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Best Tour/Company to see Most of Europe w/ 2 teenagers??

Best Tour/Company to see Most of Europe w/ 2 teenagers??

Jul 19th, 2013, 12:49 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 147
I hope it won't be your last trip as a family...If your kids enjoy themselves, I bet they'll be back, possibly with a friend or spouse. Unfortunately, you can't see "most" of Europe in 2 weeks. You could "touch down" in quite a few ports if you do a cruise. but it would be very pricey for 4 people. Why not choose one country and explore a bit? Ask your family members to list 10 or so places they would like to see and choose one on everyone's list. Our most successful trips have been based in the fewest places, where we can settle in one base, do day trips, etc. London for 2 weeks, Switzerland for 2 weeks (Meiringen, Zermatt. & Zurich were the bases), Venice/Rome for 10 days.

If I could afford it and were going somewhere with complicated arrangements (for me, that would be somewhere in Asia or Africa), I would look into Tauck family travel. But even then, you would give up so much to be "minded." http://www.tauck.com/family-travel.aspx For Europe, I wouldn't do it. Too expensive and too little control over itinerary, meals, hotels.
mocha_dolce is offline  
Jul 19th, 2013, 01:37 PM
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Birkie, if you want a vacation your children will love and you can treasure as a family event, I strongly second all the advices not to spend the majority of the time on the road.

Personally I'd recommend Rome and Florence plus day trips. The reason why I'd prefer them to London or Paris is that they aren't such huge cities and so it's easier for teenagers to meeet up with other tourists their age if given their own time in the evening. When I was 16, I found meeting people from different countries more exciting than visiting a church in these countries.

At the same time these cities offer an incredible amount of options beside museums.
Hans is offline  
Jul 19th, 2013, 02:02 PM
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I have not been on a guided tour in Europe (and saw China independently, as I like planning and being independent).

However, a good friend, husband and 2 children have just returned from a 2 week guided tour in Europe which they all loved. Trafalgar tours. She spent the evening raving about it.

The suggestion of 3-4 cities would be my personal preference - London, Paris, Venice & Rome. Easy transport between all. I think my teenagers would have preferred that to a guided tour, especially as mine are not early risers.
SusannahT is offline  
Jul 19th, 2013, 02:13 PM
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We have two daughters 14 and 16 and are planning on going in summer 2014. I suspect that this may be our final big vacation together as a family - so I want to expose our daughters to as much of Europe as possible in the shortest time - 12-14 days. France, England, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Beligium, Italy??>>

do that, Birkie, and i can guarantee that it WILL be your final big vacation together. IME kids, even quite old kids, like to be able to stay in one place long enough to get a sense of belonging, and some of our best vacations were when we spent a week at a time in Rome, Florence and Venice.

So i suggest finding a max of 3 places that you all want to see, flying into the first and out of the last, and renting apartments in each place.

you can't possibly see all of Europe in 14 days , [I haven't and i live here] so why try? you will only have a miserable time and probably not want to come back.
annhig is offline  
Jul 19th, 2013, 03:48 PM
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I too was going to suggest a European cruise for this family. I've heard of teens having fun on a cruise.
tuscanlifeedit is online now  
Jul 19th, 2013, 03:54 PM
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I was on a Cosmo tour a few years ago. There was a family with 3 teenage daughters. They enjoyed it overall. The tour was only in Italy and it was a slow paced one so we did have a lot of time(relatively) in each place. I have teenagers too and I would consider it but I have to agree with the above comments....I would do the tour without a tour and book day trips for the convenience.
kelsey22 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2013, 04:04 PM
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Where is Birkie????

A troll???

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Jul 19th, 2013, 04:16 PM
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Tours can be good. It may not fit here, if mom is brave enough to do some planning with everyone.
OP was concerned about budget.
Trafalgar tours are NOT budget.
Help with the question
They canNOT see all of Europe, no matter what mom wants.
Have a GREAT small trip and see lots of things together.
I don't think Birkie is a troll--just hasn't had the nerve to come back.
Gretchen is offline  
Jul 19th, 2013, 04:18 PM
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We did several trips to europe with our tween/teen DDs - starting when they were 11 and 14 - and every couple of years until they were old enough to go with friends - or now fiance for the elder.

