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Advice for 8 weeks one Europe with children aged 2and 4

Advice for 8 weeks one Europe with children aged 2and 4

Old Jan 9th, 2013, 07:40 AM
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I have hesitated to comment, in part because so much of the initial postings have been vague, over the map, and accompanied by so many happy faces and 'hehehe's'. I understand that you are now unhappy with what you perceive to be criticisms of your grand plan, but here goes.

I understand that you are coming a great distance (our daughter and her family are currently visiting the inlaws in Canberra), and it's wonderful that you can take the 8 weeks to do this, BUT you are still criss-crossing Europe in a rental car, with very young children in tow. It sounds like both babes are going to nap in car seats and strollers for 8 weeks. I wish you luck with that.

The advice you have been given to plot this out on a paper map was great, but it sounds like you have already gone and booked places. The other best piece of advice was to pick 8 places, rent apartments and make day trips in concentric cricles from the bases. Perhaps also too late.

In all honesty the part of your current planning that should concern you are all these 1 night rest stops. I have 3 young grandsons under 4; we have traveled with them, and they have visited us. They often have sleep issues the first night or two in a new place. Your children are going to be sleeping 'new' pretty much every few nights for 8 weeks.

So while your plan is brave and adventurous, I hope there is still time to rework some of it to slow down and do more than jump in and out of a rental car. Car seats,strollers, luggage, meal schedules and the need to do laundry will have to be a big and constant part of this trip. Please understand that what you
may perceive as negativity is really an honest effort to help you enjoy this long and expensive trip. But I also have to say that since your 2 year old will remember little and the 4 year old is going to remember the back sear of the rental car, you really should rethink some of the travel and find places where you can spend time in local parks, stroll the town square, etc. Our 2 year old grandson may have had a great day at Disneyland here in CA last spring, doubt he remembers a thing; 3 days at those ages may be overkill.

I will say that your trip sounds better, but IMHO still too much flitting about. Good luck.
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Old Jan 9th, 2013, 09:04 AM
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Well i read everyones post and thought Sassafrasses had the best itinerary,, but hey you have to see what you want to see.
I will offer one piece of unsolicted advice. Do not pack 4 bags for 2 adults to deal with. One adult is on luggage duty( and parking car ,which in many cities is not going to be near the hotel or apartment, so will have to drop off the stuff and then park) one is pushing stroller and holding one childs hand.
It doesn't matter that you are going for 8 weeks, you only need a weeks worth of clothes each, do laundry when you can, apartment rentals will often have laundry, look for this feature. I had 3 kids and we took two medium large cases ,, hubby handled them, older kids ( by 6yrs ) can handle a little backpack with personal treasures, I handled stroller, diaper bag, and rug rats,, ( and are spacing was boy 8, boy 6 , girl 2) when we did our first "big trips" to America, we did some cruises and trips to Hawaii ( so single trip unpack once) when the baby was 9 months old , boys then a 4 and 6 yr old)

Single biggest stressor was logistics of transfers, parking, luggage, kid transporting through busy streets . We had three you have only 2 but you have made a much more complicated plan then we ever would. I live in Canada, so yes, we are used to long drives too, but kids , even ones who are ok with long drives , will eventually wear out after weeks and weeks.

You still have alot up in the air too , Ilike planning but wow i am finding your plans or lack of very daunting.. its hard to nail you down,, a wandering bunch of aussies,,lol

In Paris if you can, rent an apartment near Luxembourg( 5th or 6th) Gardens, kids will love it , and its still central enough to walk to many sites if you stay closer to the Seine side of the park. Buses better option then metro for strollers and tots, less stress getting off as a bunch in 1 minute if car is crowded , less stairs, and buses have buggy space in centers.

For sanity I would park outside Paris ( lots are cheaper, its about 25 euros a day to park in city) and take RER in, just me, city driving there is not fun, parking near sites impossible almost, and you simply do not need a car there .

Daytrips , kids enjoy Provins, ( look it up, world heritage site, old medival living museum type place) reachable from Disneyland by car pretty easy, and from Paris take the RER to Versailles, its 7 euros per adult return, takes 40-45 minutes. Palace is a crowded sh*t show, (its worth seeing but in summer the heat and crowds are nasty) just whiz through that, and get outside, the grounds are amazing, not totally stroller friendly in formal gardens near palace, but Marie Antionettes Hamlet is so fun, my 11 yr old thought it was very cute, and there is a small petting zoo there. Versailles is free for kids under 18 . Smart thing to do, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on grounds, you will have to check it at palace but they do provide the service and will give it back to you when you leave palace and go out to grounds. Since you have an apartment picnics are fun to put together, you can buy an ice cream on the grounds as a treat on the grounds ( there is a sandwich/pizza concession in the gardens ,and a cafe/lunch place down by the canal).
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Old Jan 9th, 2013, 04:08 PM
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Oh, another thing. Consider buying a stroller once you get there. The strollers we brought from the USA were eaten alive by the cobblestones. Our stroller was designed for a sidewalk and we needed an off road vehicle. I have no idea about Australia, but they had these little skateboards in Sweden (and Germany) that you clip onto the back wheels of the stroller so older child rode standing up. However, we found that she would eventually kneel on the board, throw the majority of her body into the bottom of the stroller and simply sleep there. We got lots of stares, but it worked. And, you know your kids - my kids did fine with hardcore travel and bouncing around and sleeping in cars. Also, perhaps you can consider putting in your budget some babysitting funds - there are sites where you can hire a sitter in most major cities and perhaps you and your husband would want to go out alone once the kids are asleep? Then language won't matter if the kids sleep through it and you can enjoy a cold beer together in Prague, even if it is just in the hotel lounge.
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Old Jan 9th, 2013, 05:12 PM
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Thanks for all this!

