Traveling around Europe with kids for a month – it takes a village
This Autumn, we were lucky enough to be able to take some time off for paternity leave (which I will write a whole other blog about), but we aimed to take some time off work to enjoy some time with our new addition Lilly.
So quickly we set to planning how we wanted to plan it out and quickly landed on some beach time in the autumn when luckily France, Spain and Portugal are blessed with some wonderful weather and so we waited for some flights to go on sale with Delta and 42k miles later per ticket we were bound for Europe.
I thought I would break it into multiple steps across what we did:
Stage 1 : Flights to London : we managed to snag tickets for 42k miles each for flights direct to London which really does help when traveling with two kids. Last thing anyone needs is layovers anywhere.
We had a couple of days at home to get the kids some rest. One night our son slept 15 hours which was nice for his surprised parents.
Stage 2 : Ryanair to France!
I haven’t flown with Ryanair in years since I was snowboarding. Luckily they were actually pretty simple as long as you book flights early get your luggage sorted and away you go. Only had one mishap where the young chap on boarding refused to give me a baggage ticket for the stroller despite his co-worker saying that they could. A couple of words later and we were on the plane. Ryanair is an interesting animal, its cheap but then you have all these extra costs but if you read the small print and plan ahead its easy and cheap enough. You just always see people who turn up expecting British airways but paying Ryanair.
Stage 3 : 12 days in France!
France is without doubt one of the places closest to my heart. Good weather, amazing food and wine and good waves. We rented a big house with some good friends who thankfully all helped us out as it really does take a village sometimes. Sani, Spencer, Fabia, Jackie and Alex you all deserve a medal for how you helped us out. We had a pool, plenty of shade, plenty of places to sleep, nap and snooze for both kids and parents.
We got lucky also as Lennys birthday co-incided with our stay and so Gary Greenshields could bring Archie along for a party. We got a house with like 5 bedrooms, lots of outdoor space and sometimes you forget how important space and an area to just hang out is. Seignosse where we stayed is great as its close to the surf spots up in Seignosse and Hossegor, close enough to the wonderful food spots like Chez Minus and Capbreton. Its also good as you can head down to Bar Jean in Biarritz or San Sebastian for a night out. We managed to hang with Bryan and Caley for a few days here before there own whirlwind euro trip too.
Stage 4 : The VAN!
Ah the van. Oh the van. When Mareike suggested this I was so excited and that level remained throughout my time. We worked with Indie Campers who were great at every step of the process and really made it easy with delivery at Biarritz airport and drop off in Lisbon. The van itself was had two full sized beds, with a shower and seats for us all. We managed to live in there for a week and it worked really well. The key to another trip would be just ensuring that we pack a bit lighter.
It did lead to some interesting evenings trying to get into your bed and repack at the same time. It all worked out fine in the end. I just had one unfortunate incident with a stroller but otherwise we all walked away unscathed. Traveling by Van is so fun as you can go at your own speed, so one day we drove for like 500 miles and stopped by a beach on the way for a swim but kept a loose schedule. Another day we just stayed at one spot in Portugal all day long. It does take the family to be pretty easy going and prepared to have some fun along the way. I’m lucky that my wife and kids seem that way inclined and we definitely made some memories that we’ll keep forever. The highlight of the trip was our stop in Galicia.
We had driven from St Vincent a few hours away and we decided to try and make Nemina down in Galicia on the far northwestern corner of Spain. We had been given some amazing tips by friends. This one involved driving down tiny village roads in our big old van, through fields, by wind turbines and then we ended up at a pretty empty beach with a beautiful little cove with just a few people around.
We went up to fine a spot to park for the hight and then paddled out for an evening session. Beautiful waves, cool and clear water with a crazy sunset. That will live long in the memory.
We then made our way down to Peniche and Ericera where we ended up for a few more days, which was great to explore and not need to keep the kids in the van for hour after hour.
Down here there was one day which summed up why a van is nice. Mareike went to go get her nails done and get a massage so me and the kids drove up to an overlook by a beach and just hung out for like 3 hours, playing in the van, watching the surf, eating snacks, hanging together. Its always the small things but that was amazing.
Staying in Ericera as it had a great combination of surf, food, wine, some insane tasting Portuguese breakfast gallete and of course great sunsets.
Stage 5 : Lisbon
After a week in a van, it was a refreshing change to have a nice air bnb to call home. A warm shower was very very welcome addition.
Lisbon is growing at a rate of knots. In portland you always can tell the state of the economy based on how many cranes you see. In Lisbon there are probably 20 in the skyline such is the pace of growth. One of the places thats been growing is Comoba, owned by legend, friend, idol, Greg Martin.
In Partnership with Marlon Lipke and a couple of others they have the best coffee and food spot in Lisbon I’d argue. They also serve beer and cocktails!
Matcha pancakes, great coffee, good vibe, its a wonderful zone and the boys have really made it their own. We also managed to spend some time at Santa Cruz which has just opened up a beautiful zone called the Noah Surf House, with food, surf a shop and more stuff that looks good for instagram than you can shake a stick at.
We spent time exploring Lisbon, which with two kids is quite the mission but very good to see it all. That also involved a train ride up to Estoril a cute little beach only 30 mins away on the train. I also managed to snag a couple of rad days of surf in with Mark Ruperelia, one of my longest friends who is as much a legend now as he was when we first met.
Here he is tucking into some Coxos breakfast.
So after a month on the road I’d honestly say its one of the best adventures we’ve done as a family and I cant wait for more. The great thing about taking a longer period off is that you can actually switch off and be present and just enjoy spending time without thinking about work. For that opportunity I am very very grateful.
I’ll post some more about paternity leave and other stuff but now most stuff is on instagram anyways, I guess I dont need all the photos, but again, just wanted to share our plan as a lot of people have asked me.
Heres to Europe!
The one who makes it all possible…