Can I travel for a month in Europe with 4 kids???

momto4kidsJuly 29, 2007

Im thinking about taking my children to western Europe next summer for an extended vacation. TheyÂll be ages 8 Â 13. IÂm not looking for anything posh, nor am I looking to backpack and bike, either. IÂd really like to do some major outdoor sightseeing, hitting a lot of countries and the well-known landmarks.

How feasible is it to rent a place for a month and use it as home base? Like the hub of a bicycle wheel, then venture out along the spokes for excursions? Is there such a central place? Or what about two two-week rentals at opposite ends of my desired travel area? Or four one-week rentals scattered along a route?

What about a Eurail Pass? Could we start at one end and travel to the other end, staying a few days here and there? Would I need to book hotels along the way in advance or could I book them along the way when I know we plan to move on to the next place?

I would prefer to take more of a "wing it" approach to what we see and when vs a tightly-planned itinerary. Is this feasible? Maybe thereÂs a compromise? Maybe I'm dreaming!!

The kids are pretty flexible travelers. They could handle some long driving or train rides every few days.

Where do I start researching and planning a trip like this? Any and all advice is welcome!

Thanks in advance!

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It is very feasable and I did it for a year with three kids youngest was 6-14. We used The Netherlands as the home base. We had a rental home there. We traveled extensively on each holiday and then did 10 dasy in eastern Europe and 3 weeks driving from the Netherlands down thru Belgium into France over to Italy and then Austria and back thru Germany and home. I used Let's Go Europe for every single one of my plans. I found the hostels and one B and B and all restaurants and museums etc in there. It was a perfect guide. There wasn't one poor selection and they were accurate on all counts. I wrote ahead and called and booked everything and got tickets for admissions to concerts : Aida in Verona etc. This was in 1988-89. I had no computer so it will be very easy for you now to do all of this. Also you have one currency and I had LOTS. Go for it. You will be so glad and your kids will still be talking about it decades later as mine do. The youth hostels are absolutely the best way to go with kids. They have family rooms on most and they are very clean and well-managaed and your kids will make lots of friends. You need to start now and make arrangements. Go to a big book store and spend some time looking at all the references that they have and buy the one you want either there or on Amazon used. If I can be of further help let me know. Good luck. Caroline

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 4:18PM
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I would go for the "renting" a place and spread out from there for trips. Also consider renting a car or making sure the central location has public transportation to your interests.

I did the Euro rail ticket and almost ruined my trip. There was no transportation at stops and had to use taxis to get to place of interest or a B&B. Plus hauling luggage on the train, it was exhausting. Upped the cost of my trip with all. Train is also so darn fast and primarily under ground level, you can't enjoy the scenery.

New Zealand was the best trip with small hotels which had little kitchens. Their public transportation is the best too. Am sure there are other areas in Europe with this, I just wasn't wise enough to figure it out on the Euro trip.

Contact a good hostel program, forum, etc. and see what is happening, where to go, etc. Your kids would probably love the hostel environment and most who use this know the ropes of getting around. Make sure the facilities have what is needed, some require your own sheets/towels or sleeping bags.

Maybe hop over to the GW Europe site and ask there too.

Have fun. A wonderful gift to all.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 4:43PM
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Yes, you can do it! We did it when our kids ages were between 6 and 14. It helps if they are old enough to carry their own backpack, seriously. Your kids sound like great travelers and they will have experiences they will never forget. Here are my thoughts:

We rarely use hotels, but find a holiday rental apartment for a week at a time. More economical than hotels, more room for everyone to spread out, no need to eat every meal out, plus it's fun to shop in markets where you can't read the labels! My favorite site is Rentvillas; have rented through them several times with good results. Another is Holiday Rentals.

I've talked before about Rick Steve's "Europe through the Back Door" travel philosophy. That is fundamentally how we traveled; each person takes only what they can carry in his/her own backpack.

We don't take taxi's if at all possible. Mostly walk, or take the metro or buses like the locals do.

Some people could take the wing it approach and find the next hotel when you arrive in the next town. For two adults, that might work, but I'm more security minded and don't think I could do it with children, but that is just me.

Go for it and have a ball. I'm jealous. I would love to be planning a trip like that.

Our 6 year old DS lost his first tooth while we were staying in a castle and housekeeping unknowlingly threw it out. The tooth fairy came anyway. Same DS learned to drive a stick shift on a rental Alpha Romeo 10 years later in the hills of Tuscany.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 4:48PM
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Yes you can do it, and we have done many of these trips with our kids, starting from age 2!! It was harder at that age, but still worked out fine.

