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Italy and France/summer 2010

Old May 4th, 2009, 06:54 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2009
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Italy and France/summer 2010

Italy and France, where to start? We live in Denver, Colorado, USA.

My family of 4 want to visit Italy and France next summer in mid/late June or early July. We only have 2 weeks. The family of 4 includes my husband and I plus our 2 teens who will be 16 and 13.

I understand that if I have free miles on my United card that I should get the tickets one year to the date since miles seats are limited. We have 2 must do's on this trip. First, we need to visit/stay with friends in Marseille France for 2 or 3 days during a weekend and the other is to visit campobasso in Italy which is my husbands roots.

None of us have been to Europe. My oldest daughter has had 4 years of French and none of us know Italian.

I can bypass my miles card if any experts here recommend it. I understand using my miles means round trip only and not multi cities. If the cost isn't too much we could pay for the tickets and not use miles if that means a better vacation although free miles means more money for traveling, hotels etc... My first thought is fly from Denver to Rome (drive using trains and cars) then fly out of Paris back to Denver. I also heard that flying to London and then using Rynair is a good deal?

My question is what do you all recommend for flying - round trip on my free miles or multi destinations based on the 2 locations in which we need to visit?
kelster2010 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2009, 07:07 AM
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Hi kelster -

I would imagine that it depends on the prices versus miles required to get what you want. I can say that intra-european flights *can be* quite cheap especially planning so far in advance - and between major cities like Rome, London, and Paris you will have a few choices of carriers such as Ryanair which you mentioned as well as EasyJet which usually offer inexpensive one way tickets. I would even consider flying from Rome to Nice or Marsaille if you want to get back towards Marsaille, instead of trains the whole way which would not be very direct and quite long.

I would plot out your itinerary and see how much the continental Europe flights/car rentals will cost you, there is probably no other way to determine if its worth it.
rachelnyc04 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2009, 07:09 AM
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I did an open-jaw ticket using FF miles on United for a visit to India last October. Don't know why you couldn't do the same to visit Europe.
StCirq is offline  
Old May 4th, 2009, 07:17 AM
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If you rent a car in one country and drop it off in another, you're probably looking at about a $500 drop-off fee.
StCirq is offline  
Old May 4th, 2009, 07:19 AM
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You can book United miles either 330 or 331 days out. You can use miles to book open jaw (into Rome, out of Paris, or vice versa).

Only roundtrips to one destination can be booked online, but you can book an open jaw by calling United and speaking to an agent, it just involves an additional $15 fee per ticket.

The United hub for Europe is Washington/Dulles IAD, so you will likely fly from Denver to IAD to your European destination.

Another place United to which United flies and from which you could return is Geneva. Geneva is only about 1 hour more from Marseille by train than Paris.

I would divide the trip 1 week in Italy, and a week in France.

To see Campobasso, you will need to rent a car. For the Italy portion of the trip, you might think about including the Amalfi Coast, dividing your time between Rome, Campobasso, and the Amalfi area.

I would then fly from Rome or Naples to Nice or Marseille, visit your friends in Marseille, and take the TGV (high speed train) to Paris or Geneva. You will not need a car for this portion of the trip.
lovisa is offline  
Old May 4th, 2009, 08:24 PM
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Hi Kelster,

My family took a similar trip -- Paris to Rome -- in 2006, and coincidentally, our kids were 13 and 16. It was an amazing trip.

You may like to read my trip report to get some ideas. Click on my name, then go down to my trip reports, and you'll see the one for Paris to Rome.

I'm happy to answer any questions.

Dina
dina4 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2009, 08:28 PM
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also, we chose to go Paris to Rome because he hadn't been to Paris before and wanted to be fresh to explore it. If that isn't an issue for you, I would definitely do Rome first, as it is hotter in the south, and you want to be there earlier in the summer, and work your way up north.
dina4 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2009, 09:47 PM
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We have used United FF miles for several trips to Europe - from Denver (where we live, too) - and have always flown open jaw.

We much prefer to fly non-stop, so we fly Lufthansa, which is a United partner, from Denver to Frankfurt, then connect to our ultimate destination from there. Having the connection on that end of the trip is more relaxing for us. We book the FF tickets through United, but from that point on, if I have any questions, etc., I call Lufthansa directly.

And I've heard the "rule" about 330 days (or whatever) out. But in late Feb., after going back and forth for months on whether we should take a trip to Europe at all, I booked a trip using FF miles, for 3 of us, into Venice and out of Rome (via Frankfurt), exactly the flight times and days that I wanted. So you don't necessarily have to book that far out.

In terms of weather and crowds, I would suggest that you take your trip as early in June as possible, and start in Rome, which will likely be the warmest of your destinations.

Enjoy your planning!
Lexma90 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2009, 10:12 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
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I've used miles on open jaw tickets many times; also use a travel agent to book flights on the 330 day opening (remember it's days out from your return flight as well as initial flight, which can complicate things). I pay her a $100 fee per ticket and she always snags something. I often use my miles to upgrade to business, though. You may be able to use a combo of paid tickets and FF tickets, but I would encourage you at least to go for Economy Plus if that exists on your chosen flights. Also consider partner airlines (FF partners).

Consider checking kayak.com & playing around with the dates and hub cities to give you an idea how things look.
annw is offline  
Old May 4th, 2009, 10:55 PM
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I would comment on areas other than FF miles.

You have a lot of time to do what ifs. Recommend building database of schedules (you won't see summer boat/train schedule until next spring), hotel availabilities, etc starting now so that you have some data to base your planning next year when you finalize your trip.

Is your mid-June to early July a hard constraint? I used to schedule family trips right after the spring term more as a habit. I later realized there are some trade-offs that can be made when I travel at the end of the summer vacation period.

For one thing, the flights are harder to find during your target dates. They are popular travel time for U.S. family travelers. The airlines know it well and take full advantage of this knowledge.

Traveling to Europe in later August has pros and cons. Since resorts are full of European travelers, need to reserve them very early. On the other hand, finding hotels in cities are easy and cheap since city residents desert big cities in August. A drawback is that small stores are also closed in August.
greg is offline  
Old May 5th, 2009, 07:17 AM
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We used to do family trips both in Europe and the US immediately after school was out in June. And it worked out well. Vacation places weren't so booked up. The weather was cooler. The days were longer.

When renting a car in Italy, you are required to buy CDW insurance and have an International Driver's Permit (easily and inexpensively obtainable at your local AAA office).

You might plan to drive in Italy and not France. You can take a fast train from Marseilles to Paris. How you arrive in Marseilles depends on where in Italy you will be leaving from. Cheap flights from Rome to Nice still run about 50 to 100 euros per adult.
Mimar is offline  
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