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Europe family vacation - struggling to get process started


Feb 2nd, 2013, 01:01 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 12
Europe family vacation - struggling to get process started

We have decided to take our family of five (45, 45, 18, 16, 12) to Europe this upcoming June.

Things we are somewhat in agreement on:
2 to 2.5 weeks
Budget 4000 per person including food and travel (not including misc shopping money)
Continental Europe (kids want to visit places where English is not primary language)
Preference for older locations versus modern
Interested in visiting at least one castle
Want to utilize trains primarily
We do not want to "waste" lots of time traveling (avoid trying to visit Berlin, Rome and Paris, for example)
No guided tour, we do not want every day scheduled for us
Girls want to shop at unique places
We want to spend enough time at each location to get a good feel for the culture, not a whirlwind tour that is more tiring than Disney

We picked up a globus tour book hoping to get ideas but we are struggling because everything looks good!

We are inclined to work with a good travel agent but don't know who to use.

We are thinking maybe Northern Europe (France, Germany, Belgium, holland and Germany) because the countries are so close to each other, but we are not sure

We need to get this scheduled and would appreciate suggestions on moving forward.
kosinski is offline  
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Feb 2nd, 2013, 01:32 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 595
You have done good preliminary work and you should be able to organize this yourself with help from this board. No need to pay a commission to a TA. Remember, when booking flights that you can fly "open jaw" (into one place and home from another for no extra cost) to save time and money backtracking. For example you could fly into Amsterdam and home from Paris or Frankfurt. If you have 16 or 17 days, I would limit myself to 4 or five places, remembering that it is easy to do day trips by train. Also, I like to plan for an easy orientation day when I first arrive and am jet-lagged. Being able to walk a bit in the sun to get your body attuned to the new time zone, enjoying a leisurely lunch and some people watching would do the trick. Trying to absorb all the sights in a museum...not so much.
jane1144 is offline  
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Feb 2nd, 2013, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 19,716
Germany and the Benelux fit your plans better than a place like France because train travel in the French provinces is not that convenient. I would recommend the Dordogne or the Provence in France, but I think that a car is necessary for that. On the other hand, Rothenburg, small German cities, almost any town in the Benelux is readily reachable via public transportation. In fact, when in the Netherlands (a long time ago) we took the train from Amsterdam to Haarlem, the Hague, Enkhuizen and other locations with no more problems than if we were taking the subway in NYC, and the ride was no longer than going to Manhattan from the outer boroughs. I rule out Switzerland because of the cost.
Michael is online now  
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Feb 2nd, 2013, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,566
We did this when our oldest graduated from high school, so about the same ages. Shopping was important--for boys and our girl--sporting goods are beautiful!! We drove for part and trained.
We landed in Luxembourg on Icelandic, and made a loop back to Paris.
Your air fare in June is going to be prime time--you don't say from where.
We stayed in a castle for a night (and I'd have to go look to see where--but it was German and with a vineyard).
If I could make my arrangements BEFORE the internet, you should be able to now using it!!
Our children were all Latin students so incorporating Roman sites was part of our planning. Maybe your kids have some similar interests.
Is there a reason driving isn't a part--I think it can be very economical for 5 and makes for interesting stopping, picnicking, etc.
Good luck and come back.
I am going to put in the idea of hiring Michael Osman as a guide for Paris right now. It will be the best money you spend for "bang for the buck".
Gretchen is offline  
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Feb 2nd, 2013, 01:57 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14,850
Looks like a good basic plan. Given your interest in a bunch of countries I would look at a central tour that goes something like

Fly into Paris, a few days enjoying the city, Giverny and Versailles should do
Trip to Strasbourg, days out into the Black Forest and onto the top of the Vosges.
Follow the Rhine to the Start of the Mosel (pop up the Mosel and stay in a little town with a castle, vinyard, pool and hire bikes)
Amsterdam, you can stay in the city centre but you can also stay in say Haarlam and catch the train in to visit. Hire bikes and get out and see the countryside.
Then fly back out of Schiphol

Use bahn.de to get a good basic idea of continental train systems. Then once the basic plan is sorted have a look at local country train websites.

Have a look at
bilboburgler is offline  
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Feb 2nd, 2013, 01:59 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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I guess you know about seat61.com it explains about the train systems
bilboburgler is offline  
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Feb 2nd, 2013, 02:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I will add that while an open jaw route is good, a round trip such as to and out of Paris is not bad.
Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, and back to Paris could be a loop with connecting some dots in between such as Heidelberg, could be a start.
Get some maps and connect dots?
Gretchen is offline  
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