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  1. #11
    SnuggleBuggles is online now Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by bisous View Post
    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!
    Our only hurdle on our June/July flights this summer (so post Covid and during Ukraine) was domestically (a 2+ hour long line to check in with British Air- everyone has to show their passports so when the counter was understaffed, it was terrible). We saw long lines in Paris but not on our airline. We also saw long lines in Rome but, again, not our airline. It's luck of the draw though. On any given day you can face an unexpected staffing shortage.

  2. #12
    bisous is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by DualvansMommy View Post
    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.


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    I didn't realize that. Thank you! That is pretty cheap! With gas prices as they are (and I'm not sure if Europe is experiencing the same scarcity in rental cars?) it might be cheaper to fly.

  3. #13
    bisous is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnuggleBuggles View Post
    Our only hurdle on our June/July flights this summer (so post Covid and during Ukraine) was domestically (a 2+ hour long line to check in with British Air- everyone has to show their passports so when the counter was understaffed, it was terrible). We saw long lines in Paris but not on our airline. We also saw long lines in Rome but, again, not our airline. It's luck of the draw though. On any given day you can face an unexpected staffing shortage.
    Ok. Thank you. That helps a lot. I'm leaning towards at least exploring flight options!

  4. #14
    marinkitty is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    One thing to think about if flying within Europe during your trip is that carry ons are limited to the smaller sized wheelie bags (and by weight -- 8 kg I think) and they are much stricter than the US carriers about it. Flying was fraught enough within Europe last summer with number of canceled flights without introducing checked baggage into the mix. We kept hearing nightmare stories about lost bags from friends who were moving country to country within Europe, although the one time someone in our family checked a bag on a within Europe flight, that was about the only thing that didn't go wrong (see below). If you'll have more than the smaller sized carry on and a hand item, IMO that changes the equation of how risky it will be to book air connections place to place during your trip.

    Another thing to think about is that many of the European carriers, if they cancel a flight, do not automatically rebook you on the next best flight like most US carriers do. And airport counters are not staffed with people equipped to handle rebooking. Our 14 year old son was flying on Lufthansa from Oslo to Lisbon through Frankfort in July. His flight from Frankfort to Oslo was canceled, so rather than rebooking him and putting his bag through to his final destination, Luftansa sent his checked bag to baggage claim at the mid-way point of his travel and left him stranded in Frankfort. The people at the airport said they could not help him - he needed to call. Calling resulted in wait times upwards of 30 minutes and being hung up on more than once. After four attempts we settled for rebooking him online (for the next day with an additional stop through Munich as the soonest possibility) and on our dime got him a room overnight at the Frankfort airport Marriott where he stayed overnight ALONE as a 14 year old and then had to be up, checked back in with bag checked for a 6:00 a.m. flight, via Munich and I finally had him with me in Lisbon at 2 pm the next day. His flight into Frankfort the day before had landed at 10:30 a.m. so it cost him more than 24 hours and there was no possibility of rebooking him on any other airline or another Luftansa route that day because of the sheer number of canceled flights and stranded passengers. This was with zero weather related disruption - it was all lack of staff and maintenance workers. It was all fine in the end, but it made for a stressful few hours while we sorted it all out and a day was lost for our son in Portugal. Lufthansa is now on my never ever list because their customer service was non-existent but I don't think they way they handled things is unusual based on the reactions of our European friends - I kept hearing similar stories the whole month I was there. Because we are used to flying United with status and are always rebooked automatically, I wasn't prepared for the level of fall out from the canceled flight so thought I'd mention it since I know you are looking to maximize your time in each spot.
    Last edited by marinkitty; 10-14-2022 at 12:29 PM.

  5. #15
    SnuggleBuggles is online now Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    Marinkitty makes an important point- not just weight but baggage dimensions for carry on. We knew ours were too big and opted to just pay and check them. I totally forgot we had to do that! I had looked it up back in the states when preparing for the trip. Buying new suitcases would have cost us way more than the $30 they charged us to check them.


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  6. #16
    ahisma is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    While I would often be an advocate for flying within Europe, I do have to agree with PPs that I'd be less eager to now. It's just...not relaxing. The sharp increase in delays (not just limited to Europe) really exacerbate the stress. I'd be more inclined to go with options that are more within your control. If you have to spend a ton of time in the airport, miss planned tours, etc - that's not exactly the kind of trip you are looking for.

    We've travelled a fair bit these past few years (I was home a whopping 4 nights in September). The level of stress really hasn't come down, although it's more due to staffing shortages now. Last month I had a team stuck on the plane for hours after landing because they couldn't find a crew to even deboard. It was madness.

    I would absolutely fly TO a destination (international or otherwise), but flying during the trip would be pretty low on my list right now.

  7. #17
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    Planning a trip is so personal. Some people (like my DH) would be happy in a new location every night, hitting the high points in more places. Some like to travel slowly, soaking in everything on one spot for an extended time. I think I'm in the middle ~3 nights in most places feels about right, depending on interests. For a 10-14 day trip, I think 3 separate locations sounds very doable. You can always plan day trips. I'd probably travel by car or train right now between most European places. The Rome to Rio site is a good place to start when researching transportation options between sites. Google Maps gives step by step directions when you are in a city etc. The travel forums on TripAdvisor, Fodors and Rick Steves are full of information and I'd probably start there to sketch your rough itinerary.

