First trip to europe with mom

Old Feb 7th, 2023, 08:03 AM
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First trip to europe with mom

I am planning to take my mom (along with my spouse) to Europe for two weeks around Summer. My spouse and I (both in our mid-30s) have been on short work trips to Europe before but my mom (in her mid-60s) will be going there for the first time.

Below is the itinerary (Paris+ Italy) I am leaning towards which seems to be close to $10,000 USD for 3 people. I was also exploring the option of 'highlights of Europe' covering 3-4 major cities like Barcelona, Paris, Rome, etc. but want to be mindful of the expense and time spent on travel

I wanted to get feedback on 1) An Itinerary that covers all the nice places but is not tiring 2) the best time to visit so that the weather is pleasant but the places are also not crowded with tourists 3) A route that is efficient in terms of travel time and budget and mainly relies on public transport (don't want to rent cars)

Paris+ Italy
Day 1 Home to Paris flight (plan to leave Fri night and reach on a Sat morning)
Day 2 Paris
Day 3 Paris (train to Versailles)
Day 4 Paris
Day 5 Paris to Venice over night train (plan to reach in morning)
Day 6 Venice
Day 7 Venice to Florence high speed train (plan to reach in afternoon)
Day 8 Florence
Day 9 Florence (Tuscany day trip inc. Pisa - Group tour on Viator starting at $75)
Day 10 Florence
Day 11 Florence to Rome (plan to reach in morning)
Day 12 Rome
Day 13 Rome
Day 14 Rome (day trip to Pompeii & Amalfi - Group tour on Viator starting at $235)
Day 15 Rome to Home (flight)


What do you guys think?

Thanks!!
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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 08:48 AM
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Consider adding a day to Venice

That Viator group tour, I would reconsider. It's substantial travel, and Pompeii is near Naples, not Rome, so there is some distance involved. Do you have details?

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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 08:59 AM
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Open jaw flights = good choice.

Speaking as one in your mother’s age range, I would not love either an overnight train or a day trip from Rome all the way to the Amalfi coast and back. I might also whine about getting only one day in Venice.

Perhaps consult her on whether Paris is a must, because it is the outlier. In fifteen days I would visit only Italy, and consider seriously either Venice-Florence-Rome OR Naples/Amalfi-Rome-Florence.
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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 09:18 AM
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A strict schedule is ALWAYS tiring.
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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 09:19 AM
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Is there a night train from Paris to Venice? apart from the Orient Express?

I agree than unless Paris is a must see I would stick with Italy and add more time in Venice, and maybe add Naples/Pompeii for a couple of days or a couple of days in the countryside.

Or stick with France and perhaps Barcelona, working your way south.

When you are planning it is helpful to remember that 2 nights gives you one day so you are not counting the same day twice. Counting nights in hotels is easier.

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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 09:34 AM
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I think you are wonderful to include your Mom!

A few questions:
Is this for summer 2023?
Where are you starting from?
What are your Mother's dream locations?

As general comment, I would not go to Italy much into June. The heat takes its toll and it makes your ability to take advantage of your whole day, very challenging. I think a departure of mid May would be delightful. I would start in Rome and work my way up into the cooler Paris weather.
I would drop Pompei and take a day from Rome and give it to Venice. I would fly from Venice to Paris.So, Rome-Florence-Venice-Paris. I like to have different flavors on my trips, I love Italy but to experience Paris, also, would be appealing to me.

But, only you know how much you want to change locations and what the must see locations are. I will say, I don't see any relaxing destinations, so taking one destination out and adding Tuscany or Normandy, for example, could work, too!
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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 11:52 AM
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Here's another suggestion - drop Paris and add in a few days on Lake Garda for a bit of relaxation. It's a direct 2 hour train journey from Florence to Pescheria del Garda and just 90 mins from there to Venice. Admittedly this would work best with a trip that went from Rome to Venice rather than vv [because you'd be getting some possibly much needed relaxation after Rome and Florence] but you could do it just easily in the opposite direction. OTOH flying into Venice is a big thrill if you've never been before - or even if you have. In the end it may depend on the most convenient flights you can get.

