The family took to the road and got off the beaten path in Europe. // © 2013 William Hochhaus
My family of five recently pulled off a near-perfect European vacation, and the key ingredient was our vehicle, a five-passenger Peugeot we leased through the affordable lease buyback program. Having a car allowed us to visit the most popular destinations in Europe, and also to discover secluded places that we could only reach in our own vehicle. The kids like to swim, mom and dad like art and music, and everyone loves good food — having a vehicle allowed us to accommodate everyone’s interests.
In Italy, we stayed at agriturismos, working farms with accommodations. We ate a meal prepared by a chef in her home outside Perugia, and we dined in a private home restaurant in the tiny village of Lavaggiorosso. We visited thermal baths in the most remote areas, and still found our way to all of the large cities. Near Rome, we camped at Lake Bracciano, where we shared the beach with a family of swans and watched the moon rise above Bracciano Castle.
Having a car gave us the flexibility to change plans when necessary and to follow the recommendations of fellow travelers or local hosts. We could actually stop and smell the lavender while we drove through France. We paused to swim under the Pont du Gard and discovered many more secluded swimming holes. We always found what we were looking for — and much more, too. Sure, we could have taken the train from Paris to Chamonix, but then we wouldn’t have been able to slip over to Geneva, Switzerland, for an authentic fondue lunch.