Sunday, February 24, 2019

Our European Vacation Plan

This summer we are taking three weeks to travel through the Netherlands and northern France with our three kids. We want to be able to spend the majority in the Netherlands as that is where all four of my grandparents are from. I've always been a proud Dutch girl but have never been to see what it's all about. I am writing about our tentative plan here so that if you have something you would recommend, I have a chance to fit it in. I realize that in the grand scheme we are not seeing a lot but hopefully in ten years Gary and I will be able to see more of Europe without the kids.

Some factors that come into our travelling are:

1. Wanting a "home base"
We will be at each Airbnb for one week. This is more consistency for our kids and easier for us to cook several meals a day and not worrying about unpacking all the time. Each time you move to another Airbnb there is the cost of cleaning and booking so by only doing that once a week that saves us money which leads to...

2.  Money
Our hope is to spend about $10,000 CDN on flights, accommodations, car rental, meals out, activities/museums and gas for the five of us. We are currently up to $7500 for flights, accommodations and car rentals which leaves us with about $125/day for gas, meals out and activities. Gas in Europe is so expensive so we want to plan our days wisely! (*groceries are not added in this because we would be buying groceries at home too so it's not what I consider an expense*). We have more money if need be but I do love having a budget. I promise I'm fun. Sort of.

3. Meeting everyone's interests
Because our kids are ages 6-12 this means that some activities will be geared towards the kids and others towards us adults. The main thing we all love is food/culture so that will be a priority each day to get one great meal out. If you have a restaurant/cafe to recommend in one of the cities we are visiting, please let me know. We won't be going to many museums and therefore want to pick and choose the ones that work best for us as a whole. We also don't want to spend hours on the road as we'd like to get to know fewer areas better and therefore have planned a tentative itinerary.

The (tentative) plan:

Week 1: Airbnb in The Hague area (beach apartment)
Day trips: Delft, Scheveningen (beach and Pier and go towards Wassenaar sand dunes), Kinderdijk (biking around historic windmills), Amsterdam X 2 (Anne Frank House, Westerkerk, Vondelpark), and possibly Efteling (amusement park). We will visit Gouda and Utrecht on our way to Airbnb #2.

Week 2: Airbnb in the Apeldoorn area (cottage)
Day trips: Arnhem (open air museum), Barneveld (grandparents from here), Groningen (other grandparents from here), and Giethoorn (rent a boat). We will visit Ghent and Antwerp, Belgium on the way to Airbnb #3.

Week 3: Airbnb in Rouen, France (apartment in the city) 
Day trips: Paris (via train) and Versailles, Rouen (walking around), D-Day beaches, Dieppe.

I love trip planning. I'm a person who wants to make sure that I get the most out of an experience as we likely will not be going back. Besides, it's a pricey trip so I want to use that money wisely. Finally, because just being together as a family so close for three weeks can be overwhelming, I don't want to have to use my mental energy to make any more decisions than I have to in the moment.

Do you like going in with a plan or are you more a go-with-the-flow kind of person? If you have any food recommendations, I'd love to hear them.


PS I realize that it's not a good idea to post when you are out of town. We will have someone staying in our home during the entire time!


  1. I love a plan! And a budget :)
    I like to leave a bit of time for unexpected day trips but like you I also like to research ahead of time so I can enjoy the trip with the rest of the family and not have to make too many decisions that take up time away from experiencing a new area. I find we can sit around way too much on vacation if there is no plan. And with a European trip - read time and money - I’d want to plan a fair amount of the time there. Happy Planning! And following as this is a trip we’d love to do with our kids. S

    1. Thank you, Susan! Hopefully I'll have some good tips afterwards for when you go :)

  2. Anonymous5:18 PM

    When you are in Apeldoorn, you should check out the Royal gardens. They are beautiful. And there are lots of places to ride bikes... the trails around Apeldoorn are great. And riding through the Veluwe is amazing.

    Best things to try food wise are obviously pannenkoek... I had never tried it savoury, but it's as delicious as the sweet.

    Also, if you have a chance, you should drive the Afsluitdijk. It's amazing engineering.

    Amsterdam is great. Rijks museum is worthwhile, but might not be very interesting for the youngest. The Dutch Resistance museum in Amsterdam is really interesting.

    Those were my highlights of the Netherlands. Can't wait to hear where you end up!


    1. Thank you so much for this feedback. Makes me even more excited about it.