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5 Reasons Why Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

Jan 06, 2024 09:36:00 EST

People have lots of emotions when that last child leaves the nest. And not all of them are bad. Many people find a lot of advantages in the Empty Nester lifestyle. In fact there's more freedom to come and go, more time to do the things they enjoy, and often, more money to spend on guilty pleasures and postponed plans like bucket-list travels.

If you’re an empty nester who has put off personal dreams for the needs of your kids, there’s something you should know. Now is the perfect time to take that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe! Here are five reasons why it’s going to be better than you ever imagined, now that you’re on your own ...

1: You Choose Your Own Travel Priorities
If you’re used to taking trips with your kids, you are probably used to skipping the galleries and museums that tug at your soul because you know your kids won’t enjoy them. You also probably pretended you weren’t really interested in that botanical garden, just to avoid a squabble. As an empty nester in Europe, however, all that’s about to change.
Want to spend time in Spain exploring the fascinating grounds of Granada's Alhambra or admiring the world class art at Madrid's Prado Museum ... free from the mutters of “Can we leave now?  ”If you’re an empty nester traveler, that dream is your reality. How about visiting World War II sites such as Normandy that capture your interest without constantly worrying that your children are bored?
You’ve got all the time in the world to see things your way.  In fact, the travel advantages start before you even leave home. Imagine being able to choose an itinerary based around the cities and countries you and your partner really want to see. If you’d rather skip the more traditional European hot spots in favor of a deep dive into the glorious countryside of the British Isles, it’s your choice. You shouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about skipping the tourist attractions if you want.  One company who has been catering to empty nesters for over 80 years is Image Tours.  Since 1939, they have specialized in providing quality and value to travelers who want to see Europe.  Check out their Europe itineraries by requesting a FREE Europe Brochure.
2: Enjoy the Most Unusual and Delectable International Cuisine
Let’s face it, traveling, especially internationally, with kids often means looking for restaurants that serve boring American cuisine like burgers and chicken nuggets. You may even find yourself lunching at McDonald’s when your kids turn up their noses at that charming fish and chips place on the Thames you want to try. That’s a tragedy when you’ve waited for years for your dream trip to Europe.
Traveling without kids, however, means you don’t have to account for their picky appetites. You can enjoy long, leisurely meals in true Italian style, as course after course — the primo, the secondo, the contorno, and the dolce—arrives at your table. If you’re lucky enough to find a tour of a lovely Tuscan winery or sample a sip at a Munich biergarten — all the better. When you’re an empty nester, the sky is the limit when it comes to enjoying international cuisine. Of course, you can’t overlook the sheer pleasure of waking up early and launching your day with nothing but a croissant and coffee.
Children need three squares a day, but you’re free to eat what you want when you want. And if that’s a bite on the go so you don’t miss a moment exploring, there’s no one to whimper, “I’m hungry.” Best of all, perhaps, is that you can order even the most unusual dishes — think morcilla (blood sausage) in Spain, escargot (snails) in France, or gerookte paling (smoked eel) in Holland, for example. No one at the table will pull a face and call you weird. Just one more reason it’s not so bad to travel without your kids!
3: Slow or Fast, the Pace of Your Tour is Up to You
Remember what is was like taking your children to the zoo? They could dawdle for hours at the monkey enclosure laughing at their antics, but they’d rush right by the exotic birds you love to watch without even a passing glance. They were in charge of the pace. As an empty nester in Europe, however, nothing is further from the truth. Imagine you’re on a guided tour of European capitals on the day you’re exploring Berlin. In just one day, you might...
  • Visit the Reichstag and marvel at the huge glass dome

  • Walk through the Brandenburg Gate

  • Take your picture at Checkpoint Charlie

  • Explore the bombed tower of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

  • Meander through the Kurfurstendamm and do a little shopping

  • Tour the Jewish Museum and the Topography of Terror — or any of Berlin’s amazing museums

