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Realistic expectations for travel days

I've read in many recent threads that "travel days" always take longer than expected and that you shouldn't make any major plans on those days. Well, I didn't make any "major" plans, but I really am hoping that these days (see below) are not entirely consumed by travel. How far off am I on my estimates?

We are traveling mid-June.

Sunday
9:20 Take Frecciarossa train from Roma Termini to Napoli Centrale
10:32 Arrive Napoli Centrale, meet car service
12:30 Arrive Sorrento (Grand Hotel la Favorita)
I was hoping that by 1:30 PM, my family and I would be able to start exploring Sorrento

Friday
7:30 Take car service from Sorrento (Grand Hotel la Favorita) to Napoli Centrale
9:30 Take Frecciarossa train to Roma Termini
10:40 Arrive in Rome, take cab to Monti Palace hotel (.5 mile from Termini)
I was hoping that by 11:30, my family and I would be able to start enjoying our last day in Italy

A "reality-check" on these plans would be very much appreciated! Although I can't really change anything at this point other than my/our expectations.

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
11983 posts

If the train arrives at Napoli C.le at 10:32 by the time you are inside the car is at least 10:45. If traffic cooperates maybe you are at the hotel at noon or shortly thereafter. So, giving yourself some time for check-in and dropping bags, maybe change, and your estimate of being out of the hotel at about 12:30 is reasonable. You can probably be sitting at a restaurant by Italian lunch time (1pm).

For the return trip, I’m sure you can be at the taxi stand in Rome by 11.
Assuming no lines for taxis and no taxi strike against Uber, you should be doing your check in the hotel by 11:15.

So if nobody in your party wastes too much time dropping the bags and trying all their clothes before deciding what to wear (that would be my wife) you should be able to walk out the hotel by the times you estimated.

Posted by
784 posts

Not bad! The problem you might face is with the car service to/from Sorrento. For the past couple of years I've done that and faced traffic jams and construction on the highway. One driver was prepared and we took back roads and every road but the highway - even drove by his house where his wife and children were waiting to wave. The next year the driver was late and I missed my train - made him drive me all the way to Rome . . . for free (did give him a nice tip though). So, from my experience I'd say give yourself another half hour at least and be thrilled if you get extra time in Sorrento and Rome! I'm betting Rome will be the closest to your original schedule.

Posted by
956 posts

I think that travel takes a ½ day. Meaning you have the other ½ to sitesee. This is how I plan and has been my experience. Your plan sounds fine! Besides, in Europe, and in the summer light, everyone is out until 10p walking around - you practically have two full days after travel ;)

Posted by
1667 posts

I can't speak to your "reality check" specifics, but I'd like to introduce you to the phrase "dolce far niente" - the sweetness of doing nothing.

As Americans we want to cram every second with activity. Your minute by minute schedule indicates you are leaving little room for the unexpected. How will you react if you can't hit the streets of Naples by 1:30 or the streets of Rome by 11:30? Are your days planned so tightly that this would be a major disruption and frustration? Does this schedule indicate you are only allotting a half day to Rome?

I'm a chronic over scheduler and my wife is working hard to change that. We (I) have been trying the last couple of trips to leave every third day completely unscheduled. This allows us the chance slow down the pace and perhaps participate in an unexpected opportunity. I had to realize I can't do and see everything I want. I had to let go of the fear I'd miss something. We came back from Tuscany without seeing Lucca, Pisa and Assisi as we had planned. The less hurried pace and the ability to change plans at the last minute more than made up for the missed sites. Besides, it gives us an excuse to return!

Posted by
651 posts

What you really need to avoid on travel days is making concrete plans that cannot be easily changed if unexpected delays happen. Like don’t make reservations for the Borghese gallery at 3 in the afternoon if your train is supposed to arrive at 2.

Posted by
16796 posts

But if your train is scheduled to arrive in Rome at 10:40, then you can certainly reserve the Borghese for 3:00 p.m. It looks like you're willing to start your days relatively early, which is a good strategy for getting the most out of them. On some other travel days, your train ride might be longer than this one-hour example, but also not require a car service, etc.

