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Best countries to visit for first time traveling abroad?

Best countries to visit for first time traveling abroad?

Old Mar 1st, 2024, 10:31 AM
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Best countries to visit for first time traveling abroad?

Hello,
id be interested in suggestions for the best country or group of countries for a first time trip abroad. It would be me, my husband and 3 kids (17, 16, and 14.) budget would be $10k. Coming from northeast (PA/NJ/DC) and it would be early August.
Thanks!

Last edited by wanderwonderwunder; Mar 1st, 2024 at 11:10 AM.
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 10:38 AM
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OK -- from where, when, and for how long??

$10,000 could be a lot or not nearly enough -- especially if the airfares alone are $1500+ each

Having said that -- for a lot of 1st timers -- England and/or Scotland is a good choice. Though there are many other countries that would be great.
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 10:57 AM
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Given the ages of the children I am guessing summer?
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 11:04 AM
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I would agree with the England and Scotland suggestion. Easy due to language and train connections. A little more info on time to be away and season would be useful. Looking forward to following this thread and helping.
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 11:26 AM
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I'm going to second England and Scotland, or perhaps Ireland (but I'm not going to recommend trying to do all three in one trip). We have been to Scotland three times, first when my kids were 3 and 8 and most recently when they were 19 and 24, and they loved it. Lots of history, easy to do things outdoors, mostly small towns/cities. With planning you can pick a couple of bases and explore from there, which our kids enjoy more than moving around a lot. For example, on our first trip we spent a week near Inverary and a week in the Borders; last time we started near St. Andrews and then went up to Orkney. What do your kids enjoy? One nice thing about not having a language barrier is that you can encourage them to do a little research about things they might like to do.
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 11:43 AM
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OOPS -- last sentence of OP say Early August and from the East Coast

Missed that entirely

But August puts a spanner in the works for Scotland -- more on that later . . . when I get home later.
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 11:56 AM
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Are the kids studying a foreign language? Experiencing life in that language will be so valuable for them. Imagine, three year olds speaking French! TV, street signs, menus—all in French! (Or whatever is your target language and destination.)

But first, I would seriously research plane fares. You seem to have a choice of home airports. Use googleflights, Travelocity, etc., to do your research but book on the airlines website. To save money once you arrive at your destination, don’t move around too much. Every time you change locations, you are spending both time and money.

Maybe enlist the kids to help you research. One could find the best deals from BWI, another from PHL, etc.

You might want to read this recent trip report that underscores the joys of being there together, not madly following an agenda of places to go and things to do—

Trip to France with 2 Grandkids (and their Moms) - Magical

(While I might agree that you consider England and Scotland, be aware that Edinburgh in August, with the tattoo and many festivals, will be a challenge. Any lodging you are able to find will be very pricey. The city will be very crowded. The opportunities for theater, music, film, and books and authors will seem limitless.j
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 11:59 AM
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Or south of Spain? Andalusia is a great mix of history, beaches, outdoor activities.
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 01:13 PM
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South of Spain will be very hot in August. Scotland has issues with the festivals as mentioned.

Ireland would be good and is likely to have the cheapest flights. But I also agree that a country where they speak a language your kids are taking in school would be great. The whole idea of going to Europe is to experience things that are different from what you have at home, so I wouldn't limit it to places that have English as their language. You'll find plenty of people who speak English anyway in places like France or Italy.

Have your kids expressed a preference? Get them involved!
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 01:40 PM
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The airfare alone during summer could be a deal breaker. But if you are not including airfare, I think Prague, Vienna, and Krakow would be a mind-expanding trip. Krakow is amazing and a bargain. Prague is a bargain compared to most of Western Europe.

There is a new discount airline, Play, that flies through Reykjavik. But it might be too late to nab the 'low' airfares. Airfares have skyrocketed.

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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 01:52 PM
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I think England and/or Ireland would make a great first trip, depending on how much time you have to spend. The weather won't be as hot as many other European locations and the language challenges are less. Air Lingus flights are sometimes less expensive than other airlines.

I like Rick Steves's travel books for first time travelers - lots of helpful information and suggestions.
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 02:59 PM
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Not sure about August but we took each of our granddaughters
to London, then Chunnel to Paris, separately when they were 13 in June.

Both liked London but LOVED Paris. They each said Paris was more beautiful and different, London seemed more like NY.
Just one persons take on it.
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 03:14 PM
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So funny, our grandkids LOVED London, and liked Paris!
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 03:38 PM
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Going to an English speaking country is not for someone who really wants "foreign." It will be safely comfortable for a kid who is a timid about new experiences. For those with a bit of the explorer within, go to France, or Spain, or the Netherlands or - - -

On the other hand, if someone wants theater and history, go to London. In other words, what do the kids really like or want?
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 03:59 PM
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We went with our kids with similar ages to England then rode train to Scotland. It was early May and it was a great trip.

