Summer 2019 we decided we wanted to take the whole block leave the Army gives us (2 weeks) and drive around Europe. Our goal was to see as much as we could and enjoy every second together, even the driving.
Spoiler Alert: It was a huge success. We ventured into 9 countries over 13 days and over 4000 kilometers (2400 miles)! This post is a short description of our adventures, if you want to read more about each day, click on the links for each city/country. Enjoy!
We got off to a late start on our road trip due to Nick being delayed on a work trip, so we didn’t get to stay in Colmar, France as we’d planned. We did, however, stop by this nearby city Riquewihr and it was breathtaking! Like walking right into Beauty and the Beast! See more pictures and details here
I LOVED stopping by the Bern, Switzerland Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love to visit the temple, even if it’s just the grounds. More pictures and details here! You can also see our visit to the Rome, Italy Temple, our “local” temple in The Hague, Netherlands, and our trip to see the Lisbon, Portugal temple!
Switzerland is absolutely incredible. We ran all over the Swiss Alps and loved every second.
Our AirBNB was right at the bottom of alps and it was a fun little place. We stayed up in an old barn loft with the owner living downstairs. She was a lovely woman with grown children who thankfully enjoyed the pitter-patter of tiny feet.
We took a tram up a mountain in Griswald with a hike and toboggan ride on top, lunch in Interkan, and found a waterfall with caves to explore. It was an eventful day! Read about all our adventures in Switzerland here.
This day was a travel day from Switzerland to Italy, but it was quite a wonderful one! We tried to keep the goal of our family road about enjoying every moment, even driving was part of the adventure. I was surprised at how a small change in mindset made even the long driving days so much fun.
We planned to drive over the Alps to the Italy side, but apparently, that road is under construction. So instead, we were forced to wait in line for a train, pay €25, and drive our car onto a train THROUGH the mountain! It took about 15 minutes to get all the way through the mountain and actually, it turned out to be awesome and I’m so glad we did it. The boys unbuckled to ride up front and Hyrum thought he was driving the train!
We also stopped for lunch in Arona, Italy. There was access to the water close by and we couldn’t resist! Lunch was also incredible. To read more about our day through the Swiss Alps and into Italy click here.
The boys were excellent sports, especially on long driving days! The best thing we did was dig up Nicks old iPod and put all of the boys’ favorite music on it. We ordered two pairs of headphones and a splitter. The boys listened to their music a significant portion of the road trip and we were spared enduring “Power Rangers Dino Charge” 400 times! In between the naps that is…
We were excited to see our friends from Fort Sill who are currently stationed in Vicenza. Simon still talks often about Presley and they are just the cutest when they are together!
We loved seeing Vicenza with our friends and the next day we all took the train to Venice! All the waterways, gondolas, small streets, colorful buildings, and everything else you can imagine in Venice. It was SUCH a great day and there are so many more pictures and fun in this post here!
The boys weren’t thrilled about leaving Presley’s house, but we left to head north to Lake Bled, Slovenia. The Weirlo’s had just been up that way, so we took many travel tips from them. Here is the travel guide Tausha made if you want to head that way too! It was amazing and impossible to get a picture that accurately gave a taste of what it was like there. Breathtakingly beautiful.
There is a little island in the middle of lake bled that you can row out too! We, of course, couldn’t resist and it was a great adventure!
We stayed in a little cabin in a campground style AirBNB. There were only 2 beds and a loft in this tiny place! A shared bathroom and shower were available for the campers and it was really a lot of fun!
We had so many other photos of our adventures in Lake Bled, Slovenia! Go see more here!
On our way into Austria from Slovenia, we spotted a castle on the hill so we HAD to check it out. Hohenwerfen Castle turned out to be pretty cool! Quite different than any other castles we’d been to yet. The view from the top was amazing and you can see lots more pictures and details here!
We got to Salzburg early afternoon, checked in to the hotel, and caught a quick bus to downtown Salzburg. The city is great and has a unique feel to it. They are quite proud to be the birthplace of Motzart, and everything here was decorated in his honor. We went and toured the house where he was born and stopped to get some Motzart chocolate which was unique and incredible. It was quite expensive but I bought all my pocketbook could stomach and enjoyed every bite!
We found a huge bridge with lovers locks on it. I wish we could have found someone selling locks, we would have left one! Someone is missing out on a great business opportunity there…
This was my FAVORITE part of the whole trip! I took so many pictures and videos on our Sound of Music Bike Tour and I’ll post those all here for you to see! By the end of the tour, my cheeks hurt from smiling, my vocal cords from singing, and my thighs from the hills but I loved every second!
