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Old 06-11-2008, 02:57 AM   #1
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Question hello and help with Family Euro holiday

First off hi all, first time visit to this forum Nice to see some help for the family holidays!

Now down to business. In mid November we (family of 4) are planning a holiday to the UK to visit some of my wifes family, and to open our kids (12 & 7) minds to the rest of the world. I have done a bit of traveling when i was single, spent a couple of years living in the UK and traveled through Europe in various guises 12-14 years ago. But now traveling with a family, on a budget, and planning as much as possible from the opposite side of the earth (NZ) has me struggling with idea's on how to travel and where to stay in Europe. Can any of you please help with suggestions or recommendations?

UK travel is no problem; plan to hire or maybe borrow a car or use public transport, stay in Hostels or B&B's or cheap hotels. And as everything is in English we are fairly confident we can get by. We only have about 7-10 days to spend in Europe, but that will be enough to show them a few main cities. My fond memories have lead me to thinking of maybe Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Rome.

Help . . . ?
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Old 06-11-2008, 05:19 AM   #2
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Well, if you're going to be travelling with your kids a hectic itinerary probably isn't best. If you're going to be in the UK anyways, I'd say hit up Paris OR Amsterdam as well within the 7-10 days (unless you're considering them as extra time after the UK visit in which case you could probably hit up both cities). If you go to PAris, the chateaus in the loire valley are relatively close to it and def worth a visit. I haven't been to A-dam yet though so I can't recommend anything nearby but since you've already been I'm sure you can decide which would be best.

I'm afraid I can't help much with the family aspect either, but tumbleweedz frequently travels with her children and I'm sure she'll be around to help shortly. Good luck!
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Old 06-11-2008, 09:07 AM   #3
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For large cities, we tend to recommend a good 3 days, so that you one spends at least one full day there. Given your short amount of time, 2 or 3 places would be better suited. And even if your children are big, 7 and 12 is a very good age to travel, the transport between cities and countries will affect them (and the parents too!). A short itinerary such as Paris-Bruxelles-Amsterdam or 3 cities with the same country is easier on the nerves...

What are your children and yourself into ? Culture and museum, sports and outdoorish activities, beaches ?

I went to Switzerland with my daughter (who was only 2 1/2) and my sister and loved it. There are parks every 2 kilometers or so. So after a visit to the museum - park time!, after visiting historical vestiges - park time!, and so on. This country is ideal for family travel, in my opinion.

As Laura mentionned, Tumblezweedz wrote a lot about the subject. Here are her tips for Paris and for taking kids to museums.
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Old 06-13-2008, 06:30 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies, yea i have read those threads which were great and got a few tips.

I think ideally i would like to be able to throw us all on a bus tour of a few major cities but am having trouble finding one suitable, does anyone here know of any short simple ones running in Europe that time of the year?

I am starting to think we are going to be better of hiring a car and driving, staying in some hotels or B&B, but not sure if the wife is up to reading maps and name places in different languages. And then there is the extra costs in the toll motorways when trying to keep the time frames . . .
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:06 AM   #5
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The UK is great for kids... hit Legoland (tho not cheap). My kids really loved Longleat too. Paris was great in November, not so many tourists. Rome was not so much fun with kids and a lot of wasted travel time... My kids are younger (6,7) and were burned out of travel... too much intake I think. I think it was more important to have happy family time than try to cover all of Europe.

Go simple. Let them pick one of the destinations... you never know. My son picked Brugges, Belgium... I never would have picked that one. It was great, chocolate for me, beer for dad, and all the french fries for the kids. Canal rides were great, museums were small, though the chocolate and diamond museums were hits. Who would have thought?

Double check your B&B and hotels, there were times we had to book adjoining rooms due to legal limits of people in rooms and some of the B&Bs had a no kids allowed rule. Sandic hotels were kid friendly.

Good luck.
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:10 AM   #6
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I almost forgot... Eurail passes are great, and don't rent a car with a GPS !!!! There is an online company... Backroads (add the www before and .com)... they are way to expensive to book with, but look at some of their itineraries... they might give you ideas too.
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:34 AM   #7
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Interesting, I would recommend GPS for driving in Europe, having just lived there for five years we found it enormously helpful. Not perfect, but a lot fewer wrong turns and exasperated looks from driver to navigator!

November's a great time for travelling because crowds will be smaller, but keep in mind the delightful continental climate (polar fleece and water/windproof jackets are your friends, no matter how much space they take up), and the short daylight hours. Try to plan outdoor activities for mid-morning through early afternoon to capitalize on those precious hours of light, and save museums or indoor attractions for later in the day, or rainy days. Also, some places close entirely in the off-season, or have different hours, so be sure to check in advance so you won't make a wasted trip.

