I want to take my family to Europe

Nov 13th, 2002, 03:16 PM
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I want to take my family to Europe

It has been a few years since I have left the US so I would like to suprise my family with a trip to Europe for Xmas and New year. I know I do not have time but if I can do it I am sure they will be happy, especially my wife. We are a couple in our early 30's with 2 girls aged 4 and 1. My wife has always lived london so I was thinking perhaps we can go there. Also, she has always dreamt of going to Italy. We went to Paris for our honeymoon in the summer of 96 and although it was nice we prefered london. I am not much of a planner so I am in need of help. Also, I can bring my 19 year old sister to help with the kids, good idea?
Nov 13th, 2002, 05:40 PM
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I can think of several reasons why this is a bad idea - - primarily the surprise part. The rest has more to do with how best to spend time together at the holidays as a family. And so, I don't think I will post more about that because it will come across as too "soap-box-y". I think that others are also afraid to touch your questions with a ten foot pole, as your post has already fallen to "page two" without any replies this evening.

If you would like to correspond with me one on one, I would be willing to do that. None of my communication with you will involve getting personally connected to your travel plans, or a group trip or anything like that.

But I won't be surprised if my answering this post will elicit some bashing, nevertheless.

I would write to you directly, but not everyone intends an open invitation to receive e-mail by posting their e-mail address here.

Best wishes,

Nov 13th, 2002, 05:44 PM
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Ths might be a bad idea. Then on the other hand it might be an amazing surprise for your wife. You know her best.

I think since you aren't a planner and time is short (but not impossibly so) you might want to involve a travel agent. They can help you with finding the best airfares (chances are you can get some good prices now) and hotels. Then when the TA comes up with some specifics, repost here if you want help with hotel choices and specifics as to what to do.

Good luck!
Nov 13th, 2002, 06:13 PM
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Check out the www.go-today.com site. There are plenty of bargains to be which include airfare, hotel and transfers. Most departures from the US are on December 26th, returning on January 2nd.

It would be helpful to know which city in the US you will be departing from. For example, Aer Lingus is advertising $99 one-way fares to Ireland from 3 gateways. Icelandair is advertising fares from Boston to London via Reykavijk for $208, and you can stopover in Reyjkavik for 3 days on either end of the trip at no additional charge other than the hotel.

Go-Today has a 1 week trip to London starting at $349 from east coast cities, and to Paris starting at $549. There are also reasonably priced packages to Belgium, Amsterdam and Rome.

Good luck, this spur of the moment trip sounds like it will be fun.
Nov 13th, 2002, 06:18 PM
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I think it's a wonderful idea! The only worry would be if she's planning on spending Christmas with her parents, or something like that. But it sounds like she likes to travel, so I think she'd probably think it is a good idea.

We're going to London for Christmas ourselves and are very excited - it's supposed to be great at Christmas.

I also suggest you look into apartments, since in an apartment you can save some money on meals. Private apartments will feel homey for Christmas, too, although the hotels will surely have a big tree and decorations. Try athomeinlondon.com and farnum-christ.com.

Another tip: Buy a $5 table top tree (fake), and choose several of your family's favorite (but sturdy) ornaments. Hide them all in your luggage and set it up as a surprize, too.
Nov 13th, 2002, 07:20 PM
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Rob: It's an admirable concept, but only you know if your wife and sister will be able to deal with it. It is, after all, mid-November, and a lot of people's plans for the holidays have gelled in their minds if not in reality.

If you do do this, do it immediately, and plan to go to one place. London and Italy is too complicated for a last-minute trip. Personally, I'd head to the south of Italy, for the weather. London at Christmastime won't be a great time to be roaming around outside with two girls aged 2 and 4. In Italy, you could all relax in sunnier weather.

At this point, you might well qualify for some last-minute specials. Check the internet and fare consolidators and, as someone else suggested, a travel agent, and if you're sure your family wouldn't be thrown into a tizzy by this, do it!
Nov 14th, 2002, 08:00 PM
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to the top, for rob
Nov 14th, 2002, 09:26 PM
Ben Haines
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From 24 December to 3 January Lonfdon is very quiet indeed, almost vlosed, and is dark, rainy, and underpeopled.


Ben Haines, London
Nov 15th, 2002, 06:15 AM
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Rob: it sounds like a great idea...wish I had a brother like you! Are your wife and sister spontaneous people? Do you know if they already have plans for the holidays? What is your wife's views on international travel with a 1 year old? Some people are really cautious about traveling with toddlers....especially since this will be your child's first Xmas.

