First family trip to Europe

Oct 12th, 2013, 09:11 AM
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First family trip to Europe

I will be traveling next summer with 7 adults and 5 kids (11 to 15). We will have 2 weeks. I am thinking about starting in Paris a stopover in Switzerland and then Rome. I would like this part of the visit to take up the first week. Then to a beach town in Italy for the last week right now I am thinking a possible villa in Or near Santa Margerita Ligure.
Does this make sense I am open to transportation alternatives or rerouting if there is a better idea. Kids are very active pre-teen & teenagers bored very easily.
Lightbulb1 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 09:28 AM
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Which month?
In one week you are proposing to visit Paris, Rome and say a night in Switzerland, and of course you will lose about a day while you move between each site. For me that is way too rushed maybe you could stretch this part out to say 10 days and have just 4 by the beach.
Any reason why you want to stop off in Switzerland? You might do better stopping of at Santa Margerita Ligure instead of switzerland as you go by.

Do you really want to take the kids to these cities or would you do better say basing in Tuscany and having days out to Florence/Siena/Lucca etc?
bilboburgler is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 09:31 AM
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I think you should consider the logistics of moving a group of 12 people 4 times in two weeks. 3 stops in one week sounds exhausting. And is this 2 weeks on the ground or are you considering the travel days? IMHO trying to do too much in a short period of time, given the size of your group.
socaltraveler is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 10:00 AM
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It makes more sense to me, given the number of people, to choose 1 city (Paris OR Rome) in addition to the beach, a week in each of the 2 locations. A week is not in the least too long in either of the cities you mention.

You don't refer to budget or proposed city accommodations but a large apartment or a house for the city week would likely be the most efficient and possibly enjoyable solution and best for logistics to have everyone under 1 roof. I believe it would be a far more enjoyable trip than the chaos of the movement of 12 people from place to place.
MmePerdu is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 10:05 AM
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Does this make sense I am open to transportation alternatives or rerouting if there is a better idea.>

well consider the fantastic European rail system - even for a crowd like yours - renting a car means you usually must return it to the same country you pick it up in or face steep drop-off fees for leaving it in another country - but consider taking trains - like Paris to:

Switzerland and the Interlaken area - literally and figuratively IMO and many others the absolute highlight of Switzerland and a place where kids and adults of all ages will not get bored - thrilling mountain trains, hair-raising aerial gondola rides - walking to glciers - younger folks can do paragliding - white-water rafting, etc.

Then head to Italy - Venice - again all ages will love riding around the canals in public boats that serve as buses here - then via Florence to Rome and fly back from there.

For lots about the European rail system and planning such a trip I always highlight these IMO fine sites -; and - be sure to download their free and superb IMO online European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of suggested rail itineraries and a wealth of practical info to plan such a trip.

With a large group I'd pay extra to go first-class on long-distance trains - lots of empty seats usually to spread out in - score discounted tickets Paris to Switzerland at - and for Italy at - have to buy those weeks in advance as they are sold in limited numbers and generally are non-changeable non-refundable but much cheaper than just showing up and paying full fare - plus you have reserved seats where you can book all your party in adjoining seats and you just have to show up and hop on the train.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 10:15 AM
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I agree with some of the other comments that Paris/Switzerland/Rome in one week is way too much. I like the idea of stretching that to 10 days (I'd probably skip stop in Switzerland) with just 4 days at the beach. Beaches in Italy aren't really what we used to in say Hawaii, Mexico, Caribbean. We stayed in Lerici one June (just below Cinque Terre). The public beach was super crowded but we did enjoy a day at a private beach in Eco de Mare. but it wasn't free - nice for a day though.

We have traveled to Europe quite a bit with our kids when they were those ages (now 21 and 18) and I have to say they loved being in the cities - so much to do, I doubt your kids will get bored. Do some more reading on what you would like to do in Paris and Rome I think you will find there will be plenty to fill up 5 days each at least (consider also one daytrip from each).

To get you started here are some links to my trip reports along with pictures:
jgg is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 10:27 AM
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Count at least 4 days for a somewhat decent visit of Paris and the same for Rome. If you have only 2 weeks, you will have to skip either Paris or Rome or Switzerland or your beach holidays.

I don't understand why you want to backtrack from Rome up to Santa Margherita Ligure: there are much better beaches closer to Rome.
neckervd is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 10:28 AM
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Nah...Paris, Switzerland, and Rome in a week simply isn't going to work, especially as you are traveling in a herd. A full week in any one of those would still barely scratch the surface.

If the teenagers "get bored very easily" leave them home or get them invested in the trip by tossing them guidebooks and maps and having them take part in the planning.
StCirq is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 11:16 AM
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I think you underestimate the difficulties of housing and moving this large a group. Have you traveled with this group before? Are they all up and ready to go on time?

In a city like Paris, it would be hard to find a single house or apartment big enough for all 12. So probably a hotel, a hotel big enough to have enough rooms and enough rooms available for your dates. There are villas that big in the countryside, but generally they're not convenient to public transportation. You'd need a small bus plus driver for 12 people plus their luggage.

