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Where to start...mother daughter trip

Central Virginia
Level Contributor
10 posts
15 reviews
Where to start...mother daughter trip

My daughter (16) and I will be traveling to Europe this summer. I went to Italy many moons ago but consider myself a first timer. She is an artist and passionate about going to Paris, Rome, and Florence. I will add Venice to the itinerary and would love to make a stop in Germany. We are definitely on a budget, but want to make the most of our trip and have about 2-2.5 weeks (July). I would love some assistance on where to begin, how to make the most of our time, and do so without spending a fortunate. I've read a couple of guidebooks and many forums but looking to the experts here. Thanks in advance.

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Paris, France
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18,268 posts
20 reviews
1. Re: Where to start...mother daughter trip

For starters I would suggest flying open-jaws, into one city and home from another. This way you will avoid backtracking to your arrival city. Keep in mind that your arrival day is not a full day due to jet lag and the lack of sleep on an overnight flight. Then you also lose most of a day every time you change locations. For a 2 week trip I'd choose 4 locations max.

You could do something like this: Rome 4-5 nights, to Venice 2-3 nights, Florence 3 nights and Paris 4-5 nights. You really don't have time to add Germany to this trip.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
1,129 posts
72 reviews
2. Re: Where to start...mother daughter trip

Last summer, we took our teen to Rome, Florence and Paris. First time to Italy, second to France. We started the planning with what interested us - and then allotted time in each location. We ended up flying from Canada to Rome, then took Veuling Air from Rome to Paris; Paris-Canada home. We had one week in Rome, one in Paris. Rented apts in both cities. All over a two week period. We took a day trip to Florence by train.

It was busy, but not rushed. I'd recommend you and your daughter pick some "must see" attractions in locations and start planning from there. Remember that each time you change cities it is the better part of a day in travel/packing/unpacking/locating your accommodation time.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
29,431 posts
95 reviews
3. Re: Where to start...mother daughter trip

four major stops is already pushing it. No time for a side trip to Germany and transport from place to place makes hit and run travel expensive.

I would fly into Paris and spend at least 5 nights. Then fly to Venice and stay 3 nights. Train to Florence for 4 nights and train to Rome for the final 5 or so. Fly home from Rome. It doesn't cost more to fly open jaw -- We flew into Paris and out of Madrid last spring. This spring, we are flying into Madrid and out of Paris. The flight is slightly cheaper than a round trip to Paris.

Two nights gives you one full day so this would give you 4 full days in Paris, 2 in Venice, 3 in florence and 4 in Rome. This barely scratches the surface. Any of these places easily could use a week on a first trip. But this does give you time to see the highlights of each place.

Book train travel when you know your dates as the cost of train trips is MUCH cheaper if booked several months in advance. I think Italian tickets go on sale 3 mos in advance, but perhaps someone knows for sure. The cheapest tickets sell out fast.

SAme with Easyjet or Vueling on the intra European leg. (you do have to conform to rather strict luggage requirements but they are not really less generous than the more expensive legacy airlines) The earlier booked the cheaper.

What fun! PLanning the trip with your daughter should make for a lot of fun over the next few months.

Edited: 09 February 2014, 16:07
United States
Level Contributor
11,046 posts
274 reviews
4. Re: Where to start...mother daughter trip

janestravel above hits the sensible itin and no time for Germany. The open jaw is the only way to go...do not even for a few bucks savings on the air ticket go back to Paris. You will end up losing time and money. Good luck...traveling with your daughter will be fun.

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
2,175 posts
69 reviews
5. Re: Where to start...mother daughter trip

You should definitely start with your must-see attractions than allow for your days to be determined from there. Personally, I think three days in Venice is two days (two days at the most) too many, I'd rather add a day in Paris, Rome or Florence. But, I think four destinations are doable - Germany may be out of reach for this trip.

Since your days are 5 days or shorter, just stick to hotels or B&Bs - you want to get in and out. And as suggested, open jaw tickets would be ideal - fly into Paris and depart out of Rome or vice versa.

Edited: 09 February 2014, 17:30
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
29,431 posts
95 reviews
6. Re: Where to start...mother daughter trip

We had 5 nights in Venice on our first ever trip to Europe together over 30 years ago. It was not quite enough time. But with only 2.5 weeks and these other must sees, 3 nights is the most I would give it. (we did not go to Rome till our 4th trip to Italy) Two days in Venice gives you one day for the standards: Academia, San Marco, Climbing the tower, maybe the Doges Palace. And one day to just wander as far as your feet will take you -- the best way to experience the magic of Venice is to just walk away from San Marco. You can't get lost because eventually you run out of islands and can ask anyone 'San Marco, per favore?' and they will point you back towards the center.

