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Itinerary for 5 adults, 3 kids, 2 weeks, & 1 holiday adventure!

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Sep 25th, 2017, 08:59 AM
  #1
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Itinerary for 5 adults, 3 kids, 2 weeks, & 1 holiday adventure!

Was hoping some of you could help me with my itinerary for an upcoming CHRISTMAS vacation with my family. It's a bit packed in a few places, but we like to be on the go! If you have any advice on train travel, where to stay, and/or what not to miss please fill in some of the gaps.

My husband (32 years old), 3 daughters (9, 7, and 4 years old), and I (33 years old) will be traveling for 2 weeks (the first week with my parents (mid 50s) and sister (30)).

* Dec. 17 - arrive in Barcelona in the late afternoon (we've all been here before, except for my sister). We do NOT have an apartment or hotel booked yet.

* Dec. 18 - fly to Vienna, arrive at noon (we've all been here before, except for my sister). Hubs and I were here 10 years ago at Christmastime. We LOVED it and wanted our girls to experience it while still young. Parents have been here before, but only during spring. Sister never been. We have an apartment booked. Plan to see zoo, christmas markets, prater, butterfly house, and zoom kids museum.

* Dec. 21 - take early train to Salzburg, arrive around 11am. Hubs and I were here 10 years ago (may have made our 9 year old here (ha!)), mom and dad here in spring, sister never been. We have the day and night to explore. What to do besides Christmas market?

* Dec. 22 - take early train to Fussen to see Neuschwanstein Castle, parents and sister leave to go back to Barcelona. Tour castle (tour reservations made for 15:45). Stay the night in Kempten. We've never been here before.

* Dec. 23 - take train to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. Any stops along the way we should get out to take a peek at and stretch our legs?

* Dec. 23-27 - Lauterbrunnen. We're staying in the same home we stayed at 5 years ago when traveling with our two older girls! It was spring when we were here last so it will be quite different and MUCH colder this time around. What should we do here? We are not skiers, but would love to sled. Where should we eat for Christmas dinner?

* Dec. 27 - No plans yet. Need to make our way to Geneva. Where to stay? What do to?

* Dec. 28 - Leave from Geneva airport around 17:00 to fly back to Barcelona.

* Dec. 28-30 - Barcelona. We were here 5 years ago with two older girls, but it was spring. We do NOT have a hotel or apartment booked yet. Will see La Sagrada again. Anything else we should do with kids? Really only have one full day here.

* Dec. 30 - fly out of Barcelona around 14:00.

Thank you for helping this mama out!
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Sep 25th, 2017, 09:51 AM
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Why are you spending so much travel time and extra flight time and costs to fly into and out Barcelona? Honestly, I know this is blunt, but it makes no sense.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 10:06 AM
  #3
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We got non stop round trip tickets from SFO to BCN for $399.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 10:20 AM
  #4
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We found cheap tickets from Barcelona to Vienna for about $60 per person. Only about $40 per person to fly from Geneva back to Barcelona. Couldn't pass that deal up! Great question though!
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Sep 25th, 2017, 10:28 AM
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* Dec. 27 - No plans yet. Need to make our way to Geneva. Where to stay? What do to?>

Well take the fabled Golden Pass scenic train from Interlaken-Ost to Monntreux - bit longer than going to Geneva via faster route via Bern and Lausanne but so much more scenic.

You don't have much time in Lake Geneva area so maybe stay in Montreux that day and leisurely go to Geneva the following day. Maybe leave bags in train station locker and bus or train or walk to nearby Castle Chillon, lovingly sitting right on the lake.

You may find a Swiss Travel Pass a good deal as it covers GP in full and also trains to Lauterbrunnen and Wengen and even cables/train up to Murren.

