The Europe Road Trip Begins│After the most amazing days spent falling in love with Paris, it was finally the day that we were most looking forward to! We had leased a car, and Justin would go to pick it up, then return to the hotel to pack the car. Eli and I were waiting in our hotel room – everything was packed and ready to go. It is incredible how different “car ready” and “plane ready” are. The bags had to be packed in a COMPLETELY different manner. Since we were leasing, and not renting a car, we didn’t want to buy a carseat. The car-lease companies don’t generally lease out their cars with the option of a carseats for little ones. We have never owned a carseat since we don’t have any need for them in China. We went onto the French version of Craigslist, and we bought a secondhand seat from another family. The seat was only €40, which was a massive saving considering the new ones were about €200. We had no intention of keeping the carseat after our road trip, so we were thrilled to have figured out a cheaper way to do this.
When Justin arrived back at the hotel, he had to loop around the block about three times. There was just no where to stop, and no way for me to get everything downstairs, and into the car, without him causing a huge traffic scene. Again, we had to get smart ad negotiate a situation that we know very little about! We eventually figured it out. He parked around the corner and then came up to help me take everything downstairs, check out, and then head to the car.
Getting into the car for the first time was quite an awesome feeling for us! And for a number of reasons…
1.) Neither of us has owned a car IN YEARS! We often miss this freedom, but seven years in Asia means living a life quite different from that which we would have in either of our home countries;
2.) Leasing a car means that it is brand new! As we got into the car there was that”new car smell”;
3.) There were only 1.2km on the odometer when Justin drove away from the leasing company office –
That’s BRAND SPANKING NEW!;
4.) And finally, our much anticipating Europe Road trip was officially starting!
Before we left the area of Paris that we had gotten used to, we decided to stop to pick up some road trip supplies. In South Africa, this is known as “padkos” (which directly translates to “road food”). It’s not a proper road trip if there’s no food for the journey!
When we started our road trip, we had no idea just how far we would go, or how many countries we would drive through. We had a rough plan, the “Europe on a Shoestring” Lonely Planet, and the car’s built in GPS. There were folks who told us that our plans were too big, and others that told us that driving with a toddler would be a nightmare. I can’t speak for other families, but traveling Europe like this was one of the best travel decisions that we have ever made. We had the time of our lives, and we never regretted leasing this car. We didn’t want to hand it back at certain points, or take any trains. We didn’t want to carry bags, a carseat, a stroller and a toddler from one location to another, then rent another car. That didn’t make sense for us. We made the decision to keep the car for the entire trip, and we chose to keep planning to a minimum so that we could see where the road took us, and how we felt along the way.
We never would have guessed that we would drive 8000km through 15 countries!
We could do this vacation 20 times over, and never get bored. There is so much to do and see in Europe.
Road trip stories coming your way next…