planning july 2001 trip

Old Dec 15th, 2000, 03:37 AM
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planning july 2001 trip

My daughter will graduate from High school and we are planning a surprise trip to Italy this summer. Travelers will be me, my husband, and 2 daughters 20 and 17. I don't know where to begin. How expensive will the trip be? Where should we go? How long should we stay? Will we all be able to fit in one room? I did read to pack light. Any help would be much appreciated.
Old Dec 15th, 2000, 06:05 AM
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Jan, It is all a function of time and money. Here is a recent article that may help you to narrow your options.
The cost factors are mostly controllable
by you, but summer travel is more expensive--especially airfare. Let me know if you need more help. The big variable will be car or train travel--you can do so much more if you drive.

FIRST, GET A GOOD MAP ! Having planned more than fifty personalized itineraries to southern Europe and Italy, I have learned that the best trip plans start with a good
map. It takes about six weeks to see most of Italy, and that does not include Sicily.So, any typical two week sojourn requires a geographic orientation and thoughtful
planning to optimize the total experience. The temptation is to try to see too much,and that is a big mistake. My advice is to limit yourself to FIVE DESTINATIONS OR LESS for any two week itinerary. Perceive Italy as geographic regions and plan accordingly. Here is a menu to help you to plan well. Let your total time in Italy, and a good map, determine your feasible choices !


1. The Lakes of Lombardy/Piedmonte [ Maggiore, Como, Lugano, Orta]
2. The Dolomites/Lake Garda [ Cortina, Ortisei, Merano, Riva del Garda]
3. The Ligurian Coast [ Portofino, Cinque Terre, Portovenere]
4. Tuscany/ Umbria [ quaint and historic hill towns]
5. The Amalfi Coast [ Sorrento, Positano, Ravello, Capri]
1. Venice & Veneto [ allow 3 days---more if you include Vicenza, Verona et al]
2. Florence [ it all happened here--plan for 3 days just in Florence]
3. Siena [ deserves a full day, perhaps as a day trip from Florence]
4. Rome [ the Eternal City demands 5 days---some would say two weeks]
1. Bellagio [ the best of Lago Como]
2. Cortina [ the Vail of Italy--ski resort in heart of the Dolomites]
3. Portofino/ Santa Margherita [ splendid sea-side venue]
4. Positano [ the best location to explore the Amalfi coast]
5. Taormina [ fabulous sea-side location in Sicily]
1. Asolo [ charming village in the hills of Veneto]
2. Orta San Giulio [ on mystical Lago Orta]
3. Ravello [ la dolce vita above the Amalfi coast]

BOB THE NAVIGATOR [email protected]

Old Dec 15th, 2000, 07:14 AM
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As Bob has already indicated, it really does all begin with reading, reading, reading.

Still, getting input from others has its place too. I have planned (not as many as Bob) and led a number of trips involving kids the same ages as yours (19 trips, to be exact, though not that many with kids).

I wouldn't think that you want to get TOO far along into the planning before you "spring" the surprise. Are you planning it as an "idea" under the Christmas tree? This question is based on actually having kids the same ages as yours as well. They have a ton of "agenda" for the upcoming year, at this age - - and the trip will be a lot better with their involvement in the planning - - even though it may seem difficult to get them on the same page as you, at times.

Depending on your circumstances, you might be surprised at how it can add to your trip to expand it into a small group (friends of your kids, cousins, there are likely no shortage of others who would be compatible and interested fellow travelers).

I'd be glad to share ideas with you further as you have a clearer idea (or maybe know what ideas your daughters will bring to the table) of your constraints of time and money. July will NOT be the best time to keep this to a limited budget - - but it doesn't mean that it isn't the best time for YOU. The right time away from work can be one of the most important considerations for a lot of families, expense-wise and other wise.

No one can give you even a ballpark figure on budget without knowing some rather basic details - - how long would you like to go? 8 days? 18? 28? Starting from where? It goes without saying that transportation costs vary a great deal, depending on whether you are from Honolulu, Toronto, Sydney or some other part of the globe.

