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Itinerary Help needed for Trip to visit Daughter studying abroad in Paris

I posted this once and then the post disappeared after I received one reply.

Our college age daughter leaves for Paris the end of this month to stay until June 1.

My husband and I want to visit her (and Europe :)) during a break she has April 22-26. We can take a maximum of 10-14 days away from work and need to be home by at least April 29.

Since we've been to Paris and Normandy before and she will have been in Paris for months, we wanted to visit some other region of France or country (Switzerland, Germany, Northern Italy maybe?).

Do you have any suggestions?
One idea is to fly into another city and start traveling toward Paris. We could buy DD a train ticket to meet us when we know more about her exact schedule and then travel with her continuing to Paris. Then we could fly home from Paris taking some of her winter items home to reduce what she has to bring home June 1.
Alternatively we could fly into and out of Paris, tour Paris some on our own while she finishes her classes and then take her in a big circle trip somewhere else.

What are your suggestions for itinerary, places to visit?

Do you have any suggestions for lower airfares? I cannot find airfare under $1400 pp using flexible days and airports either open jaw or rt Paris. We live in Wilmington NC (ILM) and RDU is 2 hours drive away.

Thanks in advance for your help. I usually like planning trips, but this seems extra difficult.

Posted by
112 posts

Our daughter did a semester abroad in London. We had never been there and let our daughter set the primary schedule. You, though, have been to Paris and Normandy, but my suggestion remains. We found a new daughter excited about her ability to show us around and tell stories of her life in London with new found friends. We built off that a day trip to Canterbury. We had a blast with her and her excitement. Have fun with this. Perhaps don’t plan too tight?

Posted by
1032 posts

Open jaws ideas:
Milan-Paris plus many others. You get the idea.

Personally, I'd fly into Bordeaux, rent a car, and make my way to Paris by touring the Dordogne and the Loire valley. Or do it in reverse, flying home from Bordeaux.

Or fly into Geneva, rent a car, and tour the Alsace and Burgundy regions.

Posted by
12868 posts

How do you feel about London? I used Google Flights and checked multi-city flights out of Raleigh-Durham into London and back from Paris. At this moment (could change at any time) there's an under-$1100 fare that is non-stop in both directions. There's also a possibility of saving about $200 by taking one-stop flights through Canada. Note that the Eurostar train tickets from London to Paris have been on sale for some time, so the super-cheap ones may well all be gone. You'll want to take a look at that cost before deciding whether London is a logical landing point. You certainly shouldn't do this if you don't actually want to see London.

I was looking at outbound April 16 and return April 29, but play around with the dates and you may be able to find something a bit cheaper.

If you're willing to do two stops (meaning a considerably longer trip), there are options that will save you some money into Paris, Nice and Barcelona. Probably other cities, too.

At this stage, don't waste your time using individual airlines' websites. Start with something like Google Flights or Kayak to get a more comprehensive look at your options. Then when you're ready to buy, go to the airline's website. If you end up with one or more connections, be sure you are getting a single ticket, not something patched together on separate tickets that would leave you vulnerable if something went wrong with your first travel leg.

Wilmington is probably a no-go if you care about the fare. Raleigh's tough enough.

Posted by
115 posts

Since your daughter will only be able to be with you April 22-26, plan to fly out of Paris on the 27th, when she is back in class. That will also give you the 28th to recover/rest before returning to work on the 29th. I agree with the above poster to let her set the itinerary for those days you will be together. Ask her now, so she has time to think and plan so she can show off to her parents, or let you know she'd rather you plan because she's so busy.
Plan your flight in based on whether you will take 10 days or 14; 4 more days make a huge difference! If only 10 days, you may wish to fly in to London or Amsterdam and stay for a couple of days before taking an easy train ride into Paris on the afternoon of the 21st to settle into your hotel before your first full day with your daughter. If 14 days, start anywhere you want: Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Munich, Berlin, Geneva (caution: does not use Euros, would need Swiss Francs), Venice, Vienna - your choice!

