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Travel to Ireland, France, Italy

Does this sound too harried? We are flying into Dublin, staying overnight, flying to Paris to stay 3 days, driving to Cassis to stay for 9 days, train to Rome for 3 days, flying to Dublin for 3 days. We are traveling to Rome just to see a few of the main sites. We decided to stay in Dublin for 3 days before going home just to take a day hike in the mountains. What do you think? We are flying into Dublin because it saves us about 200 per person and there are 4 of us. Thanks so much for any input:)

Posted by
32265 posts

debbie, You indicated that your flights to Dublin save $200 PP. Just curious, how much are the flights and ground transportation from Rome back to Dublin? Even with the extra cost, open jaw flights might still be a better idea? Cheers!

Posted by
6788 posts

Does this sound too harried? Maybe (probably). But it's hard to tell without more context. To me, your post raises more questions than it answers. How many full days do you really have, not including days when you are traveling? Be honest with yourself. Is this your first trip to Europe? I ask because it appears that either A) Yes, and you're not sure what to prioritize. or B) No, you've been before, have seen a lot of Europe already, and have your own reasons for what appears to me to be some unconventional priorities. No offense intended or implied, it's your trip so do/see the things that appeal to you, but this really looks like a trip to Cassis for a week, with a couple days in Paris and Rome, plus a day hiking in Ireland. Cassis must be some special draw for you, but without that context it seems like a misplaced priority. I'd also question the notion that you're going to spend 3 days in Dublin so you can do a day hike. I hear people say things like this ( "while I'm in Europe, I want to (insert activity here) ") frequently, and I always wonder: is that really what you want to go to Europe for? Or, more to the point: Is that the best use of your valuable time in Europe? Day hikes a great (I like hiking, too). I'm sure there are some nice ones near Dublin. But can't you find even better day hikes closer to your home? (I know I can). The way I look at it, even if you have lots of disposable income, the most valuable commodity you have to spend is your limited time. Given that, I would rather spend that day doing something that I can only do in Europe (or that is vastly superior in Europe), because I can always go hiking/ballooning/spelunking/whatever when I'm back home, and have more free time and fewer constraints. (continued)

Posted by
6788 posts

I'd also question your plan to fly in and out of Dublin. Maybe Dublin itself is a priority for you, but you will be wasting significant time and money (probably more than the 200 per person you think you're saving by flying there). But beyond the 200 bucks, consider how much time you are spending by going that way? Let's say (just for the sake of argument) that you do save $200 per person by arranging your trip that way (and as noted above, that may be open to question). How much would you be willing to spend to extend your usable time by a day (or maybe two days, depending on how things work out)? To me, a slight increase in (dollar) cost is more than offset by having an extra day or two to do/see things - I'd gladly pay $200 for an extra day in Europe. Because if this, I agree that flying open jaws is almost always a better value. Hope some of the above is useful. Have a great trip!

Posted by
10351 posts

When you arrive in Dublin in the morning from the States, why don't you stay your three days at the beginning of the trip. Staying one night in Dublin would be inefficient, going into Dublin and then back to the airport to fly to Paris. Second, it's a long train trip from Cassis/Marseille to Rome. Are you taking a night train with sleeping berths (couchettes)? The train can be more expensive than a flight, but with a flight you loose a sightseeing day. Finally, if you group your Rome/Dublin and Dublin/USA flights together, you'll have more time in Rome. Either take the earliest flight from Rome to Dublin and fly Dublin to the States the same day. Or the last Rome/Dublin flight of the day, stay at an airport hotel and fly out the next day from Dublin. You'll spend a couple of hundred on the hotel rooms, but still save on the flights. I agree with David that there are inefficiencies. This is pretty close to an open jaw, but with a switch in Dublin in each direction.

