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  1. #1
    bisous is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Default How long, how many locations, housing strategies for EUROPE?

    I have posted a few questions on here already about our destination and didn't get a ton of responses. DH and I are planning a trip to Europe in the spring, specifically the last two weeks of April. We have a pretty (for us!) budget. Up to 14K!! DH has never left the country and started deliberating putting money into an account just to spend for vacations after adding lots to our general savings and paying off our debts! We definitely DO NOT have to spend that much BUT we can.

    First, how long is ideal? We do have three kids at home. We are planning on having the teenager at his cousins house and the two littles with my parents, though I might ask my SILs to take them for the weekend. My parents are very responsible but they are older and I'm worried about tiring them out. That's why we're going later in April so that they will have a break while the kids are in school!

    We're planning on visiting his parents in Singen, Germany. We're going to get some ideas from his siblings who have all made it out to visit them so far and have had some fun adventures. DH wants to visit France as well BUT he kind of wants to visit TWO regions. He wants to visit Southern France (Cote d'Azur where I served as a missionary 25 years ago!) and would love to fit Paris in? I feel like we can FOR SURE do two locales but can we do three? So I guess that's questions number two! Additionally, I made some fun observations that you can travel by train from Southern Germany to Southern France...going through the pretty lakes area of Switzerland and Italy. Would that be worth an additional stop? Do you guys prefer staying a few days in one location? Or flitting from one to another? What's the right mix?

    And then finally, what is the best strategy for getting lodging. We're watching flights and prices are all over the place. Like with all the uncertainty in Europe right now we really don't know what will happen to prices or even if we'll actually be able to go! On the other hand, lodging I just don't know how to even start! I guess with an itinerary? But maybe we should find good places to stay and then build around that? When we're in Germany we'll have free lodging.

    Would love any strategies you guys can suggest. We have not done a ton of traveling together. We have done long weekends and have had one memorable couples trip to WDW. This summer as a family we traveled considerably by car and stayed a new place almost every day. We actually really enjoyed that.

    Would love any thoughts you can spare!

    TIA!

  2. #2
    SnuggleBuggles is offline Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    We did 5 cities in 2 weeks. 3 is absolutely doable and I would encourage you to see as much as you can. Yes, it won't be as relaxing as some trips (though we had 3 days built in mid-way just to chill!) and you won't get a deep dive like you would if you nestled into fewer spots. But, not everyone has the finances to hop over to Europe regularly so when you have the time and money to afford the trip- and flights- you might have to make concessions. For us it was doing more of the "whirlwind" than folks here recommended. We were realistic about how expensive it was to take the flights so wanted to make the most of crossing the ocean. Everyone has different travel expectations and budgets. Take the trip you want to take even if it isn't the ideal for everyone. It sounds like, based on your summer trip, that you are ok with more of a whirlwind and seeing more places!

    I looked at the train between Paris and Italy and wasn't willing to spend that long on a train, despite how pretty it looked like it would be. It would have been like 12 hours...that was too much time to waste for us. Flying was so much shorter. I liked the trains for shorter journeys though.

    For lodging, I would think about how many days you need to see everything in that location. I don't know how I figured out our itinerary/days of lodging. I think I just made myself do it. I did a mix of hotels and Airbnbs. I probably would have stuck with hotels if it was just 2 of us but we needed more beds/rooms when there were 4 of us. And sometimes I just liked the privacy and space offered by an Airbnb. Just book some stuff with refundable rates. YOu will have more options this far out and you can change things as needed too. I filtered all Airbnbs by cancellation policies. In my experience with hotels, prices never really go down over time. If you have your eye on a certain hotel, you can sign up for their mailing list in case there are any promos/specials.

    Sometimes you r itinerary comes together because you want to see something unique that only happens on a certain day/date. Or that you don't want to be in a specific place on a specific day because the stuff you want to do is closed. I think the Harry Potter experience in London helped to shape some of my dates (what was available) as well as the theater I wanted to see in the West End (no evening shows some days, no shows at all on Monday...).