I love Rick Steve's site, and used a lot of the recommendations there. We never did the Eurorail. I prefer public transport, or renting a car.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 5:42PM
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We were in France last year with our children, who are younger (1 & 3 at the time). I highly recommend renting an apartment -- for us, we found it so much better than staying in a hotel. For me, I prefer to see fewer places for longer time, so I'd vote for 1-2 weeks in each place. You get more of a feel for the culture and day-to-day life of a place. That's also a nice aspect of the apartments -- we got to know the locals a bit (and it didn't hurt that we were next door to a patisserie).

I found the Slow Travel website very helpful. People with lots of experience traveling in Europe, many with kids. In Paris we rented through Perfectly Paris and found them to be wonderful.

We also spent a week on a penichette boat on the canals and rivers of Burgundy. While I would absolutely not recommend this trip to anyone with a one-year-old, I think it would be fun for other ages (we had two three-year-olds and a six-year-old in our group and they had a ball). Did I mention it was a week on a 45-foot-boat with my husband's family? Oy.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 10:09PM
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My parents traveled with my sister and I for 4 to 6 months at a time throughout SE Asia, India, Europe and South America. We were primary to middle school ages at the times. We almost always had a car (India was the exception), and in S Amer a camper on a pick-up. Kids are interested in different things from adult tourists, but there's always lots to see as long as you don't try to pack too much tourism in, just 'cause you're there.

My parents sometimes packed us off for the day to do stuff on our own, which was fun and gave them a break (zoo, museums, circus, childrens programs, or just hiking around by ourselves). Nowadays parents seem to think ghastly things will happen to unaccompanied kids, and maybe that's true, but we survived and almost without fail people went out of their way to keep an eye on the two little girls. Perhaps that's so because we were often in somewhat remote places rather than big cities. I remember with pleasure, though, things like being 9 years old and taking a pedicab to the animal park in Singapore accompanied only by my 7 year old sib. She remembers the free-ranging monkeys at the park were very bold about demanding peanuts from us, long after we had exhausted all the money we had to buy cones of nuts to feed them! Bad monkeys! Still it was a favorite sort of diversion for me that I looked forward to. Since we had usually driven down from Saigon, a very long (7-10 days), hot, dusty, trip on those late 1950's roads, our parents were glad to have something we could do by ourselves while they attended to grown-up business.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 1:32AM
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We had an apartment in Paris for 6 weeks with my F/MIL when the kids were 6,11 and 15. We have such fond memories of that summer.

We used the apartment as a hub for several trips- to Normandy, to England, to Alcace and Monaco- but the best days were spent poking around the back streets of Paris and meeting up at 'home' at the end of the day for wine, cheese and bread. By the end of the visit, the kids could walk into the little grocery stores and communicate enough to make transactions. DS's job each day was to choose a cheese- DD2's to pick a crusty loaf of bread for our long hour around the big rustic dining room table.

Yes! Do it now! The kids grow up, get busy and move away. These are the best times- do it!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 1:19PM
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Hey Deb,
Sounds like a great trip... we'd be happy to come along as your tour guides! This past year we did 2 3-week Europe trips with our 7-yo. One was in Germany/Italy and the other was England/Scotland. Both were great successes for adults and kid alike.

I would definitely second the idea of using an apartment or house rental for part of the time. Some places require a week stay, but many will rent for fewer days if need be. It's a great way to get a sense of living in a different place, and makes things like going to the market, learning the local bus routes, etc. part of the experience so it's not just all museum overload. When I planned the trip, I chose the apartment rentals first, then filled in the gaps with hotels.

There's not really one central location that I would choose for the entire 4 weeks, as you'd spend way too much time getting from place to place. One trip we did a few years ago started in Paris and ended in Athens. I think the 3-4 home bases along the way is a great idea.

