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Seeking advice for Barcelona-Paris-Rome trip for family of 7

Seeking advice for Barcelona-Paris-Rome trip for family of 7

Old May 6th, 2022, 11:19 AM
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Seeking advice for Barcelona-Paris-Rome trip for family of 7

Want to start planning a 14 day trip for May-June 2023. Kids ages will be 18 months - 12 yo. Should we plan ourselves? Any references or articles to help start this big undertaking. Will be first time in Europe for everyone.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 12:13 PM
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Do you only want to visit big, busy cities? Have you read any printed guidebooks or online destination guides? You need to have a general understanding of what you hope to do everywhere and how long that will take before you can know how to allocate the days/nights. I assume the youngest child will need nap time and early dinners, so your days are already a bit contracted.

As none of you has been to Europe before, and assuming you're traveling west to east, consider the possibility that some of you will need a day (or 2-3+ depending on the number of time zones from home) to adjust to the time difference. You might look online at some of the pre-trip and post-arrival strategies for helping kids adjust.

Before you become emotionally committed to the three destinations, consider the logistics, expense and time required to move a large group. No hopping into a taxi to get around... you'll need at least 2 taxis and/or perhaps some private transfers here and there. If you and your partner are the only adults in the group, getting luggage and kids on and off a train will fall almost entirely on one of you. Someone will be carrying the 18 m.o. and helping another child. Boarding a plane is generally less of a challenge but does involve its own set of issues.

If you stick with the three cities, know that you will lose a large part of a day each time you move from point to point, if not in time certainly in the energy of the kids. Flying Paris-Barcelona would be a couple of hours faster than the train but involves getting to/from airports outside the city centers, check-in, security screening, etc. The train travels from city center to city center, the kids can move around during the journey, you can dine or picnic on the train, etc. Flying Barcelona-Rome is a given and relatively cheap, but it involves all the "airport" aspects. Always check the luggage limits as you look into flight options. Needless to say, you'll need to travel as light as possible.

You didn't ask, but if it was my trip I'd drop Rome. And I say that even as Rome is my favorite of the three cities you list.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 01:02 PM
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Yes, plan it yourself because I don’t think a travel agent or company can do what you actually need.

1. Great that you are starting to plan early.
No matter what, do not book flights until you have your itinerary absolutely pinned down. A big mistake people make is buying cheap flights to a city that is not where they really want to be. Then, they waste a lot of precious time and money traveling to their real destination. Try not to book Round Trip. Seriously look at Multi-city or multi-destination. It is not two one-way. It is into one city and home from another, booked as one ticket. It will save the cost of doubling back or returning to your arrival city.
You always need to be in your departure city the night before a flight and that often means just returning and checking into a hotel for one night. That often requires a day of travel, is a pain and robs you of the last day for sightseeing and relaxing before coming home. It is best to begin and end in places you are staying for sightseeing.

2. Consider sticking with no more than two countries to eliminate long travel days between and see more in one area, especially with five littles and a first time to Europe. Good bases with day trips might be a good idea. Perhaps instead of three cities in three different countries, two cities in two countries with a place in the country near one of them. OTOH, people do have campers and travel all over. Others would have to advise on that.
Do see something besides cities. Most places in Europe have great history, food, etc. Consider which will be easiest with young children for first trip. We did heavy sightseeing in the morning, with parks and playgrounds in the afternoon. My husband’s parents went on one trip with us to Germany and Austria. They watched the kids some of the time. That is just a thought. Extra family to consider, but also extra eyes and hands.

2. Lodging. Look for an apartment or house with kitchen and laundry, near public transportation, shops, parks, etc. make sure it is legal. It will not be hot yet, so you won’t need a pool, but a place where you can return during the day for play or naps.

3. Give serious thought to easy public transportation in the city, or what size and type vehicle you will need for seven people and luggage, strollers (one, two or a double), car seats, for the country, etc. Parking in cities is not easy and there are zones that permit only locals. You might need two Taxis at times. If you choose a city, some have easier and better public transportation. If you want your own vehicle, you might want a place outside a city. We never rent a car in Europe anymore.
None of this is as hard as it sounds, but better to have it thought out. If you have traveled to major cities in the US with five children, then you are likely already aware of most needs.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 01:03 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. Lots of good info in Jean's post. I'll just add a little more . . .

