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Italy, France for 22 days, and the stress level

Italy, France for 22 days, and the stress level

Feb 4th, 2004, 03:02 PM
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Italy, France for 22 days, and the stress level

I'm arriving in Rome on June 28th and leaving Paris on July 20th. I will have a 20 year old and a 9 year old (both girls) with me (my daughters) for the entire trip and my husband for the Italy part. I wanted to tour myself. Hopefully, doing some day tours in the cities, but am concerned about all the toing and froing. My husband basically doesn't want to see his luggage again, until he leaves, and my daughter can live out of a backpack. How much stress is it to up and leave every three days? We would have to put four peoples luggage into a car and move on, navigating ourselves, and have planned where to eat and stay. Additionally, I have to book everything in advance. Normally, if it was just myself and husband, I wouldn't think twice, but with children, I'm not so sure. Can I realistically do this and stay talking to everyone by the end of the trip, or is a tour the answer? I'm in the beginning planning stages and feeling a little overwhelmed. Any suggestions?
Cronen is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 03:19 PM
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I dont get the part about your husband not wanting to see his luggage again, what does it mean? He doesnt want to pack and unpack? If so, then rent a place in Paris and take day trips on the train, I did that one year.
You can also, as I am sure you have read here many times, rent another place in Rome and do the same thing.

I wouldnt want to jump around very much, herding daughters and husband with luggage in and out of hotels.

I used to do it but the idea of it being stessful never occured to me, so since you are thinking about stress you must know your family, lol.
Natalia is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 03:21 PM
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ps: dont take the last part of my message wrong, I couldn't find the little smiley face to end it.
Natalia is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 03:37 PM
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Every once in a while, there is a post like yours - - that shows you certainly are aware of some things, and then there are so many things that I just can't tell what we should be reading between the lines.

I have more questions of you than I have answers for now.

<<My husband basically doesn't want to see his luggage again, until he leaves>>

I have no idea what this means. Will your family's departure from Rome automatically coincide with his splitting off from you? or heading somewhere else? or staying in Rome? Is that date pre-determined?

<<and my daughter can live out of a backpack.>>

No she can't. Not for 22 days. And does this apply to only one daughter. and the other is quite different? Does it mean that the nine-year old is already quite self-sufficient, and she will alternate between one set of clothes she is wearing, and two others in her backpack, and wash stuff out often enough to remain vaguely clean? Or do you mean the 20 year old? I think that our three daughters are/were pretty average, and I have never seen them travel anywhere without at least a breadbox full of "bathroom stuff".

The bottom line about the girls is: will they do okay basically dealing with/rooming with each other, and do simple things (like "have your stuff packed and be down to breakfast by 9")without a ton of intervention on your part? Will you seek lodging for three in one room? or one single (you? the 20 year old?) plus a double?

You do sound like the thought of it is already very stressful to you. Is the PURPOSE of the trip clear? Who wants/wanted to go, the most? the least? Have your husband and (older?) daughter(s) enunciated ANY specific places they would like to see in/around Rome (him) or between Rome and Paris (her)?

Is your idea of a car to get FROM Rome TO Paris? Or did you mean to have acar in one city or the other, and "base"/day trip with the use of a car from the big city. Both are bad ideas, in my opinion. If you want to day trip out from cities in Italy, then pick a smaller-medium sized city, and rent a car for three days to go "excursion-ing". Orvieto would be good, for example. You can day trip to Florence right from Rome by train (95 minutes each way, painless and quite affordable). A car will cost you dearly to rent it in Italy and return it in France. Do you even want to see ANYthing between the two, The low cost airline volareweb.com will fly you from Rome to Paris for a song. Then you could split up your time between Paris 4-7 days, and a smaller-medium "base" elsewhere (reasonably nearby) for 3-5 days (examples: Chartres, Caen, Dijon).

This is one time that it would be great if this site had some live "chat-room' type option to "interview" you, and get a focus on what help you need, exactly.

I'm sure you will get good answers here, but I don't know for sure what are the questions, and the major branchpoints in the decisions you will need to be making.

Best wishes,


rex is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 03:56 PM
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I think that moving every 3 days will be very stressful. I made that mistake on my first trip a couple of years ago... never again! At least 5-6 days in each place (which means only 2 places per visit for me!). When you change locations that much, you spend all your time traveling, and worrying about how to get from Point A to Point B. Given that you have a month, why don't you consider 1 week in a spot, and if that is too long, just daytrip. For example, a week in Paris, a week in Rome,etc. You can rent apartments more economically than hotels, and have more room to spread out. Of course, you know your own family and your limits, but if the trip is sounding this stressful already, I would try something different!

