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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, 10:49 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, 11:01 AM
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<<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?>>

You really do need to make a decision where you’re going and get your accommodations set. This is a popular time to travel to Europe and you don’t want to risk going abroad without having your accommodation set, especially with a family which will need a certain amount of space.

However, if you have a strict budget, you’ll also need to make sure you can accommodate your travels with the cost of airfare (it’s been very high over the last couple of years). So, you might want to compare prices for flights, too, and see if you can get good fares to wherever you want to go, whether it’s round trip or open-jaw (in one city and out the other). The sooner you can get this set, the better off you’ll be.

As far as a daily plan, I like to have a list of “must-sees” and a list of “maybe we’ll see if we have time”. Keep your must-sees to a minimum - you really don’t want to be running from place to place and run everyone ragged. This might help ease your husband’s need for a plan and still leave enough space to “go with the flow”.


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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 11:30 AM
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I would do London and Paris with two teenagers. You can take the Eurostar from London and be in Paris in 3 hrs. I would also look into vrbo/Airbnb/rental agencies for accommodations. We have always found that staying in an apartment is more economical than two hotel rooms when we travel with our kids. Also the advantage of having a living room to hang in and at least eat breakfast there. Girls would love the Marais district in Paris (3rd and 4th arrondissement) and London you could stay in Convent Garden/Soho area (close to lots of attractions) or Kensington/Chelsea. I think kids that age will like the hustle and bustle of big cities rather than dragging them into the countryside plus you don’t really have time for that. Fly into London and out of Paris so you don’t have to backtrack.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 11:51 AM
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Once you decide on whether or not to stay entirely in London and do day trips (so many options to choose from for day trips) or to split between London/Paris or London/Dublin or London/Amsterdam or London/Amsterdam you can start planning in more detail. None of these places would require renting a car at all. You can do some research on airfares with different options to help you decide. Read the Rick Steves or Fodor's Europe travel guides. Lose the idea immediately that you will see it all, as many of us have been to many of these destinations multiple times and there are always places we haven't been able to get too. In my case, after four trips to London, I am embarrassed to admit that I have yet to make my way to the V & A, but have been to many destinations and museums in London multiple times, same with Paris and Amsterdam. Dublin is on my destination list.

If your daughters are big fans of Harry Potter and the studio tour is a priority, that needs to be booked far in advance. I am also not a fan of tours by and large but for some destinations it might make sense. We were really pleased years ago with our tour to Stonehenge and Bath as essentially all the tour did was provide transportation to get to both places in the same day without any hassle and somewhat of an overview. In Bath, the guide dropped us and we had about five hours to explore the baths and the town on our own.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 11:51 AM
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Sorry to repeat London/Amsterdam, I was planning to type London/Edinburgh instead.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 12:09 PM
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I always advise spending at least 3 days of a two-week vacation outside of big cities. Village Europe is glorious. To that end, London plus another destination, anywhere in Europe, is fine. It is quick and easy to fly using low cost European airlines, so you have unlimited choices: Lisbon, Santiago de Compostela, Vienna, Copenhagen, Prague, Rome, Krakow, Malta, almost anywhere on the map. So many exciting and wonderful places to choose from.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 01:19 PM
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Low cost airlines have huge luggage fees, and all sorts of restrictions that you need to know about - read the terms and conditions carefully.
Direct Eurostar trains to Amsterdam are suspended from June.
Village Europe is lovely but none of the destinations Shelemm lists is a village - they are all cities.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 01:19 PM
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I just recommended this hotel on another thread and thought it would be a great location and good price. The teenagers would love the hustle and bustle and great stores and cafes of the Marais. We stayed here with our two kids awhile ago.
https://hoteljeannedarc.com
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 01:59 PM
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I don't see anything of OP (Original Poster) saying what the family's informed interests are.
I say informed, because it doesn't read as though anyone has picked up a travel book (such as Rick Steve's) at the library, read it, and discussed it with rest of family.
I strongly suggest this, because as 1st timers, you don't want to see everything that everyone found interesting....for that could be 1,285 days worth.

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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 02:07 PM
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Hôtel Jeanne D'Arc might be a nice property --- however in May for 3 adults / 1 child, their rooms run from €300/$330 to almost €450/$500 per night and is almost entirely sold out.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 02:14 PM
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Lots of good info here for you. I think London & Paris would be great and imagine that your daughters would love it.
That said, May is a popular time. You need to be making hotel reservations NOW! Especially with your need for accommodations for four people.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 02:23 PM
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You will probably want to look for apartments because in most hotels you'd have to book two rooms - which will get expensive. Most European hotel rooms don't sleep 4 adults. Some hotels do have "family rooms' which sleep four if it is 2 adults and 2 children but typically the age cut off to qualify as a child is 15 or 16 years old
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 03:32 PM
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I forgot about the Olympics being in Paris this summer when I mentioned Paris. Even thought the Olympics will be later in the summer, the preparations for it all may make Paris less ideal to visit this year. If this was my trip, I would likely skip Paris this time and save it for the next trip.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by hetismij2
Low cost airlines have huge luggage fees, and all sorts of restrictions that you need to know about - read the terms and conditions carefully.
Direct Eurostar trains to Amsterdam are suspended from June.
Village Europe is lovely but none of the destinations Shelemm lists is a village - they are all cities.
I listed cities because in general those are places you can fly to from London. Once there, the OP could explore away from the city.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 07:09 PM
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You are getting lots of good advice about planes, cars, places to skip, etc.

