I first dreamed of traveling to Europe while sitting in Humanities 101. I listened to my professor tell of visiting the magnificient David and how deeply it had touched him. I heard him explain the size of the marble, the details on the back of the piece, and the gaze of that shepherd boy that could never be fully captured in a photograph. I heard him express wonderment in the genius of Michelangelo.
I wondered how it would be to actually see David myself. That semester in Humanites opened a world to me that I had not known before. I left wanting to learn the stories of the masters and visit the birthplace of the Renassiance. I wanted to see the David, climb the Dome, and sit and stare up at the Sistine Chapel. I fell in love with the art, the history, and the classical world.
My desire to visit Europe was a dream I had filed away as the years came and went. As I homeschooled my children my desire to see Europe returned to me as I shared with them the fascinating world of European art and history.
My husband and I were talking one day about taking a memorable family trip before my daughter left for college. One of us mentioned Europe. At first, it seemed like such a huge hurdle to get there and so many unknowns. I began to wonder if it could be a possibility to take 6 kids ages 18-5 and two parents over to Europe.
I looked up the airfare. I could get a direct flight from Vegas to Frankfurt Germany That was expensive. But, we had so saved so we could do that. I researched a rental car. Then I hit on the biggest stumbling block of visiting Europe.
Where do we sleep? I researched hotels. The rooms were small. They often only held two people. We would need to get four of them. That would be very expensive. We would need to have car parking. I researched apartments. This option would cost our family $300-400 a night. ArNiB worked out to be about the same. I was discouraged. I googled every search term I could think of for ideas for going to Europe with a family. The ideas I were left with were: renting an apartment, staying in one place, leaving the kids at home, or shortening the trip.
I did not want to leave my children at home. I wanted them to experience the culture and art and history long before I had as an adult. I did not like the idea of an apartment because if I was going to spend all of that money to get over there I wanted to see as much as possible and that would mean being mobile.
I began to feel discouraged. I started to think that it was not possible. Then one day while reading a Rick Steves website I read a couple short paragraphs about how middle class European famiilies will often camp for their holidays because it is inexpensive. And that European camping is located near cities, and that the standards of cleanliness is far better then in American campgrounds.
Thoseparagraphs were all it took for me to star thinking about camping with my family through Europe. The information I found made me so excited! The costs for camping with my family of eight ranged from $40- $150 dollars a night. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Why didn’t more people do this? Maybe they are not safe places? How come no one knows about this? I read all the reviews and everything I could find which was not much.
I was able to find campsites for all our nights in Europe (with 2 hostels thrown in) I was worried because of my lack of information. I didn’t actually know anyone who had done this with a family, And there was very little info online. But there they were all 26 nights. A place that my family could stay that we could afford. I was hesitant but then my husband told me to : let’s go have an adventure!” And that is what we did. We took all six kids for three weeks with four pop up tents and our sleeping bags and camped through Europe and had a wonderfully wild trip of a lifetime.
Camping in Europe brought us closer to the culture we had come to see, provided more flexibility, and was cheaper than any other option.