As for the train/drive dilemma, it really depends on where you choose to go. With 4 kids, it might be cheaper and on the surface seem easier to rent a car, but I'd opt for a combination of the two. If you're going between cities and staying around metropolitan areas, use trains.... quick, easy, restful for parents for longer trips, no hassle of finding a place to park, etc. But for being out in the country, i.e. the hill towns of Tuscany, a car rental is great. There are many options with the Eurail Pass that combine car rental and train travel. Rick Steve's sight is good for spelling the options out. The trick to setting it up is to have the basic skeleton of the trip planned around the major locations (taking into account the train schedule), then fill in the car where necessary. For example, on the Germany/Italy trip, we flew into Frankfurt, used railpass to get to the castles along the Rhine, used local trains/boat for travel from town to town (very easy and inexpensive), then took a train to Munich, public transportation in Munich, then overnight sleeper car (Zeke loved it!) to Venice, train again to Siena, then rented a car for traveling through Tuscany, train to Milan, then home. On that trip, we had an apartment rental in Venice, and one in a farmhouse in Pienza, everything else was hotels.

One other benefit of apartment stay is you can find ones that are really set up for kids. Our Venice apartment was stocked with all kinds of art supplies and kid's tour books. The owners of the Pienza farmhouse had an 8-yo boy, so there was a tire swing, ping pong table, pokemon cards and a built-in playmate after school. So I got to do things like wine and olive oil tasting, and pasta making class; DH got to play guitar (they had one around); and DS got to run around and enjoy farm life.

So how to go about the planning? Definitely check out the graffiti board on Rick Steve's travel site for comments about places to stay. His site is also good for the railpass/drive information. If you're going to use apartments, his books don't really have sources to help you with non-hotels. I also found the slow trav website very helpful for Italy. Also check out (vacation rentals by owner) as one source for potential apartments.

As for the youth hostel option. I've spent many nights in them both as a youth and as a not-so-youthful adult. Sometimes they can work out well, but what's kept me from using them as a family is the restriction that many have that you have to be out of the facility for large parts of the day. Some days with kids, you just need to regroup mid-day for some down time. Can't always do that in a YH.

One other thing that really works for our family is to make sure there's a balance between city/countryside and heavy sightseeing/hanging out. We made conscious choices not to try to see every major site or every major city.

And of course, good walking shoes for everyone. And don't anyone (kid or adult) pack more than what each person can easily haul around on/off planes, trains, buses and boats. (That's also a great benefit to apartments... make sure you have laundry facilities on site, then you only need to pack a week's worth of clothes at the most.)

Ok, now I'm rambling. I want to go! DS is already asking where we're going next... France/Spain/Portugal or Southern Italy/Greece... maybe we'll see you on the road!

Seriously, if you have any specific questions about your itinerary or how the rail/drive passes work, or any recommendations along the way, feel free to email me any time.


PS Just thought of one more thing. Do any of your kids get carsick? Lots of small windy roads instead of freeway driving... (another good reason for laundry facilities!... don't ask how I know.)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 3:14PM
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We've done this twice with our four kids and had a ball each time.

We used the Rick Steves guidebooks/website and the book Take Your Kids to Europe to help us narrow down the things we wanted to do. Once we had a rough idea of where we wanted to go (starting and ending countries with a few destinations in between), we typed the cities into MapQuest and got driving directions so that we could see how many hours it would take to get from place to place. Ultimately, this helped us to create our itineraries because our desired destinations formed a "path"; we sought out interesting places to stop between original destinations if the distances were too great and we omitted interesting places if we they were just too far away from everything else. Once we knew where we were going, we used Rick Steves guidebooks to help us choose family-run B&Bs that could accommodate us in one large (family) room or two smaller rooms. We enjoyed great breakfasts, included in the room rate, and friendly owners/other travelers.

During our first trip, five years ago when our kids were aged 3-9 (we left the one-year-old at home), we stayed in some places for only one night and others for almost a week. That was a big mistake! The one-nighters were exhausting but so were the day trips back and forth to the week-long "hub". We also took the train for one leg of our trip and decided to never do that again; it was very expensive for the five of us and it was extremely confusing and stressful (if you make a mistake, you can't just pull over and ask for directions).

During our second trip, last summer when the kids were aged 6-13, we stayed in every location for three to five days and found that it made the whole trip more relaxing and fun.

The highlights of these trips, according to my kids, were the Eiffel Tower; Carcassone, France (a medieval walled city); le Palais Ideal de Facteur Cheval (the Mailman's Ideal Palace en route to Lyon, France; Hallstatt, Austria (our all-time favorite with a lake for boating and swimming and a really cool salt mine); Neuschwanstein Castle , the Tegelberg luge, and the Ehrenberg Castle ruins near the border of Austria/Germany; pedal boats and the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam; Legoland in Denmark (they loved Traffic School - driving "real" cars on a "real" streets); and the Viking Museum in Roskilde, Denmark (our second all-time favorite because we got to row an authentic viking ship out into the fjord and the kids were able to dress up like vikings).