Just to be really clear, multi-city (into one and out of another) is one ticket, not two one-way tickets. You always have to compare the total cost and time of returning to your entry city with whatever the”multi-city” costs. You also usually need to be in your departure city the night before an international flight, so return may eat up a day and the hotel for the night might not give much in the way of sight-seeing, so very wasteful of time and money. If you are already in your departure city, your last day can be a lot more relaxed and fun.

My immediate thought was London and Paris. They are such iconic cities and you could easily get outside of Paris as well as London for a day. OTOH, I would do a quick search of airfares with a London/Amsterdam combo. The Netherlands is so charming with Sooo much to see (museums, canals, The Anne Frank House) and you can easily see some gorgeous small towns or villages (Delft, Haarlem, etc., and have a completely different experience and feeling than London. You could easily stay in the quintessential town of Haarlem rather than the city of Amsterdam. They are so close together and to the airport.
What are some of your individual major interests? Architecture, history, Art, scenery, theater, music, food? What languages have any of you studied?
In London, if any of you have an interest, there are great theater and dance performances and not all are over the top expensive. There are concerts in some of the churches and even meals and cafeterias in some. Check what may be happening in parks.
It helps in planning such a major trip to do a day by day or night by night travel plan. Example:
Day 1: Depart Tenn. (time?)
Day 2: Arrive London. Allow time to deplane, get luggage, go to taxi or train, get into city and to apartment, hotel, etc. probably a couple of hours. Check to make sure apartment will be available at that time or you can store luggage at hotel. Account for at least one of you feeling jet lagged. Walk, but do not plan much in touring for arrival day.
Day 3: Sightseeing, London
Day 4: Sightseeing, London
Day 5: Sightseeing or day trip just outside London (Hampton Court Palace)
Day 6: Travel to Paris or Amsterdam? Settle into hotel or apartment, evening walk.
Day 7: Sightseeing
Day 8: Sightseeing
Day 9: Sightseeing or day trip outside city
Etc. more sightseeing or travel to departure city
Day 11: depart for home
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 09:11 PM
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If you're spending time in London you will most likely use the tube and maybe buses. The tube is usually the quickest option (no traffic) but of course you don't see where you're going. If you can use the bus sometimes, try and sit up the top, right at the front. You get an amazing view of people on their phones with a death wish and narrow streets where I've thought the bus surely will not fit. And it does, of course.

I'd make sure each person knows how the tube works and how to get back to your hotel. If only one traveller is the go-to person for finding their way around, and everyone else just follows, that can be a disaster if you get separated. I read once about a child, under ten, who lost his parents on the underground but managed to find his way back to his hotel, as he'd been taught enough to figure it out by himself. Definitely a good idea. Transport for London https://tfl.gov.uk/
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 09:25 PM
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But did the parents find there way back? I've seen enough situations where the kid is better at getting around then the parents
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 10:21 PM
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I wouldn't worry about going to Paris in May; there may be preparations for the Olympics, but I cannot imagine it would take away from the beauty of the city. Agree that a 2 city trip would be ideal for the amount of time; flying into one city and out of the other. I think Amsterdam would be great for the kids. Much smaller than Paris and London, easy to navigate, great vibe. Much as I love the Riviera, late May is busy and expensive there.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2024, 04:38 AM
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Good advice here to slow down and stay in 1 or 2 places. Don't feel you need to 'see everything'; have a short list of 'must-sees and -dos', a list of 'maybes', and an acceptance that you won't see/do everything. You will get more enjoyment from the trip!

We did a 2-week trip to London and Scotland (7 nights in London, 6 in Scotland) with teenage boys (16 and 13) in 2013 - what worked for us was to choose a flat or hotel in a vibrant London neighborhood near a tube stop. If budget allows, look into some private guide tours outside of London. There is so much to do in London, but our favorite day was taking a train to Salisbury and having a private guide tour us to Stonehenge, the Stones of Avebury, the Whiltshire countryside, and Salisbury Cathedral. I'd also recommend strolling through 'Speaker's Corner' on Sunday afternoon in Hyde Park. It is fascinating.

It is nice for me to have a few days in the countryside, but it really depends on your family's wants. For that, you can't go wrong with Ireland or Scotland. The west coast of Ireland is stunning. Plus, if you fly home from Ireland, you clear U.S. customs in the airport in Dublin (or Shannon in the west) making your arrival home much easier.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2024, 06:06 AM
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Have to ask ~ are your teen daughters following along on this thread?
I would think by now they’d have a good idea of what they’d like to do and see.…you’ll have a wonderful trip!
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