First trip to europe with mom

Old Feb 8th, 2023, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by annhig
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.
We would prefer to cover at least 2 countries in this trip, and definitely wanted to cover major cities (Paris , Rome) but also the French or Italian Riviera... Between Nice, Cinque Terre & AC... I decided to go with AC because it seemed convenient

Will look up Lake Garda as well! Thanks
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by bigtyke
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 Ö consider CONVENT/MONASTERY accomodations in Italy. My wife and I love them ! Good prices, good locations. You donít 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 FioreÖBorgo Pinti in Florence, and Casa Maria Immacolata in Rome. All highly recommended. Triple rooms are often available, all have A/C
Thank you for these great tips! Will definitely reconsider the day trip to AC , and love the idea of staying in a monastery!
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by tomboy
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.

Haha, yes she did say I leave it to you....I know she prefers to cover as much of Europe as possible because she thinks she may not be able to travel to Europe multiple times to cover the major destinations... for various reasons ( distance from our home country, budget, age etc.) none of which I agree with, but I understand where she is coming from. But I will try to ask her again..what she really wants to see/ do
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Sassafrass
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.
Thank you so much for the wonderful tips, I will look into your suggestions about sticking to 3 base locations + day trips. Like I replied to some other posts, my mom would like to cover as much as possible in two weeks... Her first preference would have been group package tours that cover 5-6 major destinations in different countries & provide glimpses or highlights of Europe.. but I told her that we will be able to visit Europe more than once to see other major destinations that we can't on this trip.
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj
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 ÄÄ. 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.
I did not know that, thanks so much! Are there any tour operators you would recommend for the day trips ?
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by kerouac
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.
Thank you, I will try & get a specific answer
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Seamus
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)

Thank you for the detailed inputs & wonderful tips! This is great! I guess I need to revisit the Rome to AC day trip given the travel time & walking involved... I was thinking mid April but we are flexible..
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Surfergirl
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!
Thanks for you inputs!
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 07:26 PM
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Base locations for day trips

Apart from feedback on the itinerary above, what are some good destinations in Europe that can also be good base locations for day trips so we can cover more without too much hassle of repacking & travelling?

Also we love food ( Vegetarians), history (architecture , a couple of major museums but not too many ), nature (especially blue water beaches)

Last edited by explorer2212; Feb 8th, 2023 at 07:41 PM.
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by explorer2212
Apart from feedback on the itinerary above, what are some good destinations in Europe that can also be good base locations for day trips so we can cover more without too much hassle of repacking & travelling?

Also we love food ( Vegetarians), history (architecture , a couple of major museums but not too many ), nature (especially blue water beaches)
Blue water beaches? As opposed to what other color?! The water at the beaches in general are going to be blue, but I am lost at trying to interpret your wording at what you consider to be a "bIue water beach."

Are you wanting to have a beach day on this trip? Or you just wanting to "see" the water/beach? If so, your itinerary may need to be reworked as your current vision of this trip with your "highlights" of Italy and France. Know that beaches in France and Italy are more than likely not going to be sandy beaches but rather pebbles and rocks.
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Old Feb 9th, 2023, 05:59 AM
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Plenty of sand in Atlantic coastal France but not a whole lot in the Mediterranean except as you approach Spain..

Last edited by kerouac; Feb 9th, 2023 at 06:01 AM.
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Old Feb 9th, 2023, 06:33 AM
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Blue water beach possible explanation
https://www.blueflag.global/
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Old Feb 9th, 2023, 07:32 AM
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This is what I meant Why Some Beaches Have Clear Blue Water and Others Are Gray (businessinsider.com)
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Old Feb 9th, 2023, 08:49 AM
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Italy Mature women

I take friends to Italy twice a year to show around mainly fly into Rome 3 nights, train to Naples ,local train to Sorrento 3 nights ( side trips from there) back to Naples fast train to Florence ( I use Italo) give senior discounts have to ask+ they only use a few platforms in Major cities usually 1 to 7) from memory Florence 5 days maybe a side trip to Lucca or Siena then bk to Rome 3 days. This friend doesnít have a lot of time so thatís why itís so short, remember every day you travel you loose a day & it is hard work on & off trains & the pace to keep up. I never ever go summer months ( 2 many people & Rome is so hot) September,October good & im leaving this Sunday from Australia to do this shorty trip then go back in October for 3 months . Everyone uses backpacks (light fabric that canít be cut) + a crossbow bag.. remember less us best. 🌻
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Old Feb 9th, 2023, 09:42 AM
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With such a short time in each of the cities, you hardly need any more day trips. Seamus’ plan looks good to me. If you can stretch the time to include three nights in Sorrento, there’s your blue water requirement with day trip options galore. Just not, perhaps, swimming in April.

We are all making varied assumptions about your mother’s walking tolerance, which at our age can range from “let’s hike the Path of the Gods” to “rent me a wheelchair.” What’s her level? If not much of a walker, then a shorter time in Venice is appropriate and if doing the Amalfi coast at all, visit Herculaneum instead of Pompeii. And choose hotel locations in Paris and Rome strategically with an eye to your must-see locations.

