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How much is too much?

I'd love to visit Swiss Alps, Cinqueterre and the Lake District in England. Is this too much traveling for one trip? I'm thinking a few days-ish at each destination. Never been to Europe and while I don't want to overstuff my trip, I also know that (with two kids at home), getting away is hard to do and I want to capitalize on my time there.
Thanks!

Posted by
11256 posts

a few days-ish at each destination.

Depending what your definition of 'few' and 'too much' is I suspect any of the following answers could be correct:
yes/no/maybe

Do not mean to be grinchy on Christmas Eve, but using vague terms really adds an unnecessary layer of difficulty to answering the question.

Posted by
8437 posts

Yes, it is too much traveling for one trip unless you plan to be gone for a month and have an unlimited travel budget. You could easily spend weeks in the Swiss Alps, a few days in the Cinque Terre, and weeks in the Lake District.

Capitalize on your time in Europe by making it an enjoyable exploration of new places and cultures where you take the time to really get a sense of the area you are at. Pick either the Lake District/combine with London or the Swiss Alps and focus in on the area of choice. I understand the sense of "when will I ever go again", but you can't let that control your planning or you will find yourself spending way more time traveling from place to place then enjoying the places you are going to.

I want to encourage you that Europe is not going anywhere. Your kids will grow up (much faster than you expect) and you will have opportunities in the future.

Posted by
169 posts

I say if you think you can do it, do it.

People on this forum often poo-poo peoples itineraries and I think it’s a big shortcoming of the advice here.

While Rick, and others can have this mentality of, you’ll be back, there’s plenty of time for more trips, etc. you never know what the future holds. So if you want to see a few major sites, do it.

The first trip my wife and I did (second time in Europe for both of us) we did a larger itinerary than yours over 3.5 weeks and had an absolute blast and never felt rushed or regretted our choices, we did:

Fly into Paris - train to Nice, explore Nice, Cannes, Monaco. Trained to Cinque Terre, 5 days here, stopped and saw the leaning tower in the way. From Cinque Terre we trained to Florence, from Florence trained to Interlaken, 4 days here saw the Jungfrau and Schilthorn and surrounding areas. From Interlaken a night in Bern, then trained back to Paris from Bern for 4 nights.

Was amazing and set the tone for future trips.

Also keep in mind as you get older you’ll likely do slower, smaller or fewer destination trips. So if you have the energy and ability to do multiple prime destinations, do it.

Posted by
872 posts

Even Tyler stayed on the continent when they spent 3.5 weeks in Europe. The Lake District is probably a stop too far because it will require additional flights. The Alps and Northern Italy are easily combined. Find the best flight connections from your hometown to pick starting and ending points (Munich, Zurich, Venice, Milan direct from the US are usually straightforward). Pick your trip duration. Pick your destinations in somewhat greater detail. Plan to have fun!

Posted by
169 posts

Yea the Lake District is probably a bit much perhaps as If you’re gonna spend 1.5-2 days of travel getting there and 1.5 back or so that’s a lot eaten in just travel

Posted by
16417 posts

The problem with your choices is not the number of destinations, but the time it takes to go between them.

We have seen a number of itineraries that involve both Cinque Terre and the Berner Oberland in the Swiss Alps—-two of Rick’s favorite destinations. But when people see the reality of travel between the two—8.5 to 9 hours by train, with at least 5 changes on the way, and most likely more—- they see they have to add some time, and maybe an intermediate overnight stop, to their trip. Flying to connect the two won’t help as there are no airports close to either one.

The Lake District will only work if you plan to fly through the UK anyway; otherwise it would be a detour and a multi-city trip.

Then you will likely need a night at your gateway and exit airport cities—say Rome or Pisa for the CT; Zurich for the Swiss Alps; and London ( or maybe Manchester or Edinburgh) for the Lake District.

By the time you add up the times—-3 days at each location, travel days between them, and the flight time over and back (you lose a day on the calendar flying eastbound on most flights from North America, you are looking at a minimum of 2 weeks. Remember that you need 4 nights at a location to have 3 full days there.

Also the time of year is to be considered. May would be great for CT and the Lake District, but not for the Swiss Alps.

As long as you are OK with all these caveats and work them out in a way that satisfies your budget and vacation time, you should have a nice trip.

Posted by
2432 posts

Of course you can do them all. Between the Lake district and the alps will probably take a full day of travel, but SO WHAT ? It’s your vacation so do what you want to do. If you do take this trip, please return to the forum and tell us about it !

Posted by
8437 posts

I want to point out that the poster was asking for opinions. No reason to get all upset if someone gives a different opinion than yours. The nice thing is that the poster is able to see different perspectives.

I will point out that the questions was not, "Can I do this?" but "Should I do this?"

Posted by
7347 posts

Hi, welcome to the forum!

When one of my friends asks for advice planning a trip to Europe, I ask them first to not name cities (or in your case, countries). Instead, describe what a couple of perfect days would be in Europe. What do you picture yourself doing? A lot of times there are places that are close to each other that will fulfill a traveler’s desires. (Northern Italy or Austria may cover your desires, as an example.)

Also, there’s nothing wrong with transportation - just keep in mind that every hour on a train or plane….and the waiting, could all be hours that you’re out sightseeing and having fun, instead.

Posted by
4162 posts

You've received some good answers here. Since you posted your question in the forum for Rick Steves Tours, I was just wondering if you were basing your planning on his tour itineraries that include the locations you listed.

