European Summer Family Trip (1 month)

Old Apr 12th, 2023, 05:43 PM
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European Summer Family Trip (1 month)

Hi Travel Lovers

I'm hoping on some guidance and feedback on a trip we are planning for this summer (5 July to 7 August). We are a family of 5 with boys aged 5, 12 and 14, and need to self-cater for medical reasons (14 year old has gastroparesis and IBS and is on a low FODMAP diet). We are used to driving quite long distances, and I have visited France and the UK before.

Would love recommendations on accommodation (not necessarily in the city centres, but happy to stay somewhere with easy access via train, will require car-parking once we hire a car in Berlin), English speaking tours, and family activities in the places we are thinking of staying.

At present, our draft plan is as follows
5 Jul - Fly into Frankfurt and train to Berlin (stay 3 nights, need accommodation that provides easy access to city and attractions)
8 Jul - Hire car and drive via Dresden to Prague (stay 3 nights)
11 Jul - Drive to Krakow (stay 2 nights, visit Oskar Schindler's factory and Auschwitz - any accom and English speaking tour recommendations?)
13 Jul - Drive to Vienna (stay 3 nights)
16-20 Jul - Drive to Bellac (France) via Austria & Switzerland (any recommendations for places to stay and things to do, Salzburg/Mayrhofen/Lucerne/Bern?)
20 Jul - stay in Bellac with family (4 nights accom provided)
24 Jul - Drop car at Limoges and train to Paris (stay 3 nights)
27 Jul - train to London (stay 4 nights, go to Old Buckenham Airshow)
31 Jul - Hire car and drive to Warwick via Stonehenge, Cotswolds, Warwick Castle (stay 1 night somewhere close by)
1-3 Aug - unsure of plans, thinking of driving to Newcastle Upon Tyne to catch ferry to Amsterdam (stay 2 nights Amsterdam)
4 Aug - Arrive Amsterdam (stay 2 nights, visit Anne Frank House and go on WWII & Jewish Quarter Tour)
6 Aug - Train to Frankfurt (stay 1 night)
7 Aug - Fly out in afternoon

Also, can anyone advise of COVID vaccination requirements for Germany, Czechia, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, France and the UK?

Thank you so much!!

Adams (Australia)




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Old Apr 12th, 2023, 06:51 PM
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I think this plan is a bit ambitious - too much moving around with too many short stops, even though you have a month. Give yourself more time in the big cities. You can do it your way but you will all be tired and cranky by the end of it. I see why you are travelling by train to Berlin from Frankfurt as there are no airlines that will fly you directly into Berlin from Australian destinations at all/ for reasonable cost (even if you fly via Singapore / Dubai / Abu Dhabi).

You will also find driving in Europe, particularly Germany, is different to driving in Australia (I am Australian too); in Australia road trips are normal (and you see a great deal of scenery), in Germany at least you will spend a lot of time on the Autobahn and won't see anything worth seeing. Train however is different, you see a lot, kids can go to the toilet and walk around, eat / picnic, etc. I would encourage you to do Berlin > Prague by train and maybe even do Prague without a car (reasonably small and walkable, you won't need a car there). I might cut Dresden for the sake of cutting something (although I like Dresden).

Book an apartment or an aparthotel in Berlin promptly, July is not far away and apartments go quickly. You just need to be near a U-Bahn / S-Bahn station, that is really the most important thing in Berlin. In Prague I have stayed in Almandine Apartments which is self catering. It was at the time very elegant but actually we did not find it too expensive and it is quite central and near a supermarket.

Lavandula
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Old Apr 12th, 2023, 07:01 PM
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Also - not completely sure but there seem to be fewer Covid requirements in much of Europe now - in Germany there may still be a mask requirement on the trains. The standard there is KN95/FFP2 masks (the ones that look like a duck's bill vertically). We were in Germany in January and wore masks on the trains, and our airline at the time (Asiana, a S. Korean airline which took us to Frankfurt) had a mask requirement for the flight. In Incheon, where we had a stop, there were still mask requirements at the airport but no requirement for tests, although they did electronically take your temperature. They also required a declaration to be made in advance, but cross that bridge if you travel via Incheon and stop there.

