Our Family Flight-Free Europe Trip: Video And Things To Know!

Watch and travel with us here!

1660 miles || 6 nights || 3 stops 

Why a flight-free family trip to France and Germany?!

We chose do take this trip because Jared’s been working in Germany, so we thought we’d drive out to him for the holidays! Then we thought we’d extend it once we were there and visit a few place on route, celebrating the options of more local, flight free travel.

With multiple family members living internationally, we’ve flown by plane far more than I’d like to in the last decade. So I loved the chance to avoid the quick plane travel and plan a route by car for a flight free adventure.  In part it’s wanting to reduce our energy footprint by avoiding plane travel, someting that really matters to me. In part it’s also my desire to counter the wide idea and influencer/media fed marketing that we have to fly to have a true vacation, that we need sun, that we need and deserve to go far from home. That kind of travel is often destructive in ways beyond just carbon and I want to celebrate saying more local.

My goal isn’t to make people want to see these particular places (unless you live close!), but more to encourage us all to look at what’s more local to us and embrace that. We actually had pretty much an entire week of heavy rain – it stopped just for our Paris morning. We could get down and wonder why we didn’t either fly somewhere hot or stay home… or we could embrace it and choose to have fun in it! We did the second and it was wonderful. We dressed up warm, chose our attitudes and it was brilliant.


European Driving Helpful Links

Le Shuttle Booking page – Le Shuttle is the train that takes your car (and passengers) from England to France. It’s faster than the ferry and often cheaper too, so we love it. There are different prices for different vehicles and trip lengths. You can spend less by doing a one or 5 night trip, and opting for a specific train. It’s in the region of £200 for a typical vehicle but changes with the timing.

Driving and road information for European countries: This page from the RAC has really helpful and up to date information on driving laws, emissions certifications you might need, and anything you should keep in your car.

European Emissions Information and buying options: For France you need a French Crit’Air Certificate and for Germany it’s the German Emissions Umweltplakette Certificate. You might not need a certificate if you’re not going through certain cities and areas, or only going at certain times. We arrived in Paris late at night on the weekend and didn’t need one, but we got the German one. Note: You do need to get them in advance, they can’t all be bought on the road! The RAC page HERE will give some basic info for every country.

Calculate French Tolls for your trip – This website lets you put in your trip and calculate the cost of your tolls along the way. For this trip it was about 40 Euros and we paid them all via Apple Pay very easily.

Europe Car Essentials Pack – There are different things you’ll need in your car for driving in different countries like a high vis vest for every passenger in case of breakdown when you’re in France. Find one pre loaded with everything HERE. (small business via Amazon)

Personal Travel Faves


Despite being cancelled on this time, we LOVE Airbnb for travel. We’ve been Superhosts ourselves when we lived in California and we love it from both sides of the system. It lets us take trips we couldn’t take, and really tailor accommodation to our needs and budget.


This means one device can be listened to by multiple people, without everyone hearing. With three kids that all want to listen/watch, these headphone splitters are AMAZING for travel. All the kids can listen to an Audiobook together without the adults hearing, or watch a movie without driving me crazy too! Sidenote: We also find this helpful in a small house, the kids can all put on headphones and watch a movie together in our smaller single living space! Find it HERE.

Yoto Player for screen free listening
Phone Visible Holder

I find this really useful for safe long distance driving. You can see directions if you don’t have another navigation system, and see any alerts without using hands or taking your eyes off the road and use voice control to send any messages you need to.


Especially travelling as the only adult, I didn’t want to be without a charged phone. We drove a car without a charging function so this was essential, even just for the drive. But for long walks and navigating it’s super helpful. I love that this one is slimline, can charge a phone in the car holder with no wires, and has a “% full” screen so you don’t get caught out. The one we love!


People rave about the Yoto player and we do love it but it isn’t for everyone like At £99/$119 it’s a pricy item and can often be replaced by an audiobook from Youtube on a tablet or spare phone. But, we love it for times when we want kids to have autonomy without the temptation of screens or use on the internet. Taking this trip before Christmas we listened through the Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher. It’s also great as a clock on the road, sound machine, and to help kids with something to do if jetlag hits. Find it HERE


Over the years I haven’t had many travel essentials for kids – we’ve kept it pretty simple. But the Ergo is my one essential for easier kid travel. It’s lighter and easier than a stroller, less bulky on streets and public transport and is tiny to pack. I’m not sure of the official weight limit for it but I’ve used it on my kids till they’re about 4 and even beyond for short emergency moments! It’s also great for disrupted sleep schedules and having little ones sleep on the go – which we used it for this trip. I’ve had one for 8 years and it’s old, and worn, but perfect. Find the 360 carrier I have here!

Trip Overview and Visitor Information

The first leg: Solo travel with kids

I started by driving the kids to Kassel to meet Jared – that’s what we based this trip around. It’s a 500 mile drive using the car shuttle train under The Channel ‘Le Shuttle’. Coming from the UK you’re then driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the car on the ‘wrong’ side of the road for the car, which can take getting used to. You cross the border and do passport control before the train each way. Then once you’re in the EU in the Schengen Area there are no borders in the same way so you just see a sign on the side of the road between countries (you can see the German one in the video) more like UK counties and even less than some US state borders.

I loaded the kids up with simple non screen activities to save the screen for when we really needed it or for the hours after sunset. We played lots of word games like ‘Grandma’s shopping list’ and spent time spotting the different country number plates, finding as many as we could, tallying them up, talking about the countries. Then we had lots of pens and paper, stickers, and books. I find saving screens for the last moment possible keeps the mood so much better! The splitters and Yoto are my two essentials for these drives!

4 nights in Kassel, Germany

Jared wsa still working when we arrived and we stayed in his apartment. We saw his world, went to some work events, and closed out the semester in Germany. We had the chance to visit the famous Christmas markets which I highly recommend if you’re ever close, get our fill of Gluhwein, and then hit the road to Bavaria.

Driving south through Germany

The next leg was about 300 miles south through Germany to the alps. The kids were desperate to see snow, and they played with every grey, old, icey drift we came to! We saw the Neuschwanstein castle by hiking about a 3 mile round from the town parking to the Marienbruck bridge. It was a great way to see it with kids, and only for the cost of the 10 euro parking. We stayed at an Alpine airbnb in Eisenburg about 30 minutes away, before driving through Germany and France to Paris.

16 hours in Paris with 3 kids!

This started out out as a stop mid France to break the journey home. Then we moved it to a budget option in Paris, and then our Paris Airbnb cancelled. We were left last minute with very few options so we had to increase our budget – but we got a gorgeous and very well located Airbnb in return. We could see the Eiffel tower from the street (Rue Saint Charles) and we could walk with the kids to the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and more. The location really made the short timeframe workable. We only had 16 hours in Paris but maxed them out visiting boulangeries and eating pastries, seeing the Eiffel Tower, going up the Arc de Triomphe, walking the streets, seeing the Seine and riding the Metro! 

We surprisingly found it easy to drive in and park in free parking on the street at the airbnb. We paid no parking while we were there. Coming at the weekend we avoided the emissions restrictions too so we didn’t need the ceritifcate or to pay for it. Then we left the car and walked and rode the metro. It was much simpler than we expected!

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