For this large a group, make reservations as soon as possible. A year ahead is not too soon.
Mimar is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 11:49 AM
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I think MmePerdu got it perfectly right! There are lots of vacation rental websites out there, so that you can find an accommodation to suit your group, too.
Calabria62 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 05:07 PM
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First of all thanks for all the ideas. A friend told me about this site and its responsiveness but this is unbelievable. So thanks again.
We are planing to travel in early August but we are still juggling 11 schedules.
Here is the revised thought based on your collective input. Fly to Rome 5 days, then Switzerland 4 days back to an Italian beach near Rome . I will hire a van where needed and checkout the train schedules or fly if needed. I will check all of the web sits you suggested.
Lightbulb1 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 06:00 PM
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Your new plan is better, but could still be improved. If you are set on Switzerland, Rome, beach, consider flying into Switzerland, then hitting the beach location, and saving Rome til last so you can fly home. I agree with others above that with a group this large, you really want to reduce moving around as much as possible. Flying into one city and home from another usually has very little price difference (use the "multi-city" function, rather than "round trip" when booking flights online.

Where, exactly in Switzerland do you plan to visit? If you plan to do some hiking, I would suggest the Berner Oberland (area around Interlaken and the Lauterbrunnen valley). However, it will take a bit of transportation to get there. Those mountains are beautiful, but they take some time, effort, and money to get around! Swiss prices can be quite high, so train tickets for 12 start adding up quickly. (Though there are some good savings to be found using a rail pass).

I would thoughtfully assess your reasons for wanting to visit Switzerland and then carefully select the specific location that will suit your needs. With a group of 12, including kids, minimizing travel and lodging changes should be a high priority. A trip based only Italy may be a more practical and enjoyable experience for a group this large.
msteacher is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 07:54 PM
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Hiring "a van" isn't going to do you any good at all. You'll need to hire several cars or a few minivans (and be able to communicate among you so you know where you all are at various times). To travel with them in Switzerland, you'll need to pay expensive fees for "vignettes," along with tolls and the high fuel costs.

And I do not get flying into Italy, then zooming off to Switzerland, then back to a beach near Rome (Sperlonga's a good one, BTW). Switzerland is a HAUL from Rome, and incredibly expensive.

Traveling in August in Italy makes your plans even more complicated. Every Italian on the planet is on the beach and on vacation in August - and that means accommodations all booked up far in advance, incredibly crowded roads, jammed beaches, inflated prices, and scalding temperatures.

To be truthful, for a first-timer's trip to Europe, this is simply not a good idea...AT ALL. If you had been 10 times already, spoke the languages, were familiar with driving, even then it would be a PITA. I really fear you are totally over your head trying to be tour guide for a HUGE inexperienced group in places you've never set foot in. I've been to Europe probably 150 times, been a tour guide there, speak a few languages, know my way around very well, and EVEN THEN it's always an exhausting challenge.

You just might rethink this.
StCirq is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 08:48 PM
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Thanks again
I probably should clear up some assumptions. Except for the kids, we all have traveled in Europe. We will hire guides in every city and have traveled with livery vans adequate to handle 15. That being said I have never traveled with the grandkids or in this large a number. In the end I will use someone to make the arrangements.
None of this effects your enlightening thoughts about the usefullness of a broken jaw, the number of stops, the summer heat or the standard Europeon August vacartion schedule. I will further reorganize my thoughts. I think I can deal with it all except August travel.
Thanks for your time in considering my trip.
Lightbulb1 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2013, 01:53 AM
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Personally, I would fly into Paris or Zurich ... do 5 nights in Paris or Switzerland (whichever you choose but not both), then fly to Rome, go to the beach near Rome and then stay in Rome.

Switzerland is expensive, but in the Berner Oberland you can get apartments which will cut down the cost slightly and will house you all. There are chalets where there is more than one chalet in the same building.
Newbie00 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2013, 02:13 AM
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hi, lightbulb,

you poor thing, getting lumbered with organising this! still as I always say, the only thing worse than me having to organise it, would be having someone else doing it.

ironically, though Switzerland is expensive, it is also well set up for large parties, as skiers tend to descend in large numbers upon the ski resorts [or should that be "ascend"?]. so finding a chalet in say, Wengen, or a hotel that can take a party of 12 should not be that hard. and as others have said, plenty of activities to occupy the youngsters, and an excellent train system to get you there and to get you around when you're there.

if you are sticking with August, your next stop [and I would advise only one} is rather more problematic - for ease of [train] travel, Venice would make a good stop, but I'm not sure that anyone is going to want to be there in August, though you could combine city and beach by staying on the Lido.

Wherever you go, air con and a pool/beach are absolute essentials, IMO.

and limiting your places visited to 2. the Berner Oberland and Venice/Rome would all have quite enough to entertain even the most demanding youngsters for a week or more.

BTW, it's open, not broken jaw, but I can see that with 12 of you travelling, the latter is also a possibility!
annhig is offline  
Oct 13th, 2013, 09:29 AM
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Thanks again for the insight.
I will take a second look at Paris then Switzerland and avoid the weather issue. Thanks also for fixing my jaw.
Lightbulb1 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2013, 10:42 AM
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beach towns in italy? that's a joke. they are nothing like florida, california, mexico ect. on our several trips to italy we made day trips to coast villages that were supposed to have decent beaches - extremely disappointed. most were pretty hard sand with 100s of beach lounges line up in a row. while there are many beautiful villages along the coasts, don't expect much from the beaches.
toledodd is offline  
Oct 13th, 2013, 10:46 AM
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Sperlonga and Gaeta have lovely beaches. There are great beaches on a number of islands as well. And a couple on the Tuscan coast.
StCirq is offline  
Oct 13th, 2013, 11:03 AM
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If you are going to Switzerland for the mountains, and budget is a consideration, remember that there are also mountains in Austria, France and Italy (Dolomites). Innsbruck to Venice to Rome would work by train.
thursdaysd is offline  

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