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Itinerary help, before finalizing flights

Hi all. Thanks again for all the wonderful advice. I am sharing a more detailed itinerary, with he hopes of getting some feedback, before securing flights. A few things: This trip is a celebration of my sons high school graduation, my daughters "quinceñero", my mothers retirement, my dads 75th Bday and my 45th. We have chosen a few guided tours to make things easier with this diverse group. This is kind of once in a lifetime. We hope to return to Europe, but it will take a while (we need to recover financially after this), and most likely would not include our kids, or my parents. Here goes:

Wednesday - Take flights to Rome
Thursday - Arrive in Rome via private transfer from airport- Visit Palasso Massimo de la Terme (really close to our hotel)
Friday - Tour of the Coliseum, Forum, Palatine Hill in the morning, visit the Capitoline Museum in the afternoon.
Saturday - Tour of Vatican Museums and St Peters in the morning, afternoon Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps
Sunday - Visit the Borghese Gallery (try to get 9:00 am entry tickets) at noon private transfer to Civitavecchia - board cruise
Monday -at sea
Tuesday - Santorini (1-11pm). Considering the fast ferry service that provides a bus to Oia, and then to Fira. Visit this island on our own.
Wednesday - Mykonos (8-8) - Tour to Delos, then see some of the island on our own.
Thursday -(6-6) Pireaus - Private shore excursion to Athens
Friday - at sea
Saturday -(8-6) Naples- Private excursion to Pompeii and Naples
Sunday - Private transfer from Civitavecchia to Rome, tour of the Catacombs in the afternoon
Monday - train to Florence. Walk around the city, see some of the churches, and the market (no fish)
Tuesday - Tour of Accadamia and Duomo, and the city. Afternoon visit on our own to Uffizi.
Wednesday - Tour to Pisa and Lucca
Thursday - Visit Bargello in the morning, mid day train to Venice.
Friday - Tour of St Marks Cathedral and Doges Palace in the morning, afternoon free to explore.
Saturday - Train to Milan - Visit de Fashion District (our daughter wants this)
Sunday - Tour of the Doumo and Last Supper. Afternoon to explore.
Monday - Fly to Paris or take the TGV. Still undecided.
Tuesday - Visit the Luxembourg gardens, Sacre cour. If it isn't terribly pricey take a dinner cruise on the Seine that will allow us to stay for fireworks.
Wednesday - Louvre (a couple of hours), Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees
Thursday - Half day at Versailles, Orsay Museum
Friday - EuroDisney
Saturday - Fly back home.
*Note that in Paris husband and I have been to most sights, as well as my parents. We are going to take the kids. They will not be wanting to spend five hours at the Louvre for example, like we did. I know I have to reserve timed entries to all of the places on this list, except for the ones we are going on tours where the tickets are included.

If this sounds too crazy, please place my feet on the ground.

Thanks again.

Posted by
8234 posts

You've done a great deal of research to come up with such a detailed itinerary. My hat's off to you.
But you might want to leave some time in your itinerary to rest some, recharge your batteries and sleep late. Keeping up with such a fast paced itinerary is very tiring, and sometimes a little less structure keeps trips from being a blur.

Posted by
11480 posts

Looks like a great trip! When you say “tour of ...” is this a scheduled tour with a group or a private guide? If so, Many of these places can be done on your own for a considerable savings. For example, the Accademia and Duomo in Florence can easily be done without a tour, but get tickets in advance for the Accademia. Ditto Lucca and Pisa. With Rick Steves’ guide book, you’ll find self tours that coats you nothing beyond the price of the book and you can also look into the audio tours that are downloadable to iPod or phone. Kids might like that.

We have taken the TGV from Milan to Paris a few times. It is a long train day (8 hours as I recall) but it might allow you to rest and recharge (read, nap, bring lunch on board) before hitting Paris. We also like that you go city center to city center without annoying airport transportation and security lines.

