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alok_europe_dream Jan 10th, 2013 03:33 AM

Which mode of transport to select?
All, This is the first time I am taking my family to Europe and plan to visit in May 2013. The dates are decided primarily based on school holidays and my job schedule.

I want to plan the month long vacation by myself instead of going through a tour operator and naturally all sorts of questions are cropping up. I will create separate threads for each one and link back to this one for completeness.

The question I have here is the mode of transport while travelling in Europe. I plan to spend a few days in Paris and a few in London read 4-5 ea. But the rest of the itinerary will be a whirlwind spending atmost a day or two in each city. I plan to additionally stay 3 days or more (if possible) in Rome. In addition I would like to go through Switzerland, part of Germany, Italy, Spain, Prague (?? "big if" but put due to the wishes of my wife :) )

I will be travelling with my wife (both of us in our late 30's), my daughter of 9 yrs and my mother of 60+ yrs. What would be your opinion in travelling? Should we take trains, or buses, car or my personal fave a RV?

The budget is not much of a constraint but between spending 500Euros and saving 1 hr and spending 200Euros we would pick the 200Euros definitely! :) A 100Euros here and there would be okay.

Would love your responses and apologies if I haven't put all the background!


bilboburgler Jan 10th, 2013 04:32 AM

I think we could do with understanding the schedule a bit better as say Italy is a big place, where do you want to go (city)?

You don't need a car in Paris or London and either take the train of fly in between (which also avoids having a right hand side drive car in a left hand side country).

flanneruk Jan 10th, 2013 04:43 AM

If you literally mean "a day or two in each city", why would you need a car? In most cases, it'll just be an expensive liability: stuck all day, running up parking charges while you're sightseeing and doubtless attracting fines if you go through a "no traffic" sign.

Few visitors can cope with driving in London, Paris or Rome: no-one can drive in Venice (or, legally, in central Florence for most people). But trains generally go only to where people live.

You should assume you're gong to be using trains and/or planes a lot, and that any car you hire needs to be returned in the country you hired it in. Then plan where you really want to go to, using cars to fill gaps in.

adrienne Jan 10th, 2013 04:49 AM

Please do not start separate threads for each thought/question you have. That is very confusing to the responders who may see only 1 or 2 of the threads and not be able to understand your itinerary. It will also give you fractured advice. People will start asking all sort of questions you've already explained on another thread and you'll have to repeat information.

Since you're going to cities I would take trains between locations. You will be at a handicap with a car in cities and you will not be able to get an RV through the streets. In some places you'll only have a day or two. Why spend your precious time trying to navigate an unfamiliar city and looking for parking.

Look at how far you need to drive. London to Rome. Unless everyone is fond of looking at highways and spending lots of time in a car I would not do this. With a tight schedule you won't have time to drive on secondary roads. On a train you can buy some lunch/snack foods in the station and have a relaxed time. You can even indulge in wine/beer any time since you won't be driving!

PalenQ Jan 10th, 2013 06:19 AM

Should we take trains, or buses, car or my personal fave a RV?>

An RV trip can be great if not going to mainly large cities - great for driving thru the countryside - there are so so many campsites everywhere - actually even in large cities like London and Paris and Rome - places where I have camped many times - London and Paris are yes right in the city.

Leave the RV in the campsite and take public transport around the big cities and then drive to another base perhaps stopping in a smaller town en route to diversify your experience.

Kids you daughter's age will love camps as my son did when he was that age - camps are full of families and kids playing and playgrounds, swimming pools, etc.

adrienne Jan 10th, 2013 06:25 AM

Will the 60+ year old love the camp grounds?

bilboburgler Jan 10th, 2013 06:54 AM

You want to drive an RV and you have children! Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photos.

hetismij2 Jan 10th, 2013 07:03 AM

Why wouldn't a 60 year old love camp grounds - they are full of 60plussers in campers!

Do you need to rent the RV? If so you would need to make a round trip to get it back to the rental station. Since most of your time will be in continental Europe you would be better off hiring the RV there rather than in the UK. Fuel is expensive in Europe and needs to be budgetted for, as do campsites - which are not that cheap! Every city has a campsite close by, and you can use public transport to get to the centre.

If you only want to visit cities then train or cheap airlines is the way to go. You need to look at a map and work out roughly where you want to go and a logical order in which to do them. Then look online to see how long it takes to fly, or go by train, between your chosen places. Work out whether you can do all the places you want to given the travelling time. If you find you will only have one night in a place you need to rethink your plans and cut places out to give you more time to enjoy fewer places.

alok_europe_dream Jan 10th, 2013 08:27 AM

Thanks everyone for the quick responses! That was fast :)

I was thinking of getting an RV and take the train in and around Switzerland for the experience. I was reading that the RV rental prices were lowest in Germany so was planning to start my journey from Frankfurt / Berlin / Munich.