You could do SOME kind of trip from North America for a family of four as cheaply as $5000 (though very tough in July, with major constraints). You can do it nicely for $10,000 and splendidly for $20,000 - - similar comments can be made about buying a car (well, maybe multiplying by two).

While staying in one room could certainly be feasible, it may not be as necessary as you think. So many factors (especially your expectations - - and your experience traveling in Europe before) enter into any kind of advice for you.

Hope you will expand here - - and feel free to write me directly if you wish.

Best wishes,

Rex Bickers
Westerville, Ohio
Old Dec 15th, 2000, 07:29 AM
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I would suggest looking at a couple of different guidebooks such as Frommers or Fodors and you will start to see names of places and descriptions that really appeal to you. Do a search on this site for Italy or Venice and you will really start to put it together. I am very partial to the central part of Italy. Cinque Terre was wonderful, Florence has so much to see and was full of amazing architecture and museums, Venice is a must and of course Rome. I enjoyed the Amalfi coast but not nearly as much as the other areas.

There are some rooms available that are made for families but not many, you may be more comfortable in two doubles. I find the cost of hotels very reasonable there but without knowing what your budget is that would be difficult to say.
Have a great time!
Old Dec 15th, 2000, 09:46 AM
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Rex, You just made my day. I am pretty well along in planning and even paying for two weeks in Italy for my family of 4 this June, and it's starting to look a lot like $10,000. I was thinking I was doing something wrong until you put that figure right in the middle of your estimates! Thanks so much. (And I'm glad my husband doesn't read this forum.)
Old Dec 15th, 2000, 10:00 AM
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Hi jan
In addition to the excellent advice above, keep in mind that Italian cities can be very very crowded in the summer.
Would you consider postponing until the fall?
I have files on Florence and on Venice along with hotel suggestions;
if you'd like to see them, email me.
You can also do searches here for the places that interest you and find lots of information and recommendations on almost everywhere in Italy.
You'll also need to decide if you want to drive from place to place, or take the usually excellent trains.
You also need to keep in mind that traveling from place to place eats up more time than you think, even if the trains are on time or you don't make a wrong turn in the car. Checking in and out of hotels, traveling, etc, usually eats up the better part of one day, even if the travel time is only a few hours.
If you're going to be living in tight quarters, whether it's one room or two,
please allow for flexibility in your schedule, for "down time", for
allowing the kids (and you and your husband) some time on your own.
Travel is not like regular daily life, few of us are used to spending 24-7 with our loved ones, and when you add in
normal family squabbles, fatigue,
late trains, missed turns, and small hotel rooms, things can get tense even in the best of relationships.
Get the rest of your family to offer input and help with the planning, so no one can complain later (at least not legitimately) that "I never get to do what I want to do."
Old Dec 15th, 2000, 02:03 PM
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Jan: We used Bob the Navigator to help us with our 2 week Italian trip a few years ago. Contact him. His recommendations were right on and we had a great trip. No, he does not pay me to say this. He just is very helpful.
Old Dec 15th, 2000, 02:45 PM
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I agree with Karen P.!!I was feeling too decadent in our costs.Feeling better now.
some hotels in Rome have suites , two bedrooms, one bath, and they run from between Lit550.000-800.000.
they book up pretty quickly though.
I would think that if you are traveling any length of time together , you would want 2 rooms.Otherwise , 4 adults in one room could get a bit cramped
We planned our first trip to italy (this summer), by picking one major city to stay in 1 week and renting an apartment, and then moving down the coast to a smaller city/town on the coast for our second week, in a hotel.
Airfare in summer will probably run you $750-900 per person , or even more, unless you can find some discounted seats.
I certainly would not go for under 1 week , but how long depends on work schedules, and finances.We are doing 18 days, which is about as long as I think our 10 and 13 yr olds can handle.
But as everyone else suggested *read, read, read* and see what makes your heart beat faster, and sets you to daydreaming!
have fun!

