I am planning to take my wife and my two kids (17 and 18) for a trip to Europe, starting with Paris, then Barcelona, Florence and Rome. Can anyone help me plan this trip including where to stay, how to travel in between, etc. I am a poor planner and any help is much appreciated
If you don't want to do any planning yourself, then you look at complete tours or find a good travel agent. IF you want to do this yourself, then there is no substitute for homework but it can be fun. Use a local library and check out guides books and DVDs for the areas you want to visit. Turn a big chunk of this over to the kids. It will be fund to daydream about things to do and see. Europe Through the Back Door is a good general reference and should be included in your homework. Once that is done, come back here with rough plan and specific questions. No one can lay out a complete trip for you without knowing your dates, budget, interests, etc.
Have you been to Europe before? Does your 2 weeks include your travel days to and from Europe? Exactly how many nights will you have in Europe? In my opinion you are trying to do too much in a 2 week period. If you actually have 14 days IN Europe excluding your travel days you will only have an average of 3.5 days per city. And your desired locations are far apart, with the exception of Florence and Rome. You would need to fly between Paris-Barcelona and Barcelona-Florence. That will eat up a lot of time. Would you consider dropping Barcelona? If you did, you could probably add a place in Italy like Venice. I would do something like this - Arrive Paris. Spend 5 nights. Fly to Venice. Spend 2 nights. Train to Florence. Spend 2 or 3 nights. Train to Rome. Spend 4 or 5 nights.
Fly home from Rome. Allowing yourself more time in Paris and Rome would give you the opportunity to do a day trip from each location. If you spend 3 nights in Florence you could do a day trip to Pisa and Lucca one day. I would save Barcelona for another time. In Paris and Rome I would consider renting apartments. I have had good luck finding places using vrbo.com and homeaway.com.
john, Airtransat does mulit leg( also known a "open jaw" tickets ) So you can fly into Paris then fly to Barcelona ( look at Easyjet, I am using them this summer for Barcelona to Paris this summer) then fly to Florence( check Easyjet or Vueling,I have used them too) then train to Rome, then fly home from Rome.
This way you don't have to double back. You can reverse this order too. Buying train and plane tickets well in advance means getting the cheapest prices, the longer you wait the more they cost. I am flying from Barcelona to Paris this summer, bought my tickets about 6 weeks ago and paid 97 euros in total for two tickets! When using the inter-europeon airlines read the fine print well, and pack LIGHT, they do not allow you to be even one pound or one inch over their carry on size allowance. I alway pay the extra fee to check a bag ahead of time, its double if you pay at the airport . One carry on means one,, not a purse and a carryone,,so make sure purse fits in carryon if planning on taking carryon.
John, I have to agree with Frank on this one. Have you looked at the Tours offered on this website? It would save you all the planning and I can attest they are excellent tours! They have a few family tours - or what they call "your way" tours where they mostly just provide transportation and lodging, and you figure out how to spend your time at each destination.
This sounds like a job for Ron. http://www.roninrome.com/site-search
Your "kids" are actually young adults and should be capable of research and planning for your tour. Put them to it, and be sure not to complain about their choices.
P.S. Since they are Quebecois, they know they are adults at their age, and will be seen that way in Europe.
Thank you all for your suggestions and insights. I really appreciate it. I guess I need to be doing some research.
John, If you haven't been to Europe before, it would be a really good idea to start by reading Europe Through The Back Door. That will provide LOTS of good information on "how" to travel in Europe. After that you can use the country or city-specific Guidebooks to fine-tune your sightseeing in each city. How important is Barcelona? With only two weeks, I'd suggest skipping it this time, and plan to visit on a future trip. Travel to and from Barcelona will reduce your short holiday time. As the others have suggested, using open-jaw flights would be a really good idea. There are usually lots of flights from Montreal to Paris, and there should also be good choices returning from Rome. Although your flight times are about three hours less than those of us from the west, keep in mind that you'll lose two days in flight times. You'll generally arrive in Europe the day after you depart, and will be jet-lagged so won't get much touring done. The last day will be spent on the flight home. Therefore you'll only have 12-days for actual "touring". "Where to stay, how to travel in between, etc." is well covered in the country Guidebooks. Once you have a list of cities narrowed down, it will be easier to provide more specific suggestions. What type of accommodations are you looking for, and in which price range? When is this trip taking place? Are you interested in seeing Venice or would another location in Italy be preferred (assuming you skip Barcelona)? If you don't visit Venice, you could (for example) visit either the Cinque Terre or Siena on the way to Rome. If you plan well, that should minimize any problems. Good luck with your planning!
I too would suggest you are trying to do/see too much in such a short time, although I appreciate the desire to fit as much as possible in. I would agree with other posters about potentially dropping Barcelona - as much as it is a great city. Of the places you mention I have been to all other than Florence. Just as a rough estimate, and without knowing whether you have 2 weeks actually in Europe or whether that includes some time lost in travel at the beginning and the end, I would go for something like a 5/5/3 split, with less time in Florence. As I said, I have not been there but you could easily spend 5 days in each of Paris and Rome.