Please help me plan a reasonable itinerary

My daughter (18) and I are going to Europe August 6-21. Our flight arrives in Paris at 2 pm on August 7. We really want to see Ireland, Scotland, England and France. I am not sure how much we can all get in in 14 days! I am also debating whether to rent a car, or just try and do public transportation. I have looked at some RyanAir flights, as well as Eurail. We would like to maybe so this: August 7-9 in Paris August 10-13 in Ireland August 14-16 in Scotland August 17-20 in London, then the train back to Paris for a flight out at 10:00 August 21. Some sights we want to see: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees London: Tower, Kensington Gardens (my daughter is a HUGE Barrie/Peter Pan fan)Big Ben. Would like to maybe visit Cotswaolds if there is transport from London Scotland: Edinburgh, some of the Highlnds; Alynwick Castle (where Harry Potter was filmed- another obsession of my daughters) Ireland: Dublin, Cliffs of Moher Is there a recommendation for a length of time in all the countries?
THANKS!!

Posted by Adam
Boston
2634 posts

Most obvious tip would be to fly open jaw to avoid spending a whole day of your vacation doubling back. EG fly into Glasgow, proceed to London, train to Paris, fly home from Paris. Add Ireland as it makes sense, though I think you are cramming too much stuff in and perhaps failing to account for the big bite that intra-Europe travel will take out of your ability to sightsee. You would not be bored splitting your 11 days between London and Paris, with a day trip or two. But whatever your destinations, fly open jaw.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1414 posts

OK, I'll start. No, your proposal is not realistic. Not even close. You need to drop 2 of your four "countries". France and Ireland are the obvious outliers.
England and Scotland are a lot to do in less than 2 weeks. It makes no sense to fly in and out of Paris if 3/4 of your hoped-for destinations are in the British Isles. Fly into London. Do England and Scotland. Save Ireland and France for other trips when you have enough time. Begin by being honest with yourself about how many days you really have - full days in Europe. Don't count your arrival or departure days.

Posted by Tena
Pinson, Alabama, USA
30 posts

Thanks. I am using my frequent flier miles to fly in, and we are already booked to fly in an out of Paris. So, maybe skip Ireland, do a 5 days in Paris, 6 in Great Britain (Scotland/England), then just take train back the night before for our flight out of Paris?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

You're getting close. Here's a couple of more thoughts: Paris is compact, you can see a lot of it in three days (plus what's left over when you come back from London). London is spread out, you need four days to scratch the surface (part of the four can be what's left over of the arrival day if you catch the early Eurostar). Alnwick is going to be rough. I could drive up there from London in six hours if I pushed it. I'd assume public transportation would take a bit less, but it'd have to be a train/bus combo and I don't know how to figure it (maybe make the transition at Newcastle upon Tyne?). The next wild guess is that it's maybe two or three more hours to get to Edinburgh. That's eight hours of travel and you still have to eat, see the darn castle, etc. It's starting to sound like a two-day project. Edinburgh you can knock off in two days. You need a day to get back down south. You've got two days left for the highlands. I spend a lot of time in northern Scotland, but everybody thinks my ideas suck.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3209 posts

I agree with Adam, I would recommend splitting your time between London and Paris. There is so much to see and do, and you could include some wonderful day trips. This, to me, would be a much better vacation and time spent with your daughter vs. rushing from one place to another with not enough time anywhere.

Posted by Nancy
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
149 posts

One thing to keep in mind that each time you change locations, you need to allow about 1/2 to 3/4 day transit time - (train time between London and Edinburgh is about 4 1/2 hours so you will spend most of a day in transit each way) If you choose to go to Scotland (and having to fly in and out of Paris) means you will be traveling for 4 of your 13 days only giving you 9 days to really sightsee - which works out to 3 days per city - only you can decide if that leaves you enough time to see what you want to see those cities or not. You could do 3 days in Edinburgh and either take the train to Alnwick (there is convenient bus service from the train station) or do a day tour from Edinburgh - most of the tours however, see other sites so you'd have to decide if those are of any interest to you. I think that is about all you'd be able to fit into Scotland given your time constraints. Given that there is so much to see in both London and Paris you could easily divide your time between those two cities with even a day trip from each - Hampton Court or Windsor would be great day trips from London and Versailles and Giverny are great day trips from Paris.