All of the trips were fairly slow travel - the first 13 days split between London and Paris. Another 2 weeks in Italy.

Believe me - they would have HATED the trip you are talking about - as would we. They loved doing research on the various destinations - picking out sights THEY wanted to see, making restaurant recos - and finding out where local teens hung out so they could learn about the culture from their own point of view. Also loved the chance t use their French and explore Italian and German (a later trip) - and go to student cafes and pubs - when they were old enough.

IMHO having all 4 of you joined at the hip 24/7 is a really bad idea - you need to find places that interest the kids - and have places they can go on their own while you do more adult things (I have had my fill of Covent Garden which they loved for buying toschotkes) and had already seen the Musee Cluny - didn;t need to see it twice more because it was SO romantic.

Strongly suggest you talk this over with the kids - what types of trip they want, what THEY want to see (they are almost adults - not luggage) and have them do research in the Let's Go student guides - so they buy into the process.

The European vacation movie was a poor single joke - but you are about to set out into the same thing.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 19th, 2013, 04:42 PM
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Well, the OP hasn't been back so I assume he or she was scared off. But in case the OP is still reading, I would certainly take a look at Rick Steve's 14 day "Best of Europe" tours -- France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy. His tours are expensive but they will educate you about practical matters in traveling in Europe. He offers a cheaper alternative (called "My Way") that goes to the same places...you have a guide but are responsible for your own admissions, meals etc.

You could spend a few days in London before the tour; it's easily managed even by first-timers.
azzure is offline  
Jul 19th, 2013, 04:45 PM
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I think the cruise idea for teens is a great idea.

I also think some of you are being unnecessarily rude. I very much agree that a whirlwind trip that covers 6 countries is 14 days is a really bad idea, however, we don't know the specific trip the OP is looking at to be quite so harsh.

I took a fast paced tour to Italy (Venice Florence and Rome in 9 days) and while it wasn't ideal, I was anxious to see as much as I could and I didn't regret the trip (at all). I've since returned to Italy twice to fill in areas we missed (at a slower, more in depth pace) - and even so, there are still many things in Italy I still want to see.

I've travelled with my kids to Europe and my kids do not like to linger a long time in one place - they don't mind moving around. On our last trip, we were in a different hotel each night except one (we stayed in one country and didn't do very long drives between each destination). It was actually easier to travel this way WITH our kids b/c they are older (18, 20) and they lugged the suitcases and loaded the car for us

And I live in the US and I also think we've seen the "highlights". Of course we haven't seen everything and there are more places I would like to see. But for now, I'm content with what we have seen in the US and want to venture farther afield.

All that said, to the OP: I would highly recommend, if you do go with a tour that moves at a brisk pace to choose one with centrally located hotels. If you want to split up with the kids, they can remain in the hotel while you check out the city a bit more. (Also don't do 6 countries in 2 weeks!)
PhillyFan is offline  
Jul 19th, 2013, 05:23 PM
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>>I also think some of you are being unnecessarily rude.<<

Who was rude? A couple maybe bordered on overly honest/frank but hopefully the OP isn't so delicate that would scare her off.

But until the OP does come back we are probably beating a poor old dead horse . . . The points have been made
janisj is online now  
Jul 20th, 2013, 12:11 AM
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6, possibly 7 countries in 12 -14 days? Contiki.

Have you factored in travelling time? Is the 12-14 days inclusive or exclusive of your arrival & departure days!

Barely 2 days per country is not even giving you a glimpse, let alone breathing, absorbing or seeing enough to be worthwhile IMHO.

Cut out 3 countries or triple your time - at least.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2013, 01:40 AM
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I've travelled with my kids to Europe and my kids do not like to linger a long time in one place - they don't mind moving around. On our last trip, we were in a different hotel each night except one (we stayed in one country and didn't do very long drives between each destination). It was actually easier to travel this way WITH our kids b/c they are older (18, 20) and they lugged the suitcases and loaded the car for us >>

my kids are 22 and 25 and they still hate that sort of travel. we OTOH used to like it quite a lot [though I prefer staying 2-3 nights before moving on] before the kids came along.

but for a first trip, the novelty can be so overwhelming, you're not giving yourselves a chance to take in what's there if you are forever rushing off to the next place.

slow down and smell the roses would be my advice.
annhig is offline  
Jul 20th, 2013, 02:21 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Birkie, I was interested by you actual country selections
Belgium , Denmark , France , Germany , Italy , Switzerland , United Kingdom.

