The aims of this paper are to reflect upon the experiences of researchers involved in a cross-national qualitative study with stakeholders in three European countries (Italy, Poland and UK), within the context of the FOCUS project on frailty management and optimisation (see http://focus-aha.eu/en/home). Six researchers’ reflections were gathered using open-ended questions. Responses were thematically analysed. We report on our team diversity including cultural differences in epistemological stances and describe how working remotely challenged clear communication. We comment on linguistic issues, our data collection approaches and methods of analysis. However, we also reflect upon the ability of such projects to build knowledge, generate capacity and promote the value of qualitative research in healthcare across Europe. Finally, we advocate an approach to cross-national research that is as much about building a cohesive knowledge exchange network as it is about understanding the lives, perspectives and experiences of our stakeholders.