A trip around the world with children – a dream for many. It was not quite a trip around the world for us, Europe was enough for us. But we took almost a year off with our family for our sabbatical and realized our travel dream. We traveled across Europe with two children and our normal car and experienced incredible things – and wrote a book about it: “The discovery of Europe". It was the best time of our life!
In this items I try to give my all blog readers my book tasty, because I wrote it with a lot of passion and I am happy if it inspires other families to take a break with a European trip (or a trip around the world with children).
But I also give one Summary of our long-term trip with school-age children, From the first idea about family life on the trip to reintegration – short and compact, so that people in a hurry do not need to read the book. There are Links to further blog texts, for example our budget planning with explicit cost breakdown, and ours E-book on suspending compulsory education.
Content of this post
My book about our time out with children
This is the blurb of my book "The Discovery of Europe" and at the same time the shortest summary of our blatant travel adventure that I can accomplish:
Our dream becomes reality: a year off, traveling and enjoying life, experiencing ourselves together as a family and creating memories that will last a lifetime. From Iceland to Istanbul, from Sicily to Spitsbergen and from Portugal to the Danube Delta, we roam our home continent for eleven months.
We visit a self-catering community in Puglia in southern Italy, help out in a bakery in a Greek mountain village, ride a partisan with glittering shoes in Belgrade on the bus and witness how a Spanish policeman worries about his job. Again and again we encounter the crisis, again and again we encounter optimists of the European idea. And while we cope with our nomadic family life, learn written division and irregular verbs with our fifth grader and teach the little ones to read and write, we try to locate ourselves in the big picture of Europe.
One click takes you directly to the ordering option at Amazon *.
Trip around the world with children in Europe?
Yes, I always write about traveling the world with children, although we only left Europe briefly on the Bosphorus and geologically in the continental columns on Iceland and Sicily. But I asked Google, and no one is looking for "long-term travel with children" or "Europe trip with family", all parents interested in the topic apparently enter "world travel with children" as a search term. And since I think, that I, despite our (ecologically meaningful and also culturally worthwhile) restriction on these seekers Europe can help with our experience, I just cheat a bit.
Itinerary of our "world tour" through Europe
42 stations of our world tour with children in Europe
My book comprises 42 chapters (plus foreword and epilogue). Each tells a self-contained story. Together they make our dream trip.
All chapters are listed here as a table of contents. The green ones are already linked with a suitable photo selection. These articles are intended as illustrations for the book readers, because the book itself has no pictures. Every Tuesday a new picture post goes online.
Reviews: This is what others say about "Discovering Europe"
- Stefanie Thimm from Family Escapes: ""The discovery of Europe" is an absolute treasure trove for everyone who wants to be inspired for their travels on our continent."
- Maria-Bettina Eich from child on the edge of the plate: "Lena talks in an entertaining, vivid and fast-paced manner – in the amusing, quietly ironic tone that the readers of her blog also know. ”
- Marc doctor from Reisezoom: "They travel on a limited budget, mostly cook themselves and look at things out of interests, not to show off on social media. Quite normal, tangible and real. That is exactly what makes it so exciting for me.If you find such stories exciting, then this is the place for you. ”
Trip around the world with children: from preparation to aftercare
Here is a summary of how we organized (and enjoyed) our family break.
Preparing for time out with family
Of course, we didn’t decide overnight, ours To quit jobs, the German authorities in matters To challenge compulsory schooling and our accumulated savings spread across the continent. In the beginning it is just a little regret that we are talking about after we got to know families from other countries who are taking long-distance journeys with their children, which expand their horizon, thanks to couch surfing. "How cool if we could do that too," Martin and I say to each other. "But in Germany it doesn’t work because of compulsory schooling, and in general …"
Trip around the world with children: from idea to implementation
Then we read the book "World Tour with Children" *, in which Alexander and Susanne Saade * tell of their sabbatical with two elementary school students. And we get to know other German families who traveled longer with their children (the Clavins, for example, and the Müller / Wnuk sailing family, who even wrote two books about their family life at sea *).