• Is the entire trip 14 days -- home to home -- which would net you 11.5 days free for seeing/doing. OR is it 14 days on the ground in Europe (that would mean 16 or 17 days total depending on where you are starting from.)?

• Is this two adults and 5 children or say a three generation group of grands,/parents/3 kids, or maybe two adult couples and 3 kids? This could make quite a difference logistics-wise and if the first -- would really complicate transit and accommodations.

• Definitely if it IS two adults and 5 kids, I would very seriously consider a ONE-DESTINATION trip -- especially if the entire trip is 14 days. Any major city in Europe -- Rome, Paris, London, Barcelona, Madrid, etc easily fills a full week - especially with an army of seven Then most cities are good bases for multiple nearby day trips so 11+ days is not too long in one place. You could rent a three bdrm/two bath apartment, do some of the cooking yourselves, and have a comfortable place for mid day naps etc.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 01:04 PM
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Was posting the same time as Sassafrass . . .
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Old May 6th, 2022, 01:30 PM
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Just read Jean’s great response. Love her advice about not having the emotional commitment to three cities. I had hesitated because if someone is already set on something, it may seem negative to bring in anything totally different. I too love Rome, and also enjoy Barcelona, but with five kids, I would strongly consider either a London/Paris combo or Rome and some place in Tuscany. Of course, you could still do Paris/Barcelona, even Paris/Rome, but all three is not a great plan.

Someone on Fodors said London is like catnip for kids. It has castles, parks, boats, etc., something for all ages. It is fairly easy to get around. There are many easy, great day trips just outside the city like Hampton Court Palace. Then take the EuroStar to Paris, which is also filled with parks, even a pond where you can buy or rent small boats for the kids to sail. Day trip to Versailles and row in the gardens. It would be a fabulous trip.

A week in Rome with parks, Fountains, Ancient Rome, etc. and a week visiting places like Lucca, Siena and Florence would also be wonderful.

Question. Does your 14 days include travel time or is that 14 days or nights, actually on the ground, in Europe? Do not look at arrival or departure days as time in a place or as sightseeing days. Do not count any travel days as sightseeing days. It takes times getting packed up, breakfast, taxi or shuttle to train, bus or airport, security time, travel time, taxi, etc. to next hotel. The fewer bases you have, the less time eaten up by all this.
Day 1, depart from home.
Day 2, arrive in Europe, travel to hotel, house or apartment. get settled, perhaps a walk.
Day 3, First day of sightseeing.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 01:35 PM
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Janisj, and I was again posting, same as you. I love when you are stronger than me about limiting places.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 01:57 PM
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Less is more
small kids take time to get going in the morning

London and Paris or London and Amsterdam are great combo with limited language problems and all 3 cities have great public transport and great open spaces
Barcelona, live it, but way smaller. You need to treat the whole region around the city as a big city with lots of travel time.

Get an apartment for this many people. One person goes suck, feels tired you don't leave them in a hotel, you leave them at home. Plus washing machine means less to schlep on the aircraft.

Train London to the continent, wow, how exciting is that.

Rome, they love kids in Rome and the public transport is more limited.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 02:03 PM
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Will be just wife, myself, and 5 kids and we have traveled in US to various cities.

Barcelona is only destination locked in as we are visiting a relative there.

14 days currently includes home to home but we could extend couple of days if allowed for more options. What I had read here previously said 10 days for 2 cities or 14 for 3. So with our plan for 14 days my wife picked Paris and I picked Rome in addition to original stop in Barcelona.

Don’t want to rent a car during this trip due to the size needed. So that meant sticking to cities for public transport and trains/airports.

Thanks for the advice and ideas, keep them coming!

