Your Travel Questions Answered

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Traveling overseas is one of life’s biggest stretching experiences. It really forces you to grow and put yourself out there, knowing that you will most definitely experience moments of vulnerability.  Traveling overseas is never easy but it’s ALWAYS worth it.  Here are some answers to the questions I received about our recent trip to Germany and France!  To read more about our trip, here is a blog post on what we did on our first two days in Germany, this is my packing list for Europe in the winter, and this blog post includes all the details on what Caroline and I did in Paris.  Strasbourg and Heidelberg posts will be published shortly.

Your Travel Questions Answered

International travel can be overwhelming, and even more so if you’re visiting a country where English is not the primary language. Add in a child and it becomes a whole different experience. Below are some of the questions I received about our trip to Europe.

Questions about Traveling with a Child

How old is Caroline?  Caroline is 6 years old and she was a great little traveler!

Why did we choose to travel with this particular child?  We happened to have a trip to London with Tom’s family back in 2022 when Jack was 6 so we decided to take him on that trip.  We realized that the individualized time we had with him was incredibly special and at 6 years old he was up for most anything.  This recent Europe trip (an international work trip for Tom) came along when Caroline happened to be 6 years old, so we decided it was a great opportunity for her to receive a similar trip.

I’d love to travel overseas with my kids but I’m too scared!  I completely understand this, and traveling overseas can be intimidating.  If you’re looking for a way to grow your confidence in overseas travel, I’d start with a place where English is the primary language, like England, Ireland, Scotland, etc.  You’ll still get a horizon broadening experience for yourself and your children but it won’t be quite as daunting as a place where they speak a different language.  If you didn’t grow up traveling then it’s understandable that you are nervous about this, but just remember, the biggest gift you can give your children (and yourself) is the gift of travel and an overseas trip will positively impact them for the rest of their lives in more ways than you can ever imagine!

Where is Caroline’s camera from?  This is the little $45 camera that Caroline used while traveling in Europe.  This is the little micro SD card that is required for this particular camera.  Here are two unedited photos that she took, to show you the quality:

Specific Overseas Questions

Do I speak French?  I took French for 4 years in high school and another year in college, so I have a grasp on French that comes back to me when I’m immersed in it.  I am by no means fluent but can converse easily enough to get us around and ask questions.  Most people in Europe seem to speak some English, so I find that as long as I try my best to speak in their language first, they are typically happy enough to reply in English and help out.  Kindness and humility go a long way when traveling overseas!

Have I been to Paris before?  This was my 4th trip to Paris, the last time being when I was pregnant with Jack 9 years ago.  I also visited Paris once in college and once in high school.  I feel relatively comfortable getting around in Paris, which is why I felt secure in taking a child there on my own.  I’m sure it would have been a little more nerve-wracking if this had been my first time.

Where did we stay in Paris?  We stayed at Hotel Camille, which is a Tapestry Collection property by Hilton.  (Meaning that it’s a boutique hotel that Hilton acquired.)  It has the conveniences of Hilton (easy booking online, Tom was able to use loyalty points, etc.) but it has its own unique feel as a special Parisian hotel.  We LOVED it!

Do I speak German?  This was probably my 10th time to Germany and I can say the basic things like hello, thank you, “where is the toilet?”, “do you speak English?”, and I can count to 10.  Most people in Europe seem to speak English these days and in general, Germans are very friendly and helpful so communicating isn’t too much of a problem.

Travel Products Questions

Where is the tripod from?  I brought this tripod with me and carried it in my Longchamp tote.  (I removed the ring light prior to traveling.)  It was so handy and I’m glad I was able to take some non-selfie photos!

Where are my jeans from?  The jeans I brought on this trip include these Loft High Rise Kick Crop Jeans (true to size) and these J.Crew Slim Wide Leg Jeans (size down one size).  The Loft pair has been my favorite style for over 2 years now- grab a pair if you ever see them available in your size!  More details in this blog post.

Where are my brown boots from?  I bought these brown Chelsea boots on a whim and they arrived the night before we left on our trip.  Best impulse purchase ever!  I love these Born Chelsea boots and wore them practically every day on our trip!  They’re incredibly comfortable and easy to take on and off.  They run true to size and I highly recommend them!  I now own them in black too.

Travel Planning Questions

When you go to a new place how do you plan lodging and meals?  Tom tries to stay at Hilton properties when he can due to their loyalty program, so when we travel most of the time we stay at a hotel that falls under the Hilton umbrella.  In Kaiserslautern we stayed at the Hampton Inn, in Paris we Stayed at Hotel Camille (a French hotel that is now owned by Hilton), in Strasbourg we stayed at the Hilton, in Heidelberg we stayed at the Hilton, and in Frankfurt we stayed at the Hilton by the airport because we had an early flight the next morning.  As for meals, I typically don’t plan that very much and we will just stop at places that looks interesting or has open seats.  If I do see a restaurant on Instagram or a blog that looks good I’ll look at where it is on the map and will add it to my itinerary and try to stop by if it makes sense with what we’re already planning to do.

Any resources you rely on?  When I travel I typically have 3 different digital ways of organizing all the information.  First, I create a saved Instagram folder for the specific place/trip.  Then I save different things that I come across that I’d like to see, including restaurants, sights, photo opportunities, etc.  Next, I map all of those out on Google Maps as saved locations for this particular trip.  I also add in the things like museums or big things worth seeing.  If I notice that more than one thing is in an area of town that we will be visiting then I’ll try to lump those together and go see them all at one time.  Finally, I make a Google document where I plan each day’s itinerary and add in anything pertinent (travel details, hotel information, times of scheduled events, etc.).  I also list out the “fun but not necessary” things (like the things I’ve found on Instagram) that could possibly fit into that particular day.

Flexibility is key and I like to have options, but I also make sure to have structured time as well (one or two scheduled events per day).  I also print my itinerary, and all train and museum tickets, just in case I have a phone issue while we are there.  It never hurts to have things on paper!  I’d also recommend downloading a train app, if you’ll be traveling by train.  I used the DB App because we traveled by Deutsche Bahn, but it also tracks other trains, including the French trains- which was very helpful when our travel plans got changed due to the German train drivers’ strike.

What would I have done differently?  Truthfully, this trip went as well as it possibly could have gone!  I may have packed a little too much (over optimistic, thinking I’d wear a dress or different shoes) but that’s the only thing I can think of.  I probably also should have brought more food on the long flights because Caroline refused all meals on the flights. She’s picky (and truthfully the meals were not that great and the smells can be overwhelming) and they didn’t serve rolls- which I’d been counting on for her to eat- and I should have had some options in my bag. I’d been so distracted by packing winter clothing and planning the trip that I completely forgot to travel with snacks.

Do you have any additional questions?  Please leave them below!

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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