Fresh Adventure: A Minimalist European Family Vacation

Is it possible to go to Europe, with a baby, a toddler and a tween for two weeks… as minimalists? Join Grey Ministries for the month of April with our Fresh Adventure series! In the next couple weeks we’re going to be talking about why YOU need a vacation, how to have one even if you’re broke, what a “staycation” looks like, and the best way to take a vacation from your chaotic life.

Is it possible to go to Europe, with a baby, a toddler and a tween for two weeks… as minimalists? 

I’d first like to say that I am not a minimalist, yet! I’m merely a girl looking to simplify her life and get as bare-bones as possible so I can Marie Kondo my stuff to spark joy in as many areas as possible.

I did not plan the Fresh 2019 series to fall so perfectly in-time with the Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, but she is here and it happened and it feels a little bit like fate. Although I will not be introducing myself to my home and thanking my belongings for their time with me (with the exception of my favourite sweater my husband sent through the dryer to which I mourned for a few weeks on chilly mornings and needed to give it a proper goodbye to let go) I will happily buy tiny boxes and organize my drawers into slivers of tiny folds. 

I am also filling my home with florals. When my husband and I first got married, I was decorating our apartment and he told me, “absolutely no pink”. To which I somberly and reluctantly agreed. However, over the years I have managed to sneak more of my favourite colour into our home. A dash in a blue rug, a pillow here or there. It worked so well, I’m now sneaking in floral patterns. In pink. I instagrammed it I was so happy. 

Sorry, I went off on a tangent. 

The point is- simplifying our lives opens the doors for a more fruitful and fulfilling life. Less stuff is smart. It makes life sage (pronounced sah-je, French for calm. I am also simplifying my parenting style).

Temps pour des Vacances

My family and I are going to Europe for my brother’s wedding. We were initially only going to go for a week but figured we should take advantage of our expensive plane tickets and stay for two. 

Though I know it can seem crazy to some, I have travelled to Europe before with two kids, one as a toddler, and not too long ago, took the baby to California with a friend. My children have been traveling since they were born back and forth from the USA to Canada and they’re no strangers to airports, long car rides or waiting. 

But they are still children. Unpredictable children. 

Last time I travelled to Europe, I went with my parents. The grandparents keep a close eye on the youngins, not to mention we were three adults to two children. This time, my husband and I will be traveling with the three kids. God bless my husband, he knows I love him, but he can get distracted pretty easily. 

It won’t be the same trip, I can promise you that. 

So when it comes to packing, I’m keeping in mind that the children out-number my husband and I. My four-year-old can walk now, but he is pokey and might be too tired to pull his little suitcase. My older son is now ten and he will be a great help to us, but also might be cranky from the time change with his hormonal tweenagery moods (seriously, I had no idea he would get so snarky!). And then of course there is the time change for the baby, sleeping on the overnight flight, gluten-free, dairy-free diets and a host of other potential issues. 

I think we’ve got it covered though. My plan? Simplify. 

For the plane, we bought these cool inflatable pillows that will turn the children’s seats into beds. The woman from United Airlines was kind enough to upgrade our seats for free to give us a basinette for the baby. Not so much luck for the ride home, we are going to show up at the gate early and pray. 

Oh yeah, and then there’s traveling with a Dominican man. He is seriously so slow. When he “hurries” he walks. I have never seen anyone walk while in a hurry. In my family, we run! Late? RUN TO THE CAR. Him? He saunters over all slow, slick and cool. The two minutes I may have gotten to my destination faster but only causes me more stress, I know this. It’s très difficille pour moi but I’m planning to saunter to the gates. Slowly. Like a Dominican. 


We’re going to Belgium so I’ve been attempting to learn Dutch. Ik spreek Nederlands! But I really don’t know much, so I’m more practicing my French for the three days we’re spending in France. C’est terrible. I remember almost nothing except for, où est la bibliothèque?

Learning another language has always been difficult for me. I’m finding Dutch a lot easier than French, but learning languages is not one of my gifts. However, it’s good for your brain and it keeps you young! I’m learning on the free app Duolingo and YouTube also has some good conversational videos.

Great distraction, by the way. If you need a brain break from your life. There are even groups you can join to practice speaking your new language!

As I was saying, our plan ride there is a night flight and we are coming home during the day. I will not be bringing a plethora of toys, snacks, games, etc. on the plane. The boys will have headphones, one notebook each, a Polaroid camera and granola bars. The baby will have a couple books, her Maileg mouse, a chewy, a sippy cup, and a few packets of baby food. 

I will pack an extra day of clothing in case our suitcase goes missing and I’ll bring a book for myself even though I realize that’s really dreaming. I have a lot of books saved on my Amazon reading wishlist but since we’re headed to Europe, I’ll be reading, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter”. 

Fitting, right?

I’ll be posting pictures of my packing and what we’re bringing on Instagram. If you aren’t following me there, it’s a lot of fun! My Insta stories are really where it’s at, though.

It is my hope that through actively choosing not to entertain my kids, they’ll entertain themselves with the experience of flying, sleeping on their inflatable pillows, taking photos and documenting their journey in their notebooks and watching a movie or playing a game on the airplane. 

As for the baby? Well, she’s a good girl. I’m hoping she will cue in it is bedtime when the plane gets dark and quiet and she will drift off to sleep (famous last words?). 

The one thing I haven’t thought of a solution for is my husband’s snoring on the airplane or in the small apartment we’re staying in… it’s really, really loud. I have earplugs… they’re pink! But they don’t block the sound near enough. Sorry, love.

What Does This Have to Do With You?

I mean, this isn’t about addiction at all- bah! But this whole month we’re talking about vacations and adventuring so I thought I’d share what I was doing.

In the next couple weeks we’re going to be talking about why YOU need a vacation, how to have one even if you’re broke, what a “staycation” looks like, and the best way to take a vacation from your chaotic life.

Adieu, à bientôt! 

Leah Grey (1).jpg