How to travel with 6?

Old Jan 5th, 2014, 12:06 PM
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How to travel with 6?

My sister (+ husband + three teen/tween children) are planning to spend 3-4 weeks in Europe. I don't think the children have been on the Continent, only U.K., but the real issue is that they plan to travel by car (5 train fares can be high) and they are now considering asking our dad along for the ride.

I see rental cars that seat 5 and a family worth of baggage; I see vans that seat seven and nowhere near enough room for a month of family baggage.

Anyone have ideas on this?
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 12:09 PM
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How to travel with six? Leave four at home!

...first essential thing is to get everyone on board regarding
carry-on only. Second thing (and I learned this the hard way)
have two vehicles. Trust me.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 12:11 PM
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First off all w/ a group that size they can't take a 'months worth of luggage' . Each person should take just a roll aboard-sized suitcase and a handbag/day pack or small duffle -- that way they all CAN fit in a seven passenger vehicle.

Secondly - Depending on where they want to go driving may or may not work. If mainly cities then trains are much easier since cars are useless in many city centers.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 12:15 PM
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We have travelled 6 in a lot of places. A van. Or buy a train pass. Or buy train tickets well in advance.

They should be able to do a month with carryon.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 12:20 PM
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All depends on your itinerary. Trains offer often huge discounts for kids or groups (Switzerland: free up to 16 years if the parents have a Swiss Pass or so; Germany: Laenderticket where only the first person pays the full fare).
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 12:20 PM
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I see rental cars that seat 5 and a family worth of baggage;

While I have seen (and rented) cars that seat 5, I haven´t seen any of these cars that will carry 5 bags. If the luggage is limited to nothing bigger than the standard 22" rollaboard, you might fit 5 into the trunk of a full sized car such as the Laguna but it would be tight.

Generally, most people seriously underestimate the lack of luggage capacity found in European cars. For 6 passengers, you will definitely need a van.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 12:22 PM
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Thanks for the help so far. Rail Europe (I know, often not best) prices six train tickets Berlin-Paris at almost 900 Euros. Summer doesn't seem to be available so I picked a random date in March. That rents a LOT of cars and even $9/gallon gasoline.

Any specific suggestions on van models? Some of them say 7 persons 2 bags, and even a futile attempt to encourage packing light isn't going to get down to two bags.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 12:29 PM
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Why drive that or take a train? That's a very long distance...I would fly. Look for cheap flights on www.whichbudget.com

The fuel, parking and tolls will greatly increase the cost of the car. Also how will they get the car back to Berlin? Drop off charges to drop in another country will be very high...
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 12:38 PM
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Almost never use rail Europe - they are very expensive . Plus as jamikins says, flying the longest distances will be faster and cheaper.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 12:47 PM
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You do all realise that Europeans have families, often with multiple teenagers, and manage to fit all their luggage, a tent, several kilos of food, assorted computers, cameras, and other junk, into their cars for holidays?

Provided you are using a couple of places as bases you will have a couple of hours of discomfort with your luggage, then can leave it and tour from your base.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 12:48 PM
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Plan the itinerary so that long, expensive train trips are limited, places not so far apart. Perhaps Berlin to Paris is not the best plan.

Choose one place per week, rent an apartment. Take day trips. If a car is necessary, rent it for the week of day trips when you will not be hauling so much stuff.

Check on low cost airfares from city to city.

There are places where family and small group tickets are available for trains.

Personally, two parents and three kids is enough in a car (couldn't be a small one), so they will need something bigger even for short day trips if all six are going. Two cars work for couples, but in this case, who wants to drive the second car and double the cost? Van is the only choice. Then you have parking costs in cities if you keep it the whole time. Better to create a good itinerary that does not require the car.

They will also need apartments or minimum of two hotel rooms with six people.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 12:59 PM
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>

I just checked on the French Rail site www.voyages-sncf.com and found tickets from Paris to Berlin for 6 as cheaply as 414€, possibly cheaper if I knew the ages of the children. The train ride is 12 hours and flying would make a lot more sense.

Train tickets are generally not available for sale before 3 months form any given travel date.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 01:00 PM
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Abandon the idea of "a month's worth of luggage."There are laundromats in Europe. No one needs more than a small rollaboard.

There are all kinds of train discounts for families and groups. The cheapest tickets usually go on sale 3-4 months out from your travel dates in most countries. Stay away from RailEurope. In comparing train versus car rental, don't forget about tolls, which can really add up fast (and the vignette for Switzerland).

There are 9-person vans. And you don't ever get to choose the precise model of any vehicle - just a class of vehicles. The exception to that is car leases, which might work for you.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 01:16 PM
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Every major European rental car company offers 9-seater vans (e.g. Mercedes Vito, Ford Transit) which have ample room for 6 persons plus baggage. The only problem is that one-way rentals across national borders cost hefty fees. So, the best for you would be to plan a loop itinerary (which should work, given the time you have and your destinations).

From experience, I can tell you, train travel will be a torture when you have three teens with you. With a car, you are much more flexible - you can stop whenever and whereever you want, see interesting little places etc.

And you will save money. You pay the rental fee, the gas and the tolls just once for six persons!
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 01:37 PM
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There are group rebates if you travel with 6 people. I looked up June 1st on www.bahn.de and found a ticket for 622 Euro. If some of the teens are up to 14 years, the price is 50% for them.

But it's a long ride and I'd think about either having a stop in between or taking a flight (no matter whether the alternative is going by train or car.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 05:21 PM
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If you are really talking a month literally-they should look into an auto lease program. That way you can pick up in one country and drop in another without the high fees (I beleive it can be a small surcharge but not as high as with rental companies).

You get a new vehicle and the longer you stay, the better the rate. It does require a minimum stay of 21 days.

We have a car booked for 6 months starting in May and it is much nicer than a rental-brand new car that you choose which the features you want including getting a diesel, which is really nice for saving on gas money. We use autofrance.net

and they have family vans of various sizes:

http://autofrance.net/vehicle-models-details/17/

http://autofrance.net/vehicle-models-details/16/

We have loved the program. We had a rock that caused a crack to start on our windshield and they actually sent someone to our home in a village at the beach in France to fix it!
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 05:27 PM
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You do all realise that Europeans have families

I did not know that.

If you know how to drive a stick, you will save hundreds of dollars. Also be aware that on car rentals that drop off fees from one country to another can be onerous.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 05:44 PM
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I traveled with teens by train during a student trip. They enjoyed it because they could get up any time, walk to the snack car, toilet, etc. they had a table, played cards, played games, slept, etc. With the table, it was also easier to eat. I personally choose trains over a car in most of Europe. However, for trips of more than 4-5 hours, we prefer flights.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 06:53 PM
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We have traveled with 4 adults in full size cars and found even minimal luggage too much - had to put soft-sided carry-ons in the back seat.For 6 people and any amount of luggage you need a van for 9 - not a van for 7.

Agree that, depending on itinerary, train or two cars is a better option.
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 10:49 AM
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My teens and their friends absolutely loved riding trains in Europe. Granted, the longest trip was about 6 hours, but they always enjoyed it immensely.
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