22 days or DIY tour

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Oct 26th, 2014, 01:52 AM
  #1
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22 days or DIY tour

Was thinking of doing the 22 days tour of Europe (8 countries) for about $6200, these countries includes Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, and England. Maximum of 2 days each countries except Venice, Montecatini, and Rome with 2 days in each cities.

My other option is to make my own itinerary. My dad works for the hotel industry and he can get some pretty good deals on hotels, so I wasn't really worried. Was thinking fly in from Honolulu to London. Stay for 2-3 days in London. Take Eurostar to Amsterdam and stay for 2-3 days. Take the train to Brussels, stay for 2 days. Take the train to Paris, stay for 2-3 days in Paris. Maybe take a train from Paris to Venice, then stop for one day to Switzerland to see gorgeous alps. Then stay 2 days in Venice. Make my way to Pisa then Florence, stay for 2 nights to do cinque terre trek and tour Tuscany. Then finish it in Rome for 2-3 days! Of course, eat a lot of good food while doing so!


What do you think? Any critiques? I liked how everyone is so open and very good with their suggestions. I appreciate it! And if you guys come down to Honolulu, Hawaii, hit me up, I'll tour you around!
mark_f3rd1nand is offline  
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Oct 26th, 2014, 02:27 AM
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ok, Marc, let's start with the tour. 8 countries in 22 days means a lot of travelling and looking out of the coach window, staying in hotels the tour company booked, eating in their restaurants, seeing what they want you to see. I don't know enough about the tour company you're looking at but very often those hotels are outside city centres and chosen for their convenience for the company rather than what you would choose as an independent traveller. Ditto the restaurants.

You have a head start with arranging this yourself, but you need to be realistic. one of the aspects that people organising a trip for the first time forget is the time it takes to get from one place to another [at least 1/2 a day every time you move].

so your current itinerary looks like this:

Day 1 - arrive London. stay 3 nights [gives you 2 whole days]
Day 4 - eurostar to ? [it doesn't go directly to amsterdam so Brussels might be better] stay 3 nights [= 2 days]
Day 7 - train to Amsterdam. Stay 3 nights
Day 10 - train to Paris - stay 4 nights.
Day 14 - train to ? in Switzerland - stay one night.
Day 15 - train to venice - stay 3 nights.
Day 18 - train to Florence via Pisa [that's a whole day] stay Florence 3 nights [one day for CT, one for Florence, but no time for Tuscany
Day 21 - train to Rome....

See- you have a 25 day trip, not a 22 day one. Personally I would drop Brussels for starters, and you don't have long enough to do Florence, the CT, Pisa and Tuscany. Also you are selling the Swiss alps short if that's a must see for you.

Really you need to work out what your priorities are, rather than trying to replicate a tour that may suit a tour company but doesn't reflect your interests.

have fun planning - I'm sure that you'll get there and organise a great trip.
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Oct 26th, 2014, 03:03 AM
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Thank you very much! Omg that is such great point! Love it. I might stay 1 night to Brussells, and add it to Swiss alps. A must for me is Cinque terre, Paris, Rome, Venice, and food food!
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Oct 26th, 2014, 03:41 AM
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thinking again about your trip order, if the CT is a priority, you could go Venice-Florence-Pisa-CT - Rome - there is a direct train to Rome from La Spezia which takes just over 4 hours, but would be quicker overall than going backwards and forwards to the CT from Florence.

looking at your priorities, I would still lose Brussels - not much point in going for one way - and consider whether Amsterdam really fits into your trip. Lose that as well and you've freed up 6 nights for the places you really want to see.
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Oct 26th, 2014, 03:49 AM
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That is true. Thinking of either losing london instead of Amsterdam. I could do London and Ireland another trip. What do you think? I like food, art, shopping, and cool places to visit, London or Amsterdam?
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Oct 26th, 2014, 03:49 AM
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oops - i meant to say that it wasn't much point in going to Brussels for just one Day!
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Oct 26th, 2014, 03:50 AM
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So to enjoy the food I recommend sloooooowing down. How long do you expect a good meal to last, 2 or 3 hours? To enjoy the places I recommend the same. I'd try for 3 nights in all my stops, and with your route I'd drop Brussels

If Switzerland is not a must then drop it. Drop it now and let it stay dropped
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Oct 26th, 2014, 03:55 AM
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marc - you'll get food, art, shopping in both Amsterdam and London. I would look at which fits best into your overall trip - it may come down to which gives you the best flight times and prices, and best connections to Paris - your next destination. Other things to consider, though small in the overall scheme of things, are that it's quite a lot easier to get from Schipol airport to the centre of Amsterdam, but London to Paris is a doddle on the Eurostar.
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Oct 26th, 2014, 04:03 AM
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True. Got it. Actually I wanted to the Switzerland cuz I wanna see the alps.