Posted by
6524 posts

Assuming the hotel has early check or at least lets you drop off your bags you look good to go.

Why taxi from Termini to the hotel? Its a 10-12 minute walk. Depending on traffic, walking may be faster than the taxi.

Posted by
17165 posts

I'm wondering about that 1/2-mile taxi ride, too. In some situations (when they've been waiting in a long queue at a train station or airport) taxi drivers are quite unhappy about short trips like that.

Posted by
9454 posts

It is nice to see someone think about this and be willing to get an early start. Even if you are delayed an hour, you have much of the day left. Learn to eat lunch at Italian time as well as dinner (no earlier than 20:00) and you can really make the most of your days.

Posted by
11734 posts

Why taxi from Termini to the hotel? Its a 10-12 minute walk.

I'm thinking the same. Unless it's raining or you have trouble managing your bags on foot, it wouldn't be a bad walk at all from Termini.

Posted by
333 posts

Are you arriving into Rome from the airport that Sunday? If you are, you can save time and money by using the Fiumicino Express Bus that leaves from the airport and goes directly to Napoli Centrale. We used the bus in September on our way to Sorrento and it was great! Saved us from going to Termini from airport, then from Termini to NC. We stayed at Hotel Plaza in Sorrento, a slurge for us, but it was fabulous and worth every cent! Viewing the sunset at the rooftop bar/lounge with a live sax jazz player was a moment I will never forget. The hotel itself is fantastic and the breakfast is delicious, fresh, and very expansive.
If you are staying then leaving from Rome, the train is the way to go.

Posted by
59 posts

Thanks so much to everyone that took the time to reply. I really appreciate it! The cab line, traffic, and late dining reminders are really helpful! I'll keep my fingers crossed that everything will go reasonably smooth on those days.

Marie: we will be in Rome for 5 nights before going to Sorrento but thank you for sharing the bus information and your story about the sunsets at the Hotel Plaza. Sounds gorgeous.

Joe, acraven, and kathy: I normally wouldn't take a cab ride that short either but we will have all of our luggage. I'm worried about my in-laws pulling their suitcases (45-50 lbs) over cobblestones, curbs, etc. I'll just see what they feel comfortable doing at the time. If they don't want to walk maybe we will Uber. Then at least the driver(s) will know what type of fare they are accepting in advance. We use Uber almost exclusively when we travel in the U.S. but I don't know much about using it in Rome other than the app is supposed to work exactly the same. I'll do a search for some posts on here.

DougMac: I do not think you completely read/understood my post before you replied but thanks anyway!

Posted by
17165 posts

I didn't realize your travel party was so large. That makes a taxi a no-brainer from your perspective (though you'll need a large one because of the luggage), but it may not help the driver much in terms of the fare. So don't be surprised if he rolls his eyes at you.

Posted by
1731 posts

I'm worried about my in-laws pulling their suitcases (45-50 lbs) over
cobblestones, curbs, etc.

Lynn, I would starting right now begin to indoctrinate your in-laws (and maybe yourself too) on the RS concept of 'packing light, packing right'. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn65riaKccA

I will pretty much guarantee a 45-50 lb suitcase will be torturous for them, even if you're flying and checking bags all the way through. You can still check stuff through but really try to get each bag down to no more than 25 lbs. And think about four-wheel spinners for them, but that's personal preference and a debate for another thread.

Posted by
1153 posts

What are they bringing that is going to weigh 45-50 lbs!!??
If you have the time, go and look at their actual suitcases, and if those, empty, are heavy; perhaps persuade them to buy newer lighter ones.
You will be the ones ending up carrying all that luggage if they are not able to manage it themselves.....

Posted by
1667 posts

I gather there will be 6 in your party - Sons, in-laws and you and your husband. This is all the more reason to not plan tight schedules. Also, if you are locked in to a plan, why ask our opinion?