  • Enjoy a romantic dinner at the Restaurant Hof Zwei or other swanky inn

There’s no space in that itinerary for dawdling or naps, something you have to consider traveling with kids. And when that romantic dinner runs late in the night? Well, there’s no curfew for empty nesters. You can even go dancing in the moonlight when you’re done if it catches your fancy.   A great way to get "get a taste" of everything the Old World has to offer is to travel on a guided tour.  Get more information on guided tours by requesting a FREE Europe Brochure by Image Tours.
4: Your Schedule is More Flexible without School to Consider
Empty nesters aren’t bound by the rigid schedules of children in school, when the only acceptable times to travel are winter break and summer vacation. Which are not the best times for visiting Europe, truth be told. Of course, you could take two weeks in summer to visit Italy with the kids, but you’d have hot weather, large crowds, and higher airfare. You might even squeeze in a trip to London over Christmas break, if you don’t mind cold, wet weather and a crush of holiday shoppers. Europe is really at its finest when most children are in school.
Springtime in Paris is the stuff of Hollywood love stories and Frank Sinatra songs. The cherry blossoms explode over the Ile de la Cite and the magnificent chestnut groves along the Champs Élysées erupt with sweetly scented flowers.
Holland is especially colorful at Tulip Time in April and early May, when the fields are bursting with colorful flowers. And there’s nothing like autumn in Tuscany with its magnificent colors and fabulous weather. It’s the season of festivals and celebrating the harvest. Truffles and porcini mushrooms, lush sweet grapes, and rich black olives and fresh-pressed oil are abundant in fall, making it the best time to visit for gastronomes. When you’re an empty nester on vacation, you don’t have to miss a thing and you can stay as long as you like. Even a three-week grand tour of the Heart of Europe® is possible.
5: You can Spend More Money on Yourself for a Change
Be honest, when you travel with kids, about 90% of your vacation budget is consumed on keeping them happy. Theme park tickets, silly souvenirs, and $6 sodas add up fast when you go to Disneyland. As an empty nester, however, you can spoil yourself for a change.
Treat yourself to an opera in Vienna at the Vienna State Opera House followed by a luxurious dinner with fine wine and a sumptuous slice of sachertorte slathered in chocolate ganache.  Buy that one-of-a-kind Murano glass sculpture you can set on your mantle at home to remind you forever of your dream tour of Europe.

Take in the cabaret in Paris, a flamenco dance in Spain, a fado performance in Portugal or a theater production in London.If you’re on a guided tour, go ahead and book that optional excursion to visit the Linderhof Palace in Bavaria or enjoy a Tyrolean Show. Marvel over the crown jewels in the Tower of London, glide along in a riverboat cruise on the Seine, or listen to a fascinating explanations of Pompeii. Buy yourself something fabulous from a fashion house on the Rue Saint Honore or the Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris. Have your portrait drawn at the Tuileries outside the Louvre. Purchase a painting from a sidewalk artist or gallery.

Indulge your interests and, visit a vineyard, tour a sherry bodega, or learn how Waterford Crystal is made.Treat your European tour like the once-in-a-lifetime adventure it is and enjoy every minute with yourself as the star. That’s something only an empty nester can do.
Final Thoughts
Europe is always a marvelous place to travel, with or without your family.
But empty nesters have the advantage. You can make it the trip you’ve always imagined and see everything you’ve always wanted to see. And you’ll have lovely memories to share with your kids once you get home (and maybe even a box of exquisite chocolates, too). If you'd like to plan your empty-nester European tour of a lifetime, start today with the easy step of requesting a FREE Europe Brochure by Image Tours.

22 Days in Europe: See the Ultimate Sights

Jan 04, 2024 13:47:00 EST

Ever wish you could see the best of Europe on a single trip?  With a guided tour by Image Tours, it's possible to see the most magnificent places throughout the Old Continent with transportation and lodging provided.  Below we take a look at an ideal itinerary for experiencing Europe's ultimate sights in the popular countries of Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, and England.  Come along!

Day 1:  There’s Nothing like that First Sight of Europe from the Window of your Flight
The moment you’ve been waiting for months and months has finally arrived! Your international flight to Europe is about to touch down in Holland.


Day 2:  You’ll Never Forget your First Dutch windmill
Your first full day in Europe begins with a drive through the Dutch Lowlands. Because the majority of the Dutch countryside is at or below sea level, you will see many dikes, canals, and windmills throughout the green heart of Holland.  You’re going to love the Dutch “gezelligheid,” a kind, convivial, comfortable feeling—it’s everything you imagined Holland would be.


