After years of financial struggle as a single-dad on a teacher’s salary, I managed to put together a budget-friendly 25-day summer trip to Europe. My side-hustle is that of a travel agent, so in theory, I should be able to put together an amazing family trip. If you have any suggestions for must-see places, please let me know in the comments section below. The plan is to celebrate my 18-year-old’s graduation from high school and to create lasting memories for myself and my 15-year-old foster son all in one swoop. I’ve invested about 80 hours researching and planning accommodations and activities to ensure our safety and to get the best value. I’m very proud of the itinerary and am looking forward to an amazing European vacation.
After having an exchange student years ago, I grew to know his parents well who live in Germany and have a vacation home in Spain. Being able to visit them at both their home and vacation house seemed like a good starting point. So I reached out to them to get some calendar dates and began to build our ultimate summer trip to Europe. I came up with the following itinerary with stops in Moers and Berlin, Germany; Barcelona and Cambrils, Spain; Rome, Italy; and Prague, Czech Republic. I decided to use Barcelona as a hub for significant costs savings by being able to book round-trip travel plus hotel packages. I have included links in bold to help make this article interactive – the links are sometimes to similar activities (not always the exact excursion I scheduled).
Day 2 – 5 Moers, Germany
Day one is spent flying from San Francisco to Barcelona (the hub of our trip) with a connecting flight to Dusseldorf, Germany. From there, my former exchange student’s parents will pick us up and we will stay with them in Moers, Germany. I don’t have any activities planned while we are there, figuring our host family are experts and will be able to guide us to all the awesome places to go. Plus, I imagine it will take a day or two to get adjusted from jetlag.
Day 6 – 8 Berlin, Germany
Day six we arrive in Berlin, Germany and plan to stay at SANA Berlin Hotel in a two-bedroom condo-style room with a kitchen and a washer and dryer. Our airport transfers will be taken care of by SIXT myDriver. While in Berlin, we will see the city using Grayline’s City Tour Hop-on Hop-off bus tour. We also plan to have photographer Valeri Vasilev take us around the city for photography lessons using our new camera, a Nikon Coolpix B700, and our mobile phone cameras.
Day 9 – 12 Barcelona, Spain
Next, we are off to Barcelona, Spain for four nights. We will be meeting a family member for the first time here, which should be exciting! We will be staying a little off the beaten path at Hotel Arrahona in a two-bedroom unit with a washing machine. I haven’t found a good ground transportation service yet, so for now, we will use taxi cabs or public transportation to get to and from the airport. We have unlimited two-day passes to Turistic’s Hop-on Hop-Off Bus Tour which should give us a good overview of the city and an easy way to sightsee. We have a reserved afternoon tour with Julia Travel to see Sagrada Familia which should be interesting as long as it does not get too hot. The rest of planning our Barcelona activities will be left to our family member who has been to Barcelona multiple times.
Day 13 – 15 Cambrils, Spain
My former exchange student’s family vacation home is in Cambrils, Spain which is our next stop. We plan to spend a great deal of time relaxing and slowing down at this half-way point of our trip. We will embrace the rich history of the area, bask on the beaches and enjoy the company of friends. For the most part, I will leave the specific activity plans of this stop to my friends who have called Cambrils their summer home for many years.
Day 16 – 18 Rome, Italy
A trip to Europe isn’t complete without a visit to Rome, Italy. Our airport transfers in Rome are through Consorzio Airport Shuttle service and we will spend our nights at the Ecohotel in a triple-bed room. To avoid the extremely long lines and crowded tours, we have booked a private tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s with City Wonders Limited. I read many reviews and decided that a private tour is the only way to go. We will also be taking an Italian cooking class in Rome learning how to cook ravioli and sauce from scratch. Before the cooking class, we get to sample different homemade pizzas.
Day 19 Barcelona, Spain
The nineteenth day will be spent returning to our hub. I haven’t arranged ground transportation, so we will rely on taxis or public transportation to get us to Santos Porta Fira where we will be spending the night.
Day 20 – 23 Prague, Czech Republic
Finally, we will visit Czech Republic’s city of Prague. Prague Airport Transfers will take us to and from our hotel, Iris Hotel Eden. This hotel is part of a soccer stadium that is out of season, but it should be an interesting place with our triple-bed room. We have a half-day city tour and Vitava River cruise scheduled with Premiant City Tours. We also have another excursion planned for what sounds like another awesome opportunity to learn how to use our new camera, a private night Prague photography tour by Prague Photo Walks.
Day 24 Barcelona, Spain
On day 24, we once again return to our hub the day before returning home. I haven’t arranged ground transportation, so the plan for now is to rely on taxis or public transportation to get us to Santos Porta Fira where we will be spending the night. Day 25 will be spent on a flight from Barcelona to Philadelphia with connecting service back home to San Francisco.
Would you like to have a trip planned for you?
So I can’t take the time to write an elaborate blog post like this and not shamelessly plug what I do. If you would like to have a trip planned like this for you, let me know. I can do anything as elaborate as this trip or something simple like a weekend getaway. Quotes are always free! You can email me at [email protected] or fill out a short questionnaire at http://rogerflowerstravel.com/vacation-package-quote-request/ to get an idea of what is available.