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How much driving is too much during an 11 day trip?

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Mar 15th, 2013, 09:10 PM
  #1
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How much driving is too much during an 11 day trip?

My wife, three teenage children and I are flying into Zurich July 1st. We depart July 12th. We have much we want to see: the Swiss Alps, northern Italy, Venice, Vienna or Salzburg, Prague, and Munich. Google maps tells me this itinerary - starting in Zurich, driving south toward Milan and over to Verona and Venice, then northeast to Vienna, northwest to Prague, and Southwest to Munich (then back to Zurich for our return home) - is 22 hours +.

Is this crazy?

Here's the problem: my wife's "musts" include Venice and Prague. Quite frankly, as much as I'd like to visit Prague, I'd be happy cutting 5.5 hours of total drive time by eliminating it and going to Munich via Salzburg.

Thanks in advance for your input.
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Mar 15th, 2013, 10:03 PM
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I didn't have to even read your post- just looking at the countries tagged and '11 days' - yes that is too much driving.

In fact driving isn't even the best way to travel to most of those places.

You have listed 8 destinations (Zurich twice) - that will leave less than 1/2 day free in each one.

11 days = plan on three destinations max . . .
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Mar 15th, 2013, 10:07 PM
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This sounds like a "Hit and Run" trip to me; please rethink it. As young as you and your wife must be (with teenage children), this will probably not be your one and only "trip of a lifetime". Enjoy this vacation with your family at a more leisurely pace and save the other places for the next time.
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Mar 15th, 2013, 10:11 PM
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Insane!

Since you're only stopping in cities I would not drive at all - take trains! If you don't have to return the car to Zurich you could fly into one location and fly home from another, saving backtracking time.

The real problem is that you're visiting 6 cities in 11 days. Subtract 3 to 4 days for driving leaves you with 6 cities in 7 or 8 days.

You'll only have time for a quick look at any of these places.

In my experience, the drive times you get from the internet are not accurate. They depend on a certain speed which is not realistic (you won't always be driving on highways as you need time to get to highways and to slow down for toll booths, etc.). I always add 25% to whatever drive time I'm given; a number that is much more accurate. And then you'll need time to stop for food, gas, health breaks. You are definitely not looking at 22 hours of driving but probably closer to 30 hours if you never get lost.

Additionally, highway driving in Europe is like highway driving any place else. Nothing much of interest to look at. Lots of cars and macadam. And you certainly don't have time for scenic routes.

Then there's all the packing and unpacking for each stop and trying to familiarize yourselves with a new city.

Two to three locations in 11 days would be much better.
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Mar 15th, 2013, 10:29 PM
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Crazy? Yes.

You only have 10 full days, and you're considering 6 cities/regions. The hours of driving are not the problem. The problem is you won't have time to properly see any of the places you're driving to.

First of all, maps.google is a great resource but the driving times are almost always optimistic. Google also doesn't take into account the need for pit stops, food stops, gas stops, photo stops, as-long-as-we're-here stops for something interesting. Or traffic jams, accidents and any number of other potential causes for delays. You should assume that any drive that should take a half day could actually eat up a good part of a day. Consider it bonus time if you arrive anywhere near the Google estimate.

Unless you're flying to Zurich from somewhere in Europe, you can't (or, rather, shouldn't) jump in the car and drive 3+ hours to Milan, not to mention the insanity of driving into Milan. You could perhaps drive to Andermatt, spend the night, and then head to Venice the next day.

Both Vienna and Prague don't make sense in the time you have.

Unless your flight out of Zurich is at night, you should return to Zurich the day prior to your departure.
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Mar 15th, 2013, 11:41 PM
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Zurich to Milan transit time can easily explode if there are queues at the Gotthard tunnel - waiting a couple of hours in summer is very frequent. As for Venice to Vienna, it takes the better part of a day; when you get there, you have the feeling that the place is more remote than you were suspecting. As Prince von Metternich said, "Asia begins at Landstrasse" (the first road just east of Vienna).
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Mar 16th, 2013, 01:04 AM
  #7
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> ,,, flying into Zurich July 1st. We depart July 12th. We have much we want to see: the Swiss Alps, northern Italy, Venice, Vienna or Salzburg, Prague, and Munich. ... Is this crazy? ... Here's the problem: my wife's "musts" include Venice and Prague.