Posted by Tena
Pinson, Alabama, USA
30 posts

Thanks for all the suggestions! I must say that I am torn making this decision. I don't know that I will ever get another trip like this, and I want it to be memorable! I just found out that I can extend the days by 2- flying in on August 4, landing in Paris at 2pm on August 5. I have just always wanted to see Ireland. We really had not planned on France, but it was the only place I had enough miles to book. But I can change the reservation dates, just not the location. Here is another tentative itinerary: you seasoned travelers can let me know if it sounds at all reasonable: August 4- fly from Atlanta to Paris, land in Paris at 2pm. Stay in Paris August 5-9. August 9: Fly to Dublin on Aer Lingus (arriving at 11:05 am) Stay in Ireland 9-12 August 12: Fly into Edinburgh (arrive at 0740) Stay in Scotland 12-15 August 15: Take train from Edinburgh to London (arrive at 12:43 pm) 15-20 Stay in London August 20: Train to Paris (arrive at 7:47pm)
August 21: Flight home to USA Travel fees for flights/trains for the both of us would be $800

Posted by Tena
Pinson, Alabama, USA
30 posts

Thanks for all the suggestions! I must say that I am torn making this decision. I don't know that I will ever get another trip like this, and I want it to be memorable! I just found out that I can extend the days by 2- flying in on August 4, landing in Paris at 2pm on August 5. I have just always wanted to see Ireland. We really had not planned on France, but it was the only place I had enough miles to book. But I can change the reservation dates, just not the location. Here is another tentative itinerary: you seasoned travelers can let me know if it sounds at all reasonable: August 4- fly from Atlanta to Paris, land in Paris at 2pm. Stay in Paris August 5-9. August 9: Fly to Dublin on Aer Lingus (arriving at 11:05 am) Stay in Ireland 9-12 August 12: Fly into Edinburgh (arrive at 0740) Stay in Scotland 12-15 August 15: Take train from Edinburgh to London (arrive at 12:43 pm) 15-20 Stay in London August 20: Train to Paris (arrive at 7:47pm)
August 21: Flight home to USA Travel fees for flights/trains for the both of us would be $800

Posted by Nancy
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
149 posts

It definitely is doable - just be prepared to be a bit rushed.. but if you are comfortable with that much time on planes and changing locations, go for it!

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1139 posts

Since you say you've always wanted to see Ireland, I'd suggest you budget more time there, maybe skipping Paris (except the airport) since you note that France isn't a particular interest (just the destination you can get into). You mention Dublin and Cliffs of Moher, which are on opposite coasts; you'll spend a half day driving between them; possibly more if you are using public transportation. (Public transit is less plentiful in Ireland than much of Europe, in my experience) Also, you are skipping absolutely stunning areas of Ireland, such as the south, west, and northwest coasts (and I'd far prefer any of those over the Cliffs of Moher). Beautiful inland plains. The Burren is also a fascinating area... almost a moonscape, with lovely tiny hidden wildflowers when I was last there. On our last visit, in 2 weeks, with a car, we did some of the east coast, then drove along the south coast, and up the west to the Burren and then back across the country to Dublin airport; skipped the cities of Dublin and Galway. We easily could have used an extra week or two.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3511 posts

August 4- fly from Atlanta to Paris, land in Paris at 2pm. Stay in Paris August 5-9. - Arrive airport at 2 on Aug 5, arrive hotel not before 5 p.m. Evening orientation tour and crash after all night flight. Aug 6-8 - 3 full days in Paris, first day probably jet-lagged. August 9: Fly to Dublin on Aer Lingus (arriving at 11:05 am) Stay in Ireland 9-12 that's 1/2 day on arrival and 2 full days August 12: Fly into Edinburgh (arrive at 0740) if this is a morning flight, you'll be up at dawn to get to the airport in time. If this is an evening flight, you'll only have the morning to sightsee in Ireland. Stay in Scotland 12-15 Aug 13-14 is 2 full days in Scotland August 15: Take train from Edinburgh to London (arrive at 12:43 pm) 15-20 Stay in London this is 4 full days, plus 2 half days August 20: Train to Paris (arrive at 7:47pm)
August 21: Flight home to USA Realistically: 3 days Paris, 2 days Dublin, 2 days Edinburgh, 5 days London. just sayin'

Posted by Maryam
Washington, DC
562 posts

The revised itinerary is a good one. My only question is that if you are not all that interested in Paris, why so much time there? Can you cut that in half and add it to Ireland or Scotland. Then you can do it a bit more justice. Edit: I realize that Paris will be rushed and short, but you can see more of the places you are interested in.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7684 posts