    We flew in and out of different cities.

  3. #3
    bisous is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Thanks snugglebuggles! That is very helpful and also fills me with joy so I think that's what my heart is wanting to do!

  4. #4
    Liziz is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
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    I'm so excited for you to take this trip!

    DH and I are also looking at going to Europe this summer, and our goal is to be there at least/around 2 weeks. Any shorter and it seems like the $$ for plane tickets isn't worth it (or is painful!), and while we'd love to go longer, we feel like much longer is too taxing to the grandparents who will be watching our DC.

    In terms of how many places to visit -- it's all about how YOU want to travel. I get the impression that this is a once-in-a-great-while trip for you guys (as in, you're not planning to go back to Europe every summer). As such, if it were me, I'd do the whirlwind trip and hit up each of the places you'd like to see, even if only for a few days. There are several locations in Europe that I've been able to visit for only a short time. There are places I wish I could have spent more time at (and would love to go back if I could!), but I don't regret getting a little bit of time there! For example, I've been to Paris, but only had 1.5 days to explore the city. I definitely would have loved to spend a lot more time (and had to pass up some things I really wanted to see, like the Louvre) -- but, I 100% feel the time I had was worth it and have no regrets that I was there! You'll just have to really prioritize what sights you want to see in each place.

    When we were traveling in Europe (2016-2019) we found it almost always better for us to either drive or fly between big cities -- trains were great but often added a lot of time to the trip. (To note: it's never worth it to try to drive IN the big cities, but driving TO them is what we'd do sometimes). I've heard anecdotally from friends living there more recently though that air travel is more of a mess these days though, so I'm not sure if this is still good advice. Definitely worth comparing options, though.
    Lizi

  5. #5
    ahisma is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    You can use google flights and some of the other airfare trackers to sort out what your "buy" price should be for airfare. We generally don't spend over $600 r/t per person to Europe, but we are very much on the budget end of travel (usually under $4K total for 10 days in Europe - for FOUR of us). It really comes down to how you want to travel - very much a you do you sort of thing!

    We tend to do 3-4 cities over 10 days, although we don't country hop. Generally we do rent a car, and it's tough to rent and drop off in different countries without a huge fee. We also road trip a lot domestically and find that our travel stamina internationally is similar to our domestic stamina. That said, the first few trips were rougher. Moving from country to country may be draining on your DH if he hasn't traveled internationally - the culture shock does seem to accumulate. Eventually you get used to it, and I do think it varies by personality. My DH struggled more than I did, but now it's second nature to him. If I had the budget you do, I'd probably lean toward some options that would mitigate that to make the trip more enjoyable. We DIY a lot, which means that we are "on" 24/7.

    We have done trips where we stayed in one spot (London), but tend to prefer exploring a bit more.
    Last edited by ahisma; 10-12-2022 at 08:34 PM.

  6. #6
    bisous is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liziz View Post
    I'm so excited for you to take this trip!

    DH and I are also looking at going to Europe this summer, and our goal is to be there at least/around 2 weeks. Any shorter and it seems like the $$ for plane tickets isn't worth it (or is painful!), and while we'd love to go longer, we feel like much longer is too taxing to the grandparents who will be watching our DC.

    In terms of how many places to visit -- it's all about how YOU want to travel. I get the impression that this is a once-in-a-great-while trip for you guys (as in, you're not planning to go back to Europe every summer). As such, if it were me, I'd do the whirlwind trip and hit up each of the places you'd like to see, even if only for a few days. There are several locations in Europe that I've been able to visit for only a short time. There are places I wish I could have spent more time at (and would love to go back if I could!), but I don't regret getting a little bit of time there! For example, I've been to Paris, but only had 1.5 days to explore the city. I definitely would have loved to spend a lot more time (and had to pass up some things I really wanted to see, like the Louvre) -- but, I 100% feel the time I had was worth it and have no regrets that I was there! You'll just have to really prioritize what sights you want to see in each place.