Paris is fabulous with kids (there's more detailed info in some of the other threads here), and if you had a car, you might decide to visit the beaches of Normandy - not for the swimming of course! The WWII museums and monuments are amazing and very kid-friendly, of all our trips, this was probably the one that appealed to everyone, from my history buff husband, through our kids the toddlers through pre-teens.

Rome was another big hit for our family, and if you divided your continental trip between Paris and Rome you probably wouldn't get over-tired or stressed out from trying to see to much, and you'd give your kids a crash course in most of western civilization. (Take 'em to the British Museum, the Louvre and the Vatican and they're about covered unless the become art historians!)

Another option in Italy would be Naples, with side trips to Pompeii, Herculaneum and Mt Vesuvius. That trip was another big winner in our family and offers better November weather.

Your kids are definitely old enough to participate in planning what to do, maybe you could choose on destination and the could pick another, just to keep things balanced. When you narrow down the cities, google "x-city (Paris, Stockholm, Rome, etc) for kids" and there should be a lot of local info at your fingertips.

Keep us posted on your plans!
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Old 06-19-2008, 02:05 PM   #8
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Thanks for the replies.

Of course the main thing the kids have been harping on about, Legoland, is going to be closed for the winter season . Trying to pluck up the courage to tell them, lol.

The bus tour i think is our first choice for travel in Europe as it will be less stress on the whole family, all the travel and accomodation is taken care of and they take you to the main attractions. I did one with my mum and sis way back in my teens (was it really that long ago?! :P ) and I know we will miss some stuff but it will give the general details and enough of an overload that they won't remember it all, and they will also be able to play their games on the bus when they get tired of it all . . . and they will.

If that doesn't work out i guess the second option is really to train or drive to a few cities as mentioned probably Paris and Amsterdam, would love to take them to Venice but i don't think we will have the time. Rome and Pompei would be cool too, but even more unlikely we will get there time wise.

Still trying to figure out why Eurail is so expensive! I know for us alot is in the exchange rate, but still at the moment car hire is looking just as affordable and at least we can stop and look at the sites.

tumblezweedz, how much are the autobahn tolls now and how far between them? Its been a while since i last drove through them, and i think the alcohol consumed at the time has caused memory lapse

In the UK the plan is to drive at the moment as we have family to visit at the same time.

Thanks for the idea's, please keep the travel tips coming.
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:31 PM   #9
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That was a typo on my part. GET THE GPS !!!!:D
sorry. The trains cost different rates for different trains... the TGV is more $$ than the slower trains. There are also ferries between the UK and the mainland.
The money you save on not going to legoland... wow! I wish I could have... but the kids loved it.
We had more fun in what ever place we ended up and tried to minimized travel time. Perillo Tours has bus tours, but I think they are $$$$. Backroads is another good one. They take care of everything. I googled and found Gobal Coach Tours...or Insight Vacations. But I haven't used either. We always did the train or rented a car.

good luck.
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Old 06-20-2008, 06:59 AM   #10
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Alton towers in the UK would be great for the kids, it's one of Europes top themeparks. It's known for it's extreme rollercoasters more than being a disney land type afair.

There's another legoland in Denmark it's the original one.
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Old 06-20-2008, 11:31 PM   #11
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[quote=MeTurk;185633]Alton towers in the UK would be great for the kids, it's one of Europes top themeparks. [quote]

Thanks. Would you believe that is going to be closed in November for the winter season as well!

Kids aren't happy about legoland and we won't be making it to Denmark, but at least we have a stopover planned in LA on the way for them to go to Disneyland and Universal Studios.
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Old 07-14-2008, 06:47 AM   #12
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I don't recall ever paying tolls on the autobahns in the areas of Germany that we drove, though that was pretty well limited to the south and west so there may be some in other areas.

If you are heading to Germany, I would HIGHLY recommend Playmobil FunPark for a family fun day. It's WAY cheaper than all the Disney/Lego parks - at around 5 to 7 Euro/person depending on the time, season and weather and the kids meals are also a great deal - for about 4 Euro you get a meal, plus a souvenir cup AND a playmobil figure, which normally sell for about 2 Euro/ea. The park is about an hour from Nuremburg, maybe three from Munich, and about that from Frankfurt. And it's open until the 9th of November. There are indoor and outdoor play areas if the weather turns ugly, though you can play outside in bad weather if you're dressed properly. There's also a hotel right on site (well, across the road) if you choose to stay there. Google "playmobil fun park, zirndorf" for details.

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