Friday, October 24, 2014

A Free Trip to Europe

Where in Europe would you love to go?

Where would you go if you won a free, all-expenses-paid trip to anywhere in Europe? Yes, anywhere. Ten days — flights, trains, hotels and meals all paid for. You even get a little spending money. Wouldn't you be beyond excited at this opportunity to travel without spending a dime out of your own pocket?

The contest rules were:

  • Enter by suggesting a destination
  • Present a  proposal of five sites to visit or things to do while on the trip.
  • Destinations will be ranked by all the contestants plus the people funding and organizing the trip.
  • Winner will be the top ranking destination.
  • Contestants must be under 18 years old. 
Best of all, contestants are guaranteed a spot on the winning trip even if theirs is not picked.

My kids came across this amazing opportunity last summer. But before you get all excited and start figuring out how you can enter your own children in this contest, I should mention that it's only open to my family.

Yup, we let our kids choose where to go on our summer vacation. The alternate title for this post is

Help Us All. The Kids are in Charge!

We ended up at the Pokemon Center when we let our kids help with the trip planning for Tokyo.

Did I lose my mind?

With getting ready to move back to Texas from Malaysia, both hubby and I were swamped. So much of our brains were preoccupied with changing continents that we adults didn't have much time to daydream about where to stop in Europe along the way. Hubby and I have traveled to Europe before. While we were eager to revisit it, there wasn't anything in particular we were dying to see.  That's why we decided to let the kids choose. Since our comfort zone is much wider than theirs, the chances of the kids coming up with anything that we were completely unwilling to do was slim.

Norway is on my wish list. For now, I will have to be satisfied with my visit to EPCOT's Norway pavillion.

2nd Runner Up Proposal: London

My girl really wanted to return to Paris, but we added in a rule that it had to be some place new to the kids. Although, Paris is indeed rather fabulous, so I can see why she is drawn to the City of Lights. Her next suggestion was London. It's been on our short list the last few years, but we still haven't made it there. What did she suggest doing?
  • Olympic Stadium - We've visited the one in Beijing, and she wants to see this one, too.
  • London Eye - How does it compare to the Singapore Flyer?
  • Big Ben
  • London Bridge - Is it really falling down?
  • McDonald's - Part of her lifetime goal to eat at a McDonald's in every country where they are located.
When we finally get around to visiting London — and I'm sure we will — I wonder if this list will change as she gets older.

How would the London Eye compare to the Singapore Flyer?

1st Runner Up Proposal: Greece

My teen boy suggested Greece because he was knee deep in reading The Iliad at school and wanted to see what modern Greece is like. How does it compare to Homer's description? His places included the usual Ancient Greek sites like the Acropolis plus a few islands for good measure.

Not exactly Greece
(Changi Airport, Singapore)

The Winner: Italy

Drum roll, please... my younger son was the big winner with his suggestion of Italy. Obviously an astute observer of his mom's trip planning techniques, he looked at travel blogs to figure out what to do there. In addition to touring a hand-blown glass factory, his proposed activities and destinations were:

Ride a gondala in Venice

Gondolas on Venice's Grand Canal

Visit the Colosseum

Can you tell which is the real Colosseum? This one...

or this one?

Walk around the ruins of Pompeii

The Forum, Pompeii
Imagine that Mount Vesuvius in the background used to be cone shaped. That's how much of the top blew off.

Eat gelato

I made sure that we did each and every one of these items on his list, especially the last one... multiple times.

So many choices! Thank goodness most gelaterias let you have two scoops for a small cone/cup.

Why Italy?

My boy has never mentioned a desire to go to Italy before, so I was wondering why exactly did he pick it. He had two main reasons. 
  1. He hates wearing pants and figured that Italy in the summer was the perfect place to wear shorts. I bet he was disappointed at the dress code at the Vatican.
  2. We always encourage the kids to try the local food wherever we travel. Pizza, pasta and gelato? Perfect!
Enjoying pizza at Pizzeria da Franco, Sorrento

Mr. Snuffles and the Hunt for Gelato

We made many memories during our travels through Italy. As a memento, my boys made a video of their time there. My teen points out that it has more of a plot than those crazy, avant-garde movie shorts we viewed a couple summers ago at France's National Museum of Modern Art at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Where would you go in Europe if you won an all-expenses-paid trip? What would you do there?

If you are a parent, how much do your kids participate in travel planning?

This post is part of the following link-ups. Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.


  1. First and foremost your kids are so fortunate to have loving and adventurers parents such as you - hopefully they'll pass the legacy when they get kids of their own.