Posted by
136 posts

That sounds....exhausting! But you know your family's style the best. You want to hit all the highlights and you aren't lingering too long in any one place (like a couple of hours in the Louvre, if I only had a couple of hours, I'd just skip it). I can't imagine a 75-year-old keeping up with this pace, but again you know your family best. :)

Thank you Lisalou for your suggestions. My dad (the almost 75 year old for the trip) is very active. He climbed the Coba pyramid this summer, way better than much younger people. I do understand about trying to do too much though. We are booking small group tours for things like the Vatican and the Colisseum. I think this will make it a bit easier, since we will be directed to the most important things, where to lines etc. Then other sites, and all of Paris on our own, so we can decide if we are too tired to do things. On of the reasons I am inclined to take the seven hour train to Paris is that we would be in first class, and could rest. Read, have lunch, sip on wine. And avoid the airport hassles. As far as the Louvre, my husband and I, as well as our parents have visited already.. So we are interested in taking our kids for them to experience the museum, see the most famous pieces and learn about the museum. But we would not spend more than a few hours, because our daughter will want to move on. We want to introduce her to this place, but not overwhelm her with all of the museums.

Thanks again,

Posted by
136 posts

You guys might do fine with this, but our family would probably kill each other somewhere between "Private Excursion in Naples/Pompeii" and "Tour of the Catacombs in Rome." LOL

I totally get this. Thanks for pointing this out. I am already preparing for the psychology of it all. Our family of four have been on two extended road trips (three weeks) in the US in 2017 and 2019. We have done much better than expected, considering we were sharing a room for the four of us. Thanks again.. Hopefully my dad will not get too stressed. He is well travelled (places as far away as Australia and New Zealand), but sometimes over worries about things. I'll definitely be reporting back on this.

Posted by
4590 posts

I will start by saying I don't take multigenerational trips (yet), but I think the successful ones are where there is always the acceptance of saying 'I don't want to go along today'. Though this is a very detailed itinerary, it also sounds like you haven't required every minute to be committed to and paid for before leaving home. As the youngest is 15, you may need to put some thought to what you will do/accept if she is the only one saying 'no' on a given day. Also allow times for not traveling in the same group. Maybe grandma and DD are the only ones interested in the fashion district in Milan. Why not let them do that solo?
I also hope you are considering apartments with sufficient personal space to allow for some individual down time.

Posted by
2146 posts

I'm not sure what you want from us. When I looked at your itinerary, the words "grueling", "exhausting" and "no breathing room" came to mind. Other than one day at sea, where is the down time? Where is the private time?

What is the consensus of the group regarding this itinerary? Is there at least one "must see or do" for everyone on the list? Is this how your son, your daughter, your dad and your mom want to celebrate these landmark events or is this your fantasy?

Posted by
136 posts

I'm not sure what you want from us. When I looked at your itinerary, the words "grueling", "exhausting" and "no breathing room" came to mind. Other than one day at sea, where is the down time? Where is the private time?
What is the consensus of the group regarding this itinerary? Is there at least one "must see or do" for everyone on the list? Is this how your son, your daughter, your dad and your mom want to celebrate these landmark events or is this your fantasy?

I guess this is a travel forum, and people come here for honest advice. That's what I "wanted from you".

Not all travelers have the luxury of traveling every year at a leisurely pace with tons of down time. Some of us must make do with what we have (which has been well earned) in terms of time and money. I know some people will see this itinerary as crazy. Its OK. In fact I want to hear about it. I want to "read" other people's honest opinions, based on their experience. That is what brought me here. I consider myself somewhat an experienced traveller. I have been to North and South America and Europe. I have done trips where everything was planned for me, and trips where I have planned every little detail. And I am a very educated person. I can't imagine what someone who is less experienced, traveled, hasn't had the opportunity to receive higher education, might feel posting to this forum requesting help, and getting a response like this. Everyone is entitled to visit the world. It's wonderful when people can guide you and let you know where you might be making mistakes in your itinerary, without being put down. There was absolutely no need to be mean.

Posted by
182 posts

It sounds like you have made up your mind as far as the itinerary. I totally agree with the others that your pace is exhausting. But alot of travelers want to see as much as possible instead of soaking up the actual heart of a country. And, there's nothing wrong with that. The fact that you are diving right in with touring Rome would concern me. We like to ease in to sightseeing the first full day with time to smell the roses/drink some wine. And, I don't see any posts to be offended by. We all have our own way of traveling and you did ask for our opinion's. Hope it works out for you all.

Posted by
4292 posts

Your travel plans and organization make me think we're long lost siblings, I love it. The only flag that came up for me was keeping the same pace for the last few days when you might be slowing down. My wife and I tend not to pre-book tours near the end in case we're tiring out (both in our 50's so still going strong, but my knees aren't what they used to be) but that's a personal choice and you know your family best.