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks for all the great feedback. That's why I asked. We are going to Cassis because our daughter will be at a college in Cannes. Cannes will be having the film festival probably making a stay there a bit stressful because of the crowds. We can go straight from Dublin to Paris without the break in the day. It just does work out as less expensive flightwise to go to Dublin from the US because there is a flight sale to Dublin so it's around 550 including taxes and fees. The little flights will add about 200 per person with taxes and fees. My daughter who is in college there wants to meet us in Paris so she can show us some of the sights (thus the three days there) We were planning on getting a car to have day trips to the areas around Cassis so we will probably use Auto France. A Eurail pass will cost the family around 1500 min. for only a few days of travel while a car lease seems to give us unlimited travel for about the same price. I personally could skip Rome but my kids want to see a few of the sights there. I wanted to spend a few days in Dublin and surrounding area because I've always wanted to go to Ireland - even if I just see a few things. So, I still would value any additional feedback. Thanks for your time!!!!

Posted by
1446 posts

Odd question here... will your daughter be with you in Cassis or will she be in Cannes?

Posted by
621 posts

Given your priorities, I think this all sounds fine. My feedback would be that I found the Wicklow Mountains to be really boring. I would not spend a day hiking them. I've spent about 7 weeks in Dublin (mostly for work) and my favorite things were 1/2-day walks/hikes in and around Dublin. Pick up a copy of Lonely Planet "Walking Ireland". I'm pretty sure it's out of print but you could get it on Amazon used. They have both city and country walks in and around Dublin. To the north, there's Howth, which was amazing. To the south there's Dalky to Bray and then on further to Greystones. I found each of these hikes (picture cliffs along the Irish Sea with farms to your right) much more visually interesting than the Wicklows. Also, consider the Pembroke Guesthouse for a place to stay in Dublin. It's in the charming neighborhood of Ballsbridge, which is about 10-15 minutes south of City Center, by foot (about 5 minute bus ride with a stop very close by). The neighborhood is great and pubs on Baggot Street allow you to connect with the locals (unlike in Temple Bar). And, it's very very quiet - something that is difficult to find closer to City Center. If you want more information, let me know. I have many favorite places to eat and hang out. -Matt

Posted by
36 posts

Diane - She will be with us by that time. But we wanted to be within a reasonable driving distance to Cannes to spend a day there by day trip. Then she would like to show us the surrounding areas since she's spent so much time there. My husband now thinks adding Dublin to the trip is too much and that we should go to Ireland another time just to see Ireland. I really wanted to go but he is right and it lines up with the thoughts of those of you who have answered. Matt - when we do go to Ireland, I would love to know what you think. I'm going to copy and paste your response in my files and keep it to reference when we plan that trip. Thanks again everyone for helping us refine this.

Posted by
6788 posts

Debbie, "Open jaws" is old-school travel agent-speak for flying in to one city, and returning home from another (i.e., fly from the US to Paris, putter around Europe for a couple weeks, then return home from Rome). Flying open jaws is generally much more efficient (you don't waste days circling back, unnecessarily, to your arrival point), and it often actually works out cheaper (when you factor in the costs of getting back to your arrival city). Unless you really have a good reason to circle back to the arrival city, going open jaws usually makes more sense. One thing I'd reiterate: be realistic about how many days you have to spend anywhere. Do not count your arrival or departure days (no matter what time the flights are), or any day that you're flying from one place to another - the logistics of arriving and departing generally eats up most of those days. Even if you're efficiently zipping from one city center to another by a well-connected train, you need to allow time (maybe more time than you think) for the chores of getting checked out of your hotel, finding your way to the transport, actual time en route, then finding your way, getting lost once or twice, checking in and getting oriented - these things take time - I figure you lose a minimum of half a day when moving between locations, even if the distance is short, the connection is efficient, and all goes well (and it often doesn't). If this is your first time in Europe, factor in even more time, especially at the start of your trip (since it will take you a little time to figure out how things work). So take a realistic, sober look at how many days you really have, and adjust your plans accordingly. Happy travels!

Posted by
1035 posts

Good call by your husband. Open jaws means flying into one city and out of another (i.e. flying from the US to Paris and home from Rome). Most airline websites support this but call it multi city or multiple destinations (or some other variant on "multi"). It may not cost anymore to fly this way (sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less) versus traditional round trip. It saves the time and expense of having to backtrack. Enjoy your trip, it sounds fun. p.s. I sent a note to the webmaster about the use of open jaws in the RS guides. It is an older term, great for veteran travelers and travel agents, but maybe time to update the nomenclature. He passed it along to the book staff.

