Last-Minute Travel Inspiration for 2017

Good news! I’ve got my summer beach trip booked!!! After Paris, I found myself in need of some travel inspiration, but it turned out that the answer was right under my nose. I know, I know…you were waiting with bated breath to see where I would travel next, right? Well the verdict is in, and we have decided to return to the land of agave (for the kajillionth time).

Mexico. Riviera Maya, to be exact. And though there are so.many.places I really, really, reallyyy want to visit for the first time, I couldn’t be more excited about this trip!

Here’s why. Every mom knows there is a place she can go where friendly people serve her food, refill her drink, and entertain her kids while she reads on her ipad and binges on some Netflix. That place is Chick-Fil-A.

A high quality, family-friendly, all-inclusive Mexican resort is essentially the travel equivalent of Chick-Fil-A. Except (and this is important) they serve margaritas and don’t have height restrictions on the play equipment. Although a beach and pool pretty easily serve as natural entertainment, I always make sure to select a property that specializes in super-fun, well-supervised activities for kiddos when we take Chayce. We can build sandcastles and search for seashells as a family…but my hubby and I can also enjoy some guilt-free grown-up time knowing that Chayce is having a blast on a treasure hunt, learning to cook some Spanish goodies, or dancing  the night away at a 12-and-under disco party on the beach!

After all the work that went in to planning our family Paris trip in March, a week of sun, sand, and pampering at the beach sounds pretty great.


But enough about me….let’s talk about YOU! Where are you going this summer? You may be trying to wrap your brain around the fact that we are even discussing summer. Well, the good news is that—even though summer is sneaking up on us—it is not too late to plan your summer travels (PSA: nor is it too early to plan your 2018 vacation!).

You may be thinking this is a shameless plug…and you’d be right ;). I am here to take the stress out of the planning process—whether it is last-minute or two years down the road. So if you’re afraid that it’s too late or you can’t pull off the vacation you’ve been fantasizing about, give me a shout and let’s see what we can do.

If you simply find yourself in need of some travel inspiration, I’ve got you covered! We still have 7-8 months of travel opportunities this year, and I’m letting you in on the best places to visit for each of them.

The “Golden Shoulder” Seasons: May – Early June & September – Early October

One of the best things about living in Europe must be having easy access to the stunning Mediterranean Sea with its cliffside villas and beachfront resorts. Of course, this means that—in addition to the swell of American cruise ships, these areas can get pretty covered up with tourists in the heat of the summer. The “golden shoulder” seasons are your opportunity to beat the crowds and surge of cruise passengers at those beautiful port cities, but still enjoy that Mediterranean sun. My top picks for tropical Europe in shoulder season include:

  • Greek Isles
  • Amalfi Coast and Italian Riviera
  • Balearic Islands of Spain as well as beautiful Málaga
  • Costa da Caparica, Portugal – which is not Mediterranean, but so what?!
  • Cannes, Nice, & the French Riviera


May and September are by far and away the best times to visit non-coastal cities as well.

Shoulder season is glorious in:

  • Paris, Provence, the Loire Valley, and the French Riviera (ok, basically all of France is perfect this time of year)
  • Madrid, Barcelona, and the Basque region of Spain
  • Rome, Venice, Florence, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Sorrento… (umm, ok, I guess there is a trend here! But c’mon. Italy is breathtaking for 12 months out of the year.)
  • London
  • All of Ireland (in fact, late August – early September is THE time to go to Ireland!)

School Vacation: June – August

Many of us—regardless of whether we have school-aged children—have grown accustomed to taking our big vacation in the summer. Unfortunately, this leaves us subject to higher prices, reduced availability, excessive crowds, and a blaring sun. Note: Planning ahead will get you lower rates, more options, and better access to private guides (so you can skip those lines), which will combat some of those issues. If you aren’t dying to visit the super-touristy cities, odds are that you’ll be quite comfortable across Europe. However, there are a few places that really shine in the summer months:

  • Switzerland – quite possibly at its best in summer!
  • Puglia (a real gem way down in Italy’s heel)
  • Germany & Austria (easily combinable with Switzerland, Belgium, & Prague)
  • Amsterdam
  • Italian Lakes & Northern Italy

Also, August is a good time to go to Paris if you are interested in visiting primary tourist sights and museums AND aren’t concerned about frequent closures at shops and restaurants while owners are away on holiday.

Grape Harvest Season: August – October

Naturally, early fall is an amazing time to visit Europe’s wine regions! The landscape is gorgeous and the flurry of harvest activity is just plain fun. These are my favorites:

  • Burgundy, France (my #1 – I just love this place!)
  • Piemonte, Italy (given that their 2016 harvest report is off the charts, Piemonte may just give Burgundy a run for its money! Also, October is truffle hunting season—a true foodie’s bucket list experience)
  • Tuscany, Italy
  • Reims, France (the Champagne region—makes an easy side trip from Paris)
  • Rioja, Spain
  • Duoro Valley, Portugal
wine tour in Tuscany, Italy

Holiday Season: Thanksgiving – New Year’s

If you can’t beat the chill by heading somewhere tropical, you might as well join it and ring in the holiday season at Europe’s countless Christmas Markets. You can find them from England to Amsterdam to Italy, and everywhere in-between. Purists know that Christmas Markets are best enjoyed with cups of glüwein across the small towns of Germany where they first began.

BONUS: Sneak Peak for Spring 2018

Ok, so now that you know where to go and when in the 2nd half of the year, maybe you want to start thinking ahead to spring of 2018. Generally speaking, traveling across Europe is much (temperature wise) like in the U.S.

The coastal regions are warmer (though usually not swimmable) January-March. This is a lovely—and romantic (hello, Valentine’s Day)—time to visit the more chaotic cities like Rome, Athens, Barcelona, and Madrid which can feel like a pressure cooker in July. Don’t bother with seaside resorts, as most shutter up until April.

Ski season is in full force through (at least) April in France, Italy, Germany, and Austria—and even into summer in Switzerland! Be forewarned that many Europeans take a two week ski holiday in February, so resorts may be crowded. You’re better off during American spring break. {And yes, my team can easily customize your trip to include both skiing and sightseeing!}

So, is your wanderlust sparked yet? Remember, I fully customize your travel plans to suit your unique interests. You won’t find any of that pre-packaged stuff around here! If you have some ideas, I’d love to chat and see what we can put together, even if you want to take the easy way out and hit the beach like I am (in which case, be sure and check out this post).


Ciao Chow!


Autumn Welborn travel designer The Jetlag Experience