Which mode of transport to select?

Jan 11th, 2013, 05:45 AM
  #21  
 
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Why the interest in hostels? Are you on a budget?

I assumed that you had lots of money to spend on this trip since you were planning renting an RV which would be big money (to me) plus large fuel costs to run the thing all over Europe.

Hostels have indeed changed from decades ago. There are many with private rooms or 2 bed rooms or family rooms. There is a rating system and advanced booking. It's a whole new world from the backpacker era.
adrienne is offline  
Jan 11th, 2013, 08:17 AM
  #22  
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My concept of hostels was wrong then. My aversion to hostels was due to my thinking that they were not family friendly. With my daughter and mother I want a peaceful & family centric environment. If hostels provide that then I will definitely look into that option.

if I decide not to rent an RV then what options do I have to travel between the cities. For ex: Getting around in Italy from say Florence to Pisa to Rome to Naples etc. Would you recommend the public transport?
alok_europe_dream is offline  
Jan 11th, 2013, 08:22 AM
  #23  
 
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Some hostels are peaceful, some are not. You need to read the reviews.

The train system in Italy is good - perhaps not as extensive as in India, but the fast trains will be more comfortable. For all the info you need on trains spend some time reading this site: seat61.com
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 11th, 2013, 08:46 AM
  #24  
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Thanks again for that site. I did start reading up on it as well as quite a few other sites.

My only worry traveling in a public vehicle is having to lug around all the baggage (5-6 check-in bags). I could put the heavy bags in a locker and travel light but I would always have to backtrack every few days instead of making a linear progress. So for ex: In Italy, with Rome as my base, would travel to Florence then Milan, come back to Rome and then go ahead to Naples, come back to Rome and then move to another country.

To tell the truth: I rather would prefer the Europe trains than the ones in India. They might be more in number and frequency but don't think they can beat the comfort that the European trains provide. In addition, the (non-)cleanliness is something that always puts me off.
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Jan 11th, 2013, 08:50 AM
  #25  
 
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<< Getting around in Italy from say Florence to Pisa to Rome to Naples >>

If I were only going to these cities I would take trains between locations. The train stations are in the center of the cities and very convenient. There are many trains per day to these locations.

Pisa is only an hour from Florence so I would stay in Florence and do Pisa as a day trip.

Depending on what you plan to do in Naples it could also be a day trip from Rome - about 90 minutes each way on the train.

If there are some small towns you would like to visit you can take day trips from the main cities via trains or buses.
adrienne is offline  
Jan 11th, 2013, 09:28 AM
  #26  
 
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How many people? Why on earth do you need that much luggage? I travel for months at a time with one carry-on size backpack or roller bag, and one day pack.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 11th, 2013, 09:42 AM
  #27  
 
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4 people only need 4 bags (21" size each) plus small carry on bags. Everyone should be able to handle their own luggage. Even the 9 year old can roll her own luggage (with some help on cobbles).

It's only a month and so what if you wear the same clothes over and over. If the women object they can pack some light scarves or some jewelry to make them feel as if they are wearing something different.

Europe has laundrettes and washing soap!
adrienne is offline  
Jan 11th, 2013, 09:47 AM
  #28  
 
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BTW - I'm a woman of a certain age and no longer terribly strong and I can get my suitcase on the train and lift it above my head to put on the overhead racks.

There's a technique for loading luggage onto a train.

Get grandma and your daughter on the train first and tell them to find your seats (most trains require reserved seats so you'll know ahead of time where you'll be sitting).

One person boards the train, the second person hands to bags up while the person on the train pulls them up. Then throw them in the corner of the vestibule and load the next bag. Of course you need to be quick but your wife and you should be able to do this easily since you're young.
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Jan 12th, 2013, 11:59 PM
  #29  
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Thanks for the bag loading tip. The number of bags are based on all the things we will be carrying back as gifts for the many relatives. If only it was as simple as taking chocolates for everyone

I think I am getting an idea of how to travel and the itinerary. I will spend the next couple of days refining it and then post it here for comments. Thanks again!
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Jan 13th, 2013, 12:24 AM
  #30  
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Out of curiosity: How much would I be looking to spend for a month long vacation for a family of 5? I trying to get a rough figure based on your experiences excluding air ticket flying into and out of Europe.

The hotels would be 3/4 star and eating would be normal.
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Jan 13th, 2013, 06:15 AM
  #31  
 
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Family of 5? Where did the 5th person come from?

There is no average amount of money. Hotel rates vary according to individual country plus vary between cities and small towns.

Eating normal could mean anything. I don't think that you can compare normal eating for grandma to normal eating for a 40 year old male. You could spend E10 per person on a dinner or E40 per person on dinner. Your budget also depends on how much you drink and what you drink; how many times you stop for an ice cream. Sodas for the 9 year old will cost more than beer or wine.