That's true, I mean I could fly from London to amsterdam. I do think it's a lot of anything Ill skip the Switzerland and fly to Venice
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Oct 26th, 2014, 06:13 AM
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>>>A must for me is Cinque terre, Paris, Rome, Venice, and food food!<<<

Then drop the other cities. 22 days is not that much time for this itinerary. Does that include your travel days to and from Europe?

Fly to Rome (4 hotel nights minimum = 3 sightseeing days and arrival day will be jet-lagged).

Train to Pisa (take the coast route), visit Pisa (can store your luggage for a couple of hours at the train station) and train on to CT (most of this day will be travel). 3 nights CT (depends), train to Florence 3 nights (you could also visit Pisa on your way to Florence), train to Venice 3 nights, train to Switzerland 2 nights(this will take all day as you will have to go to Milan first). Train to Paris 4-5 nights (number of nights depends on whether you included flying to and from Europe).
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Oct 26th, 2014, 06:44 AM
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well, if you drop London, Brussels and Amsterdam, and start in Paris, you can got to the ball, Cinders:

Day 1 - arrive Paris. stay 5 nights [gives you 4 whole days, allows for jetlag]
Day 6 - train to Switzerland, stay 2 nights
Day 8 - train to Venice - stay 4 nights.
Day 12 - Florence - stay 3 nights
Day 15 - train to CT via Pisa - stay 3 nights.
Day 18 - train to Rome - stay 4 nights
Day 22 - fly home

of course you can play around with the length of time in each place but it's probably about right for a first trip.
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Oct 26th, 2014, 06:54 AM
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You seem to be at least considering dropping London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Switzerland. Look at a map. If you want to keep one of those, Switzerland makes the most sense as it is in between France and Italy. The others are not.

You could fly into Paris, spend 5 nights (=4 days), train (less than 5 hours depending on where you go) to Switzerland, spend 3 nights (=2 days), train to either Venice or CT, then train to the other one, then to Rome. That gives you about 2 weeks to see three places in Italy which is very doable, you could even add in another place within that geographic area (e.g. Florence).

If you really want to you could start in either London or Amsterdam for 3 nights, train to Paris, then continue as above but you'd need to shorten up where you went in Italy. Still be doable.
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Oct 26th, 2014, 07:22 AM
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What time of year do you plan this trip? The Cinque Terre is/are best seen in the summer. More trails open. The Alps may not be visible on the one day you're in Switzerland.

And it's time to check out actual travel times between stops. Look at the German train site: www.bahn.com/i/view/GBR/en/index.shtml. It's easy to read and good for all Europe. When it comes time to buy train tickets, first read www.seat61.com. You can save a lot of money buying train tickets early; best availabilty is 90 days out. For cheap flights in Europe look at www.skyscanner.com and www.whichbudget.com.

As would be expected on this website, we all favor independent travel. Especially over a tour as rushed as the one you're considering.
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Oct 26th, 2014, 07:51 AM
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I'll agree with annhig & others about dropping some destinations and staying longer in the places that remain.

A few thoughts:

- There are Alps in France too - Annecy, Briancon area, & Mont Blanc area. Italy has the Dolmites.

- This year we were "stuck" in Paris for 2 more nights than we had planned because of the Air France strike. On our June trip last year, we were on one of the 2 flights that flew from Paris to Bordeaux. 4-5 were scheduled, but were cancelled because of the French air traffic controller's strike. In 2012 there was also an air traffic controller's strike in June that affected us. In about 2010 there was a Lufthansa strike and our flight from Geneva to Frankfurt was cancelled. If you only have 2 nights in a location and fly in or out - what happens if your flight is cancelled & you have to stay an extra day or two?

- IMO, if you fly out of a location and your flight is mid-day - you loose most of the entire day - not a half-day. For example, if your flight leaves at 13:00, I like to be at the airport at 11:00. I'll budget 1 hr to check-out and for transportation to the airport. That means I have to depart the hotel at 10:00 - which doesn't give me any time to do anything in the am. If I arrive at the next destination at 2:30 or so, I budget 2 hrs to retrieve my bags, take public transportation into the city, check into the hotel, unpack, and then be ready to "tour". That gets me "touring" at 4:30 - which doesn't allow much time before dinner (you are a foodie??).

- You are starting from Hololulu. Where is the jet-lag recovery time in your schedule??

Stu Dudley
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Oct 26th, 2014, 08:01 AM
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I'm in the too much (first itinerary). Do it yourself, enjoy the places you decide to REALLY see rather than just pass through, as your first itinerary (and the tour) would be.
You have the opportunity to have great places to stay with your dad's connections. You'll probably go back.
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Oct 26th, 2014, 08:10 AM
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Too much in too little time. The number one mistake travellers make.

What would you say mark if I told you I planned to spend 1 day in Hawaii and then go to Fiji for 2 days and Tahiti for 2 days? Make a lot of sense to you?