I bought two boxes of the KN95 masks before we left and we just had masks in all our bags just in case. Hopefully you won't need them much by July but have them in case there is anywhere that requires them.

Lavandula

Last edited by lavandula; Apr 12th, 2023 at 07:56 PM.
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Old Apr 12th, 2023, 07:38 PM
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We stayed in the Hotel Suite Home Prague. 2 adults and 2 children, but I know they have apartments for 5.

We found it easy to find an apartment to rent in Krakow, went through an agency but I forget which one.

I suppose they allow young children in Auschwitz.... but you should check.

I sure hope you get to see some of the amazing things in between those cities.

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Old Apr 12th, 2023, 07:48 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. AFAIK there are no covid requirements for any of the countries you visiting. Since you are flying in from OZ, you may be connecting through Asia or the Middle East and you'll have to check those separately.

I'm sorry but your plan does fall apart a bit from setting foot in Paris onwards.

Just some things to consider other suggestions:
2.5 days in Paris is really short IMO.

Your kids are terrific ages for London but you really only have 2.5 free in the city. I'd add as many days as you can squeeze in. As it is you'll be able to visit the Tower of London, British or Natural History museum and maybe one or two other major sites. A shame really.

Your visit to the air show will be a real slog. It is a WONDERFUL event. But the train to the nearest station (Attleborough) takes 2+ hours from Liverpool Street. So tacking on transit from your accommodations to Liverpool Street station, the train ride with change at Norwich, taxi to the aerodrome and the same in reverse makes for about 5 hours just in transit. I'd guess you'll have to pre book a taxi since the air show is very popular and there will be a lot of people competing for limited taxis.

July 31/1Aug is difficult. Stonehege, the Cotswolds and Warwick Castle with just one over night really doesn't work. And then driving to Newcastle to catch a ferry is daft (sorry ) Why go all the way to Newcastle to catch a ferry?? Warwick to the port is a 5 hour drive IF you are lucky.

If the Cotswolds and Warwick are musts -- the take all those transit days and spend them IN the Cotswolds and Warwick. July 31 (if you must - I'd really add some of these days to London) collect car, drive to Stonehenge, then up into the Cotswolds stay the nights of 31 July/1Aug in the Cotswolds (Burford, or Chipping Campden or similar), try to visit maybe Hidcote Manor Garden. Nights of 2-3 Aug stay in either Warwick or Stratford-upon-Avon - visit Castle, town of Warwick including the Lord Leycester Hospital and the lovely church, Shakespeare properties, etc.

Morning of 4 Aug drive down to LHR and take an early afternoon flight to Amsterdam. Driving Warwick to LHR takes about 90 minutes.

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Old Apr 16th, 2023, 04:36 PM
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Thank you for the feedback and suggestions, I like the idea of training it to Prague and staying central. We're looking at removing one of the cities and extending time in the others. Any recommendations as to which ones to visit/remove?

Cheers
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Old Apr 16th, 2023, 04:45 PM
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Amending the itinerary

Originally Posted by janisj
Welcome to Fodors. AFAIK there are no covid requirements for any of the countries you visiting. Since you are flying in from OZ, you may be connecting through Asia or the Middle East and you'll have to check those separately.

I'm sorry but your plan does fall apart a bit from setting foot in Paris onwards.

Just some things to consider other suggestions:
2.5 days in Paris is really short IMO.

Your kids are terrific ages for London but you really only have 2.5 free in the city. I'd add as many days as you can squeeze in. As it is you'll be able to visit the Tower of London, British or Natural History museum and maybe one or two other major sites. A shame really.