Day 3:  Take a Deep Dive into Dutch life during a Day trip to Delft and Amsterdam
It’s all about the canals, cafes, and ceramics during your day trip to Delft! As you walk through the picturesque streets, medieval architecture is everywhere you look. Corner cafes offering Dutch pancakes lure you in with their sweet smells. Be sure to stop and admire the charming canals that wind their way through the city.  In any store, you’re all but sure to find the famous blue Delfware pottery. Pick some up for your dining room at home to remind you of this charming city.
Learn more about our 22-day HEART OF EUROPE® Grand Tour.


Day 4:  Waffles, Anyone? You’re on your Way to Belgium
Head to Antwerp, Belgium today. For lunch, sample Belgian waffles at one of the colorful cafes while admiring the guild houses surrounding the main square. If you’re a chocolate fan, you won’t be able to resist the endless selection in the chocolate shops. Heading toward Germany, the stop at Margraten American Military Cemetery is an emotional one. The graves of over 8,000 American servicemen from World War II are here. Pay your respects to the men who fought for liberty and justice for all.


Day 5:  A Rhine River Cruise is a Great Way to see Germany
Willkommen in Deutschland! Welcome to Germany! Glide down the Rhine River past quaint villages, medieval fortresses, and hillside vineyards known for their distinctive wines. The village of Heidelberg and its castle exude the spirit of Germany. Explore the Old Town and imagine yourself in the days of knights and squires.  Getting excited yet about the possibility of visiting Europe?  Start planning a trip today with the simple step of requesting a FREE Europe Tour Brochure.  


Day 6:  Rothenberg is a Fairytale Come to Life
Nothing compares to the romantic hamlet of Rothenberg. This medieval village is straight out of a storybook. Walk the cobblestone streets, hear the sounds of the bell tower, and stop in the many shops, including Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Weihnachtsdorf Christmas shop where it’s Christmas year-round.  The Medieval Criminal Museum is a must. Learn about the different devices of torture and tools of punishment from more draconian times—then lighten up as you travel the Romantic Road.


Day 7:  Oktoberfest is Everywhere!
Even if you aren’t in Germany at the end of September (when Oktoberfest is celebrated), you can still enjoy the experience of drinking German beer and eating schnitzel to your heart’s content. The Hofbräuhaus is one-of-a-kind beer hall where the celebration of Oktoberfest goes on all year long. Be sure to try the traditional foods and hoppy beers during your visit.


Day 8:  You fell for Innsbruck during the Olympics ... Now See it in Real Life
Austria’s Innsbruck is one of those European cities you will fall in love with. The Imperial City (as it’s known) has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, has incredible mountain views, and is an architectural beauty thanks to Maximilian I, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1493 to 1519.


Day 9:  The Dolomites are a Sight for Sore Eyes
Italy lies on the other side of the Alps, a country full of history, culture, and excellent food and wine. To the north is Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake. Its sheltered location in the Dolomites gives the area a subtropical climate rich in vegetation, including oleander bushes, olive groves, fruit trees, and grapevines. Stroll along the lakefront, visit the shops, and grab a snack at a cafe. Gelato (Italian ice cream) is a wonderful way to cool off on a warm summer’s day.


Day 10:  Grab a Gondola Ride in Romantic Venice
Italy’s city on the water has so much more to offer than just gondola rides—but you should definitely take one anyway. Then stroll around St. Mark’s Square, marvel at St. Mark’s Basilica and the Bell Tower, and take plenty of pictures of the amazing Venetian architecture. For a special treat, let us arrange a private dinner with wine and dessert to end your adventure.  Start planning your ultimate Europe trip today by requesting a FREE Europe Tour Brochure.  


Day 11:  Watch the Sunset on the Autostrada del Sol, or Highway of the Sun
While today is primarily a “travel day,” no time is wasted as you wander through the hillside of Italy. Vineyards and olive groves sprawl across the tranquil landscape. Your journey takes you on the Autostrada del Sol (Highway of the Sun). You’re on your way to Rome. What foods do you want to try? What wine do you want to sample? What historical landmark are you just dying to see?