AnneO is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 04:14 PM
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Thanks for the replies. I can see where it would be confusing , as I'm confused. I was trying to illustrate that my husband is a person who doesn't want to be bothered with the details, and really hates moving luggage around. My daughter is very different, and is a free spirit. Luggage wouldn't enter her mind. My nine year old just goes with it and is a great traveler. My husband can stay with us for two weeks. He wants to tour Italy. We really want to see Rome, Florence and Venice. I'm just wondering, as I look at trying to get reservations, for cars, hotels, etc. if a tour for a family of our size is more relaxing. Why do I ask this? Because I have traveled to Costa Rica and the likes with all five of my children and husband and know people, even while on vacation, can get stressed. That said, I enjoy doing my own thing, and would normally do this, but... I'm just starting to plan, and think I would like to spend about 16 days in Italy and then fly to Paris. Yes, chatting on line would be great....
Cronen is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 04:21 PM
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Rex has very clearly spelled out a lot of the "problems" with your post, as well as some of the potential problems your family trip faces.
If you can clear up and/or explain some of the points on your original post, we'll be able to give you a lot more helpful input.
HowardR is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 04:36 PM
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Am I missing something? I don't think this trip needs to be stressful at all, and no, I don't think you need a tour. Maybe you do need a glass of chianti?

Since you seem receptive to the idea of not uprooting yourself every few days, my recommendation would be something like this:

Open jaw ticket into Venice and out through Rome- Paris.

Venice-5 days
TRAIN to Florence

Either stay in Florence five days and do day trips to hilltowns, Pisa, etc. OR pick up car in Florence and base in one of the hill towns at an agriturismo ( working farm) or hotel with day trips to Florence, Pisa, Lucca, San Gimagnano, Castellini, etc.

6 days in Rome


This kind of itinerary minimizes the packing and unpacking, and gives you some real time to see each destination, unlike most tours. Anyway, if you need more help, just post again! There's lots of good advice to be had on this board.

Weadles is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 04:53 PM
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Okay... this takes things much further along. This is partly a travel discussion, and partly a marital discussion.

Let's start with one clearly travel part first...

<<I'm just wondering, as I look at trying to get reservations, for cars, hotels, etc. if a tour for a family of our size is more relaxing.>>

There is a strong bias here on this forum that will utter a resounding "No!" to this question. I am squarely on that biased side. Keep in mind that this forum is filled with people who love doing all that pre-trip stuff - - and it is almost always with the goal of minimizing the stress of having to do any of it THERE.

If you don't like doing all the exploratory planning, you may want/need a travel CONSULTANT. And someone here will surely pipe in on that for you. Collectively, though, "we" are - - or can be - - an aggregate travel consultant, though I don't see ANYone volunteering to actually book places for you, using your credit cards, etc. Presumably, a consultant-for-hire will.

Now, the marital side... Your husband needs to know the conflict you feel inside over this.

<<my husband is a person who... really hates moving luggage around. He wants to tour Italy. We really want to see Rome, Florence and Venice.>>

He's GOT to offer you some input. Which does he want more... the carrot? (seeing the great cities of Italy?) or (avoid) the stick? (moving from one place to another) - - Italy is not the size of Rhode Island, you know. You cannot day trip from one central location, not even the obvious one (Florence) and enjoy seeing the others like that. Sure you can do a great day trip to/from Florence to/from Rome - - but that's one of your 16 days. And day tripping to Venice completely misses the point of going to Venice. The best two hours of the day in Venice are the first hour immediately you wake up (don't even shower or have breakfast; take a walk in the sunrise and watch Venice wake up), and the last hour vefore you go to bed. [Okay, so if you have a better hour between bedtime and getting up, that's another matter]

I think you need a house - - possibly for the entire 16 days in Italy, if you can afford it - - and then do some overnighters, and don't worry about leaving the house to "double pay" (i.e., get hotel lodging in the destination city, even though you could return to the house where your accommodation is already paid for, in a lump sum).

What budget could you afford? Leave the six Paris nights out of this, and forget all the other travel expenses in Italy? Allocate "x" thousand for the 16 nights in Italy, and give some indication what "x" is (two is virtually impossible; nine would be regal) - - and I think there could be some very interesting possibilities.