For lots on Swiss trains and passes and things to do in Jungfrau area check www.sbb.ch; www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 10:49 AM
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I still think its is a very bad plan. Your sister ends up with three whole days and two half days for sightseeing, but at least four days of flying around. You are also spending extra money for all of you in hotels where you have no time. If you can change any of this, do it.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 11:02 AM
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Frankly, it sounds horrible. Dragging 8 people around all over like that in mid-winter when the days are short, it`s cold, and things are closed is just the makings of a nightmare. Saving money is not always the most desirable goal.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 11:03 AM
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Great airfare - not such a great plan.

IMO too much hopping around -- especially for a group of eight.

>>* Dec. 17 - arrive in Barcelona in the late afternoon (we've all been here before, except for my sister). We do NOT have an apartment or hotel booked yet.<<

W/ a late afternoon arrival why are you even considering an apartment since you are flying out the next morning to Austria. Why not fly directly on to Vienna that afternoon/evening/ Save an extra, un-needed packing/unpacking/checking in/out.

>>* Dec. 28 - Leave from Geneva airport around 17:00 to fly back to Barcelona.
* Dec. 28-30 - Barcelona. Fly out if BCN on the 30th.<<

That gives you one day in Barcelona (the 29th)

If it was me -- I'd just do the Barcelona, Germany and Switzerland bits. Everything (and I mean everything) will take longer w/ a three generation/eight people group. Plus it will be winter and you can expect anything from decent to vile weather.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 11:13 AM
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* Dec. 23 - take train to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. Any stops along the way we should get out to take a peek at and stretch our legs>

Well if you leave at 8:40 it will take 5.5 hours so yes you could get off and walk around say Zurich or Bern and see the Christmas Markets - a really neat city with main things right near train station - put bags in locker and spend a few hours in to me one of Switzerland's nicest cities.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 11:50 AM
  #10
 
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Coming from the perspective of someone who travels with extended family, I love your itinerary. Yes, you are traveling fast but as long as you finess all the transitions you will have a wonderful time. That airfare is amazing and good for you for taking advantage of it.

When I have a big group traveling with me, I always make sure I have a driver waiting for us either at the train station or airport. I make sure everyone has only a carry on luggage or a medium backbag. You need to very light on your feet, especially with 3 children. But the ratio of adults to children is still in your favor. ��

Salzburg is one of my favorite cities but I only saw it in the summer. We did the bicycle sound of music tour and we loved it. My sister was in Salzburg in the winter and she also did it. She dresses warmly and had gloves.

Have fun!!
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Sep 25th, 2017, 11:58 AM
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Yes the 8:41 departure is by far the quickest for the next several hours (from Kempten) and involves the fewest number of changes - 3! In Zurich, Bern and Interlaken-Ost - get group ready to get off train upon arrival (check transfer times) and remember that in Switzerland there are trains twice hourly Zurich on so no need to rush to make a tight connection - anyway the easiest way to check schedules IME is at www.bahn.de/en - German Railways web site which will also offer some discounts over full fare if you book far enough in advance to score them as they are sold in limited numbers.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 12:01 PM
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That is terrific airfare. I can see why you jumped at that. I would pare back the plan a bit also. Even with seasoned travelers who like to be on the go, this is a lot of moving around.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 12:45 PM
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OK, know I am being redundant, but you need to seriously rethink this whole plan.
You saved only on airfare. So, $399.00 per person. Add on the $60.00 & $40.00 for flights to Vienna and back from Geneva, now $499.00 a person. Add cost of useless night in Barcelona. Even with sharing rooms, at least $50.00 a person, so now $550.00 per person and a half day of time wasted next day getting to Vienna.

Other parts of plan.

Vienna. You will have part of an afternoon and two days. Good!

Dec. 21, Salzburg.
No, you do not have a day and a night to explore. You do not even arrive until 11:00 am. By time you get checked into your hotel and out and about again, it will be afternoon. You have only an afternoon and evening to explore!