    When we were traveling in Europe (2016-2019) we found it almost always better for us to either drive or fly between big cities -- trains were great but often added a lot of time to the trip. (To note: it's never worth it to try to drive IN the big cities, but driving TO them is what we'd do sometimes). I've heard anecdotally from friends living there more recently though that air travel is more of a mess these days though, so I'm not sure if this is still good advice. Definitely worth comparing options, though.
    Thank you. This is great advice, both on length of time and touring style! I do wonder if planes are less desirable to use these days due to flight cancellations etc. I think I could see myself driving on the continent. I don't want to ever try driving in the UK--I think I'll certainly feel disoriented driving on the left! I have lived in a couple of big cities in France and yes, public transportation is excellent and easy therein!

  7. #7
    bisous is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahisma View Post
    You can use google flights and some of the other airfare trackers to sort out what your "buy" price should be for airfare. We generally don't spend over $600 r/t per person to Europe, but we are very much on the budget end of travel (usually under $4K total for 10 days in Europe - for FOUR of us). It really comes down to how you want to travel - very much a you do you sort of thing!

    We tend to do 3-4 cities over 10 days, although we don't country hop. Generally we do rent a car, and it's tough to rent and drop off in different countries without a huge fee. We also road trip a lot domestically and find that our travel stamina internationally is similar to our domestic stamina. That said, the first few trips were rougher. Moving from country to country may be draining on your DH if he hasn't traveled internationally - the culture shock does seem to accumulate. Eventually you get used to it, and I do think it varies by personality. My DH struggled more than I did, but now it's second nature to him. If I had the budget you do, I'd probably lean toward some options that would mitigate that to make the trip more enjoyable. We DIY a lot, which means that we are "on" 24/7.

    We have done trips where we stayed in one spot (London), but tend to prefer exploring a bit more.
    Interesting about fees for returning cars to different countries. That totally makes sense. Also with the price of gas I wonder if that makes other transportation more desirable? Or maybe that will help us determine our itinerary? I'm thinking at this point that we'd like to three main areas--Southern Germany, Paris, and Southern France. We could make it work where we do Germany in the middle and then we could return the car to France... Hmm. Decisions, decisions! I'm actually a fan of traveling by car because I enjoy being able to sight-see the whole time. My experience on European trains is limited--mostly just travel along the Mediterranean in France but the view was gorgeous! I loved it. I feel like I'm leaning towards either driving or train travel between areas.

    DH is a very anxious person. He did great on our big 10 day trip that was a lot of driving and staying in a new place each night this summer BUT it was on somewhat familiar roads. I do wonder if traveling in another country would be more stressful.

    Also, it is great to hear that you can do European travel on such a budget! Normally we're very budget conscious and it would be wonderful to make that 14K last for a few special trips but I think we'll probably try to use a little extra money to relieve some of DHs anxiety on traveling.

  8. #8
    SnuggleBuggles is offline Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    Flying in Europe was easy. We were totally carry on only so no luggage woes.


    Sent from my iPhone using Baby Bargains

  9. #9
    bisous is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnuggleBuggles View Post
    Flying in Europe was easy. We were totally carry on only so no luggage woes.


    Sent from my iPhone using Baby Bargains
    Did you fly recently, like post COVID, post Ukraine invasion? I think my perspective against flying is colored by how overwhelming LAX is. We live 2 hours (in traffic) from LAX. It takes like an extra 45 minutes if you park there and you need to get there 2 hours early to get through security. So that's like 5 hours right there, lol! Then you arrive at your destination without a car. It makes me want to drive everywhere. Not all airports are that bad of course!

  10. #10
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    Also just remember, flying around Europe is MUCH cheaper than youd think vs flying domestically here. Its usually around 50 euros if you can for European flight, maybe 150 max! So Id do that route than trying the logistics of renting a car, driving many hours to another country and dropping it off, and gas is much more expensive in Europe too. But yes, you would see more of the country this way, but since you want to focus on your three regions of southern Germany, southern France and Paris, i think you can do well in exploring using their public transport and walking.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
    Mummy to DS1-6/11 and DS2-1/14

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