Los Angeles...
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
14,842 posts
121 reviews
7. Re: Where to start...mother daughter trip

Wow, that's really not much time for Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice and somewhere in Germany. If you have 17 days (we just went to Paris using 17 days...), that first day is all travel. And so is 80% of every other day when you change locations. You have 5 more location changes (including coming home) so a total of 11 days to see Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice and somewhere in Germany.

Your daughter is an art lover. You will need advice on the other forums (particularly Rome and Florence) for how to see the major museums in a short period of time. We are planning a trip to Rome (entirely organized around art and archaeology) and I know I do not want to wait for hours in line at the Vatican (recent trip reports on the Rome forum have me a little worried). We will use a private tour there.

In Paris, your daughter will want to see four museums at a minimum: Louvre, D'Orsay, L'Orangerie and Pompidou. She would probably enjoy Carnavalet immensely, as it relates art to history, to other parts of culture and has great examples of the Beaux Arts period. I don't think you have time (maybe you do) to do the tour of L'Ecole des Beaux Arts, but she'd enjoy it very much (it's in French, but she'd still enjoy it).

I'm not sure how you'll do those other cities, but I'd have 5 nights (4 days) in Paris at a minimum. Do not plan on doing much except rapid souvenir shopping on the day you fly to Florence (if that's how you decide to do it - that's how I'd do it). The Uffizi was/is the most time-consuming museum we've ever visited (in terms of various waiting in lines - and we had prepaid tickets). It is not to be missed, and neither are the Bargello and the Museum of the Duomo (which is amazing - it is not to be missed by anyone remotedly interested in art and art history). Still, it is possible to do the Uffizi and the Bargello in one day, and on another day, the Duomo museum and a few other sites in Florence. Two days in Florence isn't much (and you might be able to get away with staying just one night there, but I would find that pace grueling).

4 days in Rome will not allow you to see even a fraction of their art, so involve your daughter and choose wisely. Pay attention to museum open days when choosing your flights - you can't afford to make many mistakes in planning and still see everything. If your daughter is really interested in the arts, Paris is the best place to extend your stay, as it spans all periods of art and everything is curated/presented in the most spectacular manner. Florence is super-crowded (and everyone tells me I haven't seen crowds till I go to Rome, which is why I'm lagging on doing it).

The whole trip will be fun and fantastic (my daughter said her trip to Paris - she stayed 7 days/8 nights) changed her life. She loved the museums, but she loved that there was art everywhere (she ended up wishing we'd skipped Pere LaChaise in favor of another day at the Louvre or a visit to Petit Palais - we'll take her again in the next couple of years). She saw the Louvre, Tuileries, Luxembourg Gardens (but not the museum), Carnavalet, missed the Pompidou (and is sad about that but we look at art books together...she wishes she'd seen the Klee, the Picassos and the Kandinskys for herself and she has become a big fan of the Delaunays, so that was a mistake, skipping it).

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
29,431 posts
95 reviews
8. Re: Where to start...mother daughter trip

The key to a good trip when you have limited time is to limit the sites you visit. I think the most important thing to see in Florence is the Brancacci Chapel -- we didn't see the Bargello (which is fabulous) until our second trip. There is only so much you can do and for most people being force fed two museums a day doesn't instill a love or even serve a love of art. We love art and art museums and would never book two major museums in a single day.

Less is more. When you have less time, do less but do it at a leisurely pace and vary the day -- one church, one museum, a cafe on a busy square, a stroll through a park or neighborhood etc etc.

I would not do these 4 stops in one trip -- I'd just do Paris with perhaps a side trip in France and lots of day trips out of Paris -- or I would do Italy. But if they want to see these place -- they have enough time to spend a few days in each of their destinations and get a nice taste. 5 nights/4 days in Paris and Rome is a good intro -- only 3 days is a shame for Florence but by being selective can be a wonderful visit -- and two days is really short for Venice, but Venice is a place that makes a big impact with little time spent.

Le Bugue, France
Level Contributor
14,097 posts
4 reviews
9. Re: Where to start...mother daughter trip

Too much in too little time. Keep it to 4 places at a MINIMUM - 3 or 2 would be better. Your 16-year-old is plenty old enough to do some reading and help you narrow it down to things she'd like to do. The thing is, even if you spent the entire time in Paris, with a few day trips thrown in, you'd still have the vacation of a lifetime! Don't even THINK about Germany on this trip!

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
2,175 posts
69 reviews
10. Re: Where to start...mother daughter trip

The bottom line is do what you want to do which is why I suggest start out by researching your preferences and determine from there how many days you want to stay in each city.

Venice, for me, is a day trip but others can spend an infinite amount of time - I know people who have spent days in Bruge and I spent one night too many. Again, it's what is important to you. You never know how you'll feel about a place until you get there. Some people take 5-6 hours to see the Lourve, I'm good to go after after two.

I think your timeline is doable without Germany. I've done Paris, Nice, Venice, Florence and Rome in the same amount of time. And felt satisfied after the trip.

Edited: 10 February 2014, 04:08