That is the equivalent of what you and most people who plan to 'tour Europe' are suggesting. Each country in Europe has as much to see and do as any other country in the world. France has as much to see and do as the entire USA has. Would you expect to visit Mexico, the USA and Canada in 22 days? Could you even really expect to visit just the USA in 22 days?

I suggest you start by deciding what you are interested in seeing and doing. Is it visiting cities? Then plan on a minimum of 4 nights/3 full days per city. How far will 22 days get you with that in mind? Answer, no more than 5 cities.

If you want to visit the Alps, then again plan on 4 nights/3 full days staying in ONE place in the Alps. That of course will then reduce the number of cities you can include.

You cannot combine quality with quantity Mark. Either you run around like a chicken without a head ticking boxes on a list or you spend time IN places seeing/doing things. So you need to look at the balance between travel days and days spent IN places. If you average a move every 4th day that means you will spend 25% of your days moving. Do you think it is best use of time to spend more than that moving rather than being IN places?

NO ONE can 'tour Europe' in 22 days, they can only kid themselves. The organized tour you are looking at or the equivalent if you do it independently are the epitome of the, 'If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium' syndrome.

Personally, I would drop the word Europe from your thoughts. The smaller the area you try to cover the more in depth your experience will be. Personally, I'd plan on a week in each of 3 places.
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Oct 26th, 2014, 08:16 AM
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I agree with everyone else that you have too many destinations in your plan. I'd definitely plan my own trip rather than go on a tour.

Assume that you will be back. You don't have to see everything on this trip.
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Oct 26th, 2014, 09:10 AM
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On my first trip to Europe in '78 traveling by car with my wife, mother, & sister - we spent:
- 2 nights in Amsterdam (arriving at 9PM by train from Denmark)
- 1 night in Cologne
- 1 night on the Mosel
- 1 night on the Rhine
- 1 night in Bavaria
- 1 night in Garmish
- 2 nights in Lucerne

We usually arrived at these destinations around dinnertime or later.

After the first night in Lucerne, my mother & sister "bailed out". Too exhausting & they didn't like seeing Europe through the back seat windows of the car.

We continued on:
- 1 night in Beaune, France
- 1 night in Auxerre, France
- 2 nights on the Loire
- 1 night in Normandy after visiting MSM in the very early am. Dinner at 9PM - I remember the "struggle" to keep awake.
- 2 nights in Paris

On our second trip to Europe in '80:

- 4 nights in Amsterdam
- 2 nights on the Mosel
- 2 nights on the Rhine
- 3 nights in Beaune

All repeats - we didn't remember anything from our prior trip to these same locations. My wife still complained about the wasted time & "long driving" getting from A to B to C.

Since '99 when we retired early so we could travel more, our typical trips were like this year's trips:

- June trip
2 weeks in Nice
2 weeks in Provence - 80% of our time never leaving the Luberon
3 nights visiting several chateaux southeast of Paris before flying home.

- Sept trip
3 nights in a castle hotel near Poitiers. France
2 weeks on the Ile de Re in France
2 weeks in the Loire Chateaux country
1 night in Paris extended to 3 nights because of the AF strike.

Less is more!!!

Stu Dudley
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Oct 26th, 2014, 09:25 AM
  #19
 
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You have gotten some great advice. If you strip the trip down to just your must-see places, you can have a great trip. Given your priorities, I'd agree with annhig, start in Paris. And do remember you can see the alps in a number of countries.
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Oct 26th, 2014, 11:47 AM
  #20
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Thanks everybody! Ive gotten some great advices and awesome feedback before booking "tour." I'm flying from Honolulu but i don't have a problem with flying, usually I don't have a jet lag when traveling, you see, I love flying! �� when I decided to do a trip to Europe, in my mind I said, "if I'm already in Europe, why don't i go to all countries I can and then go back to my favorite and explore. But as I read and research more, I got a reality check that you don't get the feel of "Europe" or the fulfillment of traveling without having to stop and take in the beauty of Italy (for example). I'm trying to secure a 3 to 4 weeks vacation from my job and thinking of going September/October.

Here's an updated itinerary based on what everyone suggested, please feel free to comment and suggest things I missed and must do:

1. Fly from Honolulu to Amsterdam OR London (depending on the month and prices) stay for 3 nights (=2 full days of exploring)
2. Train ride to Paris. Stay for 4 nights (=3 full days to explore)
3. Overnight train to Venice (this may take up to 24hrs). Stay in Venice for 4 nights (=3 days to explore). Wanna go to Burano.
4. Train ride to Pisa, explore Pisa for a day, then directly to Florence. Stay 4 nights in Florence (=3 days to explore). I Wanted to do the CT trek tour for a full day. And do Tuscany tour. And of course take in as much authentic Italian food and gelato there is!
5. Train ride to Rome. Stay for 3 nights (=2days to explore).
6. Arivederci Roma. Fly back to Honolulu!

��
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