Family trip to Europe

Jul 16th, 2009, 03:19 AM
  #1  
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Family trip to Europe

Hi we are a family of four (Mum Dad and 2 boys 14 and 11) from Australia who are hoping to embark on a six month trek around Europe. We are trying to decide whether to backpack or buy a campervan and self drive. Looking for any advice or suggestions on which way to go. How accessible are van parks, price etc compared to the safety of backpacking with children. This would be the first European trip for all of us so no experience to draw on but keen for the adventure. We would be looking at having around a $600 a week income to draw on - will this be enough? Looking forward to lots of responses - thanks.
tongsies is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 03:51 AM
  #2  
 
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Before you do anything look into getting your visas sorted out. If you are not citizens of an EU country you will need visas for staying within the Schengen zone for longer than 90 days. I don't know how the Uk is on this but you should check on them too - although they are not part of Schengen your 90 days visa free within Schengen is any 90 days in a period of 180 days - going to the UK after say 80 days does not set the counter back to zero.

You also need to have health insurance for the entire time you are here. Many travel insurance companies have a time limit of 90 days - you would need to look into all that very carefully.

I would look into buying a camper van if you can. There are a couple of Dutch companies which will also provide insurance for the vehicle and will buy it back at the end of your time. I'm sure there are others that offer something similar. The insurance will be the hardest part to organise I expect if you were to just buy a van upon arrival. There have been threads on here before about this - you may be able to find them using the search function.

I am assuming you will be visiting in our spring/summer/autumn, if you want to visit during our winter then a camper is not such a good idea.
hetismij is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 03:54 AM
  #3  
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surely someone can help me out here - are we being totally unrealistic that this can work???
tongsies is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 04:26 AM
  #4  
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thanks so much - looking at going april - sept. have already looked into the visa situation. would it be less complicated to only look at 3 months? How about the money situation?
tongsies is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 05:00 AM
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One big difference between using a campervan and staying in accommodation is the location. In big cities you can stay far more centrally in hotels and hostels, enjoying the atmosphere and saving travel costs.

However, A$600 per week for four people is challenging (btw a lot of people don't know the value of the A$ - better to express this in euro). When we traveled last year, finding accommodation for a family under 80-100euro per night in large cities was pretty difficult. Staying in rural areas was generally cheaper than cities, although you still have to be selective. I have no idea of the cost of campsites. I think that with this budget you need to do some planning to figure out whether this is achievable. Pick a few towns you want to stay in and find out the price of local campsites.

A lot depends on how much you are prepared to economise. For example, a cup of coffee in Paris might be 3euro. Multiply by 4 and convert and you get about A$20. However, you don't have to visit cafes and restaurants every day. But you don't want to be so strapped for cash that you can't afford to visit the places you're there for in the first place.

Apartments may end up being cheaper than hotels because you can cook for yourselves. Staying longer in each place generally works out cheaper. Moving around a lot also adds to costs, regardless of whether you're paying for petrol or train fares.

Also, the point about the visa is valid. When I was younger Australians could travel around Europe for as long as they liked but now there is the 90 day restriction, I believe, which makes it much harder.

However, I will never forget the times traveling in Europe and would absolutely love to go back. It will be a wonderful experience for you all. Good luck!
dreamon is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 05:19 AM
  #6  
 
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600AD = 340 Euros per week or about 50 Euros per day.

I would very much doubt that you can pull this off for 4 people for food, transportation, lodging, sightseeing fees, and any incidentals you did not anticipate. You will have to avoid most cities, or stay very short times, as they are more expensive than rural destinations.

Perhaps you should look into a shorter trip so expenses are not so tight. You don't want to totally deprive yourselves.

If you get a camper van and know which countries and cities/towns you want to visit you can get the gas (petrol) pricing from mappy.com. Simply plug in your route and indicate highway or rural travel and you'll see the highway tolls and gas charges. The gas prices will be for cars so you'll need to add something to the approximate pricing since a camper van will burn more fuel. This should help you figure out if you can afford your own transportation.

Staying in hostels costs approximately 20 to 25 Euros per day per person so that adds up quickly and puts you way over budget.

Long term apartment rentals should also be investigated although I do believe they would be more than your budget allows.

Have you thought of home exchanges? You could schedule multiple home exchanges and have free lodging for much of your trip.

I do hope you'll be able to fulfill this great adventure - it will a memory for your whole lives!
adrienne is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 08:23 AM
  #7  
 
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Here's a place in Holland who may be able to help:

http://www.dutchcampervans.com/index.htm

Fodors isn't the best place to get advice on the type of trip you have in mind... do some searches of camping and motorcarvanning sites from the UK and their associated forums.

With regards to your daily budget... it seems awfully tight.

