We Have Just Booked Flights to Europe…

and I need your help. We bit the bullet, booked those non-refundable tickets and are now making car, B&B, ferry, train and packing plans for a big Europe trip!

The good news is that we’ve had a little reserve stash of miles and cash set aside for a little while to make this happen (we didn’t know where we’d go or what we’d do, but knew that we’d like to try for one more big family adventure before expanding our family again. The adventure we embarked on before Liv came along included Australia, New Zealand and Thailand). And we’re not expecting to dip into our home renovating fund or savings accounts, so we’ll plan on sharing our budget travel tips here as well.

The bad news is is that I’ve become engrossed in research – but we don’t have much time! So if you have been to one of the three countries on our itinerary, I would love to hear your thoughts on must-dos, where to stay lists and any tips that you might have. We haven’t even narrowed down which cities we’ll see in each, so we are all ears!

The plan is to start in Ireland, spend a week touring and driving at our own pace as we visit the countryside, the beautiful castles and the amazing coastline. Then we are off to Spain (by taking a short flight from Dublin to Barcelona) for another week of traveling via car to see the beaches, visit the local markets and mix & mingle with our new Spanish friends (fingers crossed) over tapas and wine. Finally, we’ll cross over to North Africa via ferry (a 30 minute ride from the south of Spain) to tour Morocco for six days. Ah, I can’t wait.

We are excited and thrilled and can’t believe that this is coming together (pinching ourselves that we managed to make it happen amidst it all). We’ll be moving slowly, staying at family friendly B&Bs and through apartment rentals (we plan on using this awesome site to help us) with a focus on enjoying our time with Liv and as a family, and not stressing about every museum or famous site.

But I’ll admit that I’m a little stressed… we are getting a late start on the planning part of this adventure and if you have any experience with these three countries (we’d hate to find out we left a city one day before a huge festival in Madrid or missed a very cool hike in Cork…) – feel free to email or share in the comments below!

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  1. Peggy says

    I know how easy it is so get lost in the research phase of planning a trip. You could easily spend more time researching than actually traveling!

    I always check out fodors.com forums because not only do you get advice from people who have traveled to your destinations, but also locals. I’m sure there are other travel sites that offer traveler forums as well but I really like the local aspect of this one. After thirty years of traveling and a two year stint in Switzerland, we kind of fly by the seat of our pants when we travel. We tend to not make many plans, ask locals for advice, and just go with the flow and we’ve never regretted any of the things we did (or didn’t do). I can’t wait to hear about the Morocco portion of your trip. I am dying to go there (and bring back tons of stuff).

    • says

      I am looking forward to checking Fodors.com out! Thank you for the tip, and yes I hope that we can still keep a little spontaneity in our trip, that’s how Kevin and I prefer to travel too.

  2. says

    What a fun trip! I’ve never been to Ireland but spend lots of time in Spain and have been to Morocco. It’s been years since I’ve been to Barcelona but I have fond memories of Park Guell, the Boquiera Market, the Sagrada Familia and even touring the Olympic venues. If we ever go back with our girls I’d would try to take them to all of those places. We are headed to southern Spain for Christmas. Staying in Nerja which is a very family friendly town east of Malaga. There is a large British expat population which make things a little easier on me since I do not speak a lot of Spanish. It’s also a nice home base from which we can take small day trips. The last time we went we travelled up to Granada and toured the Alhambra gardens. If you want to see the full Alhambra you need to book well in advance. Another nice trip we took was to Marbella where the shopping is world class and the marinas are amazing. Our Olivia was pretty young on that trip but this winter, now that are girls will be 2 and 4, we may try doing the boat ride to Tangiers too. Our first trip to Morocco was to Marrakech when I was pregnant with my Liv. It was amazing. If you make it that far into the country a day trip to Ait Benhaddou is worth the journey.
    Safe travels!

  3. Sarah says

    I haven’t been to any of those places, but we just got back from a trip to France and used guidebooks from Rick Steves. They were VERY helpful and easy to use, plus they saved us a bunch of money and time when it came to seeing the sights, transportation and hotels. I know he has books on Spain and Ireland, not sure about Morocco – check out his website (which also has a lot of good info).

  4. says

    Congrats on planning such a big fabulous trip! Its so inspiring to hear as a new mama myself! I have been to Ireland twice and echo the comment above about going at your own pace and the Irish literally being the nicest folks on earth! That said, Dublin is just ok to me, its when you leave Dublin that the wonderful lush and sweet Ireland shines through. I agree that Giant’s Causeway is awesome and I also especially loved Belfast. We took a cab tour of Belfast and it was so interesting and really brought to light the issues that have taken place there. Also, not to miss is Cork (just wandering around and having a lovely seafood lunch on the water!) as well as Blarney castle. It may be the standard tourist thing to do but it is actually beautiful and has great grounds for walking and enjoying as a family. Here’s a blog post from my time there that might help. Happy Planning!


    • says

      Thanks, Megan!! I will absolutely be reading your blog post about your trip to Ireland! Thank you for your destination tips!

  5. Katie says

    We spent two weeks driving around Ireland last year. We stayed at Desmond House in Kinsale, which is a beautiful little fishing village. We actually went to the Rock of Cashel on our way to Kinsale for a few days and then from there drove on to Killarney to see the Ring of Kerry. It was fantastic!

  6. says

    Wow, what a great trip!!! You’ll love Barcelona and I’m sure you’ll make great friends there. When are you planning to go there?? We live in Valencia, which is a 3hour car drive from Barcelona. Maybe we can meet???

    • says

      Oh how fun! Yes, we are absolutely traveling to Barcelona but we don’t know our itinerary past that! You have to help me out :).

  7. says

    Congrats on the trip! We visited Barcelona on our honeymoon and it was amazing! La Sagrada de Familia was gorgeous (and I’d really also love to see how much more has been done in 5 years!). We also loved walking around Park Guell – and I bet Liv would love staring at the colorful shops. At the top is also the most amazing view of the whole city. Have fun.. I can’t wait to hear about it when you get back!

  8. says

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! I’ve only been to Ireland and it was on a student trip so we didn’t have much say-so over the itinerary. I think your plan of going at your own pace is the best way to go. The Irish are probably the nicest people on earth, and they love to talk about their history and in general make great recommendations. Things I would recommend – the Giant’s Causeway is beautiful, and there’s a nearby ruined castle that halfway fell into the sea during a dinner party. We did a lot of tours of Irish industry – pottery, crystal, booze, and all of those were pretty interesting, if a little touristy because they want you to buy things. I think the Bushmills one is nearby the Giant’s Causeway if I remember, and it was my favorite. The Guinness Factory in Dublin gives your free Guinness at the top, and it’s a pretty building, but kinda dull. In Dublin I really like visiting the Kilmnainham Gaol. Derry is a great place to learn about the Troubles, and I would definitely recommend getting a tour with Ronan McNamara if at all possible (McNamara Tours) – he’s the best tour guide ever. And there are lots of wonderful archeological sites, but Newgrange is the absolute best. And the Cliffs of Moher are spectacular – but make sure to keep Liv far, far away from the edge because the winds are incredibly strong and can sweep children over. Good luck with your planning!

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