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks everyone. David thanks for the info and we are taking a look at how many arrival/departure days we have. I think now we have just two flight days, one into Paris and one out of Rome. Then we have three driving days, Paris to the southern destination, from there to Florence, and Florence to Rome. Michael, also thank you. I do respect my husband's opinion. He has a lot of common sense. I'll let you know how it all turns out:)

Posted by
32265 posts

debbie, "Then we have three driving days, Paris to the southern destination, from there to Florence, and Florence to Rome" Are you planning to drive from Paris to Rome, and then drop the rental car in Rome??? That's not a real good idea, as you could face HUGE drop-off fees. Travel by fast trains would be a much better solution, especially in terms of using your travel time most efficiently. One important point to note is that for driving in Italy, each driver must have the compulsory International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. These are valid for one year, and easily obtained at any AAA office (two Passport-sized photos required, which in some case is offered at the issuing office). Failure to produce an IDP if requested can result in fines on the spot! Have a look at This Website for more detailed information. You may also want to check other posts here regarding the dreaded ZTL areas in Italy. EACH PASS through one of the automated Cameras will result in a €100+ ticket! A GPS along with a good Map would also be a good idea. Be sure to also give some thought to the question of CDW. If you accept the CDW offered by the rental firm, it will be expensive but will provide "peace of mind". Some "premium" credit cards provide rental vehicle insurance, however I've found this to be somewhat complicated so I just accept that offered by the rental firm. Check the Car Rental section in Europe Through The Back Door for further information. Cheers!

Posted by
6788 posts

Yep, what Ken said. Also... Driving in Paris or Rome = Misery. No fun. At. All. Having a car in Paris, Rome or most other large European cities = an expensive headache at best. Trains connect most places very efficiently and make for easy, no stress travel. If you need a car someplace where the trains are not convenient (i.e. for a few days getting around to small towns in the French countryside), rent a car just for those days. If you rent a car in one country and drop it off in another, you are likely to get dinged with a stunningly large drop-off fee. Be sure to factor that in to your plans (along with the considerable expense and hassles of parking).

Posted by
32265 posts

debbie, "How do you get from southern France to Rome without paying an arm and a leg for traveling there?" It's actually quite easy to get from Nice to Rome by train, although it would be a "long" journey. You might consider stopping somewhere in northern Italy for at least one night before proceeding to Rome (ie: the Cinque Terre, as the trip from Nice to Monterosso is a reasonable five hours or so). I don't have the prices for the rail trip from Nice to Ventimiglia (border transfer point), however the base adult fare from Ventimiglia to Monterosso is €26 PP (travel time 4H:04M, second class, reservations compulsory, often one change at Genova Piazza Principe). I didn't check on fares for children. Cheers!

Posted by
3696 posts

If I have your itinerary correct you could take the fast train from Paris to Avignon and get a car there, then drive the southern coast of France( beautiful) to Italy and on to Florence. (I did this and the drop fee at that time still was cheaper than the train for a few people) Leave the car in Florence (maybe after a day or two driving around Tuscany) then see Florence, then take the train to Rome.

Posted by
10351 posts

There are no high-speed trains between Marsaille (Cassis) and Rome. You may be able to catch a night train from the French/Italian border and sleep in a berth. . You can drop the car and catch the train in either Marseille, Cannes, Nice, or Menton, which is on the French side of the border, and connect with the Italian trains. Some people can sleep well in trains, boats, or planes and are ready to sightsee the next day. Others get wiped out.