Overall I think that an itinerary solely based on Italy will be easier, especially with the three of you traveling together, but if your mother is desperate to see Paris perhaps think of Paris and Provence? You could fly into Paris and out of Nice.
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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 01:19 PM
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Fly from Paris to Venice. Add a day to Venice, taking from Florence. I did a tour to Pisa from Florence. No problem. My trip from Rome to Pompeii/Amalfi was a 2 day from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM the next day. Exhausting. I would make sure you can cancel if you decide you are tired at the end of your trip.

For places to stay … consider CONVENT/MONASTERY accomodations in Italy. My wife and I love them ! Good prices, good locations. You don’t need to be Roman Catholic or even Christian to stay there. We booked thru www.monasterystays.com
We stayed at Istituto San Guiseppe in Venice, Casa per Fiore…Borgo Pinti in Florence, and Casa Maria Immacolata in Rome. All highly recommended. Triple rooms are often available, all have A/C
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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 02:05 PM
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Notably absent from discussion: Mom's interests

Even if she's of an "oh, everything's ok, just surprise me" nature, she HAS interests, and dis-interests, however unvoiced.

Castles? yes/no? Art? Museums? Food? Roman ruins? Prehistoric caves? WW1 stuff? WW2 stuff? Cold War stuff? Mountains? Beaches?

I could go on, and so should your mom.
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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 03:32 PM
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Having done a similar itinerary with my own mid-60s mother in the past, you are wise to keep physical demands in mind as you plan. You mention summer, know that heat as well as tourist volume in Italy can get considerable from mid June onward. I'd suggest flying rather than overnight train to Venice, may actually wind up being lower cost than sleeper train for 3. As kerouac notes, you don't want to over-program your time but advance planning with some built in flexibility is good. Doing group tours reduces your ability to be spontaneous along the way but lets you relax and let someone else handle logistics. Once adamantly opposed to group tours, I've come to embrace judicious use of them as you seem to be doing. Here's how I'd edit your plan:

