Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Planning ahead versus going with the flow

Planning ahead versus going with the flow

Old Apr 6th, 2007, 03:34 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 678
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Planning ahead versus going with the flow

Hello all,

I am traveling to Europe this summer with my husband and two children (16 yrs and 11 yrs old). We have our itinerary set, traveling through Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and England, and have our airplane tickets and reservations for the first 10 days of the trip out of a total of 37 days.

I am struggling with the need to plan ahead for every single hotel from Italy to Paris, versus the freedom to arrive in places like Lisbon, Caen, Seville, London and Paris with reservations and prices locked in.

As a child my family took me to Sydney, Australia where we arrived without a hotel reservation at the same time as a huge convention that took up all the hotel rooms except for a real dump with a bunk bed that collapsed on my sister. The lesson I learned from this was "plan ahead." However, I am finding myself obsessing about rooms and worry that I am taking the fun out of the entire trip.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Are TIs efficient and effective enough that we can arrive in most places in Europe and find a quad room for less than 150 Euros or do I need to do my research ahead of time to get such a deal?

Please advise (and please don't lecture me on the appropriateness of our itinerary. I've already received that lecture elsewhere on this message board).

Thank you for your kind and constructive advice.
cferrb is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 03:56 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,343
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Unless you're going to really small towns that are off the beaten track, I would definitely plan WAY ahead. The summer is the busiest tourist season of all, and you may find yourselves spending an inordinate amount of time looking for decent and reasonably priced accomodations.

Many European hotels don't even offer quad rooms. And when they do have them, these rooms are booked months in advance by families and students traveling together. So you may have to book two rooms in most places for your family.

Weadles is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 03:59 AM
  #3  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,699
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi cf,

>... arrive in most places in Europe and find a quad room for less than 150 Euros...

I don't think so, especially during the high season.

Do you really want to be schlepping around various foreign cities with a cranky 11-year old and a sullen, sulky 16-year old in the Summer heat, looking for inexpensive rooms that aren't flop houses?

I'd invest some time in making reservations, and I would do it STAT.

ira is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 04:01 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 354
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Even finding a decent quad room for under 150 Euros a night in the off season can be difficult in many places - definitely plan ahead. How will not having to worry about finding a hotel while wasting vacation time ruin your trip?
HeatherH is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 05:27 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,834
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You will have difficulty finding quad rooms at any price at the last minute during the summer. You need to book your rooms ASAP. Trust everybody here when we tell you that you don't want to spend all of your trip trying to find places to spend the night.
padams421 is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 06:46 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 478
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You have to book ahead, unless you are a planning a way off the beaten track driving tour.

With children that age, do you really need or want a quad room? Try booking two rooms at budget hotels or b&bs. Many offer twin beds for the kids.

Have you considered renting an apartment in some of these locales? For London in particular, it might be a money saver. Plus, you could get a washing machine.

As for obsessing and taking the fun out the trip, please realize that most hotels have a reasonable cancellation policy. Once your booked, you can still change your mind.
fall06 is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 07:04 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 97,211
Received 12 Likes on 11 Posts
I would pre-book all the hotels. I can't imagine arriving in a huge city like Paris and wandering around to look for a hotel with kids in tow.

I am a "go with the flow" kind of person, but that is only as far as what I will do or see each day. Plane ticket and hotel reservations are the two (and only) things I plan in full before I leave home.

The idea might work with 2 people and a higher budget. But wanting a quad room in a low price range is going to be tricky to find. I don't think it is practical to think you can somehow miraculously find it. I don't see this as "freedom", I see is as a huge potential PITA.
suze is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 08:43 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,160
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
So you spend the time now researching instead of spending expensive-bought time on your trip, when you'd rather be sightseeing.

www.tripadvisor.com is a good source of (mostly) unbiased hotel reviews. You can look at gites in France; www.smoothhound.co.uk has lots of B&B's in England.
Mimar is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 08:56 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 216
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would consider renting an apartment, especially if you are going to be in any place longer than a couple of days. Hotel rooms in Europe are usually smaller than American standards, and you might enjoy having separate rooms, i.e being able to watch TV after your kids have gone to bed, or having a fridge to keep drinks and wine cool. Just a thought to consider.
amydelta is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 09:54 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,755
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In high season with kids in tow, I would book BUT if you booked paces for 4 days to a week it would allow you to also go with the flow. Once at your "base" you could paln each day on an ad hoc basis if you wished. This to me would be the best of both worlds.
travelbunny is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 10:14 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 246
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Another vote for BOOKING NOW and for apartments over hotels, especially if you're staying anywhere in this ambitious itinerary for more than a few days...apartments offer more space and the ability to offset some costs by not needing to eat out for every meal plus the opportunity to do laundry, and very likely at less cost than two rooms or a quad room --if you can even find one-- at a decent hotel. Some even have maid service and a concierge, but perhaps not in your price range. A 150 euro/night budget isn't very much, especially during high season, but you could find good apartments for that. Most might be one-bedrooms with a sofa bed or two or the kids, but you can be surprised.

