To Japan or Europe on Spring Break?

Oct 27th, 2002, 07:11 PM
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To Japan or Europe on Spring Break?

Please only answer if you've been to these places and can compare from personal knowledge. Here are the parameters:

Family with young teens. Been w/ kids to UK and Italy. Mom and Dad have seen a little of France and Germany too, but not Spain. Live in San Francisco area. Can only afford a big family trip like this 2 to 3 times before the kids are off to college.

Have to use our American Airlines frequent flyer miles and only have enough to go in mid April on spring break (More miles req'd in summer). Of the places under consideration, AA flies to Tokyo, Madrid, Paris, or Frankfurt. Can't use AA's partner airlines so other asian destinations not an option.

I thought my long dreamed of trip to Japan made sense because the yen is down (true?) and we'll probably have to pay for our next trip's airfare (took the kids a long time to earn enough miles!) It used to seem that we could get cheaper airfare to Europe than to Tokyo.

None of us have been to the orient. On the other hand, sure would like to make a family trip to Spain, France or Germany.

What do you recommend and why? Thanks,
Oct 27th, 2002, 11:31 PM
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What are the kids interested in? If it were ME, I would probably choose Europe in a heartbeat only because I live in hawaii and Japan airfares can be gotten cheap. However, I've been to both places during spring break and Japan is much more tame (and less crowded) during that time. In Europe, it gets annoyingly crowded with all these students travelling around--American as well as European students. I don't recall such crowds (out of the usual) in Japan.
Oct 28th, 2002, 12:13 AM
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I agree with Melissa's first reaction: what do the kids think?
I've travelled in Europe with kids, but in Japan without. Loved Japan (twice) and found it safe, exciting, unusual, historic, beautiful, delicious, and expensive!!! Spain is cheaper, though perhaps less 'unusual'. Probably some of you speak some Spanish, and the teenagers would probably have a better chance of making contact with peers in Spain/France than in Japan. If you only have a week, and if the kids aren't learning French at school, choose Spain and be sure to get to Barcelona and Granada.
Oct 28th, 2002, 03:19 AM
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Try out Japan, I'm not a huge fan Of tokyo...... I prefer Kyoto..

Visiting the orient gives you a different perspective of life.. actully I did have a spiritual awakening at one of the main shinto shrines in the ciry..

Anyways try something different.. Then go too the Midle East,, Africa.. the world is too big and full of interesting cultures.

hold up airfare too Japan and S E asia is wicked cheep from SFO though.. NOTE Japan is just about the most expensive place on the planet..

Oct 28th, 2002, 07:42 PM
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Well, the kids want to go to Japan but for goofy reasons like Japanese cartoons and they are learning Karate. They aren't sophisticated - mostly interested in souvenir shopping which is not mom's #1 reason for foreign travel! Not sure they have a clue what they're in for... so we didn't want this to boil down to the kids making he decision.

I'd love some more opinions. Thanks.
Oct 28th, 2002, 08:06 PM
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At the risk of being politically incorrect (but truthful), I would choose Europe for a short trip because it would be more relevant to US history they are studying (especially with the Spanish influence on California history). Also, I think it would be easier to get more out of it on your own. I think Japan is more different and a short visit there with kids would be more superficial.
Oct 29th, 2002, 05:15 AM
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I disagree. I've been to Japan twice this year and I live in Europe. The fascinating contrast of old and new, traditional and Western that characterises much of Japan is immediately obvious, and even for a short stay you can plunge right into it. Just strolling around town, and seeing this apparent dichotomy lived out - a Shinto shrine celebrating a local festival right among hi-tech warehouses, for example. Also the Japanese themselves, some of the politest, most hospitable and charming people anywhere, will make your visit a pleasure, in spite of language barrier. Also the infrastructure is so good that independent travel is easy and hassle-free. And the recession and drop in yen has made Japan more affordable. I often take my teenage children to Japan and they never fail to enjoy their trips. When I'm with them, I do try to mix culture with entertainment, like temple visits in the day and bowling (all hi-tech) and/or baseball game in the evening.

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