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Greece-Italy-France-UK 35 days

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Hi, I am going to try to travel through Europe for the first time this Summer. I will be traveling for the whole month of July plus a couple days. I will be going as I said for the first time. I will be going with my two girls. Who are mature young preteen and a teen. This is the line up I am thinking of doing going from the midwest of the USA to Greece, up to Italy, to France, to the UK.

Ok, so my first start was overwhelming to being with WHERE! so staring at a map for weeks on end gave me a good idea that this could work.

I need huge suggestions, non to small non to large in response! the hows, whens, wheres... I have major countries down, the actual cities or areas are still up for grabs, I know I want to see Paris. That is the only thing set as an actual. I have never done an open Jaw like ticket, I would love to travel by train probably inbetween places, I will obviously need to get to Italy either by plane or water from Greece same thing from France to the UK...

So talk to me about accommodations, travel vehicles... cities that would make sense?

I have a budget of about 20k

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    Before you commit to doing these countries I think you need to do some work on exactly what places you want to go and what you want to see there. 35 days sounds like a huge amount of time - but for 4 countries it isn;t - although it is for 4 cities.

    For people to help you you need to tell us more about yourselves:

    Major interests
    What type of hotel you usually stay in (modest chain or nicer center city hotel with services)
    How you usually travel (fast food meals or nicer dinners)

    As for your budget - assuming airfare is $1500 each you will have $15,500 left - or about 300 euros per day. This isn;t tight - but neither is it generous, assuming you have to pay for transit between cities (you would probably fly from Greece to Italy and possibly Italy to Paris, but take the train from Paris to London), lodgings for 3 (triple rooms will be more expensive), meals/snacks, local transit and entry fees to sights (surprisingly expensive for many - Tower of London is about $32 for adults and $16 each for kids, Eiffel Tower is about $20 per person).

    (For perspective we travel at a 4* - but definitely NOT luxury level - and a room for 2 in a pleasant central hotel can easily be 300 euros per night).

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    great questions! thank you. My budget isn't tight at that amount. I can be a bit liberal with it but would prefer to stay closer to it than much much over. So 20-23

    I agree that it sounds like a lot of time, but again I am thinking reality for that length of a trip.

    Ok, we would like to stay at a mix of accommodations. I would love to have a real European feel of a bed and breakfast, but at the same time a private bath would be probably more realistic as well. Clean, safe family friendly. Since it will be myself, a Mom and her Two girls traveling.

    Food... We are adventurous and will NOT be eating fast food or chains. We would have an expensive meal once in each "country" But street food, markets, picnics, cafe's, bistro's are the way we eat as Americans so put us in Europe? like a kid in a candy shop! I grew up in NYC in a European family and eating environment. We live in the Midwest now, and my kids are thought as weird, because they eat any part of the animal, and all creatures of the land and sea.

    Entertainment, would be art, music, beaches, and FOOD. Those are our likes in our daily lives, and want to experience it world wide.

    Does that help in helping me!!!! What cities, yes I have it now down to what countries are the huge wants, now what towns or cities. Paris and London are two top big cities. I don't have to stay in only big cities though. How many towns or cities should I realistically stick too? What sorts of places or websites can you help direct me to to start further research on? Travel groups? Travel sites?

    Listening and thank you for the great start of questions that helps me start my own question making!

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    You've picked those countries/cities for a reason. Are there specific things you want to experience in each of them. The Greek mainland is very different to the islands and both are beautiful. France and Italy (and UK for that matter) have more than you could see in a life time of visits. There are a million different itineraries you could make to cover these countries. For me personally, I would drop one country entirely to make for a more relaxing stay. And generally it's more helpful to think in terms of regions rather than countries. I also plan in nights rather than days and allow at least half a day to move between locations. I prefer to have a minimum of 3 nights/two days in each place but of course everyone is different. The longer you stay in a place, the more you'll get out of it.

    Some good travel guides (e.g. Rough Guide, Lonely Planet) will be your best friend. The internet is fantastic for answering specific questions, as are forums like this. Google images can also give you a feel for the visuals of a place, as will photographic books. No one is really going to be able to tell you what you'll enjoy most.

    If London and Paris are definites, then I'd plan at least 5 nights in each. If you have 35 days in total (plus travel time to get there and back), then you need to break up your remaining time into, say, maximum 8 places. For a first time visit, perhaps plan on one city and one small town location in each country?