And surely there are some opportunities to chat, if you really want to. Reegrettable that it can't be part of the forum, but chats can be "transcripted", and if it turns out to be worthwhile (and not too personal) to do that, maybe it could start some kind of wacky new trend here!
rex is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 05:13 PM
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I'm not really sure what you are asking either. But if you are looking for opinions as to whether or not a 22 day trip through Italy and France with a husband and two daughters can be enjoyable then I will say - DEFINITLY. Of course, it depends on your travel style and if you think if will be stressful then it probably will be - for you. I did an exactly 22 day trip a couple of summers ago (with my husband and two teenage daughters) and covered Rome, Venice, Tuscany/Umbria, Cinque Terre, Burgundy and Paris (and also the first 3 days in Bavaria because we got a real great deal on airfare into Munich (and out of Paris) so I said why not. We rented a car for the whole time which is more economical than trains for four people. We did not drive in Rome or Paris but everywhere else. We had a great time, I booked all the hotels over the internet, we averaged 3 night stays and did not feel rushed. But we wanted to see a lot of places and we didn't look at it as a laid back type of vacation. If you want that then just go one place. Nothing wrong with that, but nothing wrong with moving around alot either - as long as you don't get crazy about it. The people who try to see 5 or 6 countries in two weeks are crazy (in my opinion) - but two countries in three weeks is very reasonable. We have no problem traveling light (one 20" each plus a small pack or bag) so moving around is not a big deal. I don't think we ever drove more than 3 or 4 hours in any one day, and many days we didn't drive at all. We had a great time.
isabel is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 05:13 PM
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I am not a seasoned traveler, and I will be going to Italy for the first time in March. The planning is part of the fun, but it is time consuming. Three years ago, my husband and I went on a tour (50th b.d. present). It was a lot of fun, and not stressful. However, there were a lot of other problems: I traveled for 2 weeks with "spoiled Americans" and didn't feel I got a sense for the culture of where I was, except when we were on our own. People competed for the best rooms when we arrived at each hotel, and we had to sit with them at dinner.Lots else I could say, kids on trip did not seem to be having good time. I would do tour again, but I would have to choose very carefully. Hope this helps.
peggybauer is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 06:27 PM
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Wow. Thanks for all the advice. The first one I'll take is the glass of wine! I'm glad to here from all, especially Isabel, who has done it. True, this site could become the next Dr. Phil, if I were to get into all family dynamics, (remember there are seven of us). But all in all, I think I'm leaning toward a do it yourself vacation. I know in the past we have taken cruises and my kids have complained about the scheduling etc.

Someone on another post said that Itay was very easy to tour yourself. Any suggestions? I know one of my issues has been the rooms. Most rooms seem to accomodate 3 at the most. What's a family to do? I
Cronen is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 06:50 PM
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Your two daughters wouldn't be okay with their own room?

Even when you are in Paris, you might want two rooms.
rex is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 03:21 AM
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Cronen - we had quad rooms just about everywhere (only once did we get two doubles). They are not as plentiful as doubles but most hotels seemed to have at least one. And they were usually very spacious compared to the tiny rooms you get in Europe when staying in doubles (and worse, singles). We all get along so didn't feel the need to have a room seperate from the girls. (But we often split up during sightseeing - in various different configuration like one parent and one kid each, or let the girls go off on their own in some places, etc so we weren't all together 24-7). Quads were definitly cheaper than two doubles and we were on a budget. If you tell me what kind of prices you expect to spend per night I can give you some suggestions. We were always under 150€ a night and we had airconditioning and ensuite everywhere.
isabel is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 04:12 AM
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How long are you staying in Italy?
How long are you staying in Paris?
How are you getting to Paris from Italy?
A stay in an apartment or villa with a swimming pool may be the way to go whilst you are in Italy. That way everyone can do what they like for at least 7 days of your 22 days.Bookings are usually Saturday to Saturday.
What did you agree on as family that are must see's of your trip?
You arrive on a Monday..
maybe spend
3 nights in Rome
train to Florence
2 nights in Florence.
Pick up a hire car and rent a villa/apartment for 7 nights in Umbria or Tuscany and do day trips.
Drive to Venice and return car.
Spend 4 nights in Venice
fly from Venice to Paris.
then spend 7 nights in Paris, and then fly home on the 20th
kimerley is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 06:34 AM
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I think it can be done relatively easily, too. My thoughts are along the line of Kimerley's. I think you can minimize the "toing and froing" by staying in places for longer periods of time, and renting a place for a week each in Paris and Tuscany or Umbria.
I think my only difference with Kimerley is that I would use the Tuscany base to take a daytrip into Florence, rather than staying there. This, too, minimizes the number of times you pick up and leave.
So, my suggestion would be:
Rome - 5 days (daytrips are possible).
Tuscany/Umbria - 7 day rental. Pick up a car for this part iof the trip only.
Venice- 3 nights (drive to Venice, drop car off).
Paris-7 day apartment rental. Or you can stay in Paris for less nights if you want to extend the trip in Italy elsewhere. Once base in Paris, you can take daytrips from there, too.

