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First trip out of USA, in May, two teen daughters. Any and All help much appreciated!

First trip out of USA, in May, two teen daughters. Any and All help much appreciated!

Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 06:35 AM
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First trip out of USA, in May, two teen daughters. Any and All help much appreciated!

Hi everyone!
We live in the United States. My husband and I are taking our 17 year old daughter (who will have just graduated high school) and our 19 year old daughter to Europe near the end of May. We are thinking around the 20th. Our youngest daughter has a friend in London she wants to see for a day, we thought about seeing Ireland, we would love to be in Cannes for, at least, day during the film festival, and possibly make it to Rome. We are hoping to stay 10 to 14 days and our budget is a total of $11,000 that's international flights, accommodations, transportation, etc...
First question. Is it possible to make it to the places listed within the allotted amount of time? Second question. Can we take this trip and stay under budget? Third question. If we don't have enough days to go the listed places, where would you suggest going? Fourth question. With your extensive knowledge and me not having any, what tips, links, ideas, etc... can you give me for accommodations, transportation, towns 17 & 19 olds would enjoy, things "we just have to do", and anything else you think would be helpful. We love to stay more like locals when we go somewhere than as tourists. Don't get me wrong I don't want to go to London and not see Buckingham Palace, but I don't do tours, and the like.
Please would love the help of your vast knowledge!
Thank you so very much!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 07:18 AM
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You want to go to London, Ireland, Cannes and Rome in 10 to 14 days? No way. You could spend the entire time in the UK and not even begin to see everything. Forget Cannes during the film festival. You'll have a terrible time finding a hotel and if you do, it will be extremely expensive.

If you have 2 weeks you could reasonably do London and one other city, which could be Rome or Dublin. If you have 10 days your options are much more limited. Give it some thought and post back when you have a better plan.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 07:19 AM
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First question. Is it possible to make it to the places listed within the allotted amount of time?

First answer: Possible: Yes. Advisable. No, No, No, and for clarity, hell No. You are making what many of us consider a 1st timers mistake – trying to check off places rather than actually enjoy being where you are. I’ll let others weigh in on how you lose a full day every time you change location, etc.

With 10 to 14 days, my advice would be to pick ONE country, max 3 places to stay. That’s 3-4 nights each, in 3 places.


Second question. Can we take this trip and stay under budget?

Second answer: Yes, absolutely you can take a 10-14 day trip to Europe within that budget – with the caveat that we don’t know where you are starting from… Flights from San Diego will cost more than flights from JFK.

Staying at self catering places (Airbnb/vrbo/booking.com) can save you a lot of $. Renting a car will add cost, moving around from country to country will drive up the cost significantly.



Third question. If we don't have enough days to go the listed places, where would you suggest going?

Third answer: See advice above.



Fourth question. With your extensive knowledge and me not having any, what tips, links, ideas, etc... can you give me for accommodations, transportation, towns 17 & 19 olds would enjoy, things "we just have to do", and anything else you think would be helpful. We love to stay more like locals when we go somewhere than as tourists. Don't get me wrong I don't want to go to London and not see Buckingham Palace, but I don't do tours, and the like.
Please would love the help of your vast knowledge!

Fourth answer: see advice above. More important than “things you just have to do”, my advice is more about how you go about enjoying where you are. In my experience, 18 year olds don't give a flip about seeing 1000's of Renaissance paintings, or eating where Phil ate, or where Rick says to eat, or just about anything else on anybody's "must see list" The best memories from trips I've taken with someone that age have been all experience related. Flea market or thrift store market shopping, nature trails, picnicing in a park with a bottle of wine and supermarket takeout, going back to the ice cream shop several days in a row, then being terrified when the cutie behind the counter smiled and said something they didn't understand, swimming in a local watering hole, finding a local cafe where they could hang out & connect to wifi.... I could go on....


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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 07:24 AM
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After reading J62s answer, I'm going to agree with the suggestion to pick one country. This is your first time abroad and I think it will be much easier that way. As I mentioned above, you could easily spend all of your time in the UK.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 07:28 AM
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Start some research by going to Kayak.com to get an idea of what the airfares will cost. In your case you should be interested in an open jaw ticket, landing in London and leaving from Rome.

Do a general search for accommodations, perhaps using hotels.com, to also get a sense of housing cost.

Airfare + hotel packages might reduce the overall cost, but I think that your general budget is too optimistic.

As a general tourist I would not go close to Cannes during festival season.

