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Need information in arranging our first family trip to Europe

Need information in arranging our first family trip to Europe

Jan 22nd, 2010, 01:31 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 16,658
Okay - I found our trip report from the first trip - I never finished it - it does not include the Rome portion. It was fun to re-read
MomDDTravel is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 01:31 PM
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Oppss..forgot to paste it.
MomDDTravel is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 01:48 PM
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This should be a link to the short trip report I did about taking our son to London, the Loire Valley and Paris; it might give you some ideas. http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...first-time.cfm

My husband's parents are from Mumbai; that's why we ate a lot of Indian food in London, particularly southern Indian, which we really can't get where we live now. My son didn't really like Indian food at restaurants until AFTER we went to London, so he had a lot of lassi and samosas while we ate the good stuff.

I have a funny story about jet lag. I was really worried about this for our daughter, because she has a lot of issues regularly with not being able to fall asleep. And when we travel two time zones away, to visit my parents, she never really adapts to that time zone - she just goes to sleep really late, and sleeps in. So, I was worried.

On the flight to Europe, she did sleep some on the plane, about as much as I did. We had a long layever in Frankfurt, and I kept encouraging her to take a catnap, either in the airport, or on the leg of the journey from Frankfurt to Venice. DH and I did take catnaps, but she just didn't. Then I BET her that she wouldn't make it awake until bedtime unless she took a catnap on the plane. And you can guess, she was awake and cheerful all the way through dinner that night, went to sleep at the same hour she does at home, and I lost the bet.
Lexma90 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 02:20 PM
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Hi All,

I will respond to you and ask more question as I inch through my planning.

@AlessandraZoe: Thanks for sharing your travel experiences both as a teenager and adult. This opens my thoughts to count in a few emergencies and unexpected turns. I will look into the possible day-trips without with just 2 cities may be. I personally would love to do Venice this time, but it is a family trip, so going to have a discussion with kids and DH to come up with what satisfies most of us. I agree there are some excellent advices people have provided and I will heed to them. Oh, so Amsterdam is where Tulips are. Hmm… now that is something we would love to see, the tulip fields. Do you know when they start to bloom?

@Lynnaustin & @cheryllj: I am checking the price for hotels and apartments. I am learning that we will need at least 2 rooms or an apartment. I am following up on the references from others about apartments. Hopefully I will find a reasonably priced accommodation.

@KTtravel: I will take your experience into account while planning. Kids can get sick and/or tired during major travel and I do not want them to be forced to see things. I am checking into only open jaw flights reservation from US to Europe and back. Once we decide the places to visit I will buy the tickets. One thing I learned is the in the timeframe I am looking roundtrip flights are not much cheaper than the open jaw ones.

@Michel_Paris: Let me understand. Are you saying that people do day travel between London and Paris? That would be very expensive and tiring, won’t it?

@StCirq: I was not planning to take a car. But was asking since one of the posters here suggested people drive from one city to other. I thought these cities are very public transport friendly.

@iris1745: I am looking at VRBO and Homeaway. I am also checking the sites Tommartin59 provided. Hopefully I will find something soon.

@NYCFoodSnob: No, perfection is not the goal. But it is obvious to me that going with my original plan would have been disaster for the family trip. Want to avoid that. Yes, I feel that I did myself a favor by asking here. I just stumbled upon this site looking for some information and now I understand what a great resource I have found!

@annhig: 2007 sprint we did a trip to Puerto Rico and I read a lot about it from a site. From that experience we had an excellent trip. Someday we will go back there, even though we have seen enough. Lovely place! So, I have learned that taking advice from experienced people helps a lot. No, even though I might sound like that, I am not leaning towards London and Paris yet, but keeping my option open. I do not want to influence family decision by my choice. I will ask the kids to spend some time in library and internet and make a list of things they want to see. Final decision will take some time and I am sure kids will enjoy wherever we go. Even though I have never been to any of these places, I have a feeling I will incline towards Venice, Rome and Paris more than London. Amsterdam is a new in the mix with the anticipation to see tulips. Will let you know in a few days.

@christycruz: I will look into the thread about London/Paris route and also check the low cost airlines.

