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Trip Report Our Hurry Up and Go Vacation: how inexperienced travelers booked a 3-week trip to London, Paris, Rome, and Venice for 2 adults and 2 teenagers starting only 2 ½ weeks before departure…

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Rule # 1: Take deep breath. Utter, with conviction, the mantra 'Don't let 'the best' be the enemy of 'the good'. Don't let ' '. Repeat early and often.

Rule # 2: When forced to confront inescapable unpleasant financial choices, say 'It's only money.' Repeat till husband threatens to put divorce lawyer on speed-dial.

Rule # 3: When in doubt, consult the Board (this one). It has the Answers.

The Prologue: We - my husband (DH), 20-year-old boy (DS), 18-year-old girl (DD), and myself ' had been talking off-and-on for the past 3 summers about a trip to Italy. I had been to Europe only once before, 30 years ago in college, but never to Italy. DH, DS, and DD had never been to Europe at all. DH is Italian, a generation or two removed. DS is studying Roman history at UC Berkeley. DD has been taking Italian for several years at local JC while she is in high school. So interest in Italy was high. But DH is a university professor and the kids in college/high school, so summer is unfortunately only practicable time for travel, in spite of heat, crowds, expense, and other disadvantages to high-season travel. Every summer many conflicting commitments, summer jobs, other travel plans, etc. prevented us from ever actually finding a reasonable window when we could all travel together to Italy. So talk was all we did. Then this year, towards the end of June, due to various other plans coalescing in slightly unexpected ways, we realized that we would have a window from July 10 to around July 30 when we could make a trip! But geez could we really pull off all the planning, reserving, and unending details in 2 ' weeks?? Especially since we didn't know what we were doing, we are not seasoned European travelers, we had a limited budget, and all the good flights/hotels must already be full? And my husband was in a crunch at his lab, DS was in Hawaii with girlfriend's family, DD was away, and I had to essentially do all the planning by myself, while working too. With all the info on Fodor's Europe Board coming to our rescue, it happened! We truly couldn't have done it without the information provided by you all. (While I never actually posted any questions of my own prior to the trip, I read everybody's great advice on everything from neighborhoods of Rome and Paris, to currency changing, to European cell phones.) We got back yesterday from a truly wonderful trip and want to pass along our experiences in the hope they might help someone else in a similar situation.

To be continued ...

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