I suspect that most of us who have responded look at forum "all topics." Due to the interest in locations in 3 different countries with 3 different currencies, you also might benefit from posting a similar question in the General Europe forum or possibly in each country.

If you haven't already done this, it would be a good idea to go to the information on the countries available here at Explore Europe:
https://www.ricksteves.com/europe

And to the more general European travel info here at Travel Trips:
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips

I totally agree that sticking to Italy and Switzerland is likely to make a more enjoyable trip. However, because of the distances, you could fly from home to England first for the Lake Country. Then fly to Switzerland from England using a hopefully cheaper European airline. And finally fly home from Milan.

If you did something like that, you'd want to get a multi-city ticket for the home to England and back home from Italy part to avoid losing time backtracking.

Using trains and/or buses in England, Switzerland and Italy will be both fun and efficient.

Good luck with your planning and don't be surprised when you discover things you didn't know that you didn't know. 😉

Posted by
2332 posts

Without any idea how long your trip is, there’s really no way to know if it would be enjoyable to try to get to each of these places. Let’s imagine that your trip is 14 days total, from departure day to arrival back home. I like to list out the nights, since two nights in a place equals one full day of exploring. For example:

Night 1: overnight flight from US to London.
Night 2: sleep in London
Night 3: travel to Lakes district. Sleep in Lakes District
Night 4-5: sleep in Lakes district
Night 6: travel from Lakes District to London, sleep in London
Night 7: fly to Pisa, train to Cinque Terre. Sleep in CT
Night 8-9: sleep in CT
Night 10: train to Lauterbrunnen, sleep in Murren/Wengen
Nights 11-12: sleep in Murren/Wengen
Night 13: travel to Zurich, sleep in Zurich
Night 14: fly home, sleep at home

So, to make this plan feasible to have a few days in each place, you need a minimum of 14 days. Of the 14 days, 3 will be spent traveling from place to place.

Posted by
8178 posts

First European trips can overwhelm a traveler. It's easy to get lost in the culture, food, art, history--to the point of overload. Just figuring out how to get around a city can take you a couple of days on the ground. It's better to travel slower--and better.

People with short time availability should travel to cities that are easily traveled between. And there are so many great European cities to see. Great cities are worth 4 days minimum. Few Americans are really used to traveling long distances on trains--especially when transfers are required.

Efficient travel would be London and Paris--with travel on the Eurostar (less than 3 hrs.) Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris is another good trip. I like Budapest-Bratislava-Vienna. Or Munich-Salzburg-Vienna. Italy remains the most popular destination with Venice-Florence-Rome the most popular route.

I'm sorry, but your initial itinerary just doesn't flow every well.

Posted by
862 posts

If you have two kids at home, I assume you are likely fairly young, in your 20s or 30s, so you should assume you will go back again. For a first trip to Europe, your itinerary makes little sense to me or I imagine most seasoned travelers. For a first trip, I would tell someone to go to France, spend time in Paris, etc - the point being to focus on one country or region, depending on how much time you have.

But given your desires, I say either do a UK trip and include London and possibly Edinburgh with a jaunt through the Lake District, or put together a trip to the "Swiss Alps" and make your way to/from the Cinqueterre although I personally would not go to the trouble of visiting Italy just for the Cinqueterre, would only do it in combination with other northern Italy destinations like Florence or Venice or Milan, and truth be told, I have never even been there as the place has been overrun with bucket listers - I feel I missed my chance to go there when I skipped it 40 years ago, before it exploded as a place to visit.

Also - you did not say how much time you have for this trip, hard to advise you without knowing that tidbit...

Good luck.

Posted by
1259 posts

Just my opinion, of course: Find Rick Steeves tour that sounds interesting and do that. You just arrive and they pretty much take care of you for two weeks. Then, next year, try to link two RS tour together. Then, in 2025, do your own.

Posted by
27237 posts

Travel4fun's itinerary actually involves seven travel days out of fourteen. That is an example of what can happen when you put your top three destinations together on one short trip without considering geography and transportation time.

It isn't a good idea to spend so much of a (presumably rather short) trip traveling from place to place. The best way to capitalize on the time you have available is to minimize the time spent sitting on planes, trains and buses.

Posted by
32935 posts

mote101 do you have any feedback on these thoughts?

Can you perhaps clarify some of the unknowns so we can tailor answers to your specific needs...

Posted by
23350 posts

...... For the vast majority of people, no, they will not be back for financial or other reasons. ...... Would be interested in knowing the stats behind that statement. I have often read just the opposite that many of the European travelers are repeaters.

Posted by
8437 posts

@ Frank, that was my exact thought when I read that statement: "Where is the data that supports such a strong statement?"

I've try to find some stats on the internet and the best I have come up with so far are for the UK
https://www.visitbritain.org/sites/default/files/vb-corporate/Documents-Library/documents/foresight_149_-_frequency_of_inbound_tourism_to_britain_feb2017.pdf

Over half of the visitors from Canada and the US are reported to be repeat visitors in this particular report.

Posted by
2 posts

I wasn't prepared for all the replies I got on this forum! I assumed people would be too knee-deep in eggnog to reply.

Anyway, I appreciate all of the time and thought you all put into your replies. Although I definitely haven't done much in terms of planning, I'm thinking that I'd probably shorten the trip to just Italy and Switzerland given what I have read in this thread. Perhaps, once I retire I can move to a cottage in the Lake District.