Here was our set up for the ride. Nick had a tag-along bike that Simon pedaled on (sometimes) and Hyrum was in the pull behind the trailer on my bike. Very doable bicycle tour, even for families with young kids like us.
Every moment we were in Salburg was pouring rain until it was time for us to go outside, then the weather cleared. Simon prayed the night before it would be sunny enough for a bike ride and sure enough, there was about a 4-hour break in the rain during our tour. Really a miracle while we enjoyed Salzburg.
It was a beautiful Sunday to take it easy and enjoy some time with our good friends from Fort Sill, the Brücks. They took us to see Neuschwanstein Castle, a beautiful mountain lake in Plansee, and a tour through Linderhoff castle! We then went to Ettal Monastery and stopped for Pizza dinner. It was such a great day catching up with friends and exploring the rolling hills of Bavaria. What an incredible part of the world.
This day was an adventure for sure!! It was only a 1-hour drive to Legoland, from the Brücks house in Bavaria, but we had the whole day ahead of us! We decided to take the road less traveled and drive south 2+ hours to Liechtenstein and 3 hours back up north to our Airbnb near Legoland. This turned out to be a much longer driving day than that as we got into much traffic, a missing road, and no cell service! BUT, now we can cross the 6th smallest country in the world off our list. Worth it?
We took the ENTIRE day and explored Legoland! Both boys were fantastic on this trip and we gave them free rein all day. We planned no travel for this day, only fun. It was a highlight day for everyone really. You’ll definitely want to read more about this day since I can’t even fit the highlights in this tiny spot!!! SUCH a cool place!
Travel day to the Hancocks
We have so many friends all over the world! We loved the Hancock family back from Fort Sill and were so happy to visit them in their little part of Germany where they are stationed now. We hardly saw all the kids they played so hard, and I’m sorry to report that I did not take a SINGLE picture while we were there! Shame on me but we were pretty exhausted by then and happy to have a familiar place to rest our feet and heads. It’s so nice to connect with friends and pick up right where you left off. We are thankful for the welcome homes we got to stay in during our trip.
Meet up with family!
We both had to travel a long way from home to meet up with some family from Idaho! But it just happened that we were only about an hour away from Randy and Rosella Harris so we couldn’t miss the opportunity to meet up with them. We left the kids playing with the Hancocks and went up to say hi. I’m so glad we did.
Our final travel day. We had breakfast and more playing with the Hancock family then took off to drive home.
In this trip, we hit 9 countries, drove 4000 kilometers, and made millions of memories. What a fun way to see so much of Europe! There are a couple of places I’d like to go back to and I can’t wait for more family time and our next adventure.
For anyone curious, I’ll share about how much this trip cost! Compared to individual trips to each of these locations, it seemed like a no-brainer for our family of 4 to see Europe this way.
Airbnb’s – We budgeted around $100 a night. Some nights were more, some less. 5 nights with friends + 7 nights AirBNB’s = $786.
Rental Car – Since both of our vehicles are 20 years old, we painfully decided it would be worth it to spend the extra on a rental car and not be stranded in the middle of nowhere with a broken car. By the end of the trip, we were extremely happy with our choice! Rental Car – $500
Gas – If you did the math for distance and current gas prices, it was about €250. We ended up spending about €350, which included much driving around all over each destination and varying gas prices from country to country. Not bad!
Daily Budget – We budgeted about €100 per day for food, fun, and souvenirs. Some days we spent more, and some days less. I’d say overall, we probably exceeded this budget a bit, but it was nice to have something to shoot for and not end up with an alarming credit card bill at the end! Almost everywhere took a credit card but we pulled out Euro cash to have on hand too. Switzerland and Liechtenstein used Swiss Franks, but otherwise, the Euro was just fine. Food + Fun + Souvenirs = €1500
Misc – We had a miscellaneous budget of €150 for tolls and road taxes, which I’m sure we used every penny of that. €40 for a sticker in Switzerland, €15 for Austria, €10 for Solvenia, and so many tolls I lost count in Italy! Several parking passes and random other expenses finished that off but around €150 was a good estimate for these things.
GPS – We bought a GPS prior to leaving to have in the car since we had no cell service in Switzerland. Well worth the peace of mind. €75
Hope you enjoyed reading about our summer road trip across Europe! If you want to start the beginning and read the fulls posts of each, click here to start in Riqewhir and move along from there.