@MomDDTrvel: It is so nice to hear from some who did it both ways and writing back. Yes I am planning to scale back. Even though my heart says go for it, my brain understands it would not be fun for us if we over schedule. About the budget, again I am a super optimist. I always plan with everything going in my favor. If I learn that I cannot manage with that budget then maybe I will scale back. I have a secret plan of doing an Alaskan Cruise this summer with family and parents and a Hawaii vacation during Christmas break. So, if I do well on this one, I can manage the other two or maybe one… Europe is magical and I want to see so many places. Earlier I was thinking it might take 4 trips to see all of it. Now, I have to prioritize and see enough in may be 5/6 trips. BTW, how many trips to Europe does it take to see it all? I will read all trip reports after posting this response and learn a few more things.

@ Lexma90: Thank you for posting your trip report. I will read it after posting this response. That was funny about the jetlag story. I will try that on the kids. Sometime all it takes is a bet to motivate them. You lost the bet, but gained the lovely time with your family. So, good trade!

Thanks every one of you. Keep writing. I am still reading and learning.

junk4rp is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 02:36 PM
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Rp- you asked Michel about day trip between Paris and London - we were going to do that from Paris or spend the night in London (using points) so not moving out of the apartment.

Depending on when you go, buy the train tickets etc - yes, it can be costly for 5 people (we had 6) it is one reason we ended up not going. DD got pretty sick so that was the real reason I think (fuzzy recollection) - one thing I noticed in reading my trip reports is how often I mentioned jet lag - sleeping in, being tired, over sleeping... it did impact us.

I am not sure I could ever see "all" of Europe - My cousin has gone more than any person I know personally and she now is onto smaller towns... after having been to Paris for example maybe 10 times at least?
MomDDTravel is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 02:38 PM
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One more thought - you might want to read the Rick Steve's travel boards for ideas on your hotels - they generally use pretty budget places. I like his Back Door to Europe books for general over views. (not the pace he keeps).

Train tickets, transportation added up quickly for us on both trips.
MomDDTravel is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 02:44 PM
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hi again,

your trip does co-incide with the blooming of the tulips in Holland. I'm not sure that it would appeal to your kids as much as Rome/Paris/London/venice.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 02:56 PM
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Hi there, I thought I'd throw my .02 in!

I'm glad you are rethinking the bigger itinerary and considering just 2 cities. My mom and I are doing London and Paris (with my sister joining us in Paris) during the same time frame as you are considering. We will be in London March 22-27, Eurostar to Paris on the 27th and then in Paris for the week departing on the 3rd of April. We are staying in a small hotel in London and then we have booked an apartment for Paris. You might want to also look at Paris Best Lodge for apartments. Thierry is very responsive and I've received good reviews from prior renters.

I booked our flights on BA back in the end of November open jaw for my Mom and I and RT for my sister so we'd all be on the same flight coming home. Our flights were about $850 RT and my sisters was $950. We did pay a little more because we did want a nonstop flight to London and we all needed to come back on the same flight so it did limit our options. I would try to book flights soon as I have noticed they are increasing.

I also booked our Eurostar (via the UK website) as soon as our date was available and saved some money. If you are on a budget I would try to get your dates, airfare and Eurostar booked ASAP. That will give you more money to spend on accommodations because if you wait till February to book you may risk paying more.

You have definitely come to the right place. I spent hours on these forums researching and changed my mind numerous times based on others' experiences written here. The advice you will receive is invaluable!
crsnyder4 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 03:00 PM
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If you decide to do the London/Paris/a country spot I would recommend the loire valley. I know I researched a good spot to get to from Paris and ended up with this solution. We took the train from Paris to Amboise and then a taxi to Chenonceau where we stayed in this charming family friendly inn-
The chateau--
was in walking distance from the hotel (which also had a pool). We also explored Amboise and went to the Da Vinci musuem. It worked out really well for a short interlude away from the two big cities we were visiting.

I would also highly recommend looking for an apartment during your stay in Paris that is close to the luxembourg gardens. It would be a great spot for your kids to explore and nice to be within walking distance of it. Probably the same would hold true for the parks in London. Just not as familiar with those.
macdogmom is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 03:36 PM
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For London, check out www.yha.org.uk. The St. Pancras hostel has rooms for five, and it's across the street, basically, from St. Pancras so it's handy for the Eurostar.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 03:38 PM
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I looked into that hostel when I was going to take my dd (just the two of us) in 08. It gets GREAT reviews. Good suggestion Lee Ann!
MomDDTravel is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 04:24 PM
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junk4rp--I went to dinner when you were still doubting and came back and you were sold on trimming back. How wonderful! this has made my day. Now you have to make the decisions--and that becomes harder.