If I may give some opinions based on my experience and personal taste;

  • Santorini. It's so laid back that while the ferry service may be
    fast, don't expect the organization to get you onto a boat quickly.
    I don't recall an actual 'ferry' service. Once you're tendered
    ashore there are a couple of companies offering boat service to Oia.
    We took one that said they were leaving in 5 minutes....45 minutes
    later we were on our way. I wouldn't call it disoragnized, just laid
    back attitude of the Island. If you're as much of a planner and
    scheduler as I interpret from your post, don't let it frustrate you,
    it's just the way it is. Oia is beautiful, but crowded when cruise ships are in town. My wife is
    only 5' tall and so she becomes frustrated in thick crowds.

  • Florence. Loved it, only spent 1 day off a cruise so it's a bucket

    list to go back. On your wandering day, cross the river and walk

    uphill to Piazzale Michelangelo for the view back to the Duomo.

  • Venice. Have you been to Venice before? This is the one place I'd

    given more days and sacrifice someplace else. Seriously consider a

    morning in Burano if you add a day.

  • I've only spent 2 half days in Paris and can't give an educated

    opinion, but a half day trip to Versailles seems rushed.

  • EuroDisney. I hope you follow up your trip with a post about it.

    It's on our list when we have more time to visit Paris.

We haven't been to Europe with a large family group, but have traveled in North America with extended family, I would suggest a family meeting(s) in advance regarding your pace and to discuss that lollygaggers can't be tolerated in the morning. If you need to be up and ready to go at 8, make sure they understand that so nobody is still wanting breakfast or needs to do their hair when it's time to leave. Open communication for a larger group will be incredibly useful.

Posted by
136 posts

It sounds like you have made up your mind as far as the itinerary. I totally agree with the others that your pace is exhausting. But alot of travelers want to see as much as possible instead of soaking up the actual heart of a country. And, there's nothing wrong with that. The fact that you are diving right in with touring Rome would concern me. We like to ease in to sightseeing the first full day with time to smell the roses/drink some wine. And, I don't see any posts to be offended by. We all have our own way of traveling and you did ask for our opinion's. Hope it works out for you all.

We actually haven't made up our minds. Which is why I posted with the question. I have put in my itinerary one 3-3.5 hour tour per day for most days expect on shore excursions. For example, the Capitoline Museums are close to the Colisseum. So I put them on the same day for the afternoon (when it might be hotter). Too tired, go home. There are a few days that are pretty full (Florence for example). But that's because there is no way around arriving on a Monday. I do want to read what people have to say. I have researched this topic a lot, and greatly value what other more experienced travelers have to say.

Thank you for taking the time to read, and respond to my post.

Posted by
2589 posts

A couple thoughts. Think about how long you are staying various places. I didn't calculate but moving more than every three days is exhausting and everything takes longer with a group. We have neighbors who have taken their children to Europe twice-they hate it. I think that one of the reasons is my neighbor has everyone moving constantly (and they are teenagers) and one to two night stays for two weeks.

We went on a two week trip to Greece with our adults children and my husband's brother (7 of us). It was a great success and perhaps some of the reasons may be helpful to you. First, we stayed 3 or 4 nights in every place (four altogether), two, we didn't insist that everyone do everything together. It was easier for us because our youngest was 20 and he and his older brother went off several times by themselves. I had everything planned like you do but did not insist that people follow the same itinerary. So one afternoon, four of us went to a museum and one went back to house we had rented to rest. My two sons headed out on a walk to the beach we had agreed to go to later. So think about this. Perhaps people could split up some days--you have to decide whether you would feel comfortable allowing your two children go off by themselves. We also decided we would only pay admission to the places we were going--I am sure that encouraged them to go with us but as I said, they did not always. Third, we spent three afternoons at the beach because it was just too hot to do anything else. But in retrospect, the beach gave us a break from the demands of touring.

My husband and I went to the UK this past summer by ourselves. We found we just were tired after two weeks. It wasn't as warm as Greece of course and we did not schedule in that kind of down time. None of us were ready to come home after two weeks in Greece which led my husband and I to make our next trip longer. But I think one of the reasons we weren't ready to come home from Greece is that we zoned out at the beach three afternoons.

