I suspect I might not be the only one out there to admit... 'family holidays' aren't really my bag. Yes, it's easier to go somewhere with a kids' club and yes, Vivienne loves all that stuff and yes it means there is time to actually relax.. but I just find it all a bit.. well, naff. Also, Vivienne was so excited with new holiday friends that, selfishly, I feel I didn't see enough of her last time we were away. Due to being a seasonal worker where it's often a case of "well I might as well take another booking in August because I may not get another later in the year" it's made sense for us to book places that we know Vivienne will make new pen pals and we can get some Autumn sun over October half term.
For the past few years I've been dreaming of the idea of doing trips that are going to be real experiences, and I'd bookmarked Easter 2018 off in my mind with the hope of going somewhere exciting. Originally I'd hoped for a road trip exploring West Coast America and taking Viv out of school for an extra week; but then Sylvie came along and we decided to wait until she can remember something like that and really experience it too.
Then I thought about Interrail. I've never been and the idea of hopping on and off trains crossing beautiful parts of Europe sounded a bit magical. Would doing interrail with kids be too hard? Looking at dates for David and his work and everything that is already in the diary for next year we decided that the majority of the trip would be just me and Vivienne, and then David and Sylvie can meet us for four days at the end. (And in all honesty, part of me was a bit relieved when I considered the age she'll be at and the amount of stuff she'd still need..)
So I mocked up plans and itineraries and worked out a route that would be possible, with travel times that wouldn't be too much for Vivienne too. Quickly I realised that I'd have to stop myself from wanting to do all the places I wanted to visit in one trip.. I'd have to prioritise for this trip and do another stretch of Europe another time.
I wanted to mix cities with some more 'outdoorsy' experiences.. I went to different areas of Switzerland a lot growing up and I really wanted Vivienne to see how beautiful it was, it then made sense to do a sleeper train somewhere, spend a few days there and then go on to somewhere else. After a bit of moving ideas and places around on a time line, this is what I came up with..
We begin by waving off Dav and Sylv and flying to Geneva, staying for just one night. From Geneva we'll get the train around the lake to Montreux, again for one day and one night; from here we get the train to Zermatt for two nights, which will give us time to cable car up to the Matterhorn and do the Glacier Experience and hopefully have an afternoon on the beginners' slopes taking Vivienne skiing for the first time (fingers crossed!). On the morning after our last night in Zermatt, we'll travel up to Zurich and spend the day exploring there before getting the overnight train to Vienna. We'll stay two nights in Vienna - I've booked us a hostel room with a huge glass ceiling (mainly so we can smash it.. feminist joke there..) overlooking the city, and then we'll get the train to Budapest from there to meet David and Sylvie, and have three nights there as the four of us before flying home.
I've created a travel diary/book with our itinerary, costs so far, payments that still need to be settled and labelled pages with each destination. I've also bought a European travel guide and asked Vivienne to do her own research for what she'd like to see or do in each place. So far we only really have in what we're looking to do in Zermatt, and I read about some amazing spa pools that look like they're worth a day trip in Budapest.. I'm going to lend Vivienne one of my small cameras for the week and see what she comes up with.
Mainly, sight-seeing and exploring aside, I'm *so* excited to spend some quality time with Vivienne. Often Sylvie needs more immediate attention at home and Vivienne is so good at understanding, but I do think it'll do her so much good to be a bit more free and for it to be just the two of us for a week or so. I'm optimistically hoping we can get away with hand luggage in the name of 'travelling light' so I think the next challenge is working out a real capsule packing list that will last us the entire trip! If you've travelled or Interrail-ed with little ones I would really love to hear any tips you've got or travel essentials; or if you have any recommendations for where we're going I'd love to hear!