If you want to see both Dublin and the Cliffs of Moher, two full days in Ireland isn't enough. It's a good half-day drive to the Cliffs from Dublin, and with a half-day drive back, when do you have time to see anything if you are going to use the other day for Dublin? I would ditch Paris, except for that first afternoon and night. I would also ditch Scotland, and spend my time in Ireland and London. But keep in mind, you still have to get back to Paris to get home, so you will need to be back there the evening before your flight.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1414 posts

1. Start by being honest with yourself. How many days do yo really have? That's FULL days, in Europe, not counting your arrival or departure days. Count them. 2. Don't say you can't change your flights. Yes you can. Now, there may be some costs associated with changing them, but that's not the same as "can't change them." Look into what the real costs would be to change your flights to something that made more sense (i.e. don't fly to Paris if your goal is to go to Ireland!). Then figure out if the cost of changing them is a better choice than the cost of not changing them. Be sure you're comparing all the costs - including the costs (money and time) to get where you really want to go (and back). Also consider, as you say, you may never get to do this again - if that's the case, then consider the "cost" of spending half your trip getting to/from where you want to go. Hope that helps.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

I think your revised plan looks pretty good. I did a whirlwind trip with my daughter when she was 21, and had I posted it here everyone would have said... no way. Glad I didn't know about this board then. It was truly the trip of a lifetime and changed us both. She then went to grad school, PHD, marriage and 3 kids later has not yet returned to Europe, but I have returned many times and I know at some point she will as well... but we were awe-struck with all we saw and experienced and I wouldn't have given up one moment of it. Go for what you want and even your 'travel time' is not 'wasted time'. It's an opportunity to spend some quality time with your daughter, and this experience will never happen again. We drove all over Europe and some of our time in the car, listening to new music was some of our favorite time. For me it's as much about the sights I am seeing as who I am with. I would see everything you really want to see because although you can hope that you will return, there are no guarantees... take this trip with 'no regrets'.

Posted by Tena
Pinson, Alabama, USA
30 posts

Thanks, Terry! Was the driving manageable? I am thinking about renting car, but I am a little scared if winding roads and "the left side"

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

Driving on the other side of the road can be a bit unnerving at first, but it becomes surprisingly second nature... however, I do rent an automatic when I have to do that. Depending on where you go there can be some winding roads, but I have no problem going as slow as I need to, and if people want to pass I will typically find someplace to pull over. I had driven in the Cayman Islands before my first trip, so I had a bit of experience, but tons of people do it all the time. It just takes some concentration, but we should all pay attention when we are driving anyway:)) I might be able to drive a manual there (as I do have one at home and drive them all over Europe) but I don't want to find out it is too stressful once I have the car.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3511 posts

Renting an automatic is usually much more expensive in Europe - they are uncommon for some reason. If you get a manual, remember that you will be shifting gears with your left hand. There are lots of roundabouts and they can be confusing.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8761 posts

The Eurostar you have mentioned between London St Pancras and Paris Gare du Nord which arrives at 19:47 is train 1940 which departs London at 16:22. You must be checked in, ticket through the check in machine not waiting in the check in queue, an absolute minimum of 30 minutes prior to departure or you won't be allowed to travel on that train and if your ticket is for less than full-price (better get on that reservation soon because the price only goes up as departure nears, never down) you will need all new tickets at whatever walkup prices are that day. After you have checked in you will have airport style security and then customs and immigration before you board. I'm glad you added some time to this very busy trip. Too bad you can't add a bit more....

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

As far as the car there are a number of places that rent automatics and I just recently looked it up again. It was not that much more if you check all the rental agencies. I think I used Budget last time and have rented an automatic 6 or more times in England and Ireland. I usually check with Priceline where you can see a number of companies and rates all at the same time.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

Tena, you wrote, "I don't know that I will ever get another trip like this, and I want it to be memorable!" That's certainly understandable, but it's important to think about what you would be likely to actually remember afterwards. Will it be all the time spent in transit between places, checking in/out of various accommodations, feeling frustrated because you didn't realize in advance what was actually involved in pulling off a rip-roaring itinerary covering a lot of territory? Or will it be the great memories you can create by seeing fewer places but getting to know and experience each one more intimately? There's some great advice in the replies above. Well-experienced people have really taken up your cause and are trying to help you plan a satisfying trip. If you scale it back to the handful of things you REALLY want to see and do, you'll come home with a feeling of accomplishment, instead of thinking about all the things you may have missed. Then again, you may come home feeling like I always do - longing to go back, and willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen as soon as possible. :)