It is becoming increasingly clear to us: If you really want to do it. Then a trip around the world with school-age children is possible, even if the said children have carelessly registered for school in Germany. And so we are working on it, for a total of about two years, to make this adventure possible in our case.
I have written two articles here in the blog about the planning phase of our long-term trip: "Starting shot: family4travel goes on a long-term trip" and "Sabbatical with family: a short construction site guide". Why we ultimately – luckily – traveled through Europe and not through the USA can be read here: "Long-term travel: USA visa for beginners".
Travel despite compulsory schooling
If you are particularly interested in the compulsory schooling problem and the practical implementation of "homeschooling" when traveling, I have a small e-book on the subject of long-term travel with school-age children.
Long-term travel with school-age children: Our way to school exemption
home life on the road
And then it starts! The car is fully packed and we are driving south. We spend a week at my childhood vacation spot in the Salzkammergut. We hike, determine plants, explore cities and museums.
In between we sit down at the exercise books in the breakfast room of our pension. Silas learns to write. Janis finally gets behind the written subtraction. We are getting used to it very slowly Everyday family life far from home.
Here we go! We drive out of the yard and won’t be coming back anytime soon.
It will continue in the coming months. We zigzag to the Balkans: Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia. We rent Apartments and private accommodation, conveniently via the Internet (e.g. AirBnB) *.
Couchsurfing as a family
If we’re lucky, we’ll find out about that Hospitality portal Couchsurfing People who invite us to their home. Then we learn so much more about our travel destinations and how normal life works elsewhere. We stay on average four days in one place, nowhere longer than a week, before we put everything back together and puzzle into the car. Every part has its own place, Martin quickly becomes a master in this type of 3D Tetris.
"Isn’t that too exhausting?" we are asked again and again.
No, actually works. We only do this for a manageable period, almost a year with a collective hunger for education. A trip around the world with children as an alternative way of life for dropouts open end would certainly be something completely different.
"Can you still take in all the new impressions?" is also a long-running question.
I was worried beforehand. But we keep a diary and record our experiences, talk to the children every evening about what they have experienced. Even the boys still know exactly what happened where and how it happened.
In the "Nomadic Life" section, I regularly reported on various aspects of family life on the trip and also asked the boys about their views from time to time.
Get to know countries – and people
We visit countless cities, museums, ancient ruins. In Zagreb we buy new hiking shoes. Before Silas grew out of his, he ran a hole in the sole. We travel a lot.
Whether in the urban jungle or outdoors in nature (here in Corsica) – the boys need about 5 km of exercise each day to be balanced.
It is always most beautiful when we get very close to people. We make a lot of acquaintances – "countless", I would say, but that would be factually wrong, because we can remember every single name (at least Silas, who has the best memory of all of us, but neither of us have forgotten anyone).
Our travel acquaintances include former war refugees like Mateo in Mostar, disillusioned people like Ana in Skopje, but also people who are brimming with homeland love like Amaltea in Dubrovnik and people with visions like Dejan and Daily in Kosovo who want to further develop a dilapidated country.
At Christmas we are in Bulgaria and experience the incredible hospitality of an English family who lives their emigrant dream here.
Europe is different in the southeast, often dirty and not uncommonly ugly, but exciting and well worth seeing, and like in every other region, it lives through the people who live here.
I have summarized the first half of our trip in detail under the title "Halftime Part 1: Looking back at 5.5 months of travel sabbatical with family".
In Turkey Nilgün teaches me how to wrap cigar börek properly.
To the limits – of the continent and our own
On our "fake world tour with children" we cross the Bosphorus, nominally enter the Asian continent, although western Turkey seems less foreign to us than the often backward-looking, sometimes hostile part of ex-Yugoslavia with the Cyrillic letters.
For a change, we do it once right vacation with grandma and grandpa.
