Best Route

My three daughters and I are planning a three week trip to Europe in June/July 2014. We would like to go to Ireland (1 week), England (day or two), Amsterdam (day or two), Germany (two plus days) and France (3 plus days). Wondering what the best route is...where should we start and what is the best order to go in. Is it too much to try and fit all this in one trip? Any advice on logistics/transportation is appreciated. Thanks, Susan

Posted by Susan
Cherry Hill, NJ, USA
7 posts

Thanks Marty and Nancy. My youngest daughter especially loved your responses! Pretty sure I can keep up with the youngins...lol The question is can they keep up with me. If not, I'll find a quaint cafe and unleash them. We are not the strictly "sight-seeing" types. What's most important to us is to experience a taste of scenery and culture in each of the countries. A conversation with locals in a pub is more important than kissing the Blarney Stone. Not to say a few touristy things are not on the agenda...the Louvre for example. Or..how can you go to X without seeing X. (X's to be filled in after some research or feedback)

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1561 posts

In my opinion, this is way too much. Each time you go from one country to another, you lose a half a day. If it was up to me, I would have a week in Ireland, one in England and one in Scotland which will just touch the surface or a week in France, then Germany, then maybe a few days in Amsterdam. You are planning too much time traveling and no time left for enjoying anything.

Posted by Lo
Tucson
648 posts

I totally agree with Gail. Plus the only city you list is Amsterdam, the rest are countries. Fortunately, you have lots of time to plan this trip. I recommend that you use the directions option under Maps on Google to get a hint as to the distances between some of the cities you want to visit. In addition, you can get an idea of the train and/or ferry time it takes to go between them using DB BAHN. That, along with researching the cities, should help with your planning. The former will tell you how long it will take to get from place to place and the latter will tell you where you really want to go and how long you want to be there. Flying open jaw, i.e. into one place and home from another, will almost always help you save time as opposed to having to return to the place you arrived to fly back home.

Posted by Susan
Cherry Hill, NJ, USA
7 posts

Thanks Gail. I suspected we were trying to cram a lot in. This is the first real vacation the girls and I have ever taken (they are 15, 17 and 19) and it's unlikely we will have more opportunities. Your point--quality over quantity--is well taken. Except Ireland, we all have a different "would-love-to-see" place. Guess you can't please all the people all the time...we may have to draw straws. If anyone out there has ever done the Ireland, England, Amsterdam, Germany, France or Ireland, Germany, France, I'd love to hear about your experience.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
969 posts

I know it sounds crazy to a lot of people (especially here) but yes, you could see a little piece of these four countries in 3 weeks but it would depend a lot on how you want to travel from place to place and what your budget is (stress budget). For example you could: 1. fly into Shannon, rent a car for 6 days and see the highlights of Ireland ending in Dublin. 2. fly from Dublin to London for 4/5 days with one day trip. 3. Eurostar train to Paris for 4/5 days with one day trip to Versailles or somewhere else that one of the parties wants to see. 4. fly (or train) from Paris to Munich for 4 days with day trips from there. I would skip Amsterdam this trip unless it's a 'must' for one of the parties. In that case I would shorten Paris to 3-1/2 days (no day trips), train to Amsterdam for 2 days, then train to Munich. So yes, it's a lot of traveling between places which usually busts most people's budgets (both money and time wise), but if mom is as active and energetic as the teens can certainly be accomplished.

Posted by Marty
Rockville, MD, USA
70 posts

"If anyone out there has ever done the Ireland, England, Amsterdam, Germany, France or Ireland, Germany, France, I'd love to hear about your experience." I did a three week trip March-April with my husband and two sons that was 7 nights in London, 5 nights in Normandy, France, 5 nights in Amsterdam, and 4 nights in Berlin (taking trains in between). As Gail mentioned, you lose sightseeing time on the days you travel. In our case it was more like a whole day each time. We each nominated two places to see, then we did research and pared it down to something that worked for us.

Posted by Susan
Cherry Hill, NJ, USA
7 posts

Thanks Lo. The resources you suggested are helpful. Amsterdam was the only city I mentioned because that is the only city-specific place I am interested in visiting in the Netherlands. As for the other countries...we're open to considering any city that makes sense (I am not familiar with too many cities in the other countries--or states, as most people in other countries refer to them as).