You should go; you'll never regret it!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 4:33PM
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I've done several trips to Europe and always had accomidations booked in advance except for the last trip which I took with a girlfriend from Vienna who said "let's take the train and wing it for the hotels". Every night we did find a hotel, but the pain in the kiester of looking for one sucked. We would spend half the morning finding the hotel and getting booked (lugging our luggage behind) and then have to find our way back to what we wanted to see. Also, for small towns it sucked (and I prefer those) since the train tended to only go to the larger areas.

I will never train again, and with four kids...I'd never wing it on the hotels! I much prefer having a base or two (or three if you're there for a month) and doing day trips from there. The time it takes to catch the train and pack, unpack and beg for a room just isn't worth it and would be a nightmare with even the best of kids!

We probably won't go again until we get the boat, then we'll go via sea so we have our own hotel :) so much easier. That and our son is 20 months...and travel to the local grocery store is hard enough. Six weeks in Europe would suck! But with your kids's going to be wonderful!!!!

I highly recommend Rothenberg O'Der'tauber (I probably killed the spelling) in GErmany. (On romantic road). And I love the countryside in France. Switzerland is FABULOUS!!!! I hated Paris in the springtime :oP I'm not sure it would be any better in the fall (too many people on the same square inch you want to stand on). Venice is to die for!!! London with kids is a hoot :) (I took my niece and a friend of hers). Bath is such great history.

Heck I'm not sure there's a bad place...aside from Paris but did I mention I hated Paris in the springtime? heh heh

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 4:51PM
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Terrific! Okay, I do have a bunch of questions!'s dinner-time and I've got to go take care of the kids! But, please do come back later in the week!

Quickly though, I'm thinking about some very broad brush strokes through Europe, combining driving and flying...maybe train. Does it change your thoughts any to know it may be just me with the kids for a good portion of the time? I think DH will start out with us and meet us at the end, but he certainly won't be able to stay for the middle.

I'm thinking about a week in Greece (Athens), then 3-4 days each in, perhaps, Rome, Venice, Zurich, then a couple of weeks or so in Paris (branch out for a few overnighters or long day-trips), and maybe some time in Spain...not sure whether to hit the coast or Madrid.

Maybe I'll end up with more like 5 or 6 weeks in Europe. I don't know. Again, I think I'll just focus on the more well-known places the kids have probably already heard about vs trying to really spend a lot of quality time in one spot. If I was going with just my older 2 children, I'd do something different. My younger 2 will enjoy sightseeing, but they wouldn't enjoy a deeper dip into local culture. I guess I thought hopscotching our way through the major attractions would be best. I'm open to all suggestions, though!! Of course, it's my hope that we follow up this trip in another couple of years with more focus on a particular area, and so on.

So, what do you think about this? Overambitious? I do have questions about some of the sites you all have recommended. I'll come back with those!
Thanks for helping me plan!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 6:31PM
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So here goes. Although it's more city-focused than I would typically do, I think it can be a great trip with the kids. Paris-Zurich is easy... high speed TGV, change trains in Basel... about 6 hours total traveling time. Zurich-Venice is easy... also about 6.5 hours travel time, only one change in Venice from the Mestre (mainland) to Venice (island). Venice-Rome, also easy on the train, a direct trip of about 4.5 hours. The difficulty comes with going to Athens and Madrid.

IMHO, I would choose one or the other of Athens or Madrid, then spend the extra time doing something else in-country (i.e., from Athens, go to Delphi or choose a nearby island such as Kythnos (1.5 hr ferry from Athens, but another world), or from Madrid (I can't really advise, it wasn't my favorite city... I'd pick Barcelona). In general, I found Spain harder to get around.

If you're going to stay mainly in the cities, I definitely wouldn't have a car the whole time. Maybe just for your ending time in France...


    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 8:58PM
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We spent a month in Greece with a 3-year old. Without a single reservation except our airfare and our car (and they lost our car reservation anyway!) I wouldn't have done it any other way.

We did go in off-season (May) so finding lodging wasn't an issue. I'm not sure how and if it would have been different in the summer months. If we saw a cool hotel, we went in and asked to see a room. If it was nice, we'd negotiate price (dh speaks Greek) and if the price was right (and it usually was), we'd stay there.

We bought ferry tickets on the fly as well. Most towns have travel agents that sold the tickets in their storefront.

In all, we traveled all over the country and to five islands. Ds was great. He had his Elmo backpack full of his treasures and it was his responsibility to carry that. My best advice is to pack light. Do laundry if you see a laundromat. Bring extra underwear in case you can't find one. One backpack and one small rolling suitcase or duffel per person. Nothing you or they can't carry walking down a village road looking for a place to stay!

For your kids, who are older, definitely invest in ipods, gameboy/DS's, and a couple of small (paperback) novels for the downtime.

Go to AAA and buy some travel guides. They come in really handy when looking for things to do, places to stay, and places to eat. Of course take them with you.

The link below is a great site on traveling through Greece. His daughter has also made a site just for kids (on traveling through Greece). It's a great site to check out.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 10:17PM
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Sorry, this is his main site:

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 10:20PM
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    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 10:21PM
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Thank you again, everybody, for all the info and websites! I feel like I've been working on this nonstop! Yes, I do have many questions!

What's the best way to tackle them? I think I'll try to pull them together by area. In the meantime...

When is the best time to be in Europe? I'm very flexible with time, as long as it's mid-June through August. It seems most of Europe takes vacation in August. ??? So, do I want to time my trip to the earlier part of the summer...or does it matter?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 5:55PM
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We have two kids and are departing soon for a trip to Europe, we will be in the south of France for two weeks and in Holland for one week. In the south of France, we are staying in a house that is located in the Luberon. I drew a circle around the town we're staying in and basically researched the towns within a one hour driving radius. We are then flying via Ryan Air to Holland and staying in an apartment in Amsterdam. The house we're staying in in the south of France is a relatively simple place. My kids are older than yours, but we've made it a priority to pack books and simple arts activities they can do. I expect to buy a jigsaw puzzle. We are bringing a deck of cards, an IPod and a Nintendo DS. There is no TV or internet connection at the house. We've talked to the kids a lot about flexibility. The biggest hassle with the electronic games, is that yes they have the advantage of being small and light, but they need a variety of chargers and power adapters to work with the European electrical current. Radio Shack had the highest prices around, Best Buy was better, but believe it or not, I found electrical equipment in the men's section of Marshalls where they sell things like um, power golf ball washers and the like. I also have purchased and wrapped small items for the children to receive at various times through the trip. Little clay kits from JoAnne bought on sale, they like these, and they cost about $2 each. Calvin and Hobbes books collected from garage sales for about 25 cents each. I sleep mask and ear plugs set, two bucks on sale at KMart. I assemble these and wrap them before we leave -- unwrapping the 'gifts' makes it even more fun for the kids. Oh, crayons and paper are another must. I had my daughter down load a lot of young adult books on CD onto her eye-pod and got an ear phone splitter so two kids can listen to the books on tape on the same Ipod player. Ideally, they'll listen to these in the back of the car while my husband and I talk or listen to our own music up front.

We enjoy having down time while we're away, and plan on doing only one 'big' touristy thing a day. When traveling with kids, I like to have a sort of big picture plan, with info about all the sights available in a specific region, but like to play it by ear on a day to day basis, being responsive to people's moods, energy levels, health, etc. I also know in advance that I want to show them certain things, as in categories of things, like in the south of France, it'll be something like one cathedral, one abbey, one art museum, etc. I have a child whose into nature so we've made sure to research natural habitats and will probably get him a book so he and his sister can identify bugs and birds while we're there. I've also taken out library books on the countries we're visiting and left them lying around the kitchen table and we've done some casual thumbing through the pages. I don't force it. I just try to get them thinking a little, and looking at pictures really does that. It's important to remind them that travel is fun but it's also work and some days may be challenging for them. Oh, one more thing, we bring addresses for their friends so they can write postcards. I also take pictures of their friends and keep them stored on the digital camera so they can scroll back and look at the pictures when they feel like they're missing the kids back home.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 12:29PM
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Judith, would you be willing to share the info you have on accommodations? We're planning a similar trip next year to Europe.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 12:53PM
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I've been going through the greece travel site link you posted. Great site! We're starting to plan for a Greece trip next June. Thanks.

As far as when to go, we've always tried to avoid the crowds and heat of mid-late summer, but then you miss some great festivals, swimming weather, etc. One idea for your trip is to start furthest south the earliest possible (mid-June) then work your way north and end up in Paris for Bastille Day celebrations. If you instead go the other direction, starting in France and ending in Greece, you will definitely have great beach weather for Greek Island hopping. If you wait till August, you can get some less crowded major cities (as much of the European workforce seems to take August off), but many local restaurants and shops are closed and the resort areas are packed.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 10:27AM
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Okay, I'm back from this year's vacation and back to planning next summer's trip!

I've logged a ton of hours already on the websites you folks provided. Great information!!

I want to be sure when we're in Greece that the weather and water are comfortable for going to the beach a few times. Would it be better to put Greece at the end of my trip vs the beginning?

As it stands right now, I'm thinking about being in Europe for five weeks. This is my rough "outline" of the trip, so far:

I'd like to spend two weeks in a Paris apartment. During those two weeks, we'd visit the main attractions in Paris, as well as branching out to drivable places for a day or two here or there.

Then I have two weeks to spend between somewhere between Paris and Rome. Still working on where to spend this time. Is it worth driving from Paris to Rome over a 2-week period, staying several days in various places? I would love to see Venice.

I'd like to end with the final week in an apartment in Greece.

How is this so far? Three weeks in apartments; two weeks in various hotels. How did you book your places to stay? Did you go through travel agents or book on your own? When you book an apartment on your own, how do you really know what you're getting yourself into?

Adoptedbygreyhounds...Holiday Rentals...which website? I've been looking through Holiday Rentals-UK until I realized there were other websites with Holiday Rentals in the title!

It's amazing some places are already booked for next summer!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 8:31PM
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Here is the link to the company I used. Oh, wow! Now I want to go to Greece (never been).

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 8:32AM
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Thanks adoptedbygreyhounds! That's the site I've been spending time on!!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 9:36AM
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YES! Do it! I started dragging my son around the world when he was almost 4 years old. His first trip was to Morocco (which is REALLY different). He just turned 23 and he's an archaeologist! He's getting his masters in London right now and will be home in September for a year before continuing his PhD. He's told me so many times that traveling was the best thing that I ever did for him.

He'll still travel with us anytime we're paying. :-) You know, starving student and all. Anyway, here's a link to our latest trip with him. We rented an apartment in Tuscany for a week and he joined us from London for 4 days.

Now, my stepson thinks that one museum is enough. He'd rather stay home and take care of our house and greyhound! He's the same age. When the two of them were teenagers traveling to Italy, France, etc. we had to make sure we did things that interested him, too. That one would rather see Ferraris and Lamborghinis than look at the Roman Forum.

When traveling with a family, we always rented 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartments for a lot less than hotels.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 8:49AM
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I just noticed your question about going between Paris and Rome. We took an overnight TGV fast train from Paris to Milan where we then went up to Lake Como for awhile. Then, we took another train down to Rome. We rent the same apartment in Rome everytime we go, but it may be too far away from the action for you.

The overnight train was comfortable. There was a set of bunk beds in each compartment and a sink. The loo was down the hall. It was great to wake up at sunrise and see the Alps!

So, for long journeys between destination points, the train is good. I might also tell you that there are some really cheap flights around Europe that may cost less than a train ticket, but you have the time investment and delays at airports. You have to look at both options and not necessarily choose one type all the time. Car rentals in Italy, France and England have been fine for us.

We didn't rent a car in Greece, but I think that would be fine, too. Chris was on an archaeological dig on Crete a few years ago. I had taken him there when he was 8 years old and he ended up going back to Crete as an archaeologist.

I could go on and on and on about travel. Slow Travel and Rick Steves are both good resources.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 10:43AM
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We just took the overnight train between Florence and Paris. We had a small apartment in Paris for a few days and stayed at a friend's house in Tuscany for a couple of weeks. My kids are 2, 4, and 6 and have each been to Europe as many times as they have years (ie--the 6 year old has been 6 times). I don't see why anyone would wait. It's fun to see the adventure through their eyes. In our case, we would often eat out at lunchtime and cook in, especially in Paris. The staff on the overnight train (I think it was not a TGV but something like Artesia?) was so accomodating. My main advice, and I think I'm echoing advice from above, is to take your time, have no expectations of what you'll accomplish, and enjoy living in Europe. Go to the markets, go to museums if your kids like them, spend time in parks (we spent HOURS), etc. My kids were happy just walking slowly around. We walked around 7 miles one day in Paris, and they climbed all 450+ steps in the Duomo! I was so impressed at how their tiny little legs could carry them around.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 6:58PM
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