Then we are on the move again. Not far from the minarets of the mosques, which have become a common sight for us since Bosnia south, we explore the Greek ruins, the legacies of the inventors of democracy.
A month later, we also visit the country of their descendants, trying to understand the euro crisis where it comes from. Here too, our long journey will be rewarded with so many exciting encounters.
Ancient ruins accompany us everywhere in southern Europe.
From Albania – another highlight for our unbroken curiosity about travel – we cross the Mediterranean and land in Italy. We have a hard time with this country, because although we explore charming landscapes and cultural heavyweights between the heel of the boot, Mount Etna and the Eternal City, we suffer from bad weather, health problems and the (only!) Break-in into our car.
Sardinia compensates us with dream beaches where it is finally spring. Corsica is fantastic, but at the same time the most expensive region we visit (at least south of the Arctic Circle).
Returning to work after a break? No problem!
Meanwhile, life after the trip casts its shadows. Martin received a notification in Sicily: A personnel agency would like to arrange a specific job for him. Keyword shortage of skilled workers in Germany – A barely maintained profile in the common job portal is enough to get interesting offers delivered free of charge (at least if it happens to be dipl. ing. on the business card). The position is definitely an option, and so the gentleman sits at the kitchen table and files his CV while I drive the boys through the city traffic of Palermo soaked in sweat.
A little later we go to Barcelona by ferry and we have to go shopping there: Martin needs a suit because he flies from Madrid for a short time to Germany for an interview.
We explore the rest of the Iberian Peninsula with the reassuring feeling that financially we will continue with children after our trip around the world.
Once again we are going to the full, enjoy history and architecture in Andalusia, have fun in the early summer heat in hotel pools, explore Portuguese mountain villages that are in no way inferior to those in Bulgaria in terms of originality. And here, too, we meet dear people who share their lives with us for a few days and whom we often take to heart again.
And the boys still enjoy exploring new things (here Silas on the way to one of our favorite beaches in the Algarve, Portugal).
The farewell from the farewell
At least our grown-ups find it difficult to make their way home, to constantly steer the car northwards. The end of our world tour with children is imminent. The boys have been looking forward to home since Romania (but are always happy to be excited about the upcoming travel stages).
After a few last great experiences in France, it can no longer be avoided: we are crossing the German border. We spend the first night with old friends in Trier.
joy of reunion.
It follows short home leave, by carefully approaching life in Germany again. Finally "real" bread, and despite all the love for our expeditions, I take a strange feeling of grateful belonging true in me.
Finally, almost to the North Pole
We cover the last stage of our world tour with children by boat. There are certain reasons for this and it turns out to be the crowning achievement.
Our Nordland cruise takes us from Kiel via the Orkney Islands to Iceland, where we happily have enough time when we go ashore to compare life in the northern periphery of Europe at least to some extent with that in the east, south and west.
Even if couch surfing is not an option for this form of travel, we meet locals because we meet up with Hildigunnur, my pen friend from my youth, and her family.
It continues into the Arctic, to the northernmost outpost of European civilization: Svalbard! To Danube Delta and Bosphorus in the east, Sicily and Gibraltar in the south, the Portuguese Western Cape (and the Irish Peninsula Beara 2011), we have actually traveled extensively through Europe in all its dimensions.
We still go to the north cape and north of Norway on the way back before we have to drive home after 11 months of travel.
And after the trip around the world with children?
Everyday life is slowly settling here again. The boys go to school (not exactly enthusiastic, but happy to see their friends again). Martin works into his new job. I have a hundred ideas for new projects and enough plans for family4travel. We all have so many experiences.
"And, was the effort worth it?" people ask. There is only one answer: yes!
"Would you do the trip again?"
At any time! It was just awesome!
"Be sure to write a book about this!"
After hearing this sentence so many times, I did it. "The discovery of Europe" costs 11.99 euros as a paperback, is available to order anywhere in the German book trade and easiest here via Amazon. *
This text is also a contribution to the blog parade on familyescapes on the topic "My most impressive travel experience".
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