Be spur of the moment with your daily itinerary, NOT your accommodation, especially with kids in tow and high season.

Please start googling now!
cupid1 is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 11:19 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 894
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Most hotels have a very small amount of rooms that are quad or family type rooms that can accommodate 4 people.
In many cases, you will need to book two rooms. Your budget of 150 Euros per night will not afford you much.

I would say you need to get started now if you can expect to achieve that budget.

I have had a few instances where I arrived in a town and could not find suitable accommodation. It happened to me a few years ago in Lucca and another time in Evora Portugal. We ended up having to move on to another town. I wouldn't want to be in that position with children.
CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 11:55 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 678
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you all for you feedback. I appreciate the assurance that planning ahead is really the best thing to do. I am actually finding rooms for less than 150 Euros a night (at least I have in Naples, Florence and Venice). I have an apartment in Rome, and plan to do the same in Paris and London if possible, since those are our other two long-term stays. And yes, I do plan on getting two doubles along the way. Now, on to finding a hotel in Avignon....
cferrb is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 04:00 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,238
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There was a time when going with the flow always worked.

Unfortunately, 'improvements' such as the internet and another generation of travelers has really changed the way one travels.

I first started traveling in 1985 and only obtained reservations if it was business travel. I, or we, just showed up, and if they were full, moved to the next nearest hotel.

Nowdays Fodors, Frommers, Tripadvisor, Venere and more (all good tools) have tended to 'steer' us into certain hotels at the expense of those hotels less 'desirable'. I frankly found better hotels when I just wandered, than the spoon feed we now all are fed.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2007, 04:07 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 97,211
Received 12 Likes on 11 Posts
Rastaguy~~ I can't speak for others but MY strong recommendation for Cferrb to pre-book hotels was because she has two kids in tow. Wandering becomes less practical imo.
suze is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2007, 03:04 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 96
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Book your hotels as it can be a chore to find one when you arrive in a city especially with kids in tow. It will also give you peace of mind, spend your time seeing the sights not looking for a hotel. Been there done that many years ago.
sherm99 is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2007, 10:32 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
cferrb- I am in the same boat. I have pre-booked rooms in major cities, but am going to 'wing' it in smaller towns. Amalfi is very expensive, but as we have a car I will try to find accommodation just outside the main areas. But the thing is not to put unnecessary stress on yourself or your family. But you might not like an area and want to more on without losing money on reservations.

Good Luck and all the best.

Di551
Di551 is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2007, 03:29 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,549
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
How many times have people been attracted to the outside of a hotel or other accommodation and/or the surroundings only to find out that the rooms were unacceptable?

Could this happen?

Could this happen more than once on the same trip?

Of course, the oppositre could also happen and I am sure often does.

How much time does it take to find these places and check out the rooms? If the answer is not a deal-breaker then why not do so?

But I can certainly understand the many reasons why people take advantage of the internet to book ahead.
Dukey is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2007, 05:53 AM
  #19  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,699
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Rasta,

>I frankly found better hotels when I just wandered, than the spoon feed we now all are fed.

You don't have to eat it.

My first visit to Europe was 1971.

You could just go to the TI office (the VVV in the Amsterdam train station was particularly good) in any city and get a room for the night at the price you wanted to pay.

However, that was when airfares were much higher than today and the number of tourists visiting Europe was about 1/2 what it is now.

Also, the internet has made it possible to book rooms months ahead at desirable locations.

It just ain't the same world no more.

ira is offline  
Old Aug 27th, 2007, 01:31 PM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 678
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This is a follow-up to my initial query.

We are back from our six weeks, and I am eternally grateful that we did book everything ahead of time, although it was time-consuming and stressful in the months leading up to the trip. We were able to find quad rooms for less than 150 Euros everywhere we went. In some places we were able to find two connecting smaller rooms that still came in well under 150 Euros. We rented apartments in London, Rome and Paris as those were our longer-term stays. We loved having the space in the apartments. They were generally around the same price as the hotel rooms, but had more space. Only London had house-keeping. Venere.com proved to be very reliable for finding rooms. We had no troubles anywhere with lost reservations, etc. and our rooms were always as advertised. The only thing I would have done differently is that I would have printed out directions to each hotel before leaving the U.S. and I would have found the hotels on our maps. Finding hotels was difficult in some town because street names were not always easy to locate.
cferrb is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -