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First-Timer and Overwhelmed :)

Hello everyone,
I have been reading LOTS of your suggestions and have found them to be very helpful! My questions are probably even answered, if I had enough time left to keep reading. We leave for Europe in 3 weeks! I have researched hotels, B&Bs, etc, but am unsure exactly which nights to book them for because I am not sure of the best way to use the rails. We are flying into Rome and out from Paris. We have 10 days besides travel days. We would very much like to see Rome, CT, Venice, use the Golden Pass from Montreux to Spiez, then go on to Paris. Can anyone suggest a rough itenerary for where our nights would be best spent? Thanks so much for any help! Joy

Posted by
2000 posts

Your itinerary sounds pretty aggressive.

Rather than rely on random advice that you have to search for on this website. i would get the Rick Steves Rome, Venice and Paris books for sure. (or any other good one that you like).

Or you can go to a travel agent and book train or plane connections between your desired cities, and she/he can help you plan your schedule.
Or you can call a ETBD consultant. I believe it is $50 for 1/2 hour, but they could probably put you on the right path in that amount of time (see elsewhere in this website for this info) You need detailed, systematic information. You can get it. You do not need to panic, but you must do the research.

Good luck

Posted by
705 posts

Have to agree with the above. As it's your first time a bit of professional advice will be a great help and save you lots of time. I'm sure they would be able to pull your trip together in a flash. The extra $s would be worth it. It can be overwhelming even for those who have been before.

Posted by
1003 posts

Well for a different perspective, I am planning my own trip for the first time (first big trip) and I have done it all myself without any "professional" help. I really just scoured guidebooks (RS guides included of course), this site, TripAdvisor (great for the "local experts"), and just general web searching and research. I'm so happy I have done it all myself as I have learned a lot along the way, plus everything is turning out exactly how I want it. I think it really comes down to taking the time to properly research. Think about what you like, cut your list of cities (I originally had 15 cities on my list for 6 weeks, I ultimately cut it down to 10), coordinating everything, etc. i have had a blast planning it all, but I have put in many many many hours to do it. Good luck and most importantly have a great time!!

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks so much everyone! I have already put in many, many hours of research and have learned a great deal. But because we decided to do this such a short time ago, I don't feel like I have enough time to plan it all out myself; though we do have a pretty good idea of what it is we would like to accomplish. That being said, I think I will call and set up that appointment tomorrow! :)

Posted by
1455 posts

TRIP is a blessing!!
I use that like a bible on traveling. I rely on the feedback and (knock on wood) have never had any surprises on the places I've stayed. If more than a handful of people say "Stay away" and post valid reasons (ie: cockroach infested, etc.) I tend not to stay there. If the person says "rude clerk" I'll tend to overlook that comment, as we all have bad days.

Posted by
1003 posts

I couldn't agree more about tripadvisor. I think it's also a great supplement to here at the RS guide. Here, I find the great tips about transportation connections, budget tips, all that, and at TA, I found my hotels and the local experts for restaurants and little more specific tidbits are great. They really go hand-in-hand for me and have helped me plan my trip so much so that without this wall and Tripadvisor, I would probably have no clue what to do and would still be freaking out!

Posted by
12015 posts

Tripadvisor is great for heling to pick hotels, but you first need to decide where and when. With 10 nights, I think you should skip Venice (or Cinque Terre). There is just not time to do it all. Your itinerary could be: 3 nights in Rome, train to Cinque Terre for 2 nights, train (via Milan and Brig) to Montreux (maybe spend the night in nearby Vevey?), Golden Pass train to Spiez, spend that night in Switzerland---Spiez or maybe nearby Kandersteg to be more in the mountains. There is a fast TGV train to Paris from Bern. That leaves you 3 nights for Paris. An alternate route would be train from Cinque Terre via Milan straight to Kandersteg to spend night 6, then take the Golden Pass in the other direction, from Spiez to Montreux, and spend night 7 in a small town along Lac Leman (Vevey? Morges? Ouchy?) Then continue to Geneva and take the TGV to Paris from there.

Posted by
1529 posts

I agree with the consultation - they can save you days and big bucks. But I also second the "do it yourself" method - planning really IS half the fun. In addition to tripadvisor, try the following forums/boards:

Travelers to Go
Virtual Tourist

I've also had good luck with the hotel recommendations on (not every hotel covered, but the reviews are honest). You won't be able to see everything, so plan to go back some day instead of wasting time rushing from place to place.