My husband and I will be traveling to London May 1st with our daughter(26/single) to travel with our son (21/single) who will be completing a semester abroad at Notre Dame's London campus. It will be my husband and daughter's first trip to London. We are plannning to hit the highlights, staying 3 nights and then to Ireland for 4-5 nights, then flying to Florence/Cinque Terre for 4-5 nights then back to London for the flight home. My dilemma, I want it to be a fun trip for the kids too. Initially, we were planning on spending most of our time in Ireland and maybe a short trip to Scotland, but friends have told me that the kids may be bored. I thought adding Florence/Cinque Terre would be fun. I would appreciate any advice/recommendations you could send my way. This is the first time I have been able to get my husband overseas except for one bill fishing trip to Madeira - I would like to get him "hooked" on Europe!
It's hard to answer this question without knowing what your children's and husband's interests are. It's impossible to get bored in London in 3 days. 4-5 days should be sufficient for Florence/CT, maybe take a day trip to Siena from Florence. Is there a reason why you're going all the way to IT just for this area? With only 4-5 days, I'd rather save the time it will take you to fly to Italy and see more of Britain, Ireland or a trip to Paris. Just my opinion.
If they enjoy the outdoors, then you won't find any shortage of activities in Ireland and Scotland. Lots of hiking/cycing opportunities and gorgeous scenery everywhere you look. I'm 24 and have spent about 6 months total traveling through Europe over the last 6 years, and have yet to be bored even for a moment. I can't imagine a 21 and 26 yr. old being "bored". Perhaps an 8 year old, but your children are grown and able to go off and explore on their own if they get bored with what you and your husband are doing. Cont....
I would recommend doing only London, Florence/CT, and Ireland. It doesn't look like you have enough time for Scotland, and it deserves more than just a "short trip". There are plenty of interesting things to see in Ireland and you can easily fill 5 days. (Or a month!) I'd recommend getting out of Dublin quickly and exploring the gorgeous west coast. We spent 5 days in the Killarney/Galway area and found more than enough to do.
As far as getting your husband "hooked" on Europe - you know him best and his likes and dislikes. Do some research about the areas you're going to and find some museums or sights that you think would interest him. Foreign travel isn't for everyone - my dad hates it. So we just leave him home! :)
I appreciate your input. My husband is a real history buff so I know he will love whatever we do, it is just a matter of getting him on the plane. My children are pretty easy going and we have always enjoyed our trips with them, I guess I am second guessing my itinerary, and wanted to see what areas appealed to their age group. Do you think Scotland would be a better addition than going all the way to Italy - we only have 2 weeks. If so do you have suggestions? Thanks.
Personally, I'd probably just stick with the British Isles. Save Italy for another time. I'm 25, and I can't imagine how your kids would be bored in London, Ireland or Scotland. If you don't want to do Ireland, London AND Scotland, stick to two of them. Instead of flying to Ireland, maybe just take the train to Scotland, or explore a smaller English city. Or spend more time in Ireland.
I spent a semester in London when I was 20, and I don't think I was bored for a minute!
Thanks, I am probably going to just stick with the British Isles this trip and save Italy for another time.
I agree with the others. With only two weeks, that time would be better spent just staying up north. I did a 2.5-week trip that included Italy and Ireland, but that involved only one day of flying (from Pisa to Dublin). Flying both ways, and adding in London and Scotland, in only 2 weeks, would be a bit much.
Just as a note, Ireland is not part of the British Isles, and be sure not to refer to it as such when you're there. Nothing bad will happen to you if you do, but the locals will find it insulting.
Have a great trip. There's plenty to see in Ireland and the British Isles.
Thanks Mike, that is good to know - I saw them all referred to that way somewhere...but will make sure I don't make that mistake- I appreciate the heads up! We have decided to limit our trip to Ireland and the British Isles and now I can get busy making a few reservations. Hopefully, since we are going the first 2 weeks in May (supposedly the shoulder season) I don't plan to book every hotel, to leave us some options should we really fall in love with one area. We all love music and are hoping to happen upon local musicians in some of the pubs in the smaller villages, we plan to steer clear of the big cities.
Thanks, I guess I have been planning family trips for so long...certainly an email request sent their way wouldn't hurt asking for their top 5 "must sees". Old habits are hard to break. (-:
Susan: The point has been raised about what's included in the term "British Isles" and I wanted to tell you that you were in pretty good company, on this website, when you said the British Isles include the independent Republic of Ireland. You said you saw it referred to in that way somewhere and it may be that you saw it in Rick's book Great Britain, where he says: "England is the country occupying the southeast part of the island. Britain is the name of the island. Great Britain is the political union of the island's three countries, England, Scotland, and Wales. The United Kingdom adds a fourth country, Northern Ireland. The British Isles (not a political entity) also includes the independent Republic of Ireland." I don't know if Rick is correct but his book may be where you saw it.
