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Summer 2013 Europe for Six Weeks with Kids
coachemg
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Family of 5 (kids will be 3, 6 and 11 at time of travel) are looking for a six week trip through Western/Central Europe in the summer of 2013. Ideally we would visit Spain, Italy, possibly Switzerland and Germany, and then head west again towards France, the UK. We think flying into Spain will be our best bet as the weather in mid-June might be more enjoyable and head to the UK towards the end of the trip in late July.

We would prefer to do most of our travels by train although air might be necessary. Also, in a perfect world, we would base at most places for about 5-6 days and take excursions throughout the area we are staying. We plan on renting through VRBO or Homeaway and not using hotels, but perhaps for a one or two nighter somewhere that is a must visit but doesnt require many nights will be necessary. I dont believe we want to make every single day in a city as they all start to look the same after a while, but since we arent renting a car it might be best to stay in metro areas. My wife and I have visited London and Paris, and we enjoyed the “sights”. We cant say we are museum fans, but perhaps some that the kids would enjoy would be ideal. For us, this is a bucket list trip. Let’s be stereotypical and cross of as many of the “1000 Places To See Before You Die”. We have discussed an interest in Madrid, Barcelona, Venice. Rome, South of France, Switzerland, The German Alps, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Dublin but are really open to suggestions and advice.

How would you plan this trip? Thanks in advance for your opinion.

oldlady
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In the countries you’ve mentioned you’ll have no trouble getting to, from and around non-urban areas by train, so do plan some time outside of cities. Your plan of staying in one place for 5 or 6 days is a good one, especially with small children. You can take a few day trips from these base cities.

Europe by Eurail would be a good starting place for planning this trip. It uses the “base city/day trips” travel style. Look for a copy at your library, a used book store or the bargain bin at a big box book store before investing in a new copy. You’ll want another guide book, too so look for one that has information specific to kids.

Booking hotels will be a challenge. Most European hotel rooms are small doubles and have no room for more than 2 or 3. Be very careful to make sure you’ll have enough room. I would call or e-mail each specific hotel to make sure there’s enough room AND that they will provide acceptable beds (6 weeks on a cot may get old, even for a 3 year old) for your kids. Look at apartment rentals (often available for as little as 3 to 7 days) as an option. Cooking facilities would be nice as, other than the inevitable McDonalds (nearly always one by the train station) most restaurants do not cater to children — no booster chairs, crayons, or other kid friendly stuff.

oldlady
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P.S. I’ve had a little time to think about this …….

Don’t get hung up in the “1000 places to see before you die” mentality and especially don’t get hung up on “100 places to take your kids while they’re still kids.” You’ll have a much better time exploring and enjoying 2 of the thousand than you will have exhaustedly trekking through 20. Your kids have their whole lives to go back to Europe, so don’t spend all of your time visiting the places you either think they’ll like or that you think they should see. As you probably already know, travel is a lot more togetherness than being roomates, spouses or even parents.

5 people is 5 personalities even if 3 of them are kids. The chances of at least 1 of you having a bad day at any particulary moment are high. A leisurely travel style will help, but it’s still 6 weeks of 24/7 togetherness in VERY close quarters. How many weeks of 24/7 all of you together in a one small room or on a train have you tried for practice?

Seriously look at a 3 week trip and then another 3 weeks in 2 (or 1 or 5) years. I think you’ll have a much better time.

Cil
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I tend to agree with Oldlady. Three weeks is a good amount of time for a family of five, six weeks might turn into a slog with all that togetherness. The “see before you die” list could become a grim chore rather than a banquet of discoveries.

Our kids are adults now, but even traveling with them and their girlfriends in Spain last December/January, while very enjoyable, occasionally felt like herding cats; three weeks of that was plenty.

An alternative is to plunk yourselves down in a month-long comfortable house rental of your choosing, taking a few trips out, but mostly exploring close by. Barcelona (or Madrid) might work for that.
With Barcelona, you could easily do a south of France trip.

You could do something similar with London and the UK, but a rental would probably be more expensive.

Verita
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hey!!!!!!!!I have just read about a great fairy-tale museum in Stockholm, it is based on the Swedish fairy -tales and one more, Totto museum where kids can play and learn at the same time. There are also some frequish things like you can touch a human brain? and some that are totaly cool like flying likw an astronaut, pls tell me if you go to these places cause i didn’t have a chance to visit them^)

thirimanne
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It is hard to say exact about these places but I think there are some good places to visit, you can go to Lucern, Zurich, Munich, Berhtesgarten, Obersee, Koenigsee, Hintersee, Kelheim, Kempten, Frankfurt, Duesseldorf, Regensburg, and bad Abbah. those are some historic places and scenery places if you like those. I have been to all of them and I love them so much. I plan on going again soon. I love Regensburg, or Berhtesgarten. those are my favorite. And if you can try going to Venice in italy. that is the best beautiful historic place on earth.