You really need to talk everyone out of taking a lot of luggage. You'll be miserable. My wife and I (we are in our late '60s) regularly travel on >=10 day trips with two carryons each - we both have a RS classic convertible backpack we've used for 16 years and one personal item each. I weighed our bags before we left for London and Paris and they were 20 and 22 pounds.

Posted by
1731 posts

Lynn, please listen to Doug. From what I see on your travel itinerary, the Freccia trains from Roma Termini to Napoli Centrale (and vice versa) will be your main struggle with heavy suitcases. If memory serves--I really should remember, having taken this only a year ago--your bags would go on an overhead rack near your reserved seat, or maybe a receptacle area in between cars. Not sure about the latter. But what I do know is for the rack, 45-50 lbs would be absolutely brutal to hoist, and maybe the size would be too big for the rack altogether.

Sorrento's no piece of cake either lugging suitcases--not a ton of level surfaces. Our B&B near Piazza Tasso was on the second floor with no elevator or lift. Our bags were 22 lbs like Doug's, and even then with uneven stairs, etc. it was a pain. Unless you're staying at a real classy joint, hotels or B&B's in Italy aren't like the US where the bell captain brings the bags to the room, and you tip them. Quite different!

FYI if anybody in your party is thinking of buying new suitcases, do your homework to make sure the wheels (either 2 or 4) are rated sturdy, and also empty a light suitcase should weigh in the 6-7 lb range.

Posted by
3343 posts

As a person who travels carry-on only, I'd say that 45-50 pounds per suitcase is not realistic when you have to schlep what you bring yourself, regardless of age and fitness level.

Lots of packing light info is right here on this RS website. Take the advice you read there to heart. Here are some links for the entire party to read:

Packing Light

Sarah Murdoch's Packing Light and Right

Packing Forum

Best Walking Shoes for Travel

Over the years I've learned that no matter how much stuff I bring, or how long the trip is, or where I go, I tend to wear the same things over and over. I hand wash in room sinks, use washers if I'm renting an apartment, do laundry or have it done for me at a lavanderia in Italy.

Making sure everything goes with everything else and including what I'm wearing, I'm now down to a total of 4 tops, 3 bottoms, 1-2 scarves and 2 pairs of shoes for my basic wardrobe. If I can do it, anybody can.

Posted by
4707 posts

For Italy, the Frecciarossa is comfortable and reliable. Note that your advance, discount ticket is only good for one particular train. Do you know how to read the 'Composition of Trains" board so you can find your carriage and be near it when they open the train for boarding? As another noted, your hotel rooms themselves may not be ready. I would want air conditioning in June in Sorrento.

We had some nice air conditioned Mercedes sedans from the Sorrento area car services. But I have some doubts about four 50 pound bags and more in one trunk, even of a Mercedes. (I tend towards 50 pound bags myself. First hernia operation last year, after a trip .... [not kidding, but not whining at age 66 anyway ... probably related to Venice bag handling])

Posted by
11734 posts

I'm worried about my in-laws pulling their suitcases (45-50 lbs) over
cobblestones, curbs, etc. I'll just see what they feel comfortable
doing at the time.

Yikes. I'll pile on with the rest and STRONGLY recommend getting the weight of those cases down! It's not just walking from train station to hotel but to/from trains, muscling on and off trains in a hurry, and up/down stairs unless you know for sure your accommodation has a lift (many don't). We don't pack as minimally as many on the RS forum do but travel Europe for 3 weeks at a time with bags that weigh a lot less than that. I am afraid to even ask how large those bags are?

Traveling Italy is a very different animal than traveling the States. Stuff like good-sized elevators (or elevators at ALL), ramps for wheelchairs and wheeled luggage and other mobility aids we take for granted can be much fewer and farther between. Really, talk them down to at least half that weight and smaller size, if they're taking 25" or larger, or they're likely going to have a hard time managing. Getting a lot of large luggage into a taxi could be a challenge too.