Your visit to the air show will be a real slog. It is a WONDERFUL event. But the train to the nearest station (Attleborough) takes 2+ hours from Liverpool Street. So tacking on transit from your accommodations to Liverpool Street station, the train ride with change at Norwich, taxi to the aerodrome and the same in reverse makes for about 5 hours just in transit. I'd guess you'll have to pre book a taxi since the air show is very popular and there will be a lot of people competing for limited taxis.

July 31/1Aug is difficult. Stonehege, the Cotswolds and Warwick Castle with just one over night really doesn't work. And then driving to Newcastle to catch a ferry is daft (sorry ) Why go all the way to Newcastle to catch a ferry?? Warwick to the port is a 5 hour drive IF you are lucky.

If the Cotswolds and Warwick are musts -- the take all those transit days and spend them IN the Cotswolds and Warwick. July 31 (if you must - I'd really add some of these days to London) collect car, drive to Stonehenge, then up into the Cotswolds stay the nights of 31 July/1Aug in the Cotswolds (Burford, or Chipping Campden or similar), try to visit maybe Hidcote Manor Garden. Nights of 2-3 Aug stay in either Warwick or Stratford-upon-Avon - visit Castle, town of Warwick including the Lord Leycester Hospital and the lovely church, Shakespeare properties, etc.

Morning of 4 Aug drive down to LHR and take an early afternoon flight to Amsterdam. Driving Warwick to LHR takes about 90 minutes.
Thank you for your honest feedback and suggestions, greatly appreciated.

Warwick Castle and the airshow were for the kids, but apart from that we haven't really looked into anything. We'll likely take off Edinburgh and Amsterdam to add days in at other places, and one of Berlin, Prague or Vienna as well. Any suggestions around that?

Cheers
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Old Apr 16th, 2023, 07:35 PM
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Have you priced the car rental... pick up in one country and drop off in another? A large vehicle for 5 passengers + luggage, AND there will be a one-way surcharge.

Auschwitz recommends that children under 14 years NOT visit the memorial. I was 16 when I visited, and I found it extremely disturbing and unsettling. Visiting both the Schindler factory and the Auschwitz camp in the same day would likely be both very emotional and physically tiring. You need about a half day for each plus the drive to/from Auschwitz.

Overall, that's a LOT of time sitting in a car. Boring. If you're using maps.google.com for driving estimates, from my experience you need to add 10-15% to the drive times.

Overall #2, I agree with others that this itinerary is very ambitious. I'd probably drop some destinations, starting with Krakow which is a long detour between Prague and Vienna for just 2 nights and one full day (and a mostly sad day at that).
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Old Apr 16th, 2023, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by adamsfamily2779
Thank you for your honest feedback and suggestions, greatly appreciated.

Warwick Castle and the airshow were for the kids, but apart from that we haven't really looked into anything. We'll likely take off Edinburgh and Amsterdam to add days in at other places, and one of Berlin, Prague or Vienna as well. Any suggestions around that?

Cheers
You hadn't mentioned Edinburgh before. Not sure where you planned on fitting it in, and while Edinburgh is one of my favorite places on Earth, you definitely don't have time for Scotland/Edinburgh.

The Airshow is a real complication -- there is no easy way to get there. It IS an amazing event, but without staying a night or two nearby I don't see how you can fit it in. You could stay over in Norwich (about a 2 hour train ride from Liverpool Street Station) and take a taxi to the aerodrome. A taxi from Norwich to Old Buckenham would typically take about 35 minutes - but the roads will be slammed so count on an hour-ish.