Posted by
36 posts

Hmmm.I checked on the Auto France site which is actually a short term car lease. I don't see any fees for dropping off the car in a different place but I will check and be sure before making a decision. We didn't want the car for driivng within Paris or Rome but to our southern destination and surrounding towns and to a station to catch the train to Rome. So most likely we would drop the car in France (like Nice) and try to get transport to Italy from there. Which leads me to yet another question. How do you get from southern France to Rome without paying an arm and a leg for traveling there? We are trying to work within a budget since we have a large family. But it might be that we have to save elsewhere and spend the large amounts on transportation. Thanks to all you experienced travelers for sharing your expertise!

Posted by
152 posts

I quick note on short flights from Dublin. This is good to know for you trip there. We did one of those short trips from Dublin to England. The ticket was a great bargain. The extra charge for luggage was a disaster. We were charged $200.00 each for extra weight. I think a back pack would have been over. We were in Europe for five weeks and had all kinds of weather clothing including dress for a black tie dinner in Scotland. Be sure and let your credit card company know you are going out of the states. Our friend found his cut off. I had told him to call and he didn't. 24 hours and no card. I also told the couple to make photos of all their important info. They did and she left the piece of luggage on the train with all the info. We had taken pictures of our luggage rack while waiting for the train and could trace where it was left by looking at the pictures. She was so lucky. We were going by ferry to Ireland and the ferry was delayed by 2 1/2 hours because of a bomb threat in Belfast. Her suitcase made it before we left and all her info was there. Our car insurance was the greatest expense. Have you credit card send you a copy of what they will cover in writing and go from there.
Have a great trip.

Posted by
4105 posts

The fastest way to get from Nice (NCE) to Rome (FCO) is
easyjet .com fares mid may are running 29.99 euro flight leaves at 17:50 (5:50 pm) and arrive Rome at 19:00 (7:00pm) . You must book early to get the reduced fares. They do charge 11E for checked bags, and your carryon is limited by size and weight and one means "1" , no extras like purses or computers. Read their site carefully

Posted by
105 posts

Dordogne. We haven't been but are planning a trip there in April...it sounds great. Canoeing, hiking, cycling between villages. Have been reading many novels about the area to get a good feel and have been very impressed. The Cique Terre is breathtaking and relaxing. Home base in Vernazza. Marco met us at train station to deliver us to one of his rentals. It was great! Just a 5 minute walk into central area and worht every step. Il Piratta is a bakery on the way and well worth the stop. Great food and entertained by twin brothers running it. Hike through the towns there. Gorgeous scenes and wonderful way to explore other of the 5 villages. Everyone was friendly! Or, stay at Romantica Pucci in Bagnoreggio. Pucci is a world of knowledge and her husband, Lamberto, a fabulous cook. Eat dinner there!!!! Very inexpensive. We didn't realize this our first night and spent more money on a crappy pizza in Orvieto than experiencing REAL Italian food at their homey B & B. It's also very convenient to Civita and many other hilltowns. Would have spent more time there if we'd only realized what we had. Rome, the Appian Way was a great walk through Etruscan, Roman ruins and hardly any tourists.
Good luck with planning. peg

Posted by
36 posts

Once again you all are a treasure of knowledge and ideas. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer. I will look into all you've said and keep it in mind. I did check on the checked luggage fee and realized it will add to that trip to Dublin. We are planning to pack very light, with items we can wash out and wear. But you are correct that even a small piece of luggage must be checked. The flight we'll be taking from Rome to Dublin charges 20 Euros for each checked bag weighing under 44 lbs. A 22 pound purse/tote/bag could go with you. I hope my purse doesn't weigh that much:) So we would have 5 checked bags. We've also been on a domestic trip and had our credit card cut off for a day because there were charges.

Posted by
91 posts

Save Ireland for its own trip (2012!!) when you can travel 'round the whole country... it's magnificent! Spent 2 weeks travelling around in March 2010 and still feel like i didnt see all I could! JUST seeing Dublin will only whet your whistle & make you wish you'd stayed longer in Ireland :)

Posted by
36 posts

Ashley, I so agree. I have always wanted to go to Ireland so I will be saving up and planning for time to go there. I'm looking forward to France because I really miss my daughter and will love seeing her and all her favorite spots (she's a student). And we'll get to have her home after that, at least for a little while before she goes off again, lol.