but that I have been wearing for years.

4 thoughts on “Planning a five-month trip to Europe

  1. I have no tips, no recommendations, really nothing practical to offer. Just a mix of envy and good wishes. Enjoy the planning for now, and the traveling next spring!


    1. Thank you so much! It’s a bit scary, now that it’s getting closer, to think of all the details we have to coordinate. It’s definitely going to be worth it, though!


  2. I think were you go all depends on your method of transportation. If you are going to big cities the train systems are great. If you are wanting to get a car then visitng smaller towns would be great for that. if you go to London and need an Oyster card I kept mine and so did Tim but I am sure we only need one for the scrapbook. going city to city by train is always fun too. you meet lots of locals that way. I heard from some locals that the further you are from the large city the friendlier people are. Also most people we meet spoke english because they had to learn it in school. But the locals do like it when you try to speak their language even if you don’t pronounce words correctly. Get a Netbook we used it to make reservations for tours and to look up stuff so we new what time things opened. Also a kindle is great. I finished the book I had been reading in Paris and after visitng Versailles I wanted to read about Marie Antoinette. So I did some research on the Netbook and downloaded a book onto my kindle with the Hostel wireless and started to read another book. Reading on vacation! I enjoy reading and I like to read a few chapters before bed and on the 11 hour train ride (Paris to Munich) Maybe you just get a very large Europe map and throw something sticky at it and where it lands you visit and go from there.


    1. Whitney, I am seriously tempted to throw something sticky at the map at this point. I want to get down to business and say, “Let’s stay at Hotel #1 on such-and-such dates” but we are still in the brainstorming stage. My brain is certainly stormy, let me tell you.


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