Am I crazy? If no, where should I go?

Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:05 AM
  #1  
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Am I crazy? If no, where should I go?

Hi folks:

I am thinking of taking my young daughters (11 and 5) BY MYSELF to some place in Europe for two weeks in July. My husband cannot make it as he does not have enough leave and I DESPERATELY want to go (I have been having a stressful time at work and will have a bit of a stressful summer as I have to help my mom wrap up financial/bank/property stuff after my dad's passing). So I could really use this break. However, some concerns:
  1. I will be solo parenting, so not sure if this will actually be more work than relaxation. Will this really be a break?
  2. My 11 year old is a champ (great traveller, independent, tries out many different kinds of foods, loves reading so can keep herself occupied for a while, etc.) but my 5 year old still needs a lot of help from me in getting ready, meal times (plus she is a picky eater). She is generally a happy kid but just needs a lot of help. Plus the two of them together argue and can be a stressful situation
Am I crazy? Am I crazy to think that I might have an enjoyable time doing this? If not, do you have recommendations on places to go to? I am thinking south of France (beaches will keep them occupied for a bit, have always wanted to go). But open to suggestions. Please share!

Thanks
Manisha
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:10 AM
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How strongly do you want to go to Europe?

To me, with two kids, and solo parent, it seems like there would be more relaxing get-aways like renting a cabin at a lake or a beach (US or Canada), or going to a beach resort town (Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii) where you stayed in one place.

I know for myself (no kids involved) Europe is a much more exhausting vacation (after which I feel like I need a vacation) compared to when I go for two weeks to Waikiki or Puerto Vallarta and just go the beach, play in the pool, do a few low key tourist things like a museum, seeing local entertainment shows, etc.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:12 AM
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No suggestions about where but I think you should go.
First of all, I think the kid/stressful times will be outweighed by the good times and fun, especially if you can lay back a bit about the parenting part (e.g. your five year old will be just fine if she misses a meal and/or there are McDonalds everywhere). Also, these might turn out to be wonderful memories for your girls. Plus while I'm sure you enjoy traveling with your husband, this is your chance to do just the things you and your daughters want to do.
I vote for 'Go'.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:14 AM
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Oh, I think suze has good suggestions! Yes, stay in one place or maybe a week in each of two places. I think you can do it in Europe but a beach resort sounds lovely too.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:20 AM
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How about a coastal resort or a lake house in Europe then? I just don't see how going to cities, like trying to do Paris (which would be my usual suggestion -lol) really fits the need for a "break".
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:28 AM
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Go. You’d still be putting up with the picky eater and bickering at home. Wouldn’t you rather be in Paris or on a French beach? I would.


Involve the older kid in the planning. Let her pick some places to see. Look at atlas obscura website, or check the book out at the library along with other travel books, and look through those together.

research how to limit time in lines, have meals planned out. Find kid friendly stuff to do—animals, biking, toy stores, etc. research museums to see which ones really engage kids. Transport, science, nature museums, etc. are usually pretty good. My main point is to mix it up. Too much of anything can get boring. My youngest siblings fought a lot at the annual beach trip or camping, so I don’t agree that it would be particularly relaxing.

when I went to this place, half the tour group was probably 4-13. The kids seemed to love it

Visit the fairground museum in Paris

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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:30 AM
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Good question and one really only you can answer. I think you will have relaxing moments but there will probably be stress involved. Maybe before you go, you can start letting your 5 year old be a bit more independent-maybe helping him or her choose clothes that allow independent dressing. As to food, you can always pack something a 5 year old will eat.

I'd make a list of what I really want to do and then decide if it is 5-11 year old friendly. Is sitting on a beach in the South of France how you really want to visit France or would sitting on a beach someplace closer be almost the same?

Good luck in deciding.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:31 AM
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Oh... the Europe forum.

Well I was trying to suggest a non-Europe idea if the OP was open to other (more relaxing) suggestions -lol!
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Manisha View Post
Am I crazy? Am I crazy to think that I might have an enjoyable time doing this? If not, do you have recommendations on places to go to? I am thinking south of France (beaches will keep them occupied for a bit, have always wanted to go). But open to suggestions. Please share!
A couple of things to consider-I would think about the distance for flights and connections. I might have a very different response if you tell me you are coming from NYC with a direct flight to Nice for instance than if you are coming from LA or further away like asia for instance.