As Kimerley suggests, you can fly there, which is probably the most efficient way. Or else you can take the train there, though you'll have to consider what's comfortable for your family.

The point is, you don't need a car in the cities, but if you stay in a Tuscan/Umbrian rental for a week, you can get a place where you can have a swimming pool and you can all unwind somewhat. Again, this is the only time you'll need/want a car; you can use the time to explore the region leisurely, but now you have a home base, so you're not packing and repacking every other day.
And I think this might minimize the family tensions and the stress levels of travelling!

progol is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 06:49 AM
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Personally, I don't know how anyone who doesn't know your family or your children's habits can honestly comment on what they are and are not capable of.
I think at the end of this trip you'll find out that the old saying is true about "travel revealing every fiber of another's being and personality" and hopefully, you can face those results.
Realistically, you are, for reasons known only to yourself (and note here I am NOT questioning those reasons)bringing a lot of this "stress" on yourself by trying to do everything. The major recipient of this largess is, of course, your family not to mention the secondary gain you get from once again coming out as the "big organizer" and the little wife who gets it all together. Well, is this the time you are going to finally LIBERATE yourself from all that BS and get the husband INVOLVED in the planning to take away some of the stress...and for that matter the (did you say TWENTY????) year old out of her other world to give Mom some help with this?
Oh, you'll come out a winner no matter what but at what price? Good luck.
Feb 5th, 2004, 07:13 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 373
Let me be another one to reassure you that it can be done. I went with my parents and the three brothers and sisters I had at the time twice for long periods to Europe (6 weeks and 4 weeks). It was great. The idea of renting a place that others have given you (and I'm sure that you will get great recommendations on how to go about that) are fantastic. We would do that, sometimes taking overnight trips as Rex said, and at others taking day trips. All of the large cities that you mention, though, have plenty to keep you occupied, and their beauty is that they capture the interest of all different ages.
The hotel issue, for us, was to simply get two rooms. The younger ones slept with my parents sometimes, sometimes with us older kids. It gave my parents flexibility, and it gave us our space and some freedom.
Florence, I think, is too much for a daytrip, so I find kimerley's itinerary a great planning starting point.
amcc is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 10:50 AM
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Actually, I think a daytrip to Florence from some parts of Tuscany (Chianti region, Siena area), is very manageable. The train from Siena takes 1 1/2 hours, and the direct bus ride only takes 1 1/4 hour to Florence. But the question is what's more comfortable for you? Do you want to minimize the number of stops? In that case, you eliminate one stop by visiting the city while staying in a Tuscan rental, for example. But if staying in the city is important to you, then it's possible to do so. I only want to offer up possible choices you can make. But first, figure out what are your family's priorities are and how to reach a happy balance for you all.

progol is offline  
Feb 6th, 2004, 04:10 AM
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Just putting in another opinion on the value of staying in one place for a week versus moving about more often. If you read this forum much you'll see that many people really like to rent a place for a week. While I don't like to move every night or two, I find it much more enjoyable to stay in two or three places each week rather than the amount of driving required to do a lot of back and forth to the "home base". Part of the fun of traveling for us is experiencing different hotels, and experiencing towns in the evening after the tourist groups have left. For example in Tuscany we stayed in three different towns in about a weeks time. We could have stayed in one place and done day trips but would have missed San Gimignano at night - which was quite different and way better than it was mid-day.

This is assuming you are having a car. Obviously it's harder if you are lugging luggage on and off trains alot. I have also done trips where I stayed in one place and took trains for day trips. In fact next summer I am going to Florence for 6 days and planning two or three day trips. But I'm going alone and don't want to rent a car or be bother with hauling my luggage around (and I travel very light) on trains and on foot locating hotels. When I travel with others (especially my whole family) I would rent a car and spend two or three nights in each location.

Everyone's kids are different but some might get bored after a week in one place, especially if it's not a city. Another thing to consider, if you don't like the hotel you are stuck in it for a week. If you do 3 or 4 nights in a place and don't happen to like it it's less of a problem.
isabel is offline  

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