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Need advice to plan a trip for graduation gift

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Feb 1st, 2016, 11:24 AM
  #1
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Need advice to plan a trip for graduation gift

Hi,

My eldest son is graduating from high school in June and his plans to travel with friends to Europe have fallen through with the other boys pulling out. So I am sacrificing myself (lol) and have offered to take him. And to be honest he's our eldest and going off to college next year and I am looking forward for spending this time alone especially since we have two younger sons. So it will only my son and myself. We are pretty laid back. We are not "foodies". As long as we have something to eat we are fine. We had considered taking a cruise but I'm on the fence with that. We have decicded London is a must and maybe Edinburg? But London for sure. Then what Paris? Italy? We can go anytime from mid June through the first week of August and we can go for up to 2 weeks. I have priced the possibility of flying into London. I have started looking at the rail routes and passes, the pass that covers several tourist attractions in London etc. as I said we are laid back. We enjoy history and just walking around and soaking up the local environment. We are open to any and all suggestions. We could make this easy and book a 14 night cruise that visits cities all over the UK (Scotland), Ireland and Normandy. Or a 7-10 day cruise and visit Rome, Venice etc. and then fly or take the train and visit London and Paris. Yet we both like the idea of spending more time in each city and taking the train to our next destination. Not to mention the 14 day cruise is fast paced and cost over $5200 granted that covers a lot of food breakfast, dinners and snacks but not excursions. With canceling the planned trip we are starting from scratch and I need all of the help and advice ASAP. And we want to be safe as possible. From where to start, budget, hotels, airfare tips (I already have several apps I use for travel). Please help : )
Thank you in advance!
T
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Feb 1st, 2016, 11:42 AM
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Two weeks ain't much. Why not spend a good four days in London and than work yourself slowly up north to Edinburgh, from where you can fly back home? A few days in Oxford or Cambridge, a couple of nights in Lincoln or York, and a day in surprising Glasgow, and you've got a relaxed and rewarding holiday.
(And the UK is a perfect country when you're interests are not mainly gastronomical. Nothing beats good pub food!)
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Feb 1st, 2016, 11:46 AM
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I'd think you need to start by reading some good guidebooks, that's what I do, and get an idea. You need to narrow somethign down for a start -- like England and Scotland.

I wouldn't think a teen would be very interested in cruises, I'd forget that idea and they are very expensive anyway. Why would you want to stay on a boat and eat on a boat instead of visiting the country itself.
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Feb 1st, 2016, 11:53 AM
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Does the 17 year old have any particular interests? Granted it is exciting to walk and gawk around a big foreign city, but in his free time at home, what grabs him? Sports? Visual things? Animals? Politics? Computers? Bike sharing? Music?

Where was he planning to go with his friends, and to do what?
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Feb 1st, 2016, 12:53 PM
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For information on trains and ticketing, check out

http://www.seat61.com/
http://www.nationalrail.co.uk
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Feb 1st, 2016, 12:58 PM
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London and Scotland would make a fabulous 2 week trip. Or London/Paris/Amsterdam.

You need to avoid Edinburgh in August though . . . UNLESS you are going for the Military Tattoo/Festivals. They tattoo/festivals are terrific but they triple the size of the city and triple+ the hotel room rates. June would be a great time.

>>the pass that covers several tourist attractions in London etc.<<

WhatEVER you do - do NOT buy the London Pass. It is very expensive and mainly covers second (and third) tier attractions. It does cover a few of the 'musts' but there are so many free sites in London. We have a current thread going where a family was 'lucky' enough to have the grandparents buy them London Passes as a going away present, and they ended up devising a crap itinerary just trying to make most of the LP.