It must be an Aussie thing but we just don't think spend 3-4 hrs in a car is that long in a day trip and yes our kids sleepi in cars even when they only just woke up

Of couse we would like to stay longer in those places that are just 2nights but we just don't have the time and the distance from Italy to Prague is long ... So we make do with the best situation we can come up with.

Love the ideas given ...the train thing won't happen with luggage and kids...we have had a few friends now who have had cars broken into and luggage stolen from the train because they were watching their kids etc so we will always be with our luggage or it'll be in the hotel /apartment and cross our fingers

We have a bugaboo pram the the kids love and my son can stand on the back of but we aren't sure if we should take it or buy a stroller ...

Yes we will be seeing lots of parks,zoos and toy shops I almost want to write a trip report from the eyes of a child ...I am looking forward to being there with the kids and seeing things we would of otherwised missed.

Our apartment in Paris is walking distance to the lux gardens . . .based from previous recommendations

Like I said before advice is one thing but being told you are an idiot and not listening is another!

So .... Our planning continues ... We are trying to get centre points for week stays and take drives and trains from those bases ...so London, Paris , lake como and bracciano is all we have so far.

But that's still half the trip spread with shorter stays ... So I do feel I have listened and I have got some great advice.

Oh and with my kids Disneyland could never get overkill

So I'm feeling really comfortable with our stay in Paris thanks to the great thread shared prior .... Would love to know how you would suggest the drive from Paris to Barcelona should be and the drive from Barcelona to the lakes as this is what wearegoingto try and sort over the next couple of days.

Many thanks,
Claire
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Old Jan 9th, 2013, 06:41 PM
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"<i>. . . so we will always be with our luggage or it'll be in the hotel /apartment and cross our fingers</i>"

How do you plan on managing that? You have days and days of endless car travel. Per the above, you won't be able to stop <i>anywhere</i> to see <i>anything</i> or even have a meal along the way since you'll have to leave everything in the vehicle.
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Old Jan 9th, 2013, 06:59 PM
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AndiM - love your suggestions, considering both of them for our family vacation. Thank you for sharing your great finds!
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Old Jan 9th, 2013, 07:40 PM
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It might ease your mind to take a retractable ski chain lock that can be woven through the handles of your luggage. It makes it more difficult to grab a suitcase and run.
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 01:07 AM
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ooohhh Michael you might be right!

Today I have started to give a lot of thought towards all this advice! We went to a travel agent and got some info in car rentals per country and train info.

We are going to spend some time looking into just what will work best since everyone believes the car leasing is not the ideal situation.

I guess some other options is seeing if there is a place to leave luggage and travel on the light with the trains so we wont have to worry about luggage ...ie train it to barcelona from paris...the lady who we have our apartment booked with has already said she is fine with storing our main cases if this is what we would like to do.

All your suggestions have been great! I do agree that staying put in one places and doing day trips from that point makes sense ..it's just now seeing how I can keep everyone happy

Can you believe the bloody travel agent today said . .if I was you I would do a 10 day tour of the greek islands so you can get the discounts on the airfares!

Anyway keep the thread coming and I'll keep posting where we are at. Like I said really happy with the accommodation we have in Paris so at least that is one thing

Chat soon
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 01:20 AM
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I've always felt that if you park your car in busy well-lit areas and put your belongings out of sight, your car is unlikely to be broken into. You will obviously carry your passports and other valuables with you, and anything else can be replaced.
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 02:08 AM
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thanks Heimdall!
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 03:27 AM
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Another tip - I was told that even if it is obvious you are driving a rental car, put a newspaper in the native language on the front seat and hide anything written in your own language. That way a thief will look and assume that the person who rented the car is "in country" and will be more attentive to a criminal case, but a person who is from afar will just give up and go home. Home magazines work for me because I can at least look at the pretty pictures. No idea about a bugaboo stroller - if it could handle the outback, it should be able to handle Prague/Italy. And don't pack lots of the kids' stuff - they will find that new book, even if it is in another language, cool because they haven't seen it before and there are lots of places to find 1 euro enertainment. And, frankly, anywhere you are outside with the kids people will be friendly and in Southern Italy, they will probably offer them sweets a lot.
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 04:32 AM
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i think we are going to do what you suggest and pack a really cheap stroller and then hoprfully buy one there

love the magazine idea and yes we aren't packing much for the kids! We are going to make a book while we travel with pictures and postcards etc that they like and that should keep my son entertained.