Would a visit to the Museum at Duxford suffice. 48 minute train from Kings Cross to Cambridge then a 15-20 taxi ride to Duxford (or slower bus) https://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford

Warwick Castle is great for families -- however in or very close to London are 1) the Tower of London, 2) Windsor Castle, 3) Hampton Court Palace - all of which are as good or better than Warwick.

ps: I definitely agree w/ Jean that Auschwitz isn't a great idea for a family with young children.
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Old Apr 16th, 2023, 09:29 PM
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I adore Krakow, certainly one of my favorite places in Europe. Just north of Krakow is a trail (by car) of Eagles Nest Castles leading up to Czestochowa where there is a magnificent abbey. To the east are very traditional villages and towns including a lace making village, a bee keeping village and a village with floral painting. and to the south Zakopane with its smokehouses for making cheese and the wooden architecture trail. In Zakopane there is a big cable car to take you into the mountains as well as a smaller one (and a funicular) that takes you to a ridge trail where there are kids activities, food, horse rides, and other crafts. We took our kids throughout the region. So you are giving Poland short shrift and could easily spend more time there. There is also an exceptional waterpark in Krakow and of course the historic salt mines. Another thing we did, if you are interested in Jewish history, is that we had a private walking tour of the Jewish Quarter in Krakow. Our kids were 6 and 9 at the time.

I do not know the dates for 2023, but there is an annual street theatre festival in Krakow at the beginning of July which the whole family loved. In 2022 it was July 8th thru the 10th.

Last edited by shelemm; Apr 16th, 2023 at 09:53 PM.
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Old Apr 17th, 2023, 01:20 AM
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A couple of points about car rental, quite apart from the drop off fee, you will need stickers to drive in Austria and Switzerland, which must be removed before turning the car in. The hire company will charge a fortune for them being left on, and they must be stuck on the windscreen or you could be fined. I assume it will have a green sticker for the environment zones in Germany, but it won't have one for France and you won't be able to get one for it. DOn't scrape the green sticker off at the end of your trip, just the toll stickers.
If it were my holiday with three kids I would slow down considerably, especially in July and August.
Driving times on things like Google can be very optimistic, and remember it is peak holiday time in Europe for Europeans too.
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Old Apr 17th, 2023, 03:00 AM
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For the moment, you can enter all countries you mention without any covid certificate. But things may change until July if the Omikron variant XBB 1.16.1 will get really dangerous.
Car rental: I would dropp off the first rental car after the Switzerland adventure, somehwere in Germany around Basel (Loerrach, Neuenburg, Muellheim, Freiburg i Br. or so) and rent a new one for France at Basel airport, French side.
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Old Apr 18th, 2023, 09:59 AM
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What a great opportunity you have to spend a month in Europe! I agree, though, that this plan is too ambitious - you'll all get tired of picking up and moving so frequently that it won't be very restful and the sights won't be as fun to take in. Might I suggest cutting a few places, and staying longer in some of the key cities with day trips interspersed, so you can feel like you have a home base at each place? It's easier to soak in the culture and get a feel for each region that way as well. I'd reorganize your trip to look something likes this (and please excuse me if the dates are slightly off -I'm not a numbers person- but you'll get the gist of what I'm proposing!):
5 Jul - Fly into Frankfurt and train to Berlin (stay 5 nights)

10 Jul - Hire car [OR TAKE TRAIN] from Berlin to Prague [no Dresden] (stay 5 nights, with day trip to medieval village Cesky Krumlov. BTW Prague has one of the oldest Jewish quarters in Europe, and you should also take your kids paddle-boating on the Vltava - it's a hoot, and the views are gorgeous)
13 Drive [OR TRAIN] to Vienna (stay 5 nights, with day trips)
16 Jul -FLY to Bellac france via Limoges airport (stay 4 nights with family)
21 Jul - train to Paris (stay 6 nights and consider day trips to Loire valley to see chateaux for the kids, Versailles, Strasbourg/Alsace region, can recommend other day trips if wanted)
28 Jul - train to London (stay 8 nights, go to Old Buckenham Airshow as one overnight trip during this time, do other things as day trips)
August 6 FLY to Frankfurt (stay 1 night)
7 Aug - Fly out in afternoon