For ten days including travel time, I would stick to London and Rome.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 07:29 AM
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It's a pretty ambitious itinerary. Have you even looked at hotels near Cannes during the festival? Guessing you will likely pay through the nose on lodging during the festival, which makes your budget difficult. You also may want to get an understanding of distances. it is further from London to Cannes than it is from Chicago to Atlanta. If you're flying between places, take one more day off of your total time as well. Don't know whether the 10-14 days is on the ground days, or includes flights. Assuming this includes flights, take off 1 full day to start (leave on the 20th arrives on the 21st) and you WILL be jet lagged, likely for another day. Your return is the same thing, you'll lose that entire day flying home. DO consider open-jaw (multi-city function on most search engines) flights, say in to London and out of Marseilles or somewhere in Italy if you choose to go there too. It saves on back tracking.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 07:36 AM
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First question: In my opinion, no. I'd drop Italy completely. When you say 10-14 days, that probably translates to 8-12 days when you factor in travel. Try thinking in terms of nights instead. I think you could enjoy a lovely trip of London and and Dublin/Belfast. Cannes is very much out of the way and will require a flight or very long train ride.

Second question: It's hard to say if your budget would cover the trip without knowing where you're flying from and what sort of accommodations/excursions you're seeking. I'd be looking at flights that have you arriving at one of your chosen locations and returning from another. Back tracking to meet a roundtrip flight is a time suck.

Third question: I'd seriously consider only two locations. Take some time to absorb the culture and experience without dashing about at breakneck speed. in London, visit the Tower, maybe Churchill's War Room, Covent Garden and The National Gallery in addition to Buckingham Palace. In Ireland, Dublin and Belfast are both easily accessible by train and quite walkable. Trinity College and the Book of Kells are informative and your daughters would probably enjoy the campus vibe. A day trip via the DART to Howth makes for a lovely afternoon. Belfast has the shipyard where the Titanic was constructed as well as tremendous history with regards to the Troubles. I like the idea of your first trip abroad being in English speaking countries. A language barrier can be exhausting.

Fourth question: I'd focus on nailing down where you're going before gathering too much intel on what to do. Traveling with your adultish daughters should be an experience to savor and make memories. Don't try to do too much - you'll be left with a blur of packing and unpacking and finding your way in foreign places without any time to simply breathe.

Just my opinion as someone who has been fortunate to visit Europe dozens of times. Keep asking questions - there's a wealth of info to be gleaned here!

Last edited by nylilly; Jan 2nd, 2024 at 07:53 AM.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 07:38 AM
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Welcome to Fodors and Happy New Year.

Ditto J62's post and then some!

first re amount of time:

if the trip is 10 days in total (home to home) that will net you 7.5 days free on the ground for seeing and doing - and some of you may be jet lagged the first day or two. So basically a week-ish. Any moves from one city tp another will eat up .5 to one full day so taking away even more seeing/doing time. If the trip is two full weeks/14 days home to home -- then you will have 11.5 usable days give or take. Since London appears to be a must -- then either do JUST London with some day trips out of town (the 10 day option) or with 14 days, London and a few days in one other place in the UK (Oxford or York or Edinburgh or the Cotswolds or or or . . .

Last edited by janisj; Jan 2nd, 2024 at 07:42 AM.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 07:41 AM
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Didn't see all the posts after P_M's (we were all posting at the same time - a busy bunch ) I'll just emphasize that 10 days doesn't really mean 10 DAYS doing anything.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 08:04 AM
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great advice above.
London is full of markets, shops and theatres.
Accom in London can be expensive so you need to be booking appartments now. Basically find a sum you want to spend and suggest some places and we'll tell you why not or why. Booking.com is a great place to start.

Don't worry Rome is similar but smaller and with more old bits. Just choose one, and frankly for a first visit choose one of London, Paris or Rome.

Appartments are good for cleaning clothes, eating home made food (cuts down of restaurant bills), having a sick day (4 people for 10 days, someone is going to have a rough day especially after flights and being stuck in a tube with 350 other people)

If you work out this is going to be too expensive, look at Premierinn.com. These are basic business person's rooms, but always clean, loads of hot water and all over town (prices are dynamic so again book early). If they are too much look at yha.org (hostels for the middleclass).

So, you have say 7 days in London, what else could you do. Train to Oxford, Brighton, Cambridge, York, Paris or walk beside the rivers or canals.
One thing I can tell you is you don't need a car in London.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 08:34 AM
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Thanks to all of you for weighing in. I knew this would help a ton.
We'll be flying out of Memphis, TN.
Cannes film fest and Rome are now definitely out. Yes, London is a must. Ireland or Scotland was a thought, but can be let go if need be. We were really hoping to get down to the French Riviera, however, it seems as though that may need to be a different trip. I figured my girls would love that being laid back with beautiful beaches and towns.
I think the advice on sticking to one or two places is great. That way it's less stressful with packing and moving.
We aren't worried on the types of places we stay in. We don't want to stay somewhere that's falling apart, but I mean it can be hotel, Air B&B, apartment, B&B ... Transportation I would prefer to be what works best for the area we're in. My family definitely likes to go with the flow for the most part, with the exception of my husband. He likes to have a definite plan. That's something I'm not sure about. How definite will our plans have to be for this trip?
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 08:35 AM
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The OP didn't mention a car but I'm glad bilbo did. Some Americans don't realize how great public transportation is in Europe. A car in London isn't just unnecessary, it would be quite a burden.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 08:35 AM
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Congratulations on what sounds like a lovely trip!
Lots of great advice here already, I strongly agree with avoiding Cannes.
I think getting your airfare is urgent, since you are so open, the prices from different spots might help you narrow it down.
It sounds like London is a given, and a great first, soft landing, but moving beyond that, there is a big difference between 10-14 days. I would definitely fly home from a different location.