Old Dec 15th, 2000, 03:07 PM
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Jan, We did Italy as a family of 4 ( 2 adults and 2 young girls ages 7 & 8) 2 years ago and are going again this summer. The biggest tip once again is RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! We stayed for 3 weeks, starting in the Cinque Terre for a couple of days to loose the jet lag the on to a castello for 2 weeks in Tuscany.We did lots of touring from this main site and then headed down to Rome for the last 4 days. Our budget was $15,000 Canadian, (which is about $100,000 U.S.!) We had an amazing holiday, but this year we are bringing an extra piece of luggage for all the amazing shoes! Have fun!
Old Dec 15th, 2000, 04:38 PM
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If you really want your marriage to survive this trip, I heartily suggest that you spring for two rooms. Any man who could share a typical European hotel room and bath with three women would have to be a saint.
I agree with most of the other comments, especially that of getting input from the younger ladies, so won't add much there. I think haven't their imput is more important than the "surprise".
Old Dec 15th, 2000, 05:31 PM
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Patrick, I don't think you have raised multiple daughters. Sharing one hotel room with wife and daughters does not qualify me or any other man for sainthood.

But, separate rooms is not an exorbitant luxury. And some rental properties that are well worth the money might easily have only one bathroom for every two or (even three) bedrooms.
Old Dec 16th, 2000, 06:01 AM
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The last time we travelled with our daughters to Europe (mainly Italy) our budget (and actual expenses) summed up to:

*Overseas Flight: $ 5,000 (quite expensive out from Brazil, don't you think?)

*Intercity Transportation: $ 2,000 (1 month car rental + gas + tolls + parking; total of 4,000 miles)

*Average Daily Expenses: $ 300/day (food + lodging + local transportation + site entry fees)

*Extras: $ 1,000 (souvenirs, books, a concert here and there, etc).

The most critical part is what I named average daily expenses. For a family of 4, $ 300 translates to very tight in Venice, but to quite nice in places like Siena, Verona and Pisa, for instance.

To average out the daily budget, we used 2-star quadruples (Florence & Rome), 3-star doubles (Siena, Pisa, Verona, Heidelberg, etc) and 3-star double for us and YOUTH hostels for the girls (Venice, Rothenburg, Salzburg, etc).

Considering the experience of travelling with my daughters and the age of your kids, I recommend:

a) as Rex point out, it's essential to put them into planning and decision making process;

b) use quadruples less as possible (not so much because it gets cramped ... girls aged 17/21 do want to have some privacy/freedom, specially to take off in the evening/night without their parents - our did just about everywhere but in Rome and Florence);

c) if there is a youth hostel conveniently located in the city you're visiting (not too far from your hotel), the girls should use it ... there they've the opportunity to meet young travelers from all around the world, go out for dinner and have an evening program with them;

d) meet as a family for breakfast (at your hotel if they're in a hostel) and go out together for sightseeing, lunch, etc. Let your girls loose around 6pm (of course, here and there they will prefer to go out for dinner with you - our girls dined with us less than half of the times and since they were always in a hurry, a quick dinner snack would do - much, much cheaper than going out to dine as a family)

With a total budget, you're in position to determine trip duration. As Rex stresses strongly enough ... that's tghe time to surprise them ... and put them to work.


Old Dec 16th, 2000, 06:15 AM
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Jan, You are blessed with some excellent
advice here--I would take heed.

And, grazie to the other Bob.
Old Dec 17th, 2000, 09:48 PM
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Jan, I am travelling to Italy with 2 friends in June/July 2001.
I have booked all my accommodation via the net and from suggestions from this site.
Our plans are:
2 nights in Rome, staying in a convent. Triple room with ensuite for $35 AUS each per night.
3 nights in a B&B in Positano, approx $75 AUS each per night.
7 nights in a BEAUTIFUL villa near Perugia, this one is expensive $160 AUS each per night (worth though!)
7 nights at Manarola in the Cinque Terre, Apartment with sea views, $35AUS each per night.
3 nights in Florence, $75AUS each
3 nights in Venice on the Grand Canal with a view for $75 AUS each.
Apart from the villa, we will be staying in triple rooms with ensuites.
Then we fly to Paris....
Be very clear when booking your accommodation to ask for 1 double and 2 single beds or whatever to ensure that you won't be sleeping on a sofa bed.
Try and stay in a villa to soak up the atmosphere. It is better to stay a few days on one place rather than packing in the sites.
Might bump into you over there!

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