Posted by
6258 posts

I like the London idea but April is also tulip time in the Netherlands. Here's another suggestion:

Fly in to London. Head to Paris 20 or 21 (Easter is 21 so you may have passed by getting the cheapest Eurostar tickets) to meet up with daughter. IF she wants to show you "her" Paris spend a few days there, then head to Amsterdam. Do Keukenhof one day, Amsterdam the other days. You guys fly home from Amsterdam, daughter returns to Paris via train.

Posted by
4130 posts

Here’s another thought...

Your daughter will probably travel, with newfound friends, throughout France, or to nearby countries during long weekends throughout her semester.

My daughter studied a semester abroad in Edinburgh (January - May 2016).

Like you, my original plan was to visit her (and travel around the UK) during her spring break. However, she suggested waiting for my visit till the end of the semester because she’d probably travel with her newfound friends during their break.

Since she didn’t know where she’d travel during the semester, it proved to be a difficult challenge for me to plan a trip to the UK.

So... Instead of planning to visit the UK, I decided to plan a trip to another country, and allow her to travel with her friends during her spring break.

As it turns out, she ended up traveling around the UK via university organized weekend day trips. She also traveled to various cities with her friends during long weekend and during their spring break.

When I finally arrived to Edinburgh (at the end of her studies), I found a more confident young woman who was truly excited to show me her favorite city which had become her home for 5 months.
After 4 amazing days in Edinburgh, we packed all her winter stuff and sent a package home (via Mail Boxes, Etc.)

We then flew to Geneva and traveled around France for a couple of weeks.

Studying abroad was an invaluable life experience which helped my daughter become more independent, confident and mature. She still stays connected with her friends and plans to travel with them in the future!

May your daughter enjoy her study abroad experience, and may she make lifelong friendships!

Posted by
904 posts

What is your daughter studying in Paris? Our daughter did a semester in Florence studying Art History. It was obvious to us that she needed to see Paris with all it’s art treasures before she came home. I think your daughter’s major should play a role in where you will go. A previous poster was right when they said your daughter will be taking lots of trips with her friends. As part of my daughter’s study abroad program, she traveled extensively throughout Italy seeing all of the works of art and history. When we visited her in Paris, it was one of the best vacations we ever had taken. I had been to Paris on two other occasions, but it was a lot of fun to see it thru her and my wife’s eyes who have never been.

Posted by
2 posts

Air Italia sometimes has cheaper flights from the U.S. to/through a European city in my experience than British, American, German or French carriers. Either way, buy your tickets asap now, in January, to get cheaper tickets.

Have you thought of flying into Geneva and having her take the TGV from Paris to meet you there? It's only about 4 hours, super easy for her. Then you could all take the train from Geneva to Milan, and explore northern Italy together -- especially the Lake country, not just Venice, Florence, and Tuscany.

If I were her, I would want you to follow me back to Paris after our vacation and for you to fly home from Paris so you can help carry stuff home. I lived in Geneva for a year during college, and would have been so SO grateful to have my parents visit and help me carry my stuff home. She is so lucky to have you as parents!

No matter what itinerary you decide, I'm sure it will be the trip of a lifetime and one that none of you will ever forget.

Posted by
815 posts

RDU appears to be an expensive airport for flights to Europe. Have you thought about flying out of Washington Dulles (IAD)?

Posted by
12868 posts

Alas, the drive from Wilmington to Dulles Airport would not be a fast one. Traffic delays from Fredericksburg north are pretty much guaranteed. Might be worth it if there were really significant savings per ticket. There are hotels near Dulles that allow you to park for free for a considerable time if you just stay there one night.

Posted by
948 posts

Are you utilizing Skyscanner to set searches for airfares?

A wonderful site and you can establish a variety of searches to consider a variety of airfare expense and destination options.
Suggest you add Charlotte airport as a potential departure/return.
Zowza! on fare prices from your neck of the woods.
I would skip the Swiss if you desire to minimize impact on your pocketbook.