With our kids, we tended to like more of a sampler of countries, to experience different flavors and personalities, but every time you move, you have transportation costs that can quickly eat up your budget.

Also, what is your style? This is all big city energy, would you like some small town, serene, relaxation experience? Do you want to hike, go to the beach, see breathtaking vistas? Would you consider renting a car for a small part of it?

What are your girls like? Teens are notorious for wanting to sleep in, so you wouldn't be accomplishing as much in each location. What is everyone's top priority? The hard part of the first time trip, is wanting to hit all of the spots you have dreamed of and that needs to be reigned in. You will have a great time, especially if you don't stretch too far. Enjoy!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 08:37 AM
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Sorry, I was posting at the same time!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 08:38 AM
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While I’m usually going to advise staying in one country, my inclination here would be 2 cities: London and Paris. Much advice for London on this post and London to Paris couldn’t be easier with the Eurostar.

I was 18 years old the first time I went to Paris and I fell in love with it. I can’t imagine 2 teenage girls not being entranced with it. It’s got something for everyone.

Fly into one city and out of the other to make the trip easy.

That’s my advice.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 08:45 AM
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Where you are coming from? Also need to know how many nights you will have and whether they include your travel time to/from Europe. Big difference between 10 days including all travel vs 14 days not including transatlantic travel. Easier to count nights away.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 08:51 AM
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You asked how definite your plans would have to be, very definite!
Europe was incredibly crowded last year and expected to be just as crazy this year.
Lining up accommodations is pretty important, I would start booking refundable places soon.

I was also, thinking London and Paris. It is easy and so fun for the girls. Or London and Rome for a different experience. My kids also loved Amsterdam. Again, what return airfare works well?
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by coral22
You asked how definite your plans would have to be, very definite!
Europe was incredibly crowded last year and expected to be just as crazy this year.
Lining up accommodations is pretty important, I would start booking refundable places soon.

I was also, thinking London and Paris. It is easy and so fun for the girls. Or London and Rome for a different experience. My kids also loved Amsterdam. Again, what return airfare works well?

That depends on what you meant by 'plans'. If you meant how many nights in what city(s) - then yes -- you need to be VERY definite. But if yu meant day-by-day itineraries/sightseeing in particular cities -- then no you don't need d to be tied down to a specific itinerary.

If you do want to try for two cities than look at Open jaw ('multi city') flights. Like in to London then home from Paris or Edinburgh or Dublin, etc. Open jaw might cost a bit more (or not) but it would save a huge hassle getting back to the original arrival city to fly home (and have an extra one night hotel stay). However if round trip is a LOT cheaper, then what to do would be something like: Fly in to London, and immediately either fly or take the train (which is better depends on the destination) to the other city be it Edinburgh or Paris or Amsterdam or Dublin. or wherever. Explore that city for 2 or 3 days, then return to London for the final days of the trip, fly home from there.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 10:16 AM
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We were in Nice during the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Gran Prix. Nice was mobbed! I canít begin to imagine how crowded Cannes would be, impossible to get into restaurants , it would be in Cannes itself.Add the Olympics in France and more mobs. Avoid France this year. Avoid especially on a first trip to Europe!
Better to consider the UK, Scandinavia, Italy, Greece etc. this year.

Last edited by HappyTrvlr; Jan 2nd, 2024 at 10:19 AM.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 10:23 AM
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How exciting to be planning this first trip! Just London or London + Paris or London + Dublin can work. The train between London and Paris is easy to navigate and goes from city center to city center. I am glad you are forgoing Rome and Cannes for this trip.

I always recommend Rick Steves's book for the first time traveler as he has lots of practical advice. I would enlist your daughters to also be part of the planning and all of you can decide your priorities of things to do once your locations have been nailed down.

Some sights you will want to plan for. For example, the Tower of London is very popular and likely should be visited first thing in the morning. Something to consider is that your family doesn't have to all do the same things all of the time. Transportation in London is excellent and, once you are used to it, you may wish to do different things some days and meet up together later in the day. Some may wish to pursue the museums while others shop, etc.
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