My cities / POI:,86.572266

I am sure we will not be able to hit all those points but were added based off everyone's suggestions on their Places to Visit.

PalenQ Jan 10th, 2013 11:35 AM

Will the 60+ year old love the camp grounds?>

exactly what hetismij says - you obviously have never been in European campgrounds that are full of seniors as well as young families.

adrienne Jan 10th, 2013 11:39 AM

<< you obviously have never been in European campgrounds that are full of seniors >>

That's a fact and I don't plan on ever camping again.

I posed the question because Pal only reference the child loving the camp ground. I thought you had purposefully not included the senior in your statement.

thursdaysd Jan 10th, 2013 11:43 AM

If you're thinking about an RV you would likely find this site interesting - start at the beginning.

PalenQ Jan 10th, 2013 03:09 PM

and yes RV travel is very very popular in Europe, where in many countries they are called "camping cars" so if googling try that term for lists of dealers. Italians especially invade France in summer in their camping cars. The nice thing about European camps - folks from all over Europe - I spent years camping in Europe and lovely every campground I stayed in - most have good communal facilities like showers, restrooms to supplement that in the RV, laundries, food stores and most important to me cafes and restaurants and bars where you can easily socialize with Europeans - camps are the place to go if you do not want to meet other Americans!

PalenQ Jan 10th, 2013 03:13 PM

I posed the question because Pal only reference the child loving the camp ground. I thought you had purposefully not included the senior in your statement.>

I understand - but I think the needs of kids are primo in planning trips and they often get left out of the interest mix and are made to traipse thru one boring museums and one boring church after another - with my young son when I camped with him we did that during the day with the carrot that yes there will be a swimming pool at the end of the day to splash around in and other games and play equipment for kids - something not found in many hotels.

And adrienne makes a cogent point - some folks - well many Americans at least that I know will simply HATE campgrounds - be it in Yosemite or in the heart of London or Paris. That I can appreciate but being old, like me, is not a drawback given that the RV has reasonably comfy beds, etc.

adrienne Jan 10th, 2013 04:26 PM

alok - I just looked at your google map and you have mostly cities (or congested towns) on your list. Cities don't mix with campgrounds and RVs. There are lots of very nice and interesting places in Europe that are not cities. Perhaps a new itinerary would be the thing.

As an example, I recently took a driving trip through the southern Czech Republic and loved it. Beautiful scenery, lovely towns, lots of history and helpful people. Perhaps something like this rather than Prague. You'll get the flavor of the country plus your camping experience.

alok_europe_dream Jan 11th, 2013 12:50 AM

Appreciate the insight on the RV and campgrounds.

Adrienne - I unfortunately may not be able to change the cities. Given our budget we may not be coming for another trip for another 10-15+ years and hence want to visit these ones now.

To get around the problem of major cities and traffic I was hence thinking of camping outside them and taking a public transport into city. Alternatively, we could rent a RV only in Italy for a week or so and then travel to Germany and Switzerland by train before moving to Paris and London.

One option I have is to fly into London, move to Paris and then do Switzerland, Germany and Italy; flying out of Rome else do the other way round with flying into Frankfurt taking train trips to Cologne, Amsterdam from there and coming back to Switzerland. From Geneva or so, move into Italy and take a RV to Florence, Rome, Naples and fly to Paris and then to London. Thoughts?

mjdh1957 Jan 11th, 2013 01:41 AM

If you intend driving long distances, have you noticed the price of fuel in Europe? You will use a lot....

And if you are just doing cities, what is the point of staying miles outside in a campsite? Many campsites don't have good public transport connection and you will spend a lot of time going back and forth and will probably spend more than if you choose a B&B or hostel to stay in.

alok_europe_dream Jan 11th, 2013 03:15 AM

<spend more than if you choose a B&B or hostel to stay in.>

Are there hostels for families? I always assumed they would be for the backpackers and 20's crowd.

The reason to rent an RV was my personal wish of driving one. We don't get any opportunity in India :)

kybourbon Jan 11th, 2013 03:36 AM

>>>move into Italy and take a RV to Florence, Rome, Naples <<<

Many campgrounds in Italy have bungalows you can rent. There are three outside of Florence on public transport.

>>>The reason to rent an RV was my personal wish of driving one.<<<

Last thing I would want to do in Italy where many streets are too narrow for compact cars.

I think once you look at the expense of renting the camper, gas, tolls, parking, campground fees and public transport to and from campgrounds to sightsee, it's not all that economical.

thursdaysd Jan 11th, 2013 05:16 AM

No, hostels are for everyone. How big is your family? You may find it works better to move less often and rent an apartment.

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