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

Old Feb 14th, 2020, 12:53 PM
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I have been in similar shoes when our kids were young. We went to Portugal. My husband was military, so he met us there, and once there he was still gone about half the time. So I traveled from the US to Portugal just me and two young kids. It was the best thing we ever did! We stayed in Lisbon for a while and then moved out to Cascais, so only one move during our stay, which was good as my husband was not there for that transition. Out in Cascais we stayed at a hotel that had an apt, so we had 3 bedrooms and the place had a huge pool. Worked great for us as we had those benefits, but also everything that Cascais and Sintra had to offer as well.

I would do this again in a heartbeat, and anywhere I had my heart set on going. Kids are so adaptable
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 02:02 PM
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I was actually thinking Italy. I'm a picky eater and don't like tomatoes but never starve in Italy. I also like things to do but not where I'm running around trying to see it all so a little bit of that and some beach time might do it for you. You don't have to stay in Rome if that makes sense.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 02:44 PM
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GO. My sil takes her autistic/handicapped child everywhere solo. It is that or stay home. She gets kudos from me for sure.

Last edited by Moderator1; Feb 14th, 2020 at 03:28 PM. Reason: Deleted comment re moderation
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 03:32 PM
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The thread was tagged for France because France was mentioned in the OP. We can tag it for additional countries if you wish.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 03:41 PM
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We traveled a lot in Europe with kids at that age. Now we travel with a granddaughter, age 10. Some thoughts and experience.
Totally agree with someone who mentioned that it might not be worth so much money, time and long flights if you are primarily going for a beach. If that is what you want, look at Siesta Key in Florida for lovely beach, sweet little town, nice cottages with pool and other families with children to play with.

If going for Italy, France or possibly Spain, don’t wait until July. It can be unbearably hot. For beaches, make sure they are good for the 5 year old. Consider The Netherlands and Belgium. It is pretty, lots and lots for kids to do, not so hot. Barcelona also has a lot to do with beaches nearby and is a bit cooler than some other Southern places. We usually did a museum or churches in the mornings, then park, playground or swimming in the afternoon.

We went to a beach resort twice with our Granddaughter and took a friend for her each time. Luckily, my husband could go. Otherwise, after a couple of days, it became more and more stressful for me to watch them 24/7, especially in the water at beaches, even in the pool when she was younger. I was exhausted. We did enjoy flying a kite, biking, sand castles, swimming, etc. but they got hot, tired, sandy, hungry. Going to get food was even an issue if one was tired and we needed to walk. Four days was the absolute max we could still enjoy it. There was no relaxation for me. You are obviously younger though.

Therefore, I am throwing this out, knowing some people will say they would die first, but if you are not going to be heavy duty sightseeing, just hoping for a relaxing break, a cruise has become our first choice for pure relaxation with a young child. She loves the ones with good kid’s clubs so she meets other kids and has fun activities, but also spends time with us in the pool, at dinner, etc. Her favorite things are snorkeling and seeing animals like stingrays and iguanas. We get time for ourselves to read, sit in the sun, swim. If you want adult company, ask to sit at group tables. The best - day or night, snacks, food, room service for the littles. That being said, you do have to choose carefully to get what would be good for you.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 04:09 PM
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It’s not a crazy idea but it depends on the kids. If they don’t get along that would be a deal breaker for me. In that case I would take just one of them, probably the 11 year old. Can the younger child stay with your mother or go to day camp while you are gone, with your husband dropping off and picking up?
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 07:01 PM
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Leave the husband with the kids and take that wanted trip to France.. I di that in my later part of marriage
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 08:33 PM
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South of France is too hot in July. Europe keeps having those record-breaking July heat waves, if you go to Europe
make sure your lodging has A/C
Copenhagen might be okay. Or somewhere in Ireland.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 09:24 PM
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heti made a great suggestion!
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by clarkgriswold View Post
South of France is too hot in July. Europe keeps having those record-breaking July heat waves, if you go to Europe
make sure your lodging has A/C
Copenhagen might be okay. Or somewhere in Ireland.
It's not as if all of Northern Europe doesn't go south to holiday in July either
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Old Feb 15th, 2020, 05:32 AM
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We've had heatwaves the past two years, but as Menachem says, many Northern Europeans go south for summer holidays. It can be lovely in Belgium in July, but it could rain for a week too.
Imagine being stuck there with your bickering kids. Not relaxing.