Dec. 22, Maybe it just is not clear, and is better than it seems, but your tickets for Neuschwanstein are not until 3:45pm. Likely dark by time you finish. Your parents and sister are making their way back to Barcelona that night? Are they returning to Geneva for a flight back to Barcelona or do they have different tickets? If they are returning to Geneva, that is a major issue. How are they getting there, etc?

Dec. 23 - 27, Lauterbrunnen. No! You are counting days twice.
Dec. 23, It will take more than 1/2 day to get to Lauterbrunnen.
Dec. 27, You will be heading to Geneva on Dec 27.
That leaves 24, 25, 26, in Lauternbrunnen, 3 days and a bit of another day, which is fine. You can plan for 3 days.

Dec. 28, 29, 30, in Barcelona. Just plain silly.
Dec. 28, You do not depart Geneva until 5:00 pm, no time in Barcelona that day.
Dec. 30, You depart Barcelona early afternoon, so maybe a morning then.
Dec. 29, is the only day you have in Barcelona

So many bits and parts of days! Only a total of 6 whole days anywhere. 7 hotel stays in a 2 week trip in winter.

For parents and sister, even worse. At least 4 hotels with only 2 whole days, unless they are staying a day to explore Barcelona.

Now, if this plan works for you, great! It is just fine to have one night stays and continue in a line, saving time backtracking to a home base. However, just to get a reality check on what your plan involves, you are backtracking big time!
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Sep 25th, 2017, 02:08 PM
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Yikes guys! Sorry to disappoint. But when you're on a tight budget you gotta do what you gotta do. Yes, it's a lot of travel time, but we want to see as much as we can on our limited amount of money. Who can find tickets from SFO to Vienna for $499?! The tickets to/from Barcelona ($3200 for 8 people guys!) and to/from Vienna have been purchased. Done deal.

My parents and sis know they won't be seeing much. It's more just the idea of them getting to spend Christmastime with us at the markets. They couldn't get more than a week off of work so they took what they could get.

My parents and sis will leave from Salzburg (on the 22nd), back to Vienna (I tried to tell them to go from Munich, but they didn't listen), and then back to Barcelona. They'll have the evening in Barcelona and early the next morning. My mom said they can sleep with they're dead. They'll make the most of it.

>> "Well take the fabled Golden Pass scenic train from Interlaken-Ost to Monntreux - bit longer than going to Geneva via faster route via Bern and Lausanne but so much more scenic." >>
- Love this idea. Thanks PalenQ

>> "W/ a late afternoon arrival why are you even considering an apartment since you are flying out the next morning to Austria. Why not fly directly on to Vienna that afternoon/evening/ Save an extra, un-needed packing/unpacking/checking in/out." <<
- No cheap flights out that night. Will probably stay in close airport hotel. I'm sure we'll be tired from not sleeping with kids on the plane.

>>"Saving money is not always the most desirable goal." <<
- Definitely not the most desirable, but dang we're going to save a lot of money.

>>" When I have a big group traveling with me, I always make sure I have a driver waiting for us either at the train station or airport. I make sure everyone has only a carry on luggage or a medium backbag" >>
- Great idea on the driver. Definitely only bringing carry on sized luggage. We're being cheap remember? Don't want to pay for extra bags or weight!"

>>"However, just to get a reality check on what your plan involves, you are backtracking big time.">>
- I usually don't like flying in/out of the same city, but I couldn't find anything remotely close to this price point.

Speaking of being cheap. We're staying in airbnb/homeaway type places for the majority of our stays. Our (immediate family of five) budget allows for $150 a night max. We figured if we did that, plus our $2500 airfare, plus food, transportation, and activities we'd hit around $7500 for a two week family vacation in Europe for Christmas. We thought that sounded pretty good. It's not perfect, but I think it will be fun.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 02:10 PM
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Consider taking a day off Lauterbrunnen since you do not want to prance around in snow much -so hiking is out and put in in Salzburg? A wonderful city like sassafrass says you will not see much of in light and a wonderful Baroque city thru and thru.