P.S. I know I've suggested flying in some places, but keep in mind that a) this will save you so much driving time and b) flights w/in Europe are usually pretty cheap with airlines like EasyJet, RyanAir, WizzAir, etc.
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Old Apr 18th, 2023, 11:05 AM
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The other problem with so much moving about is that you are going to struggle to find self catering accommodation and to do all the shopping and food prep that is required without cutting in further to your holiday time. If I had a month with the restrictions that you have i would pick a max of 3-4 places, for example a villa hear a beach or lake, an agriturismo in the countryside that you can use as a base for touring, [preferably with cycles to rent] and an apartment in one city. This time of year having a swimming pool or somewhere to swim [except in the city] and a/c will be essential. This would be far more relaxing and practical for your family than so much moving around which I predict you would really regret after a couple of moves.
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Old Apr 19th, 2023, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by adamsfamily2779
Thank you for your honest feedback and suggestions, greatly appreciated.

Warwick Castle and the airshow were for the kids, but apart from that we haven't really looked into anything. We'll likely take off Edinburgh and Amsterdam to add days in at other places, and one of Berlin, Prague or Vienna as well. Any suggestions around that?

Cheers
Generally, do less. So much traveling is very taxing, and you're on holiday!
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Old Apr 19th, 2023, 05:11 PM
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Hi Adams! I, too, have traveled with teenagers (2 boys). The biggest piece of advice from these forums is to slow down and do less. It is incredibly difficult, I know, There is soooo much to do and see. You are spending all that money and traveling so far. You want to get it all in.

But it is the best advice! Otherwise, you will drain yourself and your kids and it won't be fun. (And you have the added challenge of self-catering; shopping for and cooking every meal is daunting.)

My two cents:

Stay a minimum of 4 to 5 nights in one place so you aren't constantly packing and unpacking. And in my experience, on transit days, we didn't want to do anything except unpack, shake out, wander a bit, and eat.

Take trains or buses as much as possible to give yourself downtime -- but try not to be in transit for more than 4 to 5 hours. Flying once you are in Europe may seem like an option, but not sure it saves you time after you factor in getting to the airport, checking in, waiting around, waiting for bags (cheap airlines won't let you bring much onboard), lost luggage, etc.,

Plan no more than one big activity a day; you and your kids will need to decompress, rest more than you would expect, and relax.

Make peace that you can't possibly see it all and let everyone pick one thing that is their number one priority for the trip. (When we went to Italy, my youngest wanted to see parmesan cheese being made; for the other, it was visiting a car factory. That is what the still talk about.)

Take the money you are saving from all the between city transport and splurge on a great private tour or a play or whatever.

Enjoy!!!
AH

Last edited by annehartge; Apr 19th, 2023 at 05:15 PM.
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Old Apr 20th, 2023, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by annehartge
Hi Adams! I, too, have traveled with teenagers (2 boys). The biggest piece of advice from these forums is to slow down and do less. It is incredibly difficult, I know, There is soooo much to do and see. You are spending all that money and traveling so far. You want to get it all in.

But it is the best advice! Otherwise, you will drain yourself and your kids and it won't be fun. (And you have the added challenge of self-catering; shopping for and cooking every meal is daunting.)

My two cents:

Stay a minimum of 4 to 5 nights in one place so you aren't constantly packing and unpacking. And in my experience, on transit days, we didn't want to do anything except unpack, shake out, wander a bit, and eat.

Take trains or buses as much as possible to give yourself downtime -- but try not to be in transit for more than 4 to 5 hours. Flying once you are in Europe may seem like an option, but not sure it saves you time after you factor in getting to the airport, checking in, waiting around, waiting for bags (cheap airlines won't let you bring much onboard), lost luggage, etc.,

Plan no more than one big activity a day; you and your kids will need to decompress, rest more than you would expect, and relax.

Make peace that you can't possibly see it all and let everyone pick one thing that is their number one priority for the trip. (When we went to Italy, my youngest wanted to see parmesan cheese being made; for the other, it was visiting a car factory. That is what the still talk about.)

Take the money you are saving from all the between city transport and splurge on a great private tour or a play or whatever.

Enjoy!!!
AH
annehatge is correct, of course, except that slowing down does not mean doing less. It means you are not speeding around missing all the great things that are already around you.
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