    My biggest piece of advice would be to stay flexible, especially if air travel remains the same. The staff shortages are real. Flights are canceled and checked luggage is lost at higher rates right now. But that doesn't mean you can't have a fun and successful trip, even if you have a canceled or delayed flight. This summer, our connection between London and Berlin was canceled. BA couldn't get us on a flight to Berlin for 2 days but could get us to Hamburg that night. DH handled the flights, I found a hotel near the train station in Hamburg and booked seats on the ICE train for the next morning. Instead of hanging out at Heathrow for a whole day, we took the train into London. On the way home, our flight between Munich and Heathrow was pushed back from an am flight to late pm, which meant we missed our flight home. We could get on a flight the next morning but had to spend the night at an airport hotel on our dime. Honestly, it wasn't ideal but it all worked out. On the other hand, we know families that traveled to Europe this summer without a hitch so it can go perfectly. Fortunately, we knew things were stressed and traveled all carry on for the first time ever. We bought a combo of Monos and Away carry on bags and found them to hold everything we needed.

    Another consideration when traveling is booking with the airlines directly. When you book through a third party site such as Orbitz or Expedia, they must receive authorization from the airlines before reserving your seat. It all usually works fine until a flight is canceled and you are scrambling to rebook. Many airlines won't work with you directly in that case, forcing you to go back through the third party representative. It's one more stressor.

    If you drive in countries that require a vignette, make sure you have purchased it. Several years ago, we were fined going from France to Switzerland for not having one. We didn't even understand what they were talking about until we researched it after the fact. We made sure to get it this year since we were taking our German rental car into Austria for a day. Obviously you don't need to worry about that right now, but I've heard of many Americans discovering it's existence the same way we did so I wanted to mention it. https://www.autoeurope.com/travel-ti...0the%20vehicle.

    I'm so excited for you. I can't wait to hear about your plans!
    Mom to Two Wild and Crazy Boys and One Sweet Baby Girl

  8. #18
    Liziz is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
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    Just thought of something else -- starting to plan a trip is always super daunting to me. I love internet resources but get overwhelmed with the volume of information. I have consistently found that the best place for me to start is to get a physical guidebook/guidebooks and go through them as my first step. They almost always have suggested itineraries for several different lengths of trips, and give accessible overviews of areas. I flip through them, make notes, find the things that seem most interesting/important to me. I then always transition to online research for the nitty gritty details of the trips, but the physical books usually really help me get started.
    Lizi

  9. #19
    ahisma is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by carolinamama View Post

    If you drive in countries that require a vignette, make sure you have purchased it. Several years ago, we were fined going from France to Switzerland for not having one. We didn't even understand what they were talking about until we researched it after the fact. We made sure to get it this year since we were taking our German rental car into Austria for a day. Obviously you don't need to worry about that right now, but I've heard of many Americans discovering it's existence the same way we did so I wanted to mention it. https://www.autoeurope.com/travel-ti...0the%20vehicle.

    I'm so excited for you. I can't wait to hear about your plans!
    I've never heard of this, and we will need it this summer. Thank you!

  10. #20
    gatorsmom is offline Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
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    I just discovered this thread(not sure how I overlooked it before). I’m excited for your big trip! Is this the first time you have been back to France? Start working on your French now with some French music and movies (without subtitles). Good mental exercise to bring the language back!

    Since you are planning to visit a lot of places and it sounds like it’s just you and your Dh, I wanted to recommend traveling carryon. If you can pair down your belongings to what will fit in a carry-on suitcase, traveling will be so much easier. Not just for airplane travel but for transporting your luggage in trains, taxis, rental cars, dragging it into elevators, finding room in tiny European hotel rooms, etc. On European domestic flights you may still have to check it, but it’s still much easier overall.

    I do have some recommendations for clothes to wear to make like easier too. This all depends on what activities you plan to do. But if you are mainly sight-seeing, then this should be easy. I’d pack using packing cubes and plan out exactly what you are going to wear and when. Bring polyester clothes which don’t wrinkle easily and can be washed and hung to dry overnight so you can wear them more than once on the same trip. I used a 2-gallon ziploc bag system for washing- one to soap up and wash clothes in, one to rinse. Bring one of those detergent sheets and use a little bit to soap up clothes. Tiny amounts of detergent is all that’s needed. Try out some shampoo, conditioner, lotion bars to lower your number of liquids in your carryons. Hotels will have shampoo and conditioner anyway or you can buy it once you get to Europe if you need it. I really like the Lush toothtabs to eliminate toothpaste as a carry-on liquid. My boys and Dh lived in the Columbia zip-off let hiking pants. They wore them daily. They were nice for cool mornings and could partially unzip for airflow or completely unzip for shorts. Easy and fast to sink-wash too. I lived in the Athleta Brooklyn pants. The fabric washes and dries easily and quickly, they are super comfortable and look dressy, imo. We also loved the packable Lands End down coats and rain jackets. They pack into their own pocket and reduce bulk. Waterproof your shoes before you go (in case you get rained on). Bring sandals that you can walk in, wear at the beach but can dress up for dinners. Fitflops are my go-to because I have flat feet.

    I can provide links if you need me later to but I gotta get ready for church now.
    " I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent." Mahatma Gandhi

    "This is the ultimate weakness of violence: It multiplies evil and violence in the universe. It doesn't solve any problems." Martin Luther King, Jr.

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