Then consider going AT MOST to Zurich, Venice, and Prague. Depending on your interests, you can (perhaps) fit the highlights of these 3 cities in. You really don't have time for anything else - and you won't even be able to see all that these 3 cities offer.

Have you consulted some good guide books? They should prove very helpful.

Hope that helps!
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Mar 16th, 2013, 05:26 AM
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In case you're still considering this trip you need to be fully aware of the driving rules for rental cars in each country. Vignettes, reflective vests, etc. Will the rental company allow you to take a car into these countries? In Italy, your credit card does not cover the CDW (usually Visa covers you if you refuse the CDW) so you will need to take full insurance, including theft insurance required in Italy.
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Mar 16th, 2013, 06:52 AM
  #9
 
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If your wife's musts are Venice and Prague - go to Venice and Prague!
You may add Vienna in between, which is somehow on the way.
You'd see the Dolomite Alpes on your way from Venice to Vienna - different than the Swiss Alpes but not less fantastic.
But probably you need to fly into Zürich.
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Mar 16th, 2013, 10:19 AM
  #10
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Thanks for the responses. I won't be in Zurich twice, however; it's the city into which we're flying.

We are choosing to drive because rail passes will cost us $2,000.
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Mar 16th, 2013, 10:25 AM
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<< rail passes will cost us $2,000. >>

Are you sure? Did you check the individual country train web sites for good prices on advanced sales? Or did you only look at passes which often are high priced.

Some countries have regional passes, such as the Bavaria pass, that allows 5 people traveling together a 1 day ticket for E30. So your whole family can travel from Munich to Salzburg for E30 and you can use the pass on Munich public transportation on that day.

I believe Switzerland also has a country-specific pass.

Have you figured out how much the car will cost for the rental, gas, tolls?
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Mar 16th, 2013, 10:44 AM
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Your problem is not driving time. You problem is that you are trying to see way too many places in very little time.

We do road trips in europe all the time - have done more than 25 of them. But never anythitng that looks like this. We stay 4 nights (3 days) in larger cities - and 4 nights (2 days) in smaller places - but that is if we have either 1_ been thre before or 2) don;t have THAT many things to see.

You actually have only 10 days on the ground. I would do cities in that time - but yuo could squash in a 3rd (realizing you're just skimming the surface) but more than that means you will spend the bulk of yuor time in transit rather than seeing or doing anything.

And you simply can't add up a whole number of distances and say 22 hours. You need to figure time packing, checking out of hotel, finding you way out of the city, stopping for gas, potty and meals - and the reverse at the other end. So basically from one city to another you are using more than half your days just trekking from one place to anohter.

So, what I wold do is list the days one by one, including what you will see that day, how long it will take to get you back to a pcked car, how many hours on the road and where you will spend the night.

Add up the time it takes to see the sights you are going to these places for - and see how long it takes. Unless you will spend the whole trip just driving by places - a very expesnsive waste of time.
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Mar 16th, 2013, 10:47 AM
  #13
 
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Sorry - one more point -for 5 adults with luggage - even minimal luggage - you will need to pay to rent a very large car - as well as fill it with gas again and again at $9 per gallon. If you have a lot of luggage a full size sedan won;t work and yuo will probably need a van. (I have experience from one trip with a SIL who is a heavy packer - 29" bag plus 2 carry-ons and a purse the size of Nebraska.)
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Mar 16th, 2013, 10:49 AM
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As for driving - we limit it to 4 hours per day - which we share - so we have time to stop and explore a town and have a pleasant lunch even on "driving" days.
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Mar 16th, 2013, 11:12 AM
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Ah, yes, petrol and tolls... viamichelin.com estimates the petrol and toll costs of your drive (including Prague) at 500 euros. That's about $700. It could be a bit higher since you need a 5-passenger vehicle which will get worse mileage. And the vehicle will likely cost about $1,000. And you'll have overnight parking charges, perhaps not every night but certainly most nights. If you violate a Limited Traffic Zone in any of these cities that has one, you'll get a traffic ticket in the mail after you get home.

I think you should re-consider the train idea. Bonus: If you're the driver, you'll have a much more enjoyable, less stressful time.
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Mar 16th, 2013, 11:45 AM
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>>I won't be in Zurich twice, however; it's the city into which we're flying.<<

But you still have to 'be there' twice. Even if you don't step foot IN the city you have to account for the time to get from Zurich to wherever and from wherever else to Zurich. So yes, you do hit Zurich twice.