And Reutte is a wonderful old town before Kempten -it has direct buses to Fussen just a few miles away thru the gap in mountains - you could put your luggage in station there and go to Fussen and back sans luggage and return and go on to Kempten. Indeed from Reutte you'all could take two taxis the few miles right to Neuschwanstein base parking lot, a few miles outside Fussen and make it all the easier. From the base parking lot/bus stop you have to either walk steep paths to castle or take mini-bus or horse-drawn shuttles - any case takes time to do that after getting off either bus from Fussen or taxi from Reutte.

Fussen station has luggage storage too if you take bus from Reutte to there and then buses or taxis to the castle. Much easier if leave bags in Reutte station (check to see if there is luggage storage which nearly all Austrian stations I've been to do) and taxis right to Neuschwanstein's base.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 03:03 PM
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We stayed in Reutte when we visited Neuschwanstein also. It's a great little town and not far from the castles. We stayed at the Hotel Moserhof, which was very reasonable: http://www.hotel-moserhof.at/
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Sep 25th, 2017, 03:13 PM
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Gotta ask - where did you get that airfare from SFO to BCN ? On which airline ?
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Sep 25th, 2017, 04:10 PM
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>>Yikes guys! Sorry to disappoint. But when you're on a tight budget you gotta do what you gotta do. Yes, it's a lot of travel time, but we want to see as much as we can on our limited amount of money. <<

I wouldn't criticize anyone getting a huge deal on airfares. That is wonderful - no joke.

BUT then you need to adapt your itinerary to what is reasonable for 1) the group's size/ages, 2) the time of year, 3) the arrival/departure city.

The more you travel around (especially with 8 people) the LESS you see. Even MORE SO in winter when there are inevitable delays for weather.

The more times spent in airports/train stations/on planes/on trains . . . the less time you have for seeing/doing.

So great/fantabulous (!) -- you booked your whole family to Europe for very little $$$. Now don't ruin everything by dragging everyone around on a forced march. Pick the three or four places you want to visit -- obviously Barcelona should be one of them. That will give you more time IN places than traveling TO places.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 04:56 PM
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PalenQ is giving good advice all around, especially for Neuschwanstein, to allow plenty of time for getting to the castle. Chance of snow is still small in Dec. so. shuttles and carriages will probably be running just fine. However, if there is snow, and if you should have to walk, it is a hike and you will need more time. Check the day you are going so you are prepared. Dress really warm - boots, warm socks, etc.
Also, it will be dark by time you are coming down from the castle.

On Dec 22, your parents and sister are seeing Neuschwanstein with you, 3:45 to 4:15, back down from the castle, back to Salzburg, back to Vienna and on to Barcelona or are they spending a night back in Salzburg or Vienna before the flight back to Barcelona?
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Sep 25th, 2017, 06:35 PM
  #20
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I'm seeing our route from Salzburg to Fussen via Munich. About 4 hours on the train. Would stopping in Reutte be out of the way then? Looks like going to Reutte would add on an hour to the trip. I was hoping to stay in Kempten so we could knock off an hour or so of travel time from the next day.

Nothing set in stone yet for Kempten/Fussen. Should I get rid of this stop on our adventure? Is it too out of the way from Salzburg to Switzerland? Is the weather too risky? Should we save it for another trip? I just thought it would be beautiful to see with my young princesses, but if it's too much of a hassle I can nix it.

Vienna is a must. We have plane tickets and apartment booked. Just bought train tickets to Salzburg as well and booked a hotel there so it's probably a definite go also.

Switzerland is also a must. We promised our kids we would go there. They've been dreaming of it for so long!

Barcelona is a must only because we fly in/out of there. We don't care to spend that much time there. We've seen it. A day is plenty for this trip.

My parents leave from Salzburg. They are not going to Neuswanstein with us.

The airline is Iberia. It's from Oakland to Barcelona. That flight is now $1700+ pp.
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