How about a Club Med or similar place, with a kid's club? That will give you some time to relax on your own, and the kids can find friends there.
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Old Feb 15th, 2020, 06:28 AM
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When I read your OP, the first thing that came to my mind was a... cruise. Why? First, because it can be quite cheap since it includes accommodation, travel, entertainment and food. Second, because it completely eliminates logistical wrangling. Unpack once, no apartments or hotels to fuss with, no train stations to schlep through or rental cars (unless you want one during a port stop.) Third, because the major cruise lines are very kid-friendly, with kids' clubs, babysitting services, etc. Fourth, it's heaven for picky eaters. There are umpteen food options, ranging from pizza and burgers to "exotic" foods for the adventurous, and (complementary) room service for nights when you just want to watch TV in the cabin. Fifth, everything is air conditioned, so even in a (hot as hell) Italian or French July, the room is comfortable and cool when you want it, or hot and sunny poolside.

There are 6-, 7- and 10+ day cruises departing from Rome, Venice, Barcelona, Athens and other Mediterranean ports. Or you could cruise the Norwegian fjords or the Baltic Sea departing from Holland, Denmark, Sweden or the UK. Or do a loop around the British Isles, or even sail across the Atlantic from western Europe to the US east coast. You can do port tours - many offerings from the cruise line or you can wing it, or if the particular port doesn't interest you, just hang out by the pool.

Go to a big online TA like Expedia or and just have a look at the myriad offerings. There might well be a cruise that fits the bill for both you and the kids. If you have two weeks and pick a one-week cruise, bracket it with some shore time in a kid-friendly city like Amsterdam or Copenhagen (internal flights within Europe are cheap) or opt for a 10- or 12-day cruise and make it even easier.

Last edited by Gardyloo; Feb 15th, 2020 at 06:34 AM.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 09:24 PM
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Thank you so much to everybody for your ideas and feedback. You have given me much to consider and great ideas to look into.

For some background, the reason why I am considering Europe is because the kids and I will be coming back from India to California in July. And hence, thought it might be nice if we stopped over in Europe. I will be going to India earlier in the summer to do all that bank/financial stuff that I mentioned.

I will look into these options (as of now, I am leaning towards going). I will report back on how I did for those interested

Last edited by Manisha; Feb 16th, 2020 at 09:29 PM.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 09:40 PM
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For wherever you decide to go, our kids are now adults, but for their first trip to Europe (i.e., foreign culture for them), we did a couple of things. We made sure to take them to (casual) French restaurants at home, so they would have experience with the food choices in France. We also came up with one dish that we would see at every (almost every?) restaurant, so there would always be something we could order. In France, for our oldest child, it was steak frites and/or croque monsieur. In Italy, which was our youngest child's first Europe trip, it was spaghetti aglio olio (which we eat at home). I figured even if it wasn't on the menu, a kind chef could make it with items on hand. As it turned out, we had no problems, but it relieved the stress of all to have a backup plan.
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 02:19 AM
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1000s of people go from northern Europe to southern Europe for beach holidays with their kids, there are plenty of hotels catering to kids needs. If the kids can cope with the heat in India, they can surely cope with the heat of southern France, coastal Spain, Portugal, Greece etc. It has to be sufficiently warm to be able to take a dip in the sea or pool.

Take a look at some tour operators and what they offer for family holidays, even if you don't book through them, it might give you some ideas of destinations and amenities (eg kids clubs etc).
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 02:22 AM
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Manisha, I too think a cruise would be a great idea - all inclusive, with structured activities and play groups for your children, the pool to relax and enjoy some down time, plus of course a variety of cuisines for the three of you. You don't have to go ashore on port days if you don't want to, or at least the children. A friend took her 8 year old twin daughters on a cruise a couple of years back and she said the girls asked to stay back on the ship as they were having so much more fun than ashore.

I speak from personal experience, my mother loved to travel but in later years she found going from place to place difficult and preferred cruising. Over the last 15 odd years my siblings and I took her on 10-12 cruises and she thoroughly enjoyed herself. She was a vegetarian and a picky one at that, but always found something to her taste on cruise ships. We made it a point to include a land trip either before or after the cruise, so we were happy too!

