Where to Begin?

Jun 2nd, 2012, 07:09 PM
  #1  
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Where to Begin?

My husband finally agreed! Our family of 5 (the two parents, a 24 year old, a 23 year old and a 17 year old) are going to go to Europe on Fall Break, October 5 through the 14th. I was thinking of London, Paris and Rome, 3 nights each. We're in Phoenix, Arizona.

I'm at a loss of how to begin. I have to keep the cost of the airfare, hotel, breakfasts, taxes and fees down to $2300 per person. I need two rooms.

I was thinking that I should go through some sort of travel company but even then I'm confused. Any suggestions?
Liljill8 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2012, 07:22 PM
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Your husband was the hold out?
First, travel to three different countries and cost containment are incompatible. For that many people, an obvious way to contain cost is to stay in an apartment in one city.
Are you leaving 10/5 from Phoenix and flying back on 10/14? If that is the case, you will be arriving 10/6 which is probably only .5 day usable and probably flying back early on 10/14, so the last usable day is 10/13? Then you really have 7.5 days. 3 countries in 7.5 days is quite hectic and again you will be spending a lot in transportation without meaningful return. If you insist on two places, do as a multi-city itinerary to eliminate backtracking. You are short of time as is and really don't want to consume .5-1 day backtracking to the arriving city.
greg is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2012, 07:25 PM
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I'm sure we could help, but it would help us if you could clarify your budget a bit, and explain what it is that interests your family. You don't mention eating, except for breakfast, and that will add to your expenses unless you are all dieting.

First thing that strikes me is that you do not have three days in each of your target cities. The fifth through the 14th is only ten days. Subtract one day for going, one for recovering from jet lag, and another to come back, and you have seven days. Subtract almost another day for travelling to each new city, and you have five complete days for exploring.

Not enough time, and/or too many cities, IMHO.

My suggestion would be to pick one city, get an apartment that will fit you all to save money on both housing and food, and really explore that city. Any one of the ones you want to see deserves more than a day or two.

We are about to book an apartment for the first two weeks of October ourselves, and I'd suggest you get on the stick as many of the good ones are taken already.
nukesafe is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2012, 07:31 PM
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Some starting places for you... you can do this all yourself.

Suggest you limit to two cities at the most - London and Paris. First night is an overnight flight and first day or two are lost to jet lag. Plenty to see in both and Rome is an overnight train from Paris or you consume at least 1/2 a day traveling by air. Picking one city would be ideal.

kayak.com to search for airfares. Don't get too excited though - a quick search shows $570 on KLM and $700 on Air France but when you click through to their websites the rates are at least $1000 all up.

Open-jaw tickets - consider flying in to one city and out of another if you go to multiple places. Phoenix to London and return Paris to Phoenix. That way you don't have to backtrack and usually you pay the average of roundtrip airfares to each city.

Consider renting an apartment - do searches here to get names of reputable apartment rental agencies. An apartment will provide better bang for your pound and Euro especially since you'd need two hotel rooms.

There is a wealth of info here - just start searching away!
iowamom is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2012, 07:31 PM
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nuke safe is right on. Follow that advice.
charnees is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2012, 07:42 PM
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Agreed. Too many cities in too short of a time. With an adult family, including adult children, let the folks run amok in one of the cities.

My preference is Paris. It is far more diverse, in my opinion that London or Rome.

nukesafe - From Berkeley, the nuclear free city?
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2012, 07:51 PM
  #7  
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Thanks for the advice. Since this is a once in a lifetime chance because our kids are getting older (and as are we), I'd rather see more than one city. Of the three, London, Paris and Rome, which should be dropped? I'm hearing Rome. Do you all agree?

The cost of dinner, purchases, etc., will be on top of the $2300 per person. I'm hoping that the family will do as they usually do here....eat a large breakfast and then wait until dinner to eat.
Liljill8 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2012, 07:51 PM
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When you search for plane tickets, you will see, in the search box, an option called multi-city. Click that before starting to enter your destinations. And as iowamom says, first you will see great numbers like $500, but that is ONE WAY, so don't get too excited.

Although London is a good place for newcomers from North America because of the language being the same, it is also the most expensive because of the cost of the English pound. So take that into consideration.

One way to look for apartments is to Google "vacation rentals" followed by the city name. When you find some apartments that look interesting, check back here and ask for advice, including the link to the apartment.
charnees is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2012, 08:36 PM
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You might want to check out VRBO.com or London Connection rentals. Some of the rates are given in American dollars (some of the property owners live in America), but require 6 or 7 night stays. I rented a nice 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath flat in London for $1,200/week in March. Added bonus: a lot of these flats have washer/dryers. We also ate a big breakfast and had no problem waiting till dinnertime to eat again.
dorfan2 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2012, 11:00 PM
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You might want to reconsider your choice of London for October. The weather can turn really nasty, cold, and damp that time of year, that far north. Paris will probably still be livable ( I hope so, as we will be there), and Rome quite nice. I'd drop London, but that is my personal choice.