I'm confused about the lodging. You were asking about hostels and now you want to stay in 3/4 star hotels. They're at opposite ends of the price spectrum.

I can tell you what I spent for dinner (for myself) in Prague 2 years ago - between 10USD and 26USD (these prices include 1 to 2 glasses of wine). It all depends on where and what you eat but this is a guideline for you.

I paid $50 for a single room in a pension in Prague. You can look up pricing on hotel web sites and many restaurants also have web sites with pricing.

Last time in Paris I spent between $35 and $72 per day.

In addition to food and lodging you have transportation and sightseeing.

This is where a guidebook is handy. Guide books give you pricing information and rate hotels and restaurants.
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Jan 13th, 2013, 06:21 AM
  #32  
 
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If gifts (do you absolutely have to?) would require extra luggage either:

1. Mail them (that will also avoid excess baggage fees)
2. Buy them at your last stop
3. And buy small, light things - scarfs, jewelry - the prices in India will generally be (much) better
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 07:44 AM
  #33  
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Actually the family size is 5. It was a typo earlier. My bad

I did think about hostels earlier but somehow can't wrap my mind around it (pre-conceptions but still nervous on booking one). Decided to stay in a hotel or apartments if available for a couple of days.

Given a choice I would buy gifts right here in some mall in India but that brought from Europe tag (even if a few cents) seems to generate a goodwill for the next few years
alok_europe_dream is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 08:11 AM
  #34  
 
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Basic rules for keeping to a budget (these are the same rules that apply to traveling to large cities world wide).

- Don't eat near main squares and main tourist attractions. Walk a couple of blocks away for more reasonably priced meals.

- Many countries offer substantial breakfasts (Germany, Czech Republic) - eat hearty at breakfast and have a small snack lunch.

- Limit your stops for drinks and snacks. Carry water bottles/snacks with you in a day pack (particularly for the child). Refill your water bottles from the tap - you'll save money and be respectful of the environment.

- Apartments are the way to go, especially with 5 people. Also look for small hotels and pensions which are cheaper. In Prague I stayed outside the center for a cheaper rate and took the tram into town (15 minute ride). This worked well for me but perhaps not for 5 people traveling together with different needs to sit down, rest, nap during the day and the need for the hotel/apartment to be accessible.

- Some countries have regional train passes that are good for families. There is one such pass in Bavaria where you pay a set rate (approx. E30) and 5 people can travel with one ticket during off peak times.

If you have the Let's Go guide book series or perhaps Lonely Planet then get copies and read the introductory sections for travel tips.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 01:49 AM
  #35  
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Dear All, Thank you for your suggestions and insights. I wanted to circle back and update on what my final trip looks like:
Duration: 30 days.
4 days London -> 4 days Paris -> 10 days RV into Amsterdam, Black Forest, Switzerland -> 12 days Italy (Venice, Florence, Rome and Amalfi)

Considering air tickets, hotels, food, sightseeing, gifts etc I expect to pay around 15-16K Euros for the whole trip netting to about 100-125 Euros per person per day.

One question I had though: Are Euros acceptable in Switzerland or do they use a conversion rate for their local currency?
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Apr 14th, 2013, 11:24 AM
  #36  
 
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An RV from France and drop off in Italy. Have you looked into the drop off fees?
Some places will accept euros but if they do they use their own exchange rate. Go to an ATM and pull out some Francs.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 11:41 AM
  #37  
 
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Alok, you have to use the currency of the country, they might be nice and help you out but you will pay a poor exchange rate and it is kinda rude. London is sterling you ken?
bilboburgler is online now  
Apr 14th, 2013, 11:43 AM
  #38  
 
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@alok_europe_dream RV in a circle through Europe back to where you started: if you want to do cities, check out towns that are an hour or so outside those cities but with good public transport to them. That way you can commute to your city sight seeing and be back in the evening in your RV. For instance, Amsterdam has a great RV space that's 30 minutes outside of the city, Venice has a great campsite, also for RV's on Burano and you get to "commute" to Venice by boat - bus. And so on. If you love driving an RV through Europe, just go for it. Indeed, you'll never have this opportunity again. Lots of Europeans do the same in their summer holiday. And may can be wonderful, not too busy, spring weather in southern Europe, you'll love Switzerland and the Black Forest.

In Switzerland change to Francs.
menachem is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 11:49 AM
  #39  
 
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There is no RV park on Burano. I repeat, there is no RV park on Burano. There are no motor vehicles on Burano.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 12:12 PM
  #40  
 
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There are campsites near Venice but they are on the mainland. To me, not staying IN Venice means you miss much of the magic.
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