    So where would I go if I won an all expense trip to Europe? most definitely Italy, Turkey would be a close second.

  2. Hilarious! Love the title! What a great idea for involving kids in travel planning. We need to incorporate your tips.

  3. okay, the free all expense title was definitely a catch! ^0^
    you had me there! ^-^

    what a great idea to let the kids decide for you and nice choices as well.
    I;m sure they did enjoy this trip more than ever.
    I would love to see Greece * esp. Santorini* .
    Italy is and always be a must -see.
    and so is Paris. it's just dreamy...

  4. This post cracked me up! I can't wait to watch the video once I get home from work. I feel like I was WAY more creative as a kid, so I'm looking forward to seeing what they concocted. :)

  5. When I die I want to come back as one of your children :) I would choose Croatia because I have not been there (yet). Zadar for the sea organ, Zagreb for it's tree lined boulevards and Rovinj for it's steep cobblestoned lanes and Venetian tower.

  6. I think I'd just ask for a Eurail pass as the prize and then hop a train and go whereever it took me, stay a day or two and head back to the train station and set off for another destination. Loved this post!!

  7. I actually thought I was going to have a chance to win a fab trip...LOL. Lucky kids you have, and they all made good choices. I have done everything that you did in Italy, and would go back again in a heart beat! Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

  8. This is a great idea to really involve the kids. It seemed like they really thought about their destinations and learned about them a bit. Great idea!

  9. I love that you let your kids choose! Seems they can make some pretty good choices on their own and it sounds like you had a lovely time there together. I am not sure where I'd go if I could go anywhere in Europe...I guess when I actually had that chance, I chose France and really love that country and have keep returning. Next up for me as far as new places in Europe is Finland this winter:)

  10. What a cool idea to get your kids to decide and I can totally see why the food in Italy would have appealed! As a Londoner, I'm a little biased about home though so do bring them along to see if the bridge really is falling down one day :)

  11. What an awesome post! An Australian colleague of mine (a school administrator) let his two jr high-age boys do the same thing and they ended up in Boston/Washington DC :) BTW, I'm headed with my fam to Venice tomorrow!

  12. I LOVE this idea, BRILLIANT! When we have a kiddo someday totally copying this;-) Also love that she wants to try a McDonald's in every hubby has a similar thing where he wants to get a haircut in every country we visit, too. The $2 one in Cambodia was my favorite;-)

  13. Lucky kids! While I haven't reached the point of letting the kids take most of the control in our itinerary yet, I have to admire this strategy. Although, I did get outvoted for the Thanksgiving trip next month. I wanted Portugal and the kids and hubby wanted Italy. Italy really is a great choice for kids and your son chose well. My kids help with the research for now too. My all-expense paid trip is a toss-up between Portugal and Norway.

  14. I love that you let your kids choose where to go! Though I'm a little disappointed this competition was only open to your family :( Haha!

    I would probably choose Budapest - a couple of friends who went interrailing over the summer both agreed it was the best place they stopped, so very interested to know what all the hype is about!

  15. Love the idea of getting the kids involved in the decision making. All great choices they picked. I would of picked Venice as well. I love the city. Thanks for sharing and linking up to #WeekendWanderlust this week.

  16. This is awesome! When I have kids, I'm going to do the same. I wonder what I would have said if my parents asked me when I was younger. If I had to follow your rules of not picking a place I've been before, I think I'd go with Spain! I had a trip booked to go, but at the last minute everything fell through and I couldn't make it. There are so many awesome things I want to do: eat tapas, visit all the Gaudi sites, sip wine, explore the food market in Barcelona.

  17. Oh my gosh, my #1 bucket list dream has been Germany for some 40 years now, Michele. Trust me it's something that is memorized in my head. You said 5 place within the destination but I could easily rattle of these right now - Well, #1 FAR and BEYOND would be Kehlsteinhaus (the Eagles Nest) and Berchtesgaden, the Nuremberg Rally Grounds, the Berlin Flak Tower, Dachau, Auschwitz, the Reichstag, Arnhem Bridge, Anne Frank’s House, Brandenburg Gate, The Holocaust Memorial...long list :) Since I lost my kid now if finally the good opportunity to look into traveling again. Long story of which you know quite a bit about. That video with the stuffed animals was HYSTERICALLY FUNNY! :)

  18. we need to visit Vienna, and revisit London, great post!

    (catching up on previous posts)

  19. Thanks for the great read. I’m getting “Reise Fieber” as they say in German, just watching the gorgeous pictures … such a beautiful world !


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