Also I spoil my kids . .. I admit it!! So I know as a shopaholic I know I will be buying alot of things for them while we are away

Ok back to finding out how we are going to get from Paris to Barcelona. Just suggested we train it but hubby is keen on driving it! SO if we are to drive where would you recommend the stop offs to be and for how long?

Chat soon
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 06:40 AM
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The drive from Paris to Barcelona ( with two kids and assorted stops along the way because of kids) will mean about 2 days I figure, and the plane ride is 1 hour and 50 minutes. We flew Barcelona to Paris this past summer on Easyjet, it cost for the two of us, with taxes, fees, and one peice of checked luggage each a total of 97 euros( not each, total!) ,, the drive will cost more( gas, rental car,food and an overnight hotel in transit, and road tolls) will cost alot more and take more time, this may be a good leg to look at cost/time factors..
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 08:04 AM
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When we were in Europe this summer I repeatedly commented to my husband about the 'off road capable' baby strollers that we saw everywhere. Most notably were the huge tires that just glided over the cobblestones. They were mostly on the large size for a stroller, but boy did they look comfy.
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 08:53 AM
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Well! You being Aussies does help me understand a bit more about your daring to travel long and hard. At various times we have this found this about folks coming from Australia
...coming all that distance so make it extensive.

I really don't think people are intending to be mean and crude, maybe just questioning the idea of such very young children on such an adventure. So it would be well simply to focus on kids not destinations, i.e., sleeping and eating and entertainment which you've talked about. So it also means longer stays and not pushing too hard.

That in mind I would question down to Barcelona and then over to Italy and of course you are also headed up to Austria, Germany. That on top of quite a bit of England.

I'm thinking about our 3 year old granddaughter and realizing how fussy she does get. Yes even remember the older three gr'kids who had little patience with long trips. And sometime long ago our own three whining and fighting in the back seat (they do get along well now). I do think today the various handheld devices are a help for youngsters traveling long distances.

Anyway apologies for seemingly giving unwanted advice. Interesting about cobblestone-adapted strollers.

Bill in Boston
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 10:24 AM
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Crazyfamily: Looks like we got through to you

You'll get lots of terrific advice (as if you hadn't gotten too much already )

But I <i>might</i> suggest starting yet another thread -- since this one has taken a life of its own and is based on your original ideas of driving everywhere.

Maybe a topic along the lines of >>New plan - how does this itinerary look? << or >>crazyfamilyof4's not so crazy second plan<< or something else.
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 03:35 PM
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I will probably get reprimanded for suggesting this, but have you considered getting a portable car DVD for the long hauls? The one we had wasn't heavy yet fairly sturdy, and we would only whip it out when they were starting to lose it. And at that age, there is no upper limit to how many times they can watch Toy Story, and you would be adding limited weight. We did not use it in Europe, but it got us 300 miles in the U.S. without complaint. How are you traveling in France? From Avignon area or from Paris? Regardless, the Cathar castles like Peyrepetruse are pretty amazing. These are about 4 hours from Barcelona, I think. Beach fairly close in Narbonne. Here is a castle link.
http://www.catharcastles.info/peyrep...y=peyrepertuse
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 07:02 PM
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Hi from a fellow West Australian - albeit one who has not lived there for a long time.
I won't enter into your route planing discussions as there have been some great helpful comments - and you seem to be re thinking some of the trickier bits.
One thought re car travel - is it possible to guarantee that the car is air conditioned? We have travelled a lot with our three, now adult, offspring.
I remember one dreadful time in the UK in summer in a heatwave - and our car was very uncomfortable.
At the time we had been living in Darwin so were heat attuned.
It does get very hot and I think we sometimes do not realise this!
Our son spent quite a few hours in the bath - and I cooled the tap water down with ice cubes!The stone walls in our hotel were warm to touch.

We have also traveled with the three of them by train a lot and provided you do not have four huge bags then it was not too much of a challenge.Indeed it was relaxing and a good break from moving around and sightseeing all the time.

Another important thing we recall is to remember that there has to be down time for adults and children alike.
This might mean a few hours watching TV, playing on some grass or in a pool, or indeed maybe just staying quietly at home.

So happy planning - take your time - keep looking at the map and distances.
Our kids were well used to outback travel and long distances, but I would have lots of spare days planned if this was to go for eight weeks.

It will be a good, if challenging, experience.
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 07:03 PM
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Oops forgot to say I agree maybe a good idea to start a fresh thread.
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 11:39 PM
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Hello!
I started writing a long reply, then I remembered I had post something similar a few weeks ago. This was about a trip with kids in Ireland, but it doesn't matter. Advice is more or less the same. You may want to have a look on my (and others) pointers:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...small-kids.cfm
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