Rob
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 08:38 AM
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I think you are being completely unrealistic about all of it, the 6-month stay, the $A600 a week, etc. Not going to happen. You need to double the budget and cut the stay in half.
StCirq is online now  
Jul 16th, 2009, 12:24 PM
  #9  
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thanks so much for everything that has been said - all is welcomed but keep them coming!!
tongsies is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 03:56 PM
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Let me understand this - you mean 50 euros per day for 4 people? Or 50 euros per day per person?

My stepdaughter (19) and a couple of friends wnet for 6 weeks last summer and it cost her US$80 per day (60 euros) plus hotels. The 60 euros covered transit between cities, transit within cities, sightseeing (a lot of places are 15 euros per person), meals (modest but sitting down), a little student nightlife and a little souvenir shopping (less than $200 in 6 weeks).

If you think you're doing 4 people for a total of 50 euros per day - I can;t imagine how you will even eat - even cooking at home.

I would look at a bunch of web sites to determine the costs of sights, local transit and food (even from a market).
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 05:38 PM
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Our family did this when I was young -- more years ago than I care to remember. OK, it was 1972. My father was able to take a sabbatical and work on a project in Europe which was really an excuse for the trip. We were able to rent out our house and, since my parents were both teachers, we kids did our schoolwork abroad. We bought a VW "campmobile" and spent a little more than 6 months seeing most of Europe. It was a wonderful experience and probably the highlight of my childhood.

However, the economy was much different than and it was much easier to afford such a trip. One thing my parents hadn't counted on was how cold and wet the first four months (Jan - April) were. We ended up staying in many more hotels than originally planned to stay warm and dry. Another thing I have learned about more recent European travel -- figure out your likely expenses and then take twice that amount!

I do hope you pursue a family adventure. Good luck and happy planning!
KTtravel is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 04:11 PM
  #12  
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Keep them coming!! Has anyone done the campervan thing??
tongsies is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 04:43 PM
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tongsies, our "campmobile" was a camper/van type thing. It really wasn't any bigger than a minivan and I wouldn't want to drive anything much larger than that on some of the tiny European roads. There was one town in Spain that my father had to back out of the street we were driving down because it was too narrow to get through! We never drove the camper once we arrived in a city but took local transportation instead.

Our camper had a bench seat in the back that folded into a double bed, a "pop top" that slept one person in a sling and another sling went across the inside front of the car -- hard to explain but perhaps the VW website has a picture. Of course, the style may have changed considerably in all of this time! The slings were big enough for my brothers (ages 12 and 10) to sleep in but I think would be too small for an adult. We also had a tent that was stored under the bench seat and three of us slept in that -- there were 7 of us in our family. It did take a while to set up and take down the tent so we would usually try to arrive at a camp in the early afternoon to get a good choice of campsite.

We stayed in all kinds of different campsites -- some were quite deluxe, almost like a mini resort, and others were bare bones. Even the major cities had campsites -- in Paris we were in the Bois de Boulogne, in Florence we were in the Pizza Michaelangelo, in London we were near the Chrystal Palace. Some campgrounds even had playgrounds and small restaurants. We always stayed in official campgrounds as my parents didn't want to take any chances with the local authorities. Of course, we wanted restroom access as well!

We kids really enjoyed the camping aspect as we had a chance to run around and play outdoors quite a bit. We did have to bring more gear for camping -- sleeping bags, warm clothes, etc. and we purchased a stove, pots and pans, utensils, cups and plates, etc. in Europe. At the end of our trip, my parents had the campmobile shipped back to the US. We felt quite safe in all of the camps and only once had a problem -- someone tried to enter our tent in the middle of the night in Florence.

My mother came up with a pretty good idea for laundry. We bought a large bucket with a good lid and every morning she would fill the bucket with water and laundry soap and either add in light clothes or dark. The clothes would "stir" all day in the car as we drove about. When we arrived in camp my mother would rinse out the clothing and we would hang it off of the tent ropes. If the laundry wasn't dry by morning we would stretch it out over the suitcases in the back of the van and it would usually be dry by the end of the day. We also did stop in laundrymats from time to time.

I hope these remembrances give you some good ideas.
KTtravel is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 04:54 PM
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My son and his wife backpacked in Scandinavia and Ireland and would just stop in a campground and put out their small tent. They were on a very limited budget. Don't know cost of this.

When I travel I figure with transportation between cities, inexpensive lodging, and meals I spend at least $100USD or more per day. We don't eat at fancy restaurants and our lodging is usually b&bs that are less expensive. My sister, niece and I share the expense of a room.

So you are planning on 4 of you sharing 600AD per week and that would be 21AD per day per person. I can think of no way that it would be enough money to live on. I can't live on that amount of money in my own home.

The home exchange idea may be something to pursue. Do you have ideas of what countries or cities you are going to visit?
bratsandbeer is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 12:13 AM
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Also, does your budget notionally include the cost of the vehicle rental and fuel?
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