I would check flight first and see what is affordable from you home.
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 05:02 PM
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I would think 5 adult airfares, at peak season, will make a large dent in your $10K budget
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 05:42 PM
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My first instinct is to ask, “What have you always dreamed of seeing? and go there. For me, it was the Louvre in Paris, Ancient Rome and the Netherlands.
OTOH, you have several other things to consider: how much time do you have for the trip (critical for planning), the weather, the costs, the interests of the children. This last is important, but once they express their interests, you can have conflicts, so if you go the route of everybody giving input, they have to give two or three places or things of interest and be willing to compromise. What are some of their interests? Art, sports, music, theater, history, literature, food? Besides the usual sights, it is always fun to do things that are connected to their personal interests. Tell us what they are and people here can help with places and activities to fit,

I do not usually think of England first, but London is a wonderful, exciting city, very unlike NYC, IMHO, and has so much of interest and fun, but you do not have to visit only London. There are incredible places like Bath, Oxford, and activities like punting on rivers.

If it is within your budget, you could even spend some time in England. Then take the EuroStar to Paris for a few days.

The heat is something to consider, but the fact is many of us have traveled in the heat of Summer to very hot places like Rome and Seville, and had a wonderful time. We dealt with it, even without AC years ago. We adjusted plans as we went. So, while certainly considering it, I would not base the trip totally on heat.

Do get the kids involved, even a little bit, so they have some ownership of the trip. Whatever you choose will be wonderful!

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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 06:02 PM
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Several aspects to consider:
August will be busy/crowded expensive in Scotland due to annual festivals
August in much of Europe is when locals go on vacation so some things in your destination may be closed.
August is likely to be hot - maybe even beastly hot - in much of Western Europe.
Paris will be crowded and exceptionally expensive in August due to Olympics and Paraolympics
London is always expensive
Ireland is just lovely, especially areas outside Dublin (which is fine for a couple days.) But be sure you are up for driving a manual vehicle on the "wrong" side of narrow roads if you go the rental car route.

On the more positive side:
In most cities in Europe English speakers do just fine. You may not be able to have deep philosophical discussions with natives, but you'll be able to find breakfast and the bathroom just fine.
A group of your size might do well to look at an apartment rather than a hotel, and you can save a few bucks having breakfast, maybe even some other meals, in your place. Check out AirBnB, VRBO, Booking.com as well as just Google for "Vacation rentals in xxxx"
$10K may not go far for five when you add in airfares. Scout around to see where are the best destinations price wise and from which originating cities. You have a few major airports to use - EWR, JFK, IAD, PHL - shop around for the best fares. And if you want to visit multiple cities, think about open jaw or multicity routing where you fly into one city and depart from another.
Ask the kids what they'd like, then task them with doing some research. Portugal? Italy? Germany? Iceland? Turkey?

Happy planning!
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Seamus
Several aspects to consider:
August will be busy/crowded expensive in Scotland due to annual festivals
August in much of Europe is when locals go on vacation so some things in your destination may be closed.
August is likely to be hot - maybe even beastly hot - in much of Western Europe.
Paris will be crowded and exceptionally expensive in August due to Olympics and Paraolympics
London is always expensive
Ireland is just lovely, especially areas outside Dublin (which is fine for a couple days.) But be sure you are up for driving a manual vehicle on the "wrong" side of narrow roads if you go the rental car route.

On the more positive side:
In most cities in Europe English speakers do just fine. You may not be able to have deep philosophical discussions with natives, but you'll be able to find breakfast and the bathroom just fine.
A group of your size might do well to look at an apartment rather than a hotel, and you can save a few bucks having breakfast, maybe even some other meals, in your place. Check out AirBnB, VRBO, Booking.com as well as just Google for "Vacation rentals in xxxx"
$10K may not go far for five when you add in airfares. Scout around to see where are the best destinations price wise and from which originating cities. You have a few major airports to use - EWR, JFK, IAD, PHL - shop around for the best fares. And if you want to visit multiple cities, think about open jaw or multicity routing where you fly into one city and depart from another.
Ask the kids what they'd like, then task them with doing some research. Portugal? Italy? Germany? Iceland? Turkey?

Happy planning!
You missed the most obvious positive about Europe in the summer: Long daylight hours. Second most obvious: the greenery in the landscapes is stunning.

Crowded? It depends on where you go and what you do.

The heat? It's not humid, so once the heat dissipates and before it builds, it's perfect weather. Peak of the afternoon is the perfect time to do something indoors.
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 09:45 PM
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I am not sure you will get valuable advice.
"best" is totally subjective. Just think of a European asking for the best US state for a 1st visit. Some will genuinely say NYC, others Florida or Nevada or California. Not only they are completely different, but also sometimes too vague. Florida is Miami Beach or Keys or Orlando? Nevada is Vegas? California LA or Yosemite, Napa Valley...

You should rephrase your request, giving more essential details like:
- how long do you plan to stay?
- will you tour (changing places most days) or prefer a base to explore an area?
- will you drive or use public transportation?
- what are the main areas of interest of the family? Cities, history, culture, nature, montain or countryside or beach...
- do answers so far give you some clues to be more precise to include/ exclude destinations? "exotism" vs comfort zone, language, hot weather, crowds, driving on left side...

At this stage, only advice I can give is keep out of Paris. Even Parisians are asked to leave or stay at home during the Olympic games.

Last edited by rouelan; Mar 1st, 2024 at 10:09 PM.
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