There are other ways to save a LOT more than the LP -- like 2 for1 entries to most of the paid sites using what's called the Days Out scheme.

https://www.daysoutguide.co.uk
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Feb 1st, 2016, 01:09 PM
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I agree we need to decide which cities and not pack too much in. We know we will visit London for sure so in my mind it's London and work our way to Edinburg. Or London, Paris and possibly Amerstedamn. His interest are music but none I consider decent (lol). He loves history thus the castles, churches, war memorials etc. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me but can someone wing it and answer this. We can go on this trip from will be in mid June- July for about 14-16 days. I am guesstimating $1500 ($3000) airfare. Hotels $150-$200 per night, transportation probably or maybe eurorail passes, food $120-$150 per day, admittance fees and miscellaneous expenses $___? Is this even close?
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Feb 1st, 2016, 01:17 PM
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I forgot to add he loves to cruise because at night there is a lot to do.
The first cruise he pointed out is a 10 day new Carnival ship that visits everywhere from Athens, Barcelona, Malta, Sicily, Florence, Rome, Marseille France. The second cruise he found is a 12 day that visits everywhere like Ireland, Scotland, Guernsey, Normandy. I thought for the cruise cost alone of around $5200, plus excursions we could do something on our own and take more time and less as needed.
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Feb 1st, 2016, 01:21 PM
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With canceling the planned trip we are starting from scratch and I need all of the help and advice ASAP>

Well by all means consider the fantastic European train system that has fast frequent departures going everywhere all the time - to get a fix on planning a Europe rail journey check these helpful sites: www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com -download the latter's free online European Planning & Rail Guide for oodles of rail itineraries in all parts of Europe. If doing more than a handful of trains check on Eurail or single or two-country Saver Passes - saver passes are for two people traveling on trains always together at a cheaper rate than solo passes. Passes in all but a handful of countries still let you hop any train anytime - full flexibility and if over 25 like you are first class, another benefit IME of decades of Europe railing over 2nd class (which ain't cattle cars but first class is much more relaxed, especially for folks carrying around luggage - more empty seats, more room to stow luggage, etc.
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Feb 1st, 2016, 01:25 PM
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Oh Crap -- mess up the underline . . . this will be easier to read:

London and Scotland would make a fabulous 2 week trip. Or London/Paris/Amsterdam.

You need to avoid Edinburgh in August though . . . UNLESS you are going for the Military Tattoo/Festivals. They tattoo/festivals are terrific but they triple the size of the city and triple+ the hotel room rates. June would be a great time.

>>the pass that covers several tourist attractions in London etc.<<

WhatEVER you do - do NOT buy the London Pass. It is very expensive and mainly covers second (and third) tier attractions. It does cover a few of the 'musts' but there are so many free sites in London. We have a current thread going where a family was 'lucky' enough to have the grandparents buy them London Passes as a going away present, and they ended up devising a crap itinerary just trying to make most of the LP.

There are other ways to save a LOT more than the LP -- like 2 for1 entries to most of the paid sites using what's called the Days Out scheme.

https://www.daysoutguide.co.uk
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Feb 1st, 2016, 01:35 PM
  #11
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Sorry to bother you all again but I have read conflicting reviews about the eurorail train pass. I have read that it's a good deal. And I have read it's only a good deal if you plan on traveling a good bit.

I need to get the hard figures but the June prices are not updated yet so I can't price individual trips yet. If we take the train say to Cambridge, York, Peak District and Scottland and possibly Paris then I would guess it is worth it.

And I need to research the tube transportation within London and the other cities we will visit. And figure out that cost. I have read their are passes for based on a number of days for "zones"???

Also the cost from Heathrow to our hotel in London which I also need to figure out the best location for a hotel and a decent hotel.

I am feeling overwhelmed.
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Feb 1st, 2016, 01:42 PM
  #12
 
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You don't need to take a cruise, to have a lot to do at night. London is a great city with a lot to do, every night of the year! So I find that a interesting criterion.

If you want to take a cruise, then do, and there's your travel planning finished, I suppose.

Many here on Fodor's tend to plan their own travel and so are well placed to offer advice on the same.

You can spend as much money as you want on a trip, whether or not it's on a cruise ship. With two weeks, I would choose two cities maximum, as I prefer a slower pace and more time in each destination, so I might not be offering suggestions you want to hear.