Thanks Kent. I thought I had read it recently and that may be where.
Hi Susan, if your husband is a history buff he will love coming to the UK where there's so much of it it's practically dripping off everything! Just get him to imagine being on a Beefeater tour of the Tower and being told of all the headless skeletons unearthed in the tower church but that three had thier heads and they were the 3 queens buried under the altar. He can imagine walking down Pudding Lane where Great Fire started 1666, look at Shakespeares mortgage deed in the British library, sample a pint of authentic beer in the same pub as Charles Dickens did (Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese-rebuilt 1687). And thats just for starters let alone the British Museum containing all the stuff we er 'borrowed' from the rest of the world a few hundred years ago. And that's just London not the rest of the country. Take Stonehenge as a cake base, insert layers of Romans, Vikings etc. add cherries for civil wars, sprinkle with castles and add a touch of faerie dust for King Arthur and serve as a starter!
Have you heard about the Wolsey Lodges? They are a series of B and B's only much, much better. A friend and I stayed at three of them last fall. They were reasonable in price and the hosts were great. They icluded a gourmet meal for an extra price. Check out Lynwood House, and Haughly House. Wonderful places!
I thought I'd chime in as a 27 year old who loves to travel - I agree with everyone who has suggested staying in Ireland/UK. I really don't think you have enough time to make a "side-trip" to Florence (let alone Florence and CT!). Because your kids are older - in addition to having them help you plan - encourage them to do things on their own while you and your husband go off on your own. I know it's a family trip and you want to spend time together - but 2 straight weeks of each others company will have everyone climbing the walls! Make a point to have a nice romantic night with your husband and have your kids go off and do something on their own. Or, if you'd prefer to eat dinner together every night I'd plan a family activity in the morning, and then let everyone go off on their own to see what they want during the afternoon - and meet up again for dinner. You and your daughter can shop while the guys have a pint together!
My kids are late teens and we have travelled a lot together staying in crowded accommodations and never gotten on each other's nerves. Maybe my kids are weird?lol
That being said. If your son or daughter wants to do something you don't, then they can take off. Mine generally love most of what we decide to do. We discuss everything, watch some travel videos, I present info from books and then we choose what's most important to us as a family.
We're planning a month in England/Europe and find that for all that we wish to see, the time is still short and money...alas, not enough.
Heed the warning of those who say to concentrate on the UK.
thanks i appreciate everyones suggestions, we are spending 4 nights in london, then 6 in ireland (dingle peninsula up west coast as far as knock and in and out of shannon airport) and then 4 in scotland my daughter will only be able to be with us for the first part of the trip and wants to see ireland, which is why we are saving scotland until the end. we got cheap flights from shannon to glascow and then i guess we will fly back to london (since we are ticketed out of gatwick back to the us)and want to have a full three days in scotland. we are renting cars in ireland and scotland.
Susan, I am going to continue the lashing :-) They are adults -- put them in charge. Don't plan it for them. Two summers back we traveled three weeks with two sons (29, 24) and future DIL. Our two sons went two weeks earlier for a little extra brother bonding. DiL and we met in Rome for the next three weeks. Everyone had their own little agenda and the only agreement we had was when and where we met for dinner each night. Sometimes we traveled together and saw the same things and other times we each saw different stuff and compared notes that night. And a couple of times they planned things for us that we just have to see. Only problem -- younger son now believes he is entitled to bring girl friend on the trip this next summer.
Everyone has put their two cents in now as to what they want to see so that is the "tentative" itinerary we are going to follow, with only one car and not much time in each place we will probably be more together than not - but have no problem with them going one way and us the other when possible. the only reservations for accomodations we have are in in london and i am wondering if we should just find places when we arrive at our destinations - i really don't want to be locked in to moving on to the next place if we find someplace else more interesting. since we are going the first two weeks in may i am hoping there will be a lot available, any advice on this?
I am not sure about London but it probably would not hurt. With a couple of exceptions, we only book our first night and last night ahead of time. Travel is still light for the first of May. If you can be flexible you will be OK.
If you only have 4 days in Scotland I would spend it in Edinburgh. Plenty to do and side trips are possible. Read up on Mary Queen of Scots and John Knox and your husband should enjoy Edinburgh Castle and Holyrod Palace. Lots of night life and walking tours [ the young men would enjoy the ghost walks] as well as great live music. I would reserve ahead for a hotel.