    There are flights from some of the Greek islands to other parts of Europe (e.g. Rhodes, Santorini) - try amadeus.net or skyscanner for starters. Ferries between Italy and Greece will take quite a long time but are an adventure in themselves. Each country has their own train websites but bahn.de is a good start for timetables. Local bus timetables are generally also available online.

    We stay in modest but clean, comfortable, well-located hotels or apartments with private bathrooms and rarely spend more than 100euro per night for 2 people. Some places, like Venice can be more expensive simply due to demand. My son and I once stayed in a private home (bathroom shared with one other room) in Heidelberg, within spitting distance of the old bridge for about 45euro. However, to get the best prices and rooms, you need to research and book early. Try booking.com and venere.com for a start.

    Enjoy the planning as it's part of the fun of a holiday!

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    That's 4 countries in 35 days which would give you an average of 8-9 days for each. In my opinion that's simply not enough time in any of the four.

    At first blush, 35 days may sound like a lot but if you keep moving around, the actual amount of time you spend IN places rather than in BETWEEN places is not that much.

    In travel as in many things, less is more. Move less, see/do more.

    If all you wanted to do was visit 4 cities your time might be OK but to do more than that in any of those countries, it's simply not enough time overall. So I agree with dropping at LEAST one country from your list.

    If you take a number of days/nights per stop as a guideline then you can start to work towards a list of places to visit. Personally, I consider 3 full days/4 nights a MINIMUM number for planning. Most people would agree that places such as London, Paris or Rome need more than 3 full days, so it really is a minimum. The 4 nights allows for travel time between places. Counting just days often means people forget to allow for travel time in between.

    So with 35 days minus your arrival and departure day which are always basically a write-off, you have 33 days/nights to play with. That means you should not plan on more than 8 stops including your arrival and departure cities.

    As for where those stops should be, that depends on YOUR interests, not someone else's. Asking others where they would stop is really meaningless. Decide on the countries you want to visit and then do your OWN research online or by reading guidebooks to determine where you will want to go. Once you have done that, you can ask intelligent questions about those specific places. ie. where to stay given a defined criteria of budget, ammenities, etc.

    For example you might decide to fly to Athens and transfer immediately to an island for a week. Then return to Athens for a few days to see the sights there before flying to Rome for a week. An overnight train to Paris and 5 days there before taking the Eurostar to London, switching to a rental car and spending a few days exploring the Cotswolds before returning to London for 5 days or so and your flight home. Times up, as easy as that.

    On the other hand it might be better to do it in reverse and end with a week on a Greek island to relax before heading home.

    There are countless possibilities but YOU have to narrow it down a bit first. As is, your asking what you are at this point is simply too vague. Get the general outline decided in YOUR own mind, then ask for input.

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    Great trip! Lucky daughters! Start homework NOW, in order to manage within your budget, and listen to dreamon! That advice is right on. My minor add-ons:

    (1)Researching only on internet is like trying to get a drink from a fire hose; you drown but are still thirsty. Those 2 guide books (for each country) are indeed the best for logistics & sightseeing, ;but u don't need very latest editions. Do not walk, RUN, to nearest library for copies; after that, forums like this can help w. specific hotel & food queries.

    (2)For itinerary, I find a planning calendar with a "Box" for each day helps one to be realistic about actual time involved for activities and transit (I print many copies from free online site -- http://www.printfree.com/Calendar_files/2013calendars/072013rwb.htm )

    (3)Book transport FIRST -- your open-jaw round-trip, Eurostar and any domestic air-links that have limited flights available on your target dates. It's easier to find lodging options than to upset an itinerary because transport is fully booked or not running on the desired day.

    (4) For Lodgings -- Booking.com is very useful because it offers instant feedback on rates & availability. Sometimes when you e-mail a hotel directly, if staff is very busy and the place is already fully booked for your date, they may procrastinate telling you so. On the other hand, if booking.com says a certain budget hotel "cannot book at this time" it MAY just mean that this hotel doesn't use an agency ... so direct inquiry may bring a different result. NOTE: a good way to narrow choices is to SORT -- 1st by location, and 2nd by budget range. ( For Athens, sort by "landmarks" and specify "Acropolis" & you get only hotels within easy walking distance). Once you have a list & have checked some reviews, forums like this can give you personal feedback. TIP: When giving preferences, words like "nice" or "moderate" mean something different to everyone, so it's more helpful to give a budget range.

    Sounds like a lot of work -- but anything worthwhile is! Once you come back with a more definite itinerary & dates, Forum experts can be very helpful on specifics.

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