I'd suggest a 7-10 days cruise out of Amsterdam or Copenhagen, or maybe Southampton, then spend 5-7 days on land before flying back home. Belgium or Holland come to mind, it should be much cooler in July than southern Europe. Vacations to go and last minute cruises have some great deals, take a look and you'll find a whole lot of options.

Condolences on your father's passing and good luck with the bank and other formalities in India. There's so much red tape it can be quite stressful, I went through this with my mother's property matters last December. You'll certainly need some R&R!
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 05:37 AM
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I wouldn't personally choose the beach with two kids. For me, supervising two children [near the water] with one adult is too stressful.

My other thought is whatever you do, make sure it's a non-stop flight. Changing planes, making connections, carrying carryons, all of that is stressful for one adult, let alone one adult with two children.

Other than that, go for it!
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 04:47 PM
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Hello .... great post I promised to take my 11 year old granddaughter , Hannah, to Paris this summer. The trip has expanded to include my mother (Hannah's great grandmother) so we can visit Mom's family farm in Ireland on the way. Having an extra person brings a good dynamic to the days and will be a trip both will remember. I am in the process of planning and will definitely involve Hannah in the decisions. It's key to know your audience and not over plan. If our trip was longer, I would definitely include. the countryside. I will be looking for activities geared to both ages. Enjoy the process making memories of a lifetime!
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 10:19 PM
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I did "Paris as a beach destination" twice with my son, aged 7, and 9 the second time round. Both times I changed the schedule around to suit his stamina, and surprisingly we arrived at the classic south european schedule: We used Paris Plages as "the beach" and it's open in july, so you can take full advantage of it. It has lounging and beach stuff, along the Seine (!), but also lots of sports stages for kids and many cultural activities. Huge programme every year, and PP was designed especially to give a holiday destination inside Paris for families who can't go on vacation in the south of france.

Anyway: morning: early swim at the PP pool, breakfast sur place on the loungers, an activity for the son, me, lounge under the trees and read books, drink coffee
We used to do quite stylish lunch, which is easy in Paris, but always somewhere under an awning, with a waiter and dessert

Then go back to the hotel, and after lunch resting.

Later in the afternoon we'd to go to any interesting park or do a "big" activity, like visit a museum (but one that would interest him, not me) or something at PP. There are also spectacles for children: in the extensive PP program, you can see which concert or show for which age group. Even if it's in french, they'll be able to follow it if you whisper explain to them what's going on. But especially your 5 year old, she should be able to follow everything perfectly.

We'd go back to the hotel at around 6, 6.30, with something for apéro bought at the supermarket, then go to dinner at around 8, in bed by 11pm.

Those were 2 of the more amazing trips we did, because the schedule was so relaxing for me, and manageable and varied for him.

Most of the activities at PP are free, including the swimming pool, the activities, the loungers etc.

this site has great photos

I was glad that I booked a hotel half a block away from "our" main PP action, so it could really be "let's go to the beach" for us.


Last edited by menachem; Feb 17th, 2020 at 10:32 PM.
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Old Feb 20th, 2020, 12:29 AM
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Originally Posted by sf7307 View Post
My other thought is whatever you do, make sure it's a non-stop flight. Changing planes, making connections, carrying carryons, all of that is stressful for one adult, let alone one adult with two children.
Agree! I don't know your route options but from India to California, you can run some routings and see.

It sounds to me you'd like to explore a new place in Europe but not be too stressful.

Just a few thoughts:
Great Britain. London is so much fun for kids. Pair it with a stay in a castle. Consider Scotland, Wales, or northern England--York is great for kids. You wouldn't have a language barrier. And, it wouldn't be quite as hot.

Italy. Yes it can be hot in the summer. But Italians were just so kind to my kids and I have heard the same from other travelers. Possible itinerary: fly into Venice. See the city for a day or two and then go to an Italian lake or an Italian beach. Fly to the USA from Milan.

Consider a lesser known European country, or a lesser known part of a European country. For example, fly to Prague but then take the train to Pilsen, Brno or Bratislava. (Only spend a day or so in Prague as it will be quite crowded in July.)

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