Day 1 Home to Paris flight (plan to leave Fri night and reach on a Sat morning)
Day 2 Paris - recover from jet lag, stroll in the sunlight, light supper, try to stay awake until evening. Don't plan any big things as sleepiness will likely pop up along the way. Avoid taking anything more than a brief nap.
Day 3 Paris - what are your priorities to see/do? I find it good to plan a morning activity, lunch then brief rest break, afternoon activity, freshen up for dinner, maybe evening activity after dinner.
Day 4 Paris (train to Versailles) Versailles is reached via RER, not SNCF, easy to do but does involve some walking to get to the chateau. Entry lines can be long at times, helps to be ticketed in advance. The grounds are expansive, if you want to take them all in but worry about mother's capacity you can rent a golf cart. Do some research.
Day 5 Paris to Venice by plane - check easyjet for nonstop leaving Orly about 1:30 arriving Venice by 3. Orly easier to get to and navigate than CDG, gives you time for leisurely brekkie in Paris, dinner and stroll in Venice. Plenty of daylight in summer months
Day 6 Venice - again, what are the priority places.things to do?
Day 7 Venice to Florence high speed train (plan to reach in afternoon) italo bullet train leaving at 1505 gets you to Florence at1720, leaves time for morning in Venice and lots of time to settle in, stroll, have a nice dinner in Florence
Day 8 Florence
Day 9 Florence (Tuscany day trip inc. Pisa - Group tour on Viator starting at $75) lots of options, can take up whole day depending on itinerary
Day 10 Florence
Day 11 Florence to Rome (plan to reach in morning) No need to get up early, your hotel in Rome likely won't be ready for check in until later and you don't want to have to mess with storing luggage while you wander. 0943 italo train from Florence gets into Roma Termini 1119. See about leaving bags at hotel then go out for a leisurely lunch before returning to check in. If by luck hotel is available earlier, good for you.
Day 12 Rome
Day 13 Rome
Day 14 Rome (day trip to Pompeii & Amalfi - Group tour on Viator starting at $235) - that's a really full day but the tour option makes logistics easier than using public transport. It will entail a good bit of walking, possibly in considerable heat depending on when you go, so be sure your mother is up to it. .
Day 15 Rome to Home (flight)
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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 04:11 PM
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I'm your Mom's age and I'm seconding the other recommendations to fly between Paris and Venice rather than do the overnight train. 15 years ago (so a lot younger) we did this train but from Venice to Paris; my husband and I, and our then 14 yr old son. The sleeper car for 3 was 3 bunks stacked on top of each other, the toilet is down the hall, there is no shower. You have a sink in your little cabin, little being the operative word. It was not a lot of fun, trust us, take a flight.
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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 07:51 PM
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it is lovely you want to take your Mom.
The best advice you are getting is get some concrete ideas from your Mom. I love Art, architecture, churches, meandering around, long evening dinners outside in plazas or squares. Others love hiking, attending a sports event or taking a cooking class. I really dislike most tours, but there are exceptions. I hate HOHO buses. Others love them.
What excites your Mom? Are there any places or sights she has dreamed of seeing (The Sistine Chapel, Pompeii, Venice) any experiences like a cruise on the Seine in Paris, a wine tasting in Tuscany or Provence or fantastic scenery like the Amalfi Coast (Capri, Positano, etc.)? Pin even two or three of those down and build the trip around them. The logistics will work out once you have a main focus.

if you can get the plan in place for May to early June, great. If you can wait until September, also great. July and August can be hot and miserable, but I have done it several times, enjoyed it and survived, so if you must do it then, just plan a bit differently and get one stay with a pool or beach.

No night trains for this trip.

Unless you skip Paris and spend the whole time in Italy so you can spend two or three nights on the Amalfi Coast, do not try to include Pompeii.

No more than four bases or hotel stays, max. Three would be better for larger cities or day trips. Then do easy day trips.

If you need to book a tour that goes to three or four places in Tuscany, fine. Otherwise, forget tours. It is super easy to hop on a train or bus and do most things on your own, and less feeling of being rushed around if you change your mind last minute.

Only my opinion, but I would stick with Italy and include the AC.
However, if your Mom has her heart set on Paris, choose only two places in Italy (between Rome with day trip to Orvieto, Florence with day trip to Siena and Venice with day out on the lagoon islands.) Start in Italy and end in Paris.
Or, start in Paris, and consider pairing Paris with Barcelona by train, Paris with London by train or Paris with Belgium and the Netherlands all by train. In those cases, start in London or Amsterdam.
Would love to hear what excites your Mom the most.
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Old Feb 7th, 2023, 08:03 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. You've received a lot of good advice. Just one very quick comment -- Viator does not do any tours. They are just a re-seller of other company's offerings. They are a middle man and every tour they sell will also be available directly from the actual operator -- and sometimes for less €€. They are convenient because lots of listings in one place -- but just realize you won't be on a Viator bus, nor will it be a Viator-employed guide.
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 02:50 AM
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Regarding mom's unknown interests. I wanted to take my parents on a big trip to thank them for so many things over the years. The problem was that my stepfather was in the navy for more than 20 years and had "seen it all" -- Europe, Brazil, Mexico, Korea, Japan, China, North Africa, Australia.... He was even on one of the ships at Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack. Yes, I know that being on a military ship and stopping in some ports is not the same as really visiting these places, even when you circumnavigate the globe over and over again.. But he gave my question some thought and replied "I've always wanted to see the animals in Africa." So I took my parents on a safari in Kenya. It was perfect.
So try and get a specific answer from your mother about what she has always dreamed of seeing, whether it is castles, the canals of Venice, the Colosseum or Pompei -- and make that the high point of your trip.
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 06:15 AM
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Assuming explorer2212 rejoins and explores this thread, kerouac's response above is PERFECT.