Day 12:  Explore the Cradle of Western Civilization
Ah, Roma. This is where it all began—a city full of the history of Western world. Visit the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and a few of the major temples. Conjure your inner Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck with a trip to the Trevi Fountain.Then take a tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. You can’t miss the Michelangelo masterpiece, The Creation of Adam.


Day 13:  Eat your Heart Out in Rome
It’s a free day in one of the most delicious cities in the world. Visit the markets, sip espresso at a cafe, grab a slice of pizza from a street vendor, and try the gelato. Do a little shopping, walk the Spanish Steps, make the most of your day.


Day 14:  Yes, the Leaning Tower of Pisa really leans
True story: The Leaning Tower of Pisa started to shift when the builders hit the third story—they built on soil too soft to support it! Be sure to grab a picture to show your friends back home. Then it’s on to Florence in the heart of Tuscany. Enjoy a guided walking tour of the various piazzas (town squares) complete with countless sculptures and architectural masterpieces. Shopping is fantastic in Florence—markets full of leather goods and jewelry at Ponte Vecchio Bridge never disappoint.


Day 15:  Lake Lugano is a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of Florence


Can you believe there are palm trees just across the Swiss border? At Lake Lugano, you can take a picture with leafy palm trees and snow-capped mountains in the background. The town of Lugano is known for its international banking and tourist industry. The affluent vacation here during their summer holiday. Architecturally, the town is Italian but within Swiss borders. You’ll enjoy walking through the “Rio de Janeiro of the Old Continent” on your first day in Switzerland.  By requesting a FREE Europe Tour Brochure by Image Tours, you can check out a variety of Europe itineraries to suit your taste.  


Day 16:  Get Your Swiss Chocolates and Lace in Lucerne
Surrounding Lucerne and its lake of the same name are many mountains, including the mighty Rigi, Stanserhorn, and Pilatus. But if the breathtaking views aren’t enough to make Lucerne a must on your European “bucket list,” perhaps the shopping and Swiss chocolates will. Swiss lace, watches, and wood-carved music boxes are all superb souvenirs to take home to loved ones (or keep for yourself!). Don’t forget to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and admire the gorgeous mountains one last time.


Day 17: - Say “Bonjour” to Beaune, a Medieval Town in France’s Burgundy Wine Region
For your first day in France, spend some time in Beaune, a well-preserved medieval town in the French countryside. Burgundy is famous for its wines, which you can sample during an independent dinner.Visit the Hospices Museum. Once a hospital during the 15th Century, these buildings now house items used in the hospital during the Middle Ages as well as a collection of furniture, paintings, pottery, and tapestries.


Day 18:  Paris, the City of Light, Welcomes You
You’ll never forget your first look at Paris — the Eiffel Tower, L’Arc de Triomphe, the wide, tree-lined Champs Elysees, and the incredible masterpieces at the Louvre. It’s the ultimate destination for history buffs, art aficionados, eager epicures, and incurable romantics.


Day 19:  Count the Bridges on a Seine River Cruise
One of the best ways to get up close and personal with Paris is a scenic Seine River Cruise. You’ll see a whole new side of the city as you glide along the water. The Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower are especially impressive from your perch on the boat.


Day 20:  Take the Chunnel Train to London
The Channel Tunnel takes you from Paris to London, your last city on the tour — and what an incredible city it is! Hit all the famous London landmarks — Big Ben, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square. London is the ultimate mix of old and new.


Day 21:  Explore London on a Double-decker Bus
Today is your day to explore London however you like.  Maybe you’re into shopping—Harrods calling! Or perhaps the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London are at the top of your bucket list. Piccadilly Square has a “Times Square” feel to it if you’re ready for a little nightlife on your last evening in Europe.


Day 22:  Say Farewell to Europe
After a roaring trip through Europe, it’s time to head home. But don’t be sad—it’s been an amazing three weeks and you have hundreds of pictures and many new friendships to prove it.


Ready to make your dreams of Europe a reality?

If these sites of Europe are what you've been dreaming of, start planning a trip with the easy step of requesting a FREE Europe Brochure by Image Tours.  With over 11 Europe tours to choose from including our 22-day HEART OF EUROPE® Grand Tour, you're sure to find the one that makes your dreams of Europe a reality.