Of these for my first ever European trip I would try and cut the countries down to say
France, Belgium, Germany, UK and Netherlands. and that would allow me to do a very limited amount of traveling and yet see a lot of different countries.

I'd focus on Paris, Alsace, Black Forest, Mosel, Bruges and Amsterdam and London

As some used to the area I might use a car or the train but there maybe people who do such a tour or tours.

While getting to Italy seems a big thing I don't see the culture/buildings as being very different to France unlike the other countries/areas/cities in my list.

I do see Switzerland as having a very different culture but the chances of a tour actually contacting that culture in the street is minimal.
bilboburgler is offline  
Jul 20th, 2013, 05:56 AM
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Are you kidding me--letting two fairly young teen girls go off by themselves in a European city where I may not speak the language well!!
We travelled with kids this age. Our mantra was--we'll do some things YOU want to do and we'll do things WE want to do. We saw every sporting goods store in Munich/everywhere. BUT it wasn't long before DS was saying--"Wait there's another cathedral down there". We saw art museums--and science museums.

Looking at what a Rick Steves tour (for example) covers, and then patterning one for themselves could be a bit of planning strategy. Travelling in Europe in some ways is MUCH easier than in the US where we tend to HAVE to drive somewhere, and not use public transportation either to cities or within cities. We are 'way behind the continent in that category.
AND if need be, there are tours for hire within cities if that is needed. OR the Hop On HOP OFf buses many places.
Gretchen is offline  
Jul 20th, 2013, 06:44 AM
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Gretchen a 14 yr old and 16 yr old are not babies.. they are perfectly capable of being dropped off in an area ( say a shopping mall ) and met back there in an hour or same with a museum etc..
I guess there are some nervous nelly type parents who can't conceive of that, likely same parents still worried about letting their 22 yr olds off by themselves when on family vactions too..
By the time some kids are 18 many travel on their own,, so starting with an hour or two without mommy and daddy ( who likely don't speak the language either anyways ) is good training run.
I let my 13 yr old son run down the street to get snacks etc when I took him to Paris and I wanted to flake out after long day sightseeing ( it would still be light out) .. and once had to let my 11 yr old run down to a bakery( we were in a good area, I was violently ill , and she hadn't eaten a thing all day and it was almost 3 or so ) ..

I am not talking about free run in a big city, and neither was other poster, but kids can survive an hour or two without mommsy usually if you set it up right.
justineparis is offline  
Jul 20th, 2013, 06:50 AM
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Dove Birkie ????
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 20th, 2013, 07:30 AM
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I think the OP (who is probably long gone) should be able to squeeze in a couple of day trips to St Petersburg and Budapest. The latter is an added benefit because they can tell everyone that they visited Asia as well.

my guess is they'll press on and book some tour and be completely miserable on day 3 once the excitement gives way to fatigue. years ago my mom and her mom did something very similar. soon she was hating life and snored loudly on the buses. "are we in Austria or Switzerland now?" who knows. Have fun sitting in some French cheese factory for 2 hours while you drive past the Notre Dame. Enjoy walking briskly through some of the world's most picturesque piazzas and squares... the robust aroma of coffee coming from the outdoor cafes, the old men reading the paper on benches, the soft cooing of pigeons looking for crumbs..... nope. no time keep up! i'm sorry but I have zero sympathy for people that choose to subject themselves to this when they had every opportunity to do some research.
tailsock is offline  
Jul 20th, 2013, 08:44 AM
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Are you kidding me--letting two fairly young teen girls go off by themselves in a European city where I may not speak the language well!!>>

justineparis - I'm with you on this. one of DS's hghlights of our week in an apartment in Rome was going out by himself to buy the "cornetti" for breakfast for the family. After the first day he did this by himself and loved doing it, despite his total lack of italian and the corresponding lack of english of the shop assistants.

14 & 16 should be able to do a bit of shopping.
annhig is offline  

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