European Family Tours/Vacation

anthrogirlAugust 17, 2006

Hello all,

Within the next two years, I am planning on a trip for myself and my husband and our now nine-year old son to Europe. The guided tours are appealing to me because I went on one in high school and loved it, and also because I find myself completely overwhelmed by the prospect of having to pick and choose between sights. With the guided tour, most of those choices are made for you:) So, have any of you taken your family on a guided tour? Or have you toured independently? What were the pros and cons for you? I have my heart set on Britain (especially London), Germany, and Italy. If I could really have what I wanted, we would also see Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, and possibly Spain. I could skip France this time and not be disappointed, but my son and husband have never been. I have had a hard time finding a guided tour that hits all of these stops.

Also, if any of you have been to Australia and have recommendations (for kids, especially) I would appreciate them. We have most of the details for that trip worked out, but it is always nice to hear from those with experience.

Thanks so much!

Sydney

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Happyladi

We went to Europe in 2000 and I planned the trip myself. At the time we were a family of 4 and my kids were 9 and 14. We went to France, Ireland and England and we were gone 22 days.

I planned the trip on the internet and by reading Rick Steves books. We went in June, I understand August is when my Europeans travel, so I avoided it.

Ahead of time I found our first three nights in Paris. I also arranged to rent a car after that. We spent 4 days drivng around France. We had no trouble finding places to stay until our last night. We were flying to Ireland on Ryan Air(also arranged ahead of time)and when we got to the town all the hotels were full. It was graduation week and it was a college town. You can't just go to a Wallmart there and get camping stuff like here.

Our flight was leaving the next morning. Luckly we were able to fly out that night(of course we had to buy more tickets)and took a chance our hotel in Dublin would have a room and it did.

We had also arranged our hotel in Dublin and a rental car in Ireland after we left Dublin. We also rented a car with an automatic cause we figured driving on the left would be enough to think about. After we left Dublin we just stopped at the tourist shops in the towns and stayed in B&B's the rest of our trip. We didn't arrange those ahead of time.

We also flew Ryan Air to England. In Enland we mostly stayed with my husband's sister.

A couple of things, over there rooms for 4 people are not the norm like here. Several times the kids had to sleep in a different room. You just have one child so I guess they could bring a roll away in most of the time.

I am glad I planned it myself, but it was a lot of work. Some of it wasn't planned, like we went to Switerland for a day.

I found the people in France to be very nice. I did learn a few phrases before I went and that helped, but mostly we winged it. Sometimes we just pointed. Restaurants outside of Paris don't have English menus, so we did the best we could with a language book. It was fun.

My husband and I also went to Rome a couple of years later and planned it ourselves. Again, we got our hotel ahead of time, but everything else we didn't plan.

I really love Rick Steve's books and highly recommend them, but I looked at others too.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 1:05AM
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linnea56

Rick Steves has guided tours too. Visit his website, if you have not already.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 1:21PM
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biochem101

Went to England solo 3 years ago and planned the trip myself. Hooked up with a Globus tour for part of the time, and traveled on my own the rest. Was happy with Globus (worried going over it would be dreadful). They drove so I didn't have to get behind the wheel on the wrong side of the road.

That bus driver navigated tiny little streets and major highways, taking us from one sight to another. No map reading. Fabulous! They said not to eat on the bus, but everyone did. (Just quietly snack - hee hee).

I do not know how other tour companies are, but Globus used pretty darn good hotels. It was Best Western and Hilton all the way. On my own I stayed in "lesser accommodations". (and longed to be back on the tour ...) :D

Globus brought us to Stonehenge first thing in the morning. First bus there, admissions are always already paid, no waiting in lines. Our bus beat all the others in, the guide walks over to a side gate and we sweep in ahead of the line forming at the ticket booth. There we were, up there without a crowd! First in. By then your tour feels like a family. I felt they really had this whole tour business down pat.

If you want to read my trip journal, it's on Yahoo Travel.

Use Google Earth to learn cities before you go.

Have fun.

Here is a link that might be useful: London, England, Great Britain Trip May 2008

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 12:58PM
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biochem101

OMG! that message is from 2006!

Silly me. Wow. No one comes to this forum do they?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 1:00PM
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