So even if you like this pace, I would suggest that you add at least one unscheduled day after two weeks. We have other friends who had a fast paced trip like you for two weeks around Italy with their two teenage children . At the end of the trip, they were to go to Pompeii. They got there and didn't go in. Noone wanted to see anything else. They had a wonderful time until then at a pace I would not want to replicate. But they couldn't keep it up for the whole two weeks.

Posted by
4590 posts

After reading the comment above, I looked back and it looks like you actually do have numerous nights in most cities. The one that jumped out at me from the start was Venice, however. I know it seems wrong to miss Venice, but I might suggest you do. We want so much for our kids, but we also should leave them something to unearth themselves later in their lives. Let Venice be one of those places.
Instead, consider a short stay in a villa in Tuscany or smaller town with no plans. Don't consider it a waste of sightseeing time, but a time to breathe, visit together to discuss and enjoy what has been done so far and see some countryside instead of sidewalk. Keep close to Florence, or something enroute to Milan. If it has a pool, even better.
I also endorse the train to Paris for the reasons you gave.

Posted by
2146 posts

I guess this is a travel forum, and people come here for honest advice. That's what I "wanted from you".

There was absolutely no need to be mean.

Perhaps the word "dream" would be better than the word "fantasy". My intent was to ask if everyone in your group is on board with this schedule.

The problem with "honest advice" is that, as you went to lengths to point out, we all have differing traveling philosophies. If this is a pace that you and the rest of your group like to take, then whether or not I or others here would want to pursue it is irrelevant.

We all have resource restrictions. I guess there are a few here who can travel both frequently and leisurely, but I know I'm not one of them. Lack of opportunity doesn't necessarily equate to difference in travel philosophy. When we went to Italy three years ago, we were aware that for one reason or another we may not have an opportunity to head that way again. We chose a method of travel that required some hard, potentially sad choices. However, we were unwilling to trade the depth of the experience for a larger breadth of experience. There were things we wanted to see, such as Herculeum and Assisi. We realized trying to cram that in the time we had would sacrifice the way we wanted to enjoy Tuscany. I hope we have the chance to someday see them, but our experience in Tuscany was so rich I'm content if it doesn't come to pass.

So, to return to my initial confusion, some folks come here wanting to know if their itinerary is doable. Some folks come here to ask if their itinerary is practical. Some folks come here to ask if their itinerary would be enjoyable, and some folks are here just seeking affirmation. That lead to my question.

Posted by
2146 posts

Our family of four have been on two extended road trips (three weeks) in the US in 2017 and 2019. We have done much better than expected, considering we were sharing a room for the four of us.

That made me think of a trip we took when our boys were 14 and 12. We took 30 days to drive from Georgia to California and back, pulling a StarCraft Popup camper behind an Astro van. We spent every night in the camper. It was close quarters indeed!

Posted by
136 posts

So, to return to my initial confusion, some folks come here wanting to know if their itinerary is doable. Some folks come here to ask if their itinerary is practical. Some folks come here to ask if their itinerary would be enjoyable, and some folks are here just seeking affirmation. That lead to my question.

Thank you DougMac for clarifying this.

I really do appreciate everyone's advice. I thought I had decent downtime in my trip: Day 6, Day 10, Day 15 is a day trip but leisurely, Day 20 long train ride in first class to use to rest, nap, read, play cards. As many have pointed out, maybe that is not enough. So I will keep an open mind, and we will make a list of musts, and things that we can skip if we are too tired.

Regarding whether I had consulted everyone or if this was my dream, this trip has a little bit for everyone. The cruise is for my parents. They have been to many places, but never to Greece. They are to a point (my dad especially), where he wants to keep traveling, but does not feel confident to go so far away with just my mom. And all of the people in his travel circle have already been to Greece. They are most likely helping us fund this portion of the trip. Milan and Paris are for our daughter. All of the adults have already been. So its OK to be just a few hours at the Louvre (I've spent the better part of day there already) so that the children learn about the museum and its most significant works, but not make it too overwhelming for them. Italy, is more for me and my husband and my parents. They went to Italy on a tour that stopped in Florence for one night on a Monday... so we are taking them to see the Accadamia. Of course we want to see it too.

Thanks again for your suggetions