As for rail passes vs driving-since you can't possibly manage this itinerary w/ EITHER mode of transport, your calculations are probably WAY off.

Flying open jaw would have been better - even if it cost a little more. As it is you are hitting Zurich twice and don't even want to stop there.

Back to the drawing board - pick the 2 or 3 places you really want to visit, and THEN figure out the best transport. Which probably won't be a railpass OR driving.
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Mar 16th, 2013, 11:53 AM
  #17
 
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Driving will easily cost you $2,000, too - maybe more. This is a really ill-conceived, expensive trip whether you drive or take the train. It's truly a shame to waste all that time and energy seeing nothing.
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Mar 16th, 2013, 01:28 PM
  #18
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Thanks, everyone. Excellent points. We're going back to the drawing board.

As for Zurich...unless you come up with some way of flying in/out of the same city on the same day during an 11 day trip, it's impossible not to be there twice.

I appreciate the advice, thank you.
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Mar 16th, 2013, 01:30 PM
  #19
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Just a note about Zurich - yes, indeed, we wanted to "hit Zurich," as the mountains one hour south of the city were on our list. I appreciate the advice, but not the suggestion that we're idiots.

Thanks for the helpful tips.
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Mar 16th, 2013, 02:33 PM
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Unfortunately tomsiff - when you step into these forums you must navigate around the "too many" people who take some sort of perverse pleasure in doing little more than ridiculing people who do not do, or see, things the way they do. To have the audacity to consider spending less than 3 days in any place (which frequently have to be places they deem worthy) and to think that you can teleport yourself between destinations (you do know that moving hundreds of kilometers takes time, don't you" Whew, I wasn't sure) is cause for a big ole slap of condescension. You will, no doubt, figure out who they are and give their advice the appropriate consideration.

Taking all the information you have given; Vienna or Salzburg are musts and Prague is the subject of a debate as to it's worthiness. here is a routing to consider;

Zurich
Venice
Salzburg
Munich
Zurich

It is about 1450 kms, or 15 hours driving. I don't think this is ideal, especially if driving, but I will lay out the technical reasons so you can properly consider any re-planning.

You don't seem interested in stopping in Zurich, so that means you need to get "somewhere" after landing. It is about a 5.5 hour drive to Venice, straight, presuming the mountain passes are not the cause of significant slowdowns. Driving that after an overnight transatlantic flight would be exhausting and probably even dangerous. So, how far do you drive the first day and how many days do you stay there, or do you stay 1 night in Zurich and head out the next day? No matter what you choose, at least 1 night is now "gone" and you have 10 nights left - I am presuming you land on the morning of the 1st.

If you continue to Venice directly the second day, you could have 3 nights there (6 left). Venice to Salzburg is a little over 4 hours driving so that can be done fairly easily. Say 2 nights in Salzburg and you have 3 nights in Munich before you have to leave to drive back to Zurich (3 hours) and stay at an airport hotel the last night before your flight back.

Zurich 1
Venice 3 (5.5 hour drive from Zurich)
Salzburg 2 (4:15 hour drive from Venice)
Munich 3 (1:15 hour drive from Salzburg)
Zurich 1 (3 hour drive from Munich)

As I said, not ideal having a pair of 1 nighters in Zurich to sandwich this all up. You could find some place in the Alps south of Zurich and spend your first 2 nights there, dropping one from Venice of Munich, too.

The other issue with driving is that you can't use the vehicle in Venice, don't need to in Salzburg, and shouldn't in Munich. Do you rent it just to provide 14 hours for point to point driving between each of your stays? Of course, there are some things you can do on those travel days with a car, like stopping in the mountains, but each destination can happily fill your time without the need of any day trips or travel that can't be done by subway, vaporetto, or foot as the case might be.

It might make more sense to book point to point rail fares for each leg. The cheapest pricing is available about 90 days in advance (120 days on some national railways) so go to a site like German Rail www.bahn.com (the absolute best) and investigate fares like Zurich -> Venice, and Venice -> Salzburg about 90 days out from now.

Anyway, it's food for thought. Come back when you have hashed it out with the family a little more.
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