My mom, who'd been traveling to France, Italy, and points south for over 20 years, was heading with my spouse and I to Europe to be a part time baby sitter for our son, then 5. In posing Kerouac's question to her, and fortunately as a music lover like me, she wanted to go to the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and the Mozart Festival in Salzburg. And they were, indeed, highlights of our trip (that year, I saw Bob Dylan in Montreux and Lou Reed in Salzburg). There's always something for everyone!
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by menachem View Post
Consider adding a day to Venice

That Viator group tour, I would reconsider. It's substantial travel, and Pompeii is near Naples, not Rome, so there is some distance involved. Do you have details?
I am not able to post the link here, it was a boat hopping tour of AC along with Pompeii from Rome .. but thank you! I didn't realize Rome to AC was 3.5 hrs... Will revisit the itinerary !
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by FTOttawa View Post
Open jaw flights = good choice.

Speaking as one in your motherís age range, I would not love either an overnight train or a day trip from Rome all the way to the Amalfi coast and back. I might also whine about getting only one day in Venice.

Perhaps consult her on whether Paris is a must, because it is the outlier. In fifteen days I would visit only Italy, and consider seriously either Venice-Florence-Rome OR Naples/Amalfi-Rome-Florence.
Thank you for the inputs! Will reconsider the overnight train
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by hetismij2 View Post
Is there a night train from Paris to Venice? apart from the Orient Express?

I agree than unless Paris is a must see I would stick with Italy and add more time in Venice, and maybe add Naples/Pompeii for a couple of days or a couple of days in the countryside.

Or stick with France and perhaps Barcelona, working your way south.

When you are planning it is helpful to remember that 2 nights gives you one day so you are not counting the same day twice. Counting nights in hotels is easier.

Thank you , I was also considering if I should stick to major cities like Paris-Rome-Barcelona... But I guess that would be more expensive & more time consuming to take flights ?
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by coral22 View Post
I think you are wonderful to include your Mom!

A few questions:
Is this for summer 2023?
Where are you starting from?
What are your Mother's dream locations?

As general comment, I would not go to Italy much into June. The heat takes its toll and it makes your ability to take advantage of your whole day, very challenging. I think a departure of mid May would be delightful. I would start in Rome and work my way up into the cooler Paris weather.
I would drop Pompei and take a day from Rome and give it to Venice. I would fly from Venice to Paris.So, Rome-Florence-Venice-Paris. I like to have different flavors on my trips, I love Italy but to experience Paris, also, would be appealing to me.

But, only you know how much you want to change locations and what the must see locations are. I will say, I don't see any relaxing destinations, so taking one destination out and adding Tuscany or Normandy, for example, could work, too!

Thank you for the great tips! Ideally my mom would like to see the highlights of Europe.. like package group tours that take you to major destinations, covering multiple countries in 2 weeks... But since we are not going on a group tour , I decided to reduce it to two countries... We would like a mix of history, culture, food, & relaxing in nature, especially blue water beach and maybe Tuscan countryside (if time permits)... What destination in Tuscany would you recommend for relaxing?

I was thinking of mid April , but we are flexible to account for weather & crowd
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by raincitygirl View Post
I'm your Mom's age and I'm seconding the other recommendations to fly between Paris and Venice rather than do the overnight train. 15 years ago (so a lot younger) we did this train but from Venice to Paris; my husband and I, and our then 14 yr old son. The sleeper car for 3 was 3 bunks stacked on top of each other, the toilet is down the hall, there is no shower. You have a sink in your little cabin, little being the operative word. It was not a lot of fun, trust us, take a flight.
Thank you so much! Super helpful to know the experience
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