For a Pompeii and (sandy) beach substitute with less transit time, it might be worth investigating Ostia Antica and the Ostia Lido, in a Roman suburb about half an hour out of the centre of town.
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Old Feb 9th, 2023, 12:10 PM
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It's all too rushed for my taste. You are really only spending a couple of days in each place. I honestly wouldn't care for a trip like that.
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Old Feb 9th, 2023, 07:07 PM
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How great of you to be doing this planning for your Mom's benefit and how great of Fodorites to offer advice. A couple things I'll add:

Travel in April will likely avoid hot weather and tourist throngs, so if you can make it work schedule wise go for it.

Yes, Viator is an aggregator/ reseller, makes it easy to see multiple options all in one place. I've booked with Viator a few times and never had a problem. We also used another similar vendor, Get Your Guide, a couple times in Italy, including an all day (13 hours) trip from Florence to Pisa, Siena, and San Gimignano with Lunch and Wine in Chianti and despite my initial misgivings it was enjoyable. The buses they use are quite comfortable and offer your Mom a chance to get a little rest during transit between places.

Flying Paris to Venice may actually be not just more comfortable but possibly cheaper than overnight trains.

A random thought based on your mention of blue water beaches - check out the Venice Lido beaches.

You've mentioned a couple times that you are attempting to mimic the "Highlights of Europe" itineraries which is antithetical to the travel style of many Fodorites but you seem to have a handle on what you want and need. Bon voyage!

Last edited by Seamus; Feb 9th, 2023 at 07:13 PM. Reason: typo corrcetion
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Old Feb 9th, 2023, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by FTOttawa
With such a short time in each of the cities, you hardly need any more day trips. Seamusí plan looks good to me. If you can stretch the time to include three nights in Sorrento, thereís your blue water requirement with day trip options galore. Just not, perhaps, swimming in April.

We are all making varied assumptions about your motherís walking tolerance, which at our age can range from ďletís hike the Path of the GodsĒ to ďrent me a wheelchair.Ē Whatís her level? If not much of a walker, then a shorter time in Venice is appropriate and if doing the Amalfi coast at all, visit Herculaneum instead of Pompeii. And choose hotel locations in Paris and Rome strategically with an eye to your must-see locations.

For a Pompeii and (sandy) beach substitute with less transit time, it might be worth investigating Ostia Antica and the Ostia Lido, in a Roman suburb about half an hour out of the centre of town.
She can walk around comfortably, but long distances without breaks would be tiring , so would want to plan accordingly....and would like to avoid places that have too many steps. Does the itinerary above work in that regards?
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Old Feb 9th, 2023, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Seamus
How great of you to be doing this planning for your Mom's benefit and how great of Fodorites to offer advice. A couple things I'll add:

Travel in April will likely avoid hot weather and tourist throngs, so if you can make it work schedule wise go for it.

Yes, Viator is an aggregator/ reseller, makes it easy to see multiple options all in one place. I've booked with Viator a few times and never had a problem. We also used another similar vendor, Get Your Guide, a couple times in Italy, including an all day (13 hours) trip from Florence to Pisa, Siena, and San Gimignano with Lunch and Wine in Chianti and despite my initial misgivings it was enjoyable. The buses they use are quite comfortable and offer your Mom a chance to get a little rest during transit between places.

Flying Paris to Venice may actually be not just more comfortable but possibly cheaper than overnight trains.

A random thought based on your mention of blue water beaches - check out the Venice Lido beaches.

You've mentioned a couple times that you are attempting to mimic the "Highlights of Europe" itineraries which is antithetical to the travel style of many Fodorites but you seem to have a handle on what you want and need. Bon voyage!
Thank you so much for sharing your inputs! Yes this is my first time posting here and I am so amazed at the helpful responses!
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Old Feb 9th, 2023, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by gentle
I take friends to Italy twice a year to show around mainly fly into Rome 3 nights, train to Naples ,local train to Sorrento 3 nights ( side trips from there) back to Naples fast train to Florence ( I use Italo) give senior discounts have to ask+ they only use a few platforms in Major cities usually 1 to 7) from memory Florence 5 days maybe a side trip to Lucca or Siena then bk to Rome 3 days. This friend doesnít have a lot of time so thatís why itís so short, remember every day you travel you loose a day & it is hard work on & off trains & the pace to keep up. I never ever go summer months ( 2 many people & Rome is so hot) September,October good & im leaving this Sunday from Australia to do this shorty trip then go back in October for 3 months . Everyone uses backpacks (light fabric that canít be cut) + a crossbow bag.. remember less us best. 🌻
Thank you ! Will check out the places you mentioned and agree about the getting on/off trains being hard work.. I will take in all the great tips on this forum and rethink my itinerary after discussing with my mom & spouse.
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