When to start....


Aug 26th, 2003, 02:21 PM
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When to start....

I think I have decided France and Italy this May 2004...but need a general timeline.

When should I be sure to have plane tickets?

When should I have hotel reservations set?

When should I order train tickets (Rome-Florence, Florence-Venice, and Venice-Paris)?

Thanks so much guys!
WendyWhy is offline  
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Aug 26th, 2003, 03:05 PM
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I think six months ahead for plane and hotel reservations is reasonable, although even that may not be soon enough since you're heading into the busy spring season. I'll be interested to see what others have to say.

Good luck!
Weadles is offline  
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Aug 26th, 2003, 03:18 PM
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Hello fellow Wendy!
We are traveling this September 21st and in the last two weeks, I have booked air and hotel - including using Frequent Flyer miles. We're going to "wing" restaurant and train tickets - as I don't want our trip too planned out. We are going to explore! I'll let you know how it all turned out when we get back!
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Aug 26th, 2003, 05:43 PM
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WW -- We spent May 2003 in Italy. I made the hotel reservations in early January and then changed a few over the next two months.
I would suggest monitoring the air fares on a regular basis, possibly daily starting now so that you get a feel for the fares. There is a 65/35 chance that they will get cheaper sometime in the next two or three months.
I noticed $630 RT from SFO to Rome just yesterday for mid October.
By the time you leave you will also be another member of Fodors Anonomous.
mmr41 is offline  
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Aug 26th, 2003, 05:53 PM
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If this were my trip, I would re-think the Venice-to-Paris by train.

May I refer you to this thread - - http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34427068 - - with a spectrum of opinions on flying versus train.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
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Aug 26th, 2003, 11:42 PM
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If specific hotels are a definite requirement, I would try to book them ASAP! Hotels that are popular for either value (eg Del Senato, Rome; Villa Rosa, Positano; Mamela, Capri) or luxury (eg Le Sirenuse, Positano; Cipriani, Venice) can be booked months in advance. Especially if you want rooms with a view. If accomodations are not a big concern, you could wait until after you purchase your plane tickets. Or be really spontaneous and not bother with it at all...but at least reserve a place the first and last night!

As to plane tickets, I'm inclined to say April 04. Only because for my trip to Italy this past May, I didn't even decide upon it until I saw an incredible airfare special in early April. It could happen to you too; but purchase airfare at least 3 months in advance to be on the safe side.

Train tickets: seriously, don't bother until you get there.

Hope this helps!
bluefan is offline  
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Aug 27th, 2003, 03:35 AM
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I think that if you advance your departure date to the last week in April you will get lower fares than if you leave in May.

Try http://airtravelcenter.com/onetrav.htm for discounted flights. There were some bargain fares for East Coast US to Paris last week.

I also suggest that you do either France or Italy. You will go to Europe again. Otherwise, I recommend flying into Paris, training to Rome and leaving from Venice. Rates are currently about $750. They might come down about $100.

You can purchase Paris/Rometickets 60 days in advance from the French rail system at http://www.voyages-sncf.com. There might be discounted fares.

You can purchase your Italian train tickets after you get to Rome.

To see if a railpass would be cheaper than point-to-point, go to www.railsaver.com.

You can make hotel reservations 6-9 months in advance.

Have a great trip.
ira is offline  
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Aug 27th, 2003, 06:17 AM
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If there are specific Inns/hotels you want to go to, especially in major cities, I would book at least 6 months in advance. Most have reasonable cancellation policies and for our trip next month out of 10 locations, only 1 on the Riviera required an advance deposit.
There were two small inns we wanted to stay at, one in Rothenburg and one at Mt. St. Michel, both were booked 7 months out. In the case of Rothenburg, they only have 6 rooms.

Have a great trip.
MGB is offline  
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Aug 27th, 2003, 06:39 AM
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I once tried to book a hotel in Italy (Bologna) in May at rather short notice and found that almost everything was fully booked. I just mean to say that May seems to be a busy period for travel in Italy and hotels probably fill up fast. I would not book later than January.
Carola22 is offline  
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Aug 28th, 2003, 07:17 PM
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Ira... Just wondering why you suggest starting in Paris and leaving from Venice? I was thinking of ending on Paris - just because I think it's the city we'll be spending the most time in and I'm guessing (just a gut feeling!) that it will be the best part of the trip. Also, wouldn't it be cheaper to fly in/out of Rome? I just assume this since it must be a bigger airport...Love to hear your thoughts.
WendyWhy is offline  
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Aug 29th, 2003, 04:44 AM
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Hi Wendy,

Note that my first suggestion was either France or Italy.

If you want to do both, I suggest starting in Paris because you can buy your train tickets to Rome on the SNCF site online and perhaps get a discount fare.

Regarding costs of flights, it is a matter of searching. You might find flights into/out of Venice at the same or lower cost than in/out of Rome.

Finally, ending in either Paris or Venice is equally good. They are each special in their own way.

What is your draft itinerary?
ira is offline  
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Aug 29th, 2003, 06:53 AM
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Hi Wendy:

I can only speak from my own experience, but when planning my upcoming trip (I leave on 9/18 and will spend three weeks visiting London, Paris, & various spots in Italy), I ended up getting the absolute cheapest airfare in and out of Paris. Rome was consistently the costliest city to fly in/out of. I bought my tickets in April for my Sept. trip. The best piece of advice I could give for getting a good deal on airline tickets is to check the consolidator sites as well as sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, etc. EVERY SINGLE DAY starting about 6 months out. I found my $460 RT from Dallas to Paris (tax included!) that way.

Most of my hotels were booked 6 months or so in advance. I did it that way because we are on a fairly tight budget and it seems as though the really good values (good location + cute/charming/whatever + good price) book up early.

Also, we will be taking a night train from Venice to Paris so if you're "on the fence" about taking a night train, look for my trip report in mid-to-late Octotber for my review of what it was like. Night trains seem to be one of those things people either love or hate. Personally, the fewer number of times I have to get onto an airplane, the better! =0)

Good luck!
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