Rastaguy, why do you think Berkeley is the "nuclear free city"?. I used to work at the Lawrence Radiation Lab on the hill behind the campus. What do you figure all those particle accelerators, and the Nuclear Chemistry building are there for? There used to be a research reactor on campus, and enough radionuclides up on the hill to make Berkeley glow.
nukesafe is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2012, 11:13 PM
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I know the Lawrence Rad lab place very well, I'm just quoting a Berkeley ordinance, good or bad. Have your seen their street signs that say as much? If anything happens, it's in the Chronicle.

Ji...if you want to do Paris and London, go in to London and out of Paris. as Gardyloo has pointed out, the UK charges taxes of several hundreds of dollars for departure per ticket.

My choice is London and Paris, with the majority of the time in Paris. However, beware of London hotel pricing. Probably the most expensive in Western Europe for what you get.

Try www.venere.com to compare pricing and location in whatever cities you choose.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 02:31 AM
  #12  
 
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The weather can turn really nasty, cold, and damp that time of year, that far north.

That could be a description of London weather at ANY time of the year, so by that logic you'd never visit. As for "that far north", it's 200 miles from London to Paris so "that far north" isn't going to make much difference.
alanRow is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 02:42 AM
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Since this is a once in a lifetime chance because our kids are getting older (and as are we), I'd rather see more than one city. Of the three, London, Paris and Rome, which should be dropped? I'm hearing Rome. Do you all agree?>>

i'd look at it the other way - your kids have to time to come to europe again, you may not. [though you can't be that old with kids their ages!] so what do YOU want to see?

apartments are definitely the way to go, especially with your needing 2 rooms anyway, and you will keep costs down by just picking one place. in November, that place for me would be Rome - Ok it could be cold there as well, but it is less likely.

and [and i know that I'm probably going to be flamed for this but i don't care] if you're thinking that you won't have enough to do there [unlikely, but possible] and that you and your husband won't be coming back to Europe for a while, why not fly into Venice, spend 3 nights there, then get the train to Rome?

that would give you this:

Oct 5th - leave home.
Oct 6th - arrive Venice. stay 3 nights.
Oct 9th - train to Rome. Stay 5 nights
Oct 14th - fly home.

to make this-or any other dual city itinerary - work, you need to do "open -jaw" aka "multi-city - into one place, out of the other.

happy planning!
annhig is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 02:43 AM
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I will be outvoted 100-1 but, if this really is a once in a lifetime trip, I would try and see three cities/places and go home exhausted. Paris, somewhere in Switzerland, and then Rome. Take the train. Families can have fun on trains.
colduphere is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 02:46 AM
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And yes Switzerland is expensive but our family of 5 plus 1 rented an apartment in Zermatt for $250 a night in 2009.

I like Ann's idea of Venice as well.
colduphere is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 04:10 AM
  #16  
ira
 
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Hi Lil,

>I was thinking of London, Paris and Rome, 3 nights each. <

Highly not recommended.
About 2 days of your trip will be lost to moving from one hotel to another.
That leaves you rushed for time in each of three cities, when you could enjoy yourself in two.

I would fly into London, take the train to Paris and fly home from there. You decide whether it should be 5:4 or 4:5.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 04:13 AM
  #17  
ira
 
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Hi Cold,

>if this really is a once in a lifetime trip,...<

Every trip is a "once in a lifetime".

Unless someone has a terminal illness, there will be other "once in a lifetime" trips.

That's why we are suggesting that she slow down and enjoy two cities instead of rushing through three.

ira is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 04:25 AM
  #18  
 
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I have been to all 3, and I would choose London and Paris, or Paris and Rome.

For a once-in-a-lifetime trip, I wouldn't stick to one city. Two cities are definitely doable, and maybe all 3, particularly if you could squeeze in one more night: 3 nights each city, with a fourth night in London to adjust to time change, overcome jetlag, etc. It would be a whirlwind, but I've done whirlwinds and never regretted one of them.

If you do Paris and London, I recommend you fly into London, and take the Eurostar from London to Paris. It takes just under 2-1/2 hours. More convenient than flying, and around $60 one way if you book far enough ahead. (I don't think you can book London to Paris more than 120 days in advance). eurostar.com Check the Customer Care section at the top of the page, and then the Question and Answer section, which should explain any questions you have. (I say this because you said you are confused and at a loss as to how to begin planning this trip).

Also, most teens and twenty-somethings are whizzes at ferreting out info on the net, so maybe your kids can help you. They probably have certain things/sites they want to see/do that may be different from what you and your hubby are interested in, so getting them in on the planning would be a good idea. Not trying to be nosy or presumptious, just a suggestion.
walkabout is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 04:25 AM
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Agree with ira's very reasonable suggestion, minimizes travel costs and time, moving directly from city center to city center. So much to see in both London and Paris, this would optimize your time.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 04:30 AM
  #20  
 
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Definitely choose 2 cities. You are traveling on something of a budget, both time and money-wise, so plan a trip that will allow you to enjoy the cities you visit. Four or five days is barely enough to get a taste of London and Paris.

You are probably considering this a "trip of a lifetime" as you may not have the chance to travel as a family again. But you all will probably be back.

Take a poll of the family to decide on the two cities. And definitely fly into London, train to Paris and home from Paris. Have a great trip.
mamcalice is offline  

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