I think if you can figure out what destinations appeal, and why, or choose a theme for your trip (WWII history, or Impressionist art, or whatever), that your itinerary will start to take shape. Yes, the Internet has lots of information, but I suggest you both read some guidebooks (free from your local public library).

Good luck with your planning and hope you have a great holiday.
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Feb 1st, 2016, 02:10 PM
  #13
 
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I've never taken a cruise, so sorry for this uninformed question but:

Would the $5200 cost the total cost for the two of you (exclusive of air fare)? I see that you are not counting the cost of excursions, but for the ports of call you've listed, you could sightsee those on your own.

If this is a graduation present for your son, and he is enthusiastic about taking a cruise, why not give him the present he wants? If the cost for the 2 of you would be $10,200 for a cruise, then you can surely beat that price. But if $5200 more than you want to spend, I am am not sure you can bring down the cost all that much traveling14 days independently in summer, given your wish list of London, Edinburgh or places like Paris and Amsterdam and your son's desire for nighttime entertainment. Maybe especially if you don't like research and planning.
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Feb 1st, 2016, 02:16 PM
  #14
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I hate to miss the tattoo festival (lol) just teasing married to a 23 year returned Marine who somehow doesn't have one tattoo. But we don't need to give me teenager any ideas : )
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Feb 1st, 2016, 02:22 PM
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Uh . . . It Isn't a 'Tattoo Festival' (I think you may need a guide book or two )

It is 1) the Edinburgh Military Tattoo http://www.edintattoo.co.uk

and 2 ) several very big festivals - Fringe, https://www.edfringe.com The International festival http://www.eif.co.uk , a books festival https://www.edbookfest.co.uk , etc.

All are world famous for good reason.
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Feb 1st, 2016, 02:26 PM
  #16
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I have taken you're advice and downloaded guides and websites and have my notebook handy to make notes.

I have also started making a list of places that are a must and will have my son so the same.

I think flying over and taking time to see a few wonderful sights and just the experience of the train, scenery, pubs and culture is the best fit.

Thank you for sharing and helping me see that.......I will do my homework but I am sure I will have more questions. Thank you so much!
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Feb 1st, 2016, 02:27 PM
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Oh yikes sorry I should have looked it up. No disrespect intended! ��
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Feb 1st, 2016, 02:34 PM
  #18
 
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As you have already figured out, forget the Eurail Pass. England and Scotland would make a fine two week trip. But has your son studied a foreign language in school? If, for instance, he studied French, a London/Paris trip would be a great opportunity for him, likewise to go to Spain if he studied Spanish or Germany if he studied German.

Also, involve him as much a possible in the planning. Have him study some guidebooks and decide what places he really wants to see.
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Feb 1st, 2016, 02:35 PM
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No disrespect at all

Just wanted to make sure you didn't think Fodorites are a bunch of wing nuts . . . sending you on a tattoo parlor/biker bar tour
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Feb 1st, 2016, 03:03 PM
  #20
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Yes, the foreign language is Spanish and trust me when I say it isn't going to get us far (lol)!

To answer the other questions and comments. This is his graduation gift and he was just awarded a full academic and lacrosse scholarship. So it is an even bigger graduation gift.

I have taken screen shots and prepared a little info packet for him to look through alone and then together with me.

He keeps mentioning Scotland which to be honest surprised me but he seems really hell bent on UK, Scotland and either Ireland or Paris. I told him that Ireland in my opinion Ireland shouldn't be rushed and we needed to save Ireland or forgoe Scotland.

I am doing the searches now to present the idea of London, Paris and Amersterdamn too as one of you suggested.

And I promise if he still comes back and wants to do a cruise that is what he will get but I think this is a case of having him truly study where and what he wants to see and then he can decide.

How long is adequate for Lodon 4 days?

I know you all are the experts and am grateful to have your experience and assistance!
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