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
969 posts

Susan, good luck with your continuing planning and glad to see that the 'youngins' are involved with the planning.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3344 posts

I find the European wide tours too tiring and not that enjoyable. Too much time gets lost on the (rail)road and very little visiting things. It's also very expensive when you cover a lot of miles. Neither long distance high speed trains nor airplanes are cheap. I took a 3 week trip in Europe with my wife over 20 years ago, we visited (or better, we stepped foot on) 8 or 9 countries in 3 weeks and 2/3 of the pictures from that trip were from the train, many of my wife asleep on the train. I learned from that trip, that, for 2 or 3 weeks, it is best to concentrate on one big country or a group of small countries in the same region. For 3 weeks you could do any of the following groupings for example: - Spain+Portugal+Morocco - Ireland and Great Britain - France - Benelux + Northern Germany (or Northern France) - Austria+Southern Germany+Switzerland (Alpine land) - Italy - Scandinavian countries - Germany
- Austria+Czech Rep.+Hungary. Or anything of this sort. You get the picture.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1972 posts

I try to travel the path of least resistance when traveling; preferably pretty much in a straight line. Tour Ireland. Catch a budget flight from Dublin down to London. Tour London area and take the Eurostar down to Paris. Tour Paris and fly to Munich on Lufthansa if the fare's reasonable. Only Lufthansa flies to Munich from Paris.
If flying to Munich cost too much, you could go by train to Amsterdam and fly home from there. Amsterdam's an easy city to deal with for an American.

Posted by Susan
Cherry Hill, NJ, USA
7 posts

Thanks Roberto. You and others make a good point about wasting to much time in transit. David...I like the sound of your suggestion. I'm going to chart out the travel times and costs.

Posted by Todd
Binche, Hainaut, Belgium
8 posts

One suggestion, see where the best bargain is for your flight. It may be cheaper to fly into a place like Brussels and take the train from there to where ever you want to go. Brussels is nice because you can take the Eurostar to London or the Thalys to Paris, Amsterdam or even Germany. We love the trains because they are fast, comfortable and convenient. For example, if you take the Eurostar from Brussels to London, the trip takes two hours and you get off the train at St. Pancras Station in downtown London. I have lived in Europe for about 15 years (over two separate time periods) and not having to deal with driving, parking, and fuel cost is a huge plus. Keep in mind, if you take trains, you will be subject to the train schedule so you will loose the freedom of leaving when you want.

Posted by Adam
Boston
2633 posts

David's plan is the best so far. Keep in mind that groups of four newbies are rarely nimble when it comes to coming and going. The fewer transitions the better the trip. Also keep in mind that your first day is likely to be at least partially lost to jet lag and orientation, and that London and Paris deserve at least 5 days. Have everyone read some guidebooks, then sit down and have an honest talk about priorities. Then you can make a killer itinerary for a really memorable trip.

Posted by Susan
Cherry Hill, NJ, USA
7 posts

Thanks Adam! My biggest fear is transitions! My poor sense of direction is only mitigated by my sense of adventure and spontaneity ;) We have been pouring over guidebooks and are reaching a point a realistic expectations and compromise. Speaking of jet lag...is there a "best" approach to minimize it? Is it better to arrive in the morning and push through or in the evening and sleep? I noticed many flights arrive very early in the morning so there's also hotel check-in times to consider. Susan

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

Some people just power on through and ignore jet lag. I've never been able to do that. My first day in Europe, usually London, I putter around until I can get into my hotel room midday. Then I rest or nap for a couple of hours. I will go out and get something to eat, then fall asleep when it gets dark. It helps to move around in daylight for as long as you can. I notice I fall asleep off and on in the daytime for several days, then my wake-sleep pattern becomes normal. I've tried various chemical fixes for jet lag, but don't use anything now. Sleeping on the plane on the way over helps more than anything.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

Susan... My first trip to Europe was with me daughter (age 21...her first there also) and we did a whirlwind trip... and I wouldn't change a moment of it. We had a little less than 3 weeks and did 9 countries. A taste of each. I drove and while we got lost a bit (pre GPS) we always found our way. Made a circle trip starting and ending in Amsterdam. The freedom of the car was perfect for us and we changed our mind lots of times along the way. We didn't need to see all the 'tourist places' either. We really wanted to hang out, see beautiful places, and experience different cultures. Our transit time, which was a lot, was some of the most precious time for me. We talked, listened to lots of new music, enjoyed the countryside, and had time together. Priceless... so I never look at that as a waste of time. I actually look forward to it on my trips. I found a passion on that trip and have been fortunate enough to return many times, however as with lots of young people...college, a career, kids, etc. and she has not returned yet... but she still thinks our whirlwind trip was a great introduction for her and now she knows where she wants to return to when life allows it. Have a great trip... and if you can drive on the east coast you can certainly drive in Europe. This is a once in a lifetime trip as your girls will never be at this age again and to get to experience Europe together is such a wonderful experience.

Posted by Susan
Cherry Hill, NJ, USA
7 posts

Terry, thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like a precious lifetime memory and exactly what I'm hoping for me and my girls.

Posted by Adam
Boston
2633 posts

Susan re jet lag: Everyone is different. I've had good experience minimizing jet lag using 3 methods that are well-thought-of by MDs and scientists: (1) light exposure (2) diet and (3) melatonin. Note that some popular methods, such as drinking and tranks, can make jet lag worse. Since you have time, educate yourself and decide. Maybe even ask your doctor. It's worth doing because jet lag can eat the start of your trip AND is very manageable with foresight.