Last edited by patrickclark2977; May 6th, 2022 at 02:17 PM.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 02:28 PM
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That very general kind of four or five days for each city is not taking into account the individual or specific needs of each group, a toddler included, etc. It is also not accounting for travel specific to getting between those particular cities.
In many places, you do not have to stick to cities. Local trains (and busses) are so good, so available, cheap and so dependable in many areas of some countries that with good planning, you can easily stay or visit and not be limited to big cities.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 02:40 PM
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Are you staying with the relative in Barcelona? Are they in Barcelona or nearby? How many days will you be visiting?
Spain is beautiful in May. Architecture, museums, landscape and history rival other European countries. Consider seeing more of Spain. Maybe even some beach time. There is a fast train between Madrid and Barcelona, only a couple of hours. Get suggestions about this from your family in Barcelona.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 04:13 PM
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Just very quick . . . "What I had read here previously said 10 days for 2 cities or 14 for 3 . . . " . . . That works (sort of) when you are talking a solo, or a couple or even maybe 3 friends. But the logistics with 5 kids - that is just a really aggressive plan. Everything (and I mean pretty much EVERYTHING) will take longer and be more complicated with seven people in tow, and especially with at least one in a stroller. If Barcelona is a must, then Barcelona and Paris (or London if Paris isn't a must). Fly open jaw in to Barcelona and home from Paris or London, or vice versa
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Old May 6th, 2022, 05:45 PM
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I agree with two locations being plenty for a first trip with a large family unless you are able to extend your time. I would second London as a terrific place for families and think your children might enjoy experiences there. There are lots of great opportunities for day trips as well. Paris also has great parks and sights that families enjoy. Rome is wonderful but I think might be less fun for little ones.
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Old May 7th, 2022, 03:48 PM
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Since you seem to be starting afresh, I offer an often repeated travel tip: Fly into one city; home from another. Using a multi-destination search function, you will find the price not much higher than a simple round trip, plus you save the cost of returning to your arrival city, and more important on a short vacation, save a lot of time.
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Old May 7th, 2022, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Southam View Post
. . . plus you save the cost of returning to your arrival city, and more important on a short vacation, save a lot of time.
. . . Plus eliminates an extra check-in/check-out one-night hotel stay, and with a family of seven that 's important.
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Old May 21st, 2022, 08:54 AM
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How come my plan for 12 days in Italy was insane, but 14 days for 3 countries isn't?

We stayed in Barcelona in 2016 for 7 days I think, at an apartment in Eixample. My brother was living and working in BCN at the time and would normally join us every evening. Our kids were 13 months and 6yrs old then.

We did:
Day 1: Casa Batllo and the nearby area
Day 2: Parc Guell and a few hours at a beach (can't recall which one sorry)
Day 3: Montjuc Castle in day and the Fountains at night (around 10pm)
Day 4: BCN zoo
Day 5: Aquarium then boat ride around port Vell(?)
Day 6: kids favourite of Tibidabo

We either walked or used the metro. I think we just had the taxi once from the airport. As we were there in august, we had Gelatos about 5 times everyday haha!

We have been to Paris (and France) back in 2009 before our kids were born and we drove our own car from the UK then (Cardiff).

4 days in Paris. 1 was at the Eiffel tower and around that area by metro for most of the day (I think the Louvre was closed or very busy that day as we skipped it). In the evening we took a cruise down the river Seine and saw the Eiffel tower all lit up.

We had pretty much a full day at Versailles palace. Can't remember much else sorry. We went to the top of some square shaped building with the centre missing, that had nice views of Paris.

Hopefully I can tell you about Rome in late august
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Old May 21st, 2022, 02:25 PM
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[QUOTE=HaroonMB;17364800]How come my plan for 12 days in Italy was insane, but 14 days for 3 countries isn't?

Your plan was not actually for 12 days in Italy. It was for 12 days of long driving times through several countries from Wales, and return to Wales, in August, with two kids strapped in the car. 😹 Happily, your other thread indicates that you have re-considered and narrowed your trip to Italy.

The OP asked about three cities, not three countries, and every single poster has told the OP that with a large family that includes a very young child, they need to limit severely the number of places and to carefully consider travel time from place to place. They are planning a year ahead so have time to gather lots of travel information and consider many options. They will certainly have a lot to think about with five kids with greatly different needs and interests. Surely, no one or two nighters, and unless camping, no car because with luggage, they would need a van and some car seats. They will need apartments, so no last minute decisions for this group.







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