Wander this way to…

 

 

 

Berchtesgaden, Germany

Wander this way to…

 

 

 

Colmar, France

Wander this way to…

 

 

 

Hallstatt, Austria

Colmar, France

Looking for a small town version of Venice with a French twist? The Alsatian town of Colmar is your answer. Colmar is a beautifully preserved town straight out of a fairy tale. Situated between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River, this picturesque town was spared from war destruction and is filled with half timbered homes, cobblestone streets, and winding canals. La Petite Venise is the Little Venice of Colmar. You can take a boat ride or lazily walk along the canals to enjoy the idyllic surroundings.

While we all love fairy tales, Everyone who’s been abroad has a story of the unexpected. For us (as with other families traveling with little ones), we were once surprised to show up at our apartment in France without a crib…even though they listed one online. In this situation, you’ll be thankful you brought a Lotus Everwhere Crib. This absolutely saved us on our trip to Colmar, and a number of other destinations as well! It is a no-brainer to pack, and sets up as well…and most importantly peace of mind about this little travel concern. Check out our review.

Anyway, back to Colmar….So next time you're looking to head to France, look beyond the big cities and coastal towns to this charming region and enjoy a small slice of your own French fairy tale.

Getting the travel bug yet? Bring the family and Don’t forget to check out our review of the Lotus Everywhere Crib.

Small towns in Europe: stay the night

Small towns in Europe. I always gravitate to them. Charming storybook villages that instantly captivate your heart. Before you know it, you find yourself toying with the idea of renouncing your possessions and spontaneously moving there.

Most people love visiting small towns in Europe, but they breeze through on a one day excursion. Of course it's better to see the town than not see it at all, but I encourage everyone to consider staying overnight in these enchanting destinations. During the day, tourists pack these places. Some come on tour buses, some on trains, others driving through. They all stop for part of the day, quickly explore the bustling town with the all the other tourists, and leave. At night, the streets become quiet. The locals emerge. A whole different world appears and you get to enjoy it all to yourself.

Staying overnight is nothing short of enchanting in small, European towns. You may even find the quiet a bit alarming if you're used to a noisier stateside city or surburb! One thing that's sure to comfort your tiniest travelers as they nestle into their new surroundings is the myBaby SoundSpa Sound Machine. It's compact and gets the job done beautifully. Check out our review.

So the next time you're considering staying in a small European town, don't even debate it. Just spend the night. You'll be thankful you did.

What are your favorite small towns in Europe?

Hallstatt, Austria

Words are not needed to describe this quintessential Austrian village nestled between the lake and the mountains. A picture says it all. Hallstatt is one of those places where you see a photo and immediately say "Where is this? I have to go there!" That is where the love affair begins. And before you know it, you're boarding a plane to Austria on your pilgrimage to visit the picturesque village of Hallstatt. Similar to Rothenburg and other well-preserved historic towns, Hallstatt is a major tour bus stop. During the day, the tiny town square is bustling with tourists. By 5 o'clock, everyone is gone. My main advice: stay overnight. This goes against what everyone else will tell you. They all say nonsense such as "you only need 1 day in Hallstatt." Don't listen to them. If you truly want to experience Hallstatt, spend at least 1 night.

While arriving at such a picturesque place as Hallstatt is nothing short out of a dream, you have to get there first. The drive is as good as the destination, thanks to the indescribable Alps. You want to enjoy this and the little ones should be sitting tight to ensure your peace of mind. We've relied on the Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat over and over while driving abroad. Check out our review.

Wander through these tiny streets and explore this deeply historic town. Gaze in awe at the wooden homes built into the side of the mountain. Sit & watch the tiny ferry boat, Stefanie, shuttle people across the lake. Ride the funicular up to the salt mines and walk back to town while taking in the most spectacular view. Before you know it, you'll be pinching yourself wondering "is this real?" Why yes, yes it is. Then you get to go home, show everyone your photos and wait for them to ask you, "Where is this? I have to go there!"

Killarney National Park, Ireland

If you plan on doing the Ring of Kerry, don't forget to stop in the Killarney National Park. You can reach the Torc Waterfall by carriage from the Muckross House or park in the small lot near the waterfall.

How to get to Europe for $800 or less

So you want to go to Europe, but you don't want to spend an arm and a leg to get there. Good news, it's easy. It just takes a little bit of patience, flexibility, and planning. On average, you'll see flights to Europe from the US for around $1100-$1400 during peak season. So how do you get around paying these prices? Here are the tips I've used over the years:

1. Be Flexible
Do you have very specific dates? Specific location? Then be prepared to pay for it. The more flexible you are with dates and location, the cheaper airfare will be. Dublin is one of the cheapest places to fly into, so grab a flight there and make that your jumping off point to the rest of Europe. Icelandair offers great deals and allows free extended layovers in Iceland. Travel during shoulder season. May, September, and October are my favorite months to travel to Europe. Not only is the weather still nice, but prices are lower and the summer crowds are gone. My go-to tool for finding the best deals? Google flights. Using their search tool, you can plug in your location to any general destination, i.e. Europe. Click the month and time frame, i.e. September and 1 week. Different locations will pop up with the time frames and cheapest prices listed. Thank you, Google. So be flexible and maybe you'll be able to score a last minute Memorial Day deal to Dublin for $600 RT (yes, this actually happened to me).

2. Use Points
Put those credit card points to good use. The Points Guy breaks it down best. Thanks to points, I've gotten to Dublin for only $200 in travel fees and I've flown business class on every intra-Europe flight I've taken with British Airways.

3. Buy a Vacation Package
I'm not really the vacation package type, but I've seen some great deals appear over the years. If you're the type of person that wants to do the least amount of work planning your trip, buy a vacation package. My current favorites to find these deals are Travelzoo (watch for their weekly Top 20 deals) and Costco (yes, Costco).

4. Be Creative
Sometimes you have to think outside the box. Maybe your favorite destination only has direct flights from NYC and you live in Chicago, or you live somewhere there isn't an international airport and you have to connect before you can get to Europe. It may be cheaper to book your flight from New York to Milan and book your flight from your home to New York separately, or use a combo of points and cash.

5. Don't Book Early
I'm talking to you, the year-out planner. Book too early and prices can be as high as booking last minute. Patience, young grasshopper.

6. Be Patient
Good things come to those who wait. Just don't wait until the week before!

What's the best European travel deal you've ever gotten? Share below!

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