Posted by
1667 posts

Hey guys,

In looking up distances I went to the websites of Grand Hotel la Favorita and Monti Palace. The digs in these places run from 250 to over 600 euro per room per night! All this talk of watching luggage weight and schlepping your own bags might be an unfamiliar concept! ;-)

Posted by
59 posts

That made me laugh DougMac. The way I look at it is there are "schlepping" trips and "non-schlepping" trips. I like both but I purposely planned this particular trip to Rome and Sorrento to be decidedly "non-schlepping". It is a celebration of many milestones in our family (anniversaries, reunions, graduations, birthdays).

I have not been able to view all the links that were provided re: packing light but I am so appreciative of the info. I'm sure that I will get many good tips. I enjoy the challenge of packing smart/light particularly since I'm the one that has to do all the laundry at the trip's end.

I threw out that "45-50 lb" luggage estimate loosely. I really have no idea how much my/our bags weigh. I would say they fall midway between the RS backpack and those mega roller bags that you may have seen.

The train info was great too. Thank you all. I remember, when I selected the seats on Trenitalia, seeing a luggage area in the back of the compartment that appeared as if it would not involve heaving our bags over our heads. I will double check.

Posted by
1667 posts

Lynn, I'm glad my gentle kidding made you laugh. I hope you and your family have a great trip! There's no better place to celebrate milestones than Italy. My wife and I shared our first kiss in Florence on a high school trip back in 1966. We were able to return to re-enact that momentous occasion 50 years later!

Posted by
7124 posts

This is such a good question, and there are so many factors to consider, but for the days you describe I think your timings are perfect. It can really depend on the goal(s) you set for the day. Sometimes the goal should realistically be just to get from A to B. Other days, as with your Sunday, it might be to get there for lunch by the sea. Or, as with your Friday, it might be to get there to squeeze in some final sightseeing.

I was travelling through northern Italy in August 2012, with short journeys of less than an hour. I would travel at lunchtime during the heat of the day. On arrival my new hotel room would be ready for a cold shower and then I’d have fresh legs for an afternoon exploring.

Posted by
2235 posts

lynnp, I think your schedules are about on target. The key is the use of a car service, even better than having your own vehicle. The driver won’t get lost, as you might, and you won’t need to deal with the time and hassle of parking. Two tips: (1) when getting on a train, I encourage you to seek out a train official alongside the train, to be sure you are getting on the right car; sometimes cars have numbers painted or posted other than the current official car number, which can be confusing. I remember one time I was in the right cabin, right seat, only to find once moving that I was in the wrong car, and the car I was in would break off before my destination; no fun moving people and baggage several cars in those tight train corridors. (2) while your schedule may be realistic, your group of six will move as fast as the slowest person, who may have left something in the room, or suddenly needs a bathroom, or just can’t move as fast as they and everyone else expected. Sounds like you have or will have all your tickets in advance; needing to buy tickets at the station moments before your train can sometimes really cause delays and even missed trains.

Posted by
1731 posts

FYI we used a car service from Napoli Centrale to Sorrento, spent more than I wanted, but it got the job done in unfamiliar territory. Now that I have the lay of the land, would I do it again? If I packed light and got to Naples in the middle of the day, I'd probably take the Circumvesuviana. After dark, probably not.

As Larry says, it's a good idea to seek out a train official if unsure about something, but don't just ask anybody, because there are plenty of ne'er-do-wells that will stand by train doors, offer to help you with your bags, then expect a tip. They do not work for Trenitalia or the station--they are beggars.

One more thing--we've learned on our travel days to work it so we start mid-to-late morning, and arrive at our destination mid-to-late afternoon. No more than 4-5 hours in transit--it's part of our original travel itinerary, we don't get too tired and it's served us well. Just by doing that it allows for wiggle room for any one of number of things that could happen (in Italy, 'will' happen) between Points A & B so we wouldn't be stranded somewhere for the night.