If you are definitely going to do this...perhaps drop little hints to your wife and sister NOW. Something like "don't plan anything for Dec 24 to Jan 2nd" and from their reactions you can gauge whether they will be receptive to the idea or not. Good Luck!
Nov 15th, 2002, 06:25 AM
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Ben, I had to laugh when I read your post. It's the first negative post I've seen from you about London! (That's not a negative thing - your wonderful advice and guidance has helped immensely in my planning my trip to London, scheduled for January 2003).

It is just so out of character!
Nov 15th, 2002, 06:30 AM
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I was thinking the same thing....
typos and negative statement about london...
OK where is the real Ben Haines and what have you done to him??
Nov 15th, 2002, 07:13 AM
Tim C.
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Hi Rob. From where are you flying? My favorite site for low cost airfare is http://www.bestfares.com A fee of $59 is required to join,but the savings are significant. You can fly now through 3/31/03 for as little as $203+tax from New York to London. Once in London you can use Ryan air which is literally giving away flights. I have booked a flight in March 2003 for three people one way : Rome - Frankfurt for a mere $57! http://www.ryanair.com
I am rather good at planning and find it to be one of the best aspects of a vacation. Have a great time. Hope your wife is a spontaneous type.
Nov 15th, 2002, 08:38 AM
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I would not recommend surprising your wife, especially with two little ones. Tell your wife now - this will give her time to pack and plan for the children. I would recommend an apartment - try vrbo.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner). They have specials.You might also want to try www.apartmenthotels.com. (This is the Citadine chain of "suite-type" hotels in Europe.) Your sister and children could eat early and stay in at night, while you and your wife enjoy suppers alone at an adult restaurant. And definitely go to Italy - she would appreciate that you remembered her dream and hopefully, it will be warmer than London or Paris.
Nov 15th, 2002, 09:11 AM
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I don't think it's a good idea at all because you haven't planned this far enough in advance (although with a travel agent, I'm sure you can come up with some expensive hotel) and your wife probably already has ideas and plans for the holidays. Not to mention, have you clued your 19-yr old sister in on the fact that you want her to re-arrange her holidays and forego her own plans to be your babysitter? Oh, sure, that's lots of fun to spend your holidays babysitting small children in a foreign city while others go out to eat and do things and have fun.

If you really know your wife and that she will love this and have discussed this with your sister and she wants to go, sure, why not. But it is going to be expensive because air and hotel rates are high during the holidays. When exactly do you plan to spring such a surprise on someone? Even if one would like the idea, they are going to want to plan way ahead what to take, pack, considerations with two small children, etc.
Nov 15th, 2002, 09:33 AM
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Do your children have passports???
Nov 15th, 2002, 09:41 AM
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In my experience when traveling with small children it is a good idea to stay in apart hotels such us Citadines, citadines.com. A small kitchen comes useful to heat up the baby's food, and being roomier than hotel rooms is also good for the children to play around.
I think in London there are many flats to be rented by the day. Good luck
Nov 15th, 2002, 11:20 AM
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Hi Rob,

It might be a bit late to spring such a big surprise.

I'll probably be flamed, but why not Las Vegas. You could stay at Bellagio or The Venetian for a "foreign" flavor. The kids won't mind.
Nov 16th, 2002, 06:05 AM
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Bermuda would be a better choice.
Nov 16th, 2002, 10:42 AM
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As others have said, you know best how your wife will react to such a surprise, and how she feels about "the holidays" - I know plenty of people who'd love the idea. Remember, though, that Christmas is a time when most Europeans choose to be home with families and friends, and labour laws protect the ability to do so - you'll find little open in the way of shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions even in (most) major cities - although there will always be some options. In the UK, virtually everything is closed (as Ben said) for a week starting Xmas Eve and ending 2 or 3 Jan. If your wife and sister are the sort who'd consider take-out Vietnamese in a rented Paris apartment on Xmas day an adventure, great - if they'll be pining for Great Aunt Sylvia's marshmallow yams, a six-foot Xmas tree and American football, perhaps this isn't such a great idea!

The 2 small children also complicate matters logistically - a compromise might be to tell your wife you want to surprise her with a trip, and tell her the dates and general info she'll need (such as climate!), but keep the destination a secret.
Nov 16th, 2002, 07:04 PM
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Get your sister to stay here and take care of the kids while you and your wife have a romantic getaway!!!

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