I think you could have an enjoyable time-but if you are thinking the south of France in July I would avoid the areas around Nice and look more towards either the Mediterranean coast nearer to Spain like the beach area of Argelès-sur-Mer or Ste The beaches are much better-nice sand as opposed to mostly pebbly beaches near Nice, and not as inundated with tourists as the area around Nice.

Or another alternative is to go to the Atlantic side around Bordeaux-nice beaches and less crowds in July. Bordeaux itself is fun with kids-easy walking great tram service and a lovely carousel that I think even an 11 year might enjoy. And a city like Bordeaux is much easier than Paris-more relaxed and the city is well connected by tram. So you could land there and spend a few nights and then go out to the beach from there.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:45 AM
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I usually try to do 2/3 city, 1/3 something else. But a lot of it depends on what one considers a break. I love city life, and it doesn’t have to mean going full bore on tourist sites. There are parks, gardens, interesting sites off the beaten track. Take a rest day if they need it—go to a pool, for example.

I’d limit the bases. The fewer moves you have to do, the better for your sanity. Pack light. Make your kids responsible for some of their stuff—like each of them could have a backpack. You could have a carryon, and the girls could split a carryon that the oldest could handle.


I agree with the thoughts on flight connections and domestic vs international beaches. Most of the affordable flights I see are to Paris (west coast is). So nice would be an extra leg.

Last edited by marvelousmouse; Feb 14th, 2020 at 10:52 AM.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:58 AM
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THANKS SO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR WONDERFUL SUGGESTIONS! Lots to think about! Argh - I just realized I posted this in the Europe forum. I meant to post it in the Fodorite Lounge! I will try to move it now.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 11:03 AM
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I would rent an apartment near the Piazza Navona in Rome. Very kid friendly area. If it is too hot you can retreat to the apartment. And a few days in the mountains somewhere. With another apartment. Our youngest says Zermatt was his favourite vacation spot.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 11:06 AM
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If you decide to come to Europe consider renting a cabin at a campsite or holiday park, plus a car. That way there is stuff for your kids right outside the door, but you can still make trips out if you want. It will give you a chance to relax and them a chance to meet new friends.
There will be lots of nationalities at such places and kids make friends quickly. Languge is rarely a barrier.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 11:12 AM
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Manisha - You DID post it in The Lounge A Moderator moved it to the Europe forum.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by suze View Post
Manisha - You DID post it in The Lounge A Moderator moved it to the Europe forum.
OMG! How sneaky!!!!
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 11:19 AM
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I first posted my thoughts when it was in The Lounge, but when I went back to read more, I saw a tag there that said "MOVED".

AND i see it's now tagged for "France"!!!!

Last edited by suze; Feb 14th, 2020 at 11:21 AM.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 11:26 AM
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So Fodor's has decided that you should go to France? How presumptuous!
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 11:34 AM
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she said she has alway wanted to go to south of France in her OP.

personally, I’d pick Italy or Germany.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 11:34 AM
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She also asked for recommendations on places to go in the OP.

do you have recommendations on places to go to? ... open to suggestions.

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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 12:35 PM
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I did exactly what you're contemplating many times when my two were young, so I'd definitely give your plan a heads up! However, if your idea of "the South of France" is the Riviera/Côte d'Azur, NO! It will be a zoo, expensive, and not exactly child-friendly IMO (and IME). The "South of France" is enormous, and there are loads and loads of beaches in the Languedoc-Roussillon and on the Atlantic Coast that would be far more conducive to a relaxing vacation with kids (Argeles-sur-Mer, as jpie mentioned, anywhere near Collioure, anywhere on the Arcachon basin and on up north toward La Rochelle and beyond, or even south near the Spanish border around Hendaye, St-Jean-de-Luz, etc....).

I also like hetisij's suggestion. Here in the Dordogne there are myriad gorgeous 3*** and 4*** campgrounds with pools, some by lakes and ponds, and lots of activities for children (concerts, animations, recreations of prehistoric life, hikes, horseback riding, you name it). You can rent a nice cabin in such a place, be confident the children are safe, have access to shops and restaurants in a town (or two), and be in a place with tons of sightseeing opportunities (if you have a car). Such cabins are inexpensive, but fill up quickly (many people rent a year ahead). Most campgrounds have a café on the premises where you can eat well and cheaply and children are catered to.

So I would say do some research, get the Riviera out of your mind for now and save it for a later time, and whatever you do, act fast, because ALL of France heads to the shores in July, along with scads of other Europeans, and things get booked quickly (as in NOW).
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