You have NO idea how many of us are on your page of wanting to see the world with your children. I worried so much our family would run out of time and money. But it's funny--when you have great experiences together traveling, the time and the money to do more somehow appears. As so many of us have said, we don't replace couches or lamps or rugs in our homes anymore--that's air fare!

When we started out traveling abroad with the kids, I had a life-threatening disease. I found a cheap airfare to Paris and took the kids for three days. Next all four of us went to London. Then we hiked the Alps in Switzerland (same year!). We went back to Paris that year for Xmas.

We've done a lot of traveling in between and we've revisted many cities again and again. But this past holiday, my kids (23 and 18) reported in and said that their favorite cities of all that they had visited over the past 15 or so years are now Venice, Amsterdam, Paris and Rome.

Don't do all four, please! But you can see now why we are saying Venice/Rome or Amsterdam/Paris. The water thing really appeals to kids.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 04:25 PM
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I think Amsterdam/Paris would be cool as well.

Great post Allessandro.
MomDDTravel is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 04:51 PM
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Wow! Lots of experienced advice. I'm benefitting from your thread!!

We also struggled with the hotel issue. I don't like the idea of splitting up into two rooms, as I'm used to booking larger rooms here in Canada and the US which accomodate 5. This is apparently difficult in Europe However, we were able to book a family room for 5 at Sidney Hotel London. We got an amazing deal and read some very favorable reviews. I think the deal may have been because we booked so far in advance, but I'll give you the link anyway. They were very quick to answer my email.

Here is the link to their site:

My husband jokingly said we should try and switch time zones before we leave Canada. Has anyone tried this? We will have the week off before our trip, so it's actually a possibility! It just seems like a crazy idea....
jtw999 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 04:55 PM
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Part of the issue as has been shared up thread is physiological passing through the time zones - your internal clock gets out of whack.
MomDDTravel is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 05:05 PM
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junk4rp: One little detail re your flights. apersuader65 has misled you just a bit. It is cheaper to fly into London and out of Paris (or whichever ends up being your second city).

Yes, UK airport taxes/fees are higher -- but they are the departure taxes, not arrival.

So it would save you quite a bit if you fly into London, take the train to Paris, and fly home from Paris. The extra $$$ times five would save quite a bit.
janisj is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 06:03 PM
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Hi; For me, it's not about saving a few dollars. Going to London on British air is 'non-stop' on the way over. Only seven hours, where most other flights are 11 or 12 hours. You might be talking 30 or 40US dollars PP more to fly to London on British air. But, get in early, park your bags at the hotel and you have the day in London. Flying home from Paris is a one stop, but for me that's fine. As many others have said, try kayak.com Richard
iris1745 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 04:08 AM
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Haven't read it all, but of course, agree. 'way too much.
I really like fmpden's idea of London, Paris and Amsterdam. The latter is brilliant, I think. It is charming, and has lots of cultural things. All are close train rides.
Rome is OUT. Venice, while interesting, isn't a child's town.
Italy is hard to negotiate by train in my opinion and is very "long".
AND don't forget to let the kids do some of the choosing of things to do--Paris's science museum. I personally think they are pretty young for this. It will be fun, and probably memorable, but not as much as if they were at least a little older.
And don't forget that $150/night is really only about 100E!!

We took our 3 teenagers to Europe a long time ago now--for 3 weeks. Do the train stations still have agencies for hotel rooms available in the cities? This is how we travelled and it worked out amazingly well at that time--LONG before the internet made things much more predictable.
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 04:24 AM
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Kids are never too young. They will just have a different experience, that's all. Our six-year-old doesn't remember as much about his trips to Scotland as his older brother, but he might have had the most fun of any of us. (Suggestion to the original poster - make a photo book just for your kids when you get home - even some of the pictures you might not put in your own album can be good for reminding them of what they did and saw - and make sure there are plenty of pictures of them in it!) But I do agree with Gretchen about letting the kids pick some specific destinations.
Barbara_in_FL is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 07:15 AM
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I'd encourage the kids to make their own scrapbooks of the trip. My 6 1/2 yr old granddaughter began hers on the flight over to CDG with paper, colored pencils, markers we had packed, drawing a picture of the plane, etc. We saved ticket stubs, post cards, printed napkins, coasters, etc., and with her drawings and photos her mom and I took, she completed a very cute scrapbook when we got home.

BTW, we spent 6 days there, and in addition to seeing the main sights, we spent time at lots of parks and just hanging out; never a question of running out of things to interest her. If you're interested in the trip from my point of view, just click on my name.

Have a wonderful trip!
grandmere is offline  

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