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Traveling to London, Paris, Amsterdam for the first time!

Arlington, Texas
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Traveling to London, Paris, Amsterdam for the first time!

Hello! My husband and I will be traveling to Europe for the first time! We are looking at Sept this year. We have not booked anything yet, still researching. We are late 20s and want to stay in hotels that are not too expensive ($200/nt), as close to some of the main attractions as possible, but also close to a little night life action. Any suggestions? We are so excited but also a little intimidated!

U.S. expats
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for Windsor, London, Dry Tortugas National Park
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1. Re: Traveling to London, Paris, Amsterdam for the first time!

Please translate your budget into the local currency...this website will help.

http://www.xe.com/

The amount of time you have is key to your enjoyment of visiting these three very special places. Five days, for example, means that you will spend most of it it transit. Do you know how long you have got?

I would recommend that you get guidebooks for the three places you have mentioned. DK Eyewitness Travel Series are very good, and now come in a digital format.

Go through the books, and make a list of what you really want to see. Remember to factor in the amount of time it will take to get to the attraction, see it, and get to the next one. Too many times on these forums, we see someone who has 5 or 6 major attractions down for a single day, all over the city. This is the road to disappointment.

If you are able, plan the amount of vacation time around what you want to see, and how much time you will need to see it, not the other way around.

Also, to save time, consider an open jaw flight. For example, fly in to London, but out of the last city you visit. This will save time, and money.

Feel free to post a draft of your itinerary here. Members can make sure that you have grouped things in the most efficient way, suggest other similar attractions, and even save you money.

For a hotel, it is useful to post a budget, in pounds. The main attractions in London are not centralized, but a location near an underground stop means the world is your oyster, or travelcard.

More on that bad joke later...

Happy planning.

Arlington, Texas
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2. Re: Traveling to London, Paris, Amsterdam for the first time!

Hi thanks for the feedback. Our budget for the trip is about $6,000, 4,640 EUR, 3,972 GBP for air, hotel, food. We should have a little more money than that to spend on activities, etc. We plan to go for about 2 weeks. My thought was 4 nights in London, 3 nights in Paris, and 3 nights in Amsterdam. We may add 1 or 2 nights. I do have 1 DK travel book and a couple of Rick Steve's books. Once I have a tentative itinerary I will post it! I have looked into the train for traveling between cities and it looks confusing as there seems to be many different options!

U.S. expats
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for Windsor, London, Dry Tortugas National Park
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3. Re: Traveling to London, Paris, Amsterdam for the first time!

Train travel is very easy....Eurostar to/from London and Paris is a lovely trip, but book your tickets in advance. The cheap fares sell first.

Please don't use Rick Steves for England, as there have been several threads here on inaccuracies contained in his books. I would not use them at all for planning. I know plenty of people enjoy reading him, but he can be counter productive when it comes to realistic planning--sorry.

First figure out your itinerary--the places you want to go.

Then check airfare. Which flight is best, into London, out of Paris? Into Paris out of London? Waht about Amsterdam? Try this site for searching for airfares...

http://matrix.itasoftware.com/

And look here for more info on train travel...

http://www.seat61.com/

I usually book refundable hotel rooms first, and then my airfare. (After the itinerary is sorted)

Illinois
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4. Re: Traveling to London, Paris, Amsterdam for the first time!

In 2 weeks you should be able to see at least some of the 3 cities. You would want to (I think) fly into London and home from Amsterdam. Use www.eurostar.com to book tickets from London to Paris and www.thalys.com for tickets from Paris to Amsterdam. IIRC, Eurostar tickets go on sale 120 days ahead and Thalys is either 90 or 120 days, I can't remember. Sometimes you can get eurostar tickets earlier on the US website. The cheapest tickets will be when they are first released and then they get more expensive.

I generally book plane and hotel at about the same time. If you are booking hotel reservations first make sure you can cancel them. I'd expect to pay about £120/night for a double room in London and about €120/night for a double room in Paris and Amsterdam. That will probably get you a double ensuite room in a hotel that may not have an elevator (usually not) and probably including breakfast in London and Amsterdam. Breakfast does not usually seem to be included in Paris.

UK
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5. Re: Traveling to London, Paris, Amsterdam for the first time!

Our budget for the trip is about $6,000

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I"m going to guess thats not enough. Thats based on the fact that airfare plus transport between the cities could run you $1500 each. So thats half your budget gone before you start.

So now you have lets say 15 days and $3000 (keeping the maths simple). Thats $200 a day to cover - accommodation, food, sightseeing, daytrips. Well, accommodation could easily cost $200 a day (which is £125 in UK) in all those cities, perhaps more.

So, I'd say you'd need to have 50% more or even double that portion, which means your budget should be more like $8-9,000. Or, you will need to be extra careful, look for bargain hotels or B&Bs, cut down on trips, be very careful on eating out, ultra picky about choosing flights.

Illinois
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6. Re: Traveling to London, Paris, Amsterdam for the first time!

Far be it from me to suggest not going to London, but I've found my money goes a little farther in the Eurozone countries than in the UK as you get more € than £ for your $.

I think Joe's right, unless you can find really cheap airfares. Sometimes you can get cheaper flights on Aer Lingus if you have a stop in Dublin and sometimes with Iceland Air with a stop in Reykjavik. Only if you can leave from an airport they fly to though.

I've gotten down to about $1200 for flights in Sept, but the only time I've gotten under $1000 to Europe was in Dec/Jan.

7. Re: Traveling to London, Paris, Amsterdam for the first time!

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