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Old 04-02-2014, 03:12 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
7,678 posts, read 16,092,150 times
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Though you will pay a fair amount of money for dropping off the car in a foreign country, and some rental companies do place restrictions on Italian driving. From Hertz's web site:

Quote:
All Mercedes and BMW models, Convertibles and SUVs, as well as all Hertz Prestige Collection and Fun Collection vehicles cannot be driven into or dropped off in Italy.
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Old 04-02-2014, 03:38 PM
 
3,565 posts, read 1,873,300 times
Reputation: 2263
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish Taco64 View Post
Ok, so my girlfriend and I would like to travel to Europe. I have been twice, but she has never gone. This trip will most likely happen in 2016 due to the time needed to save up these kinds of finances, but considering the complexity, never too early to start coming up with a gameplan right?

So I suppose first off I should talk about our general itinerary.

Fly from Chicago to Paris. 3-4 Nights in Paris.

Fly from Paris to Munich. 9-11 Days exploring Bavaria and Tyrol.

Train from Garmish or Munich to Venice. 2 nights in Venice

Train from Venice to Rome. 4 nights in Rome

Fly from Rome to Chicago.


So here are a few questions, with possibly more coming later.

1. Which month would be best for this trip? I was leaning toward either June or late August/early September. We want nice weather while we are there.

2. Best way to get to Venice? I have been once and driving is virtually out of the question, but the train rides seem to be rather long considering the relatively short distance.

3. About how far out can I expect to get the cheapest possible airfare?

4. Three or four nights in Paris? I have never been and so have no idea how long it will take us to see the sights. I'm leaning towards four to account for jetlag after the flight from Chicago.

5. And finally, any tips for cutting costs would be great. Both of my trips were almost ten years ago and I'm sure many things have changed, and last time my grandparents paid for airfare and lodging!


Thanks so much to all of you!
If you are looking at 3 full weeks travel (max days added from your itinerary) then I think you may be overextending yourself somewhat. 4 nights in Paris (getting over jetlag) and 6 nights for two Italian cities strikes me as over-ambitious. I would consider focusing on Bavaria/Austria/Switzerland, which seems to be the heart of your trip.

1. I would suggest May or September, the shoulder months.
2. Flying is the best way to get to Venice from Central Europe.
3. It varies. There are no sure bets. Book as early as you need to, when you find prices that fit within your budget.
4. You can't see all of the sights in Paris in four days. I think the best way to see it is to pick one or two things you must see and spend half days on those. Spend the rest of the time wandering the different neighborhoods and seeing less crowded "minor" attractions. Jetlag can be tough at the start of an overseas trip, for sure. If you insist on keeping Paris, I would definitely advise 4 nights minimum.
5. Depending on how low you need costs to go, you can stay in airbnb apartments with kitchen facilities in order to cook your own meals (although that would take a substantial amount of your limited time--although you would have the benefit of shopping locally and getting to know that side of local life). When you go out to eat, house wine will usually be inexpensive. In Germany, there may be bread or pretzels on the table, for which you will be charged if you eat them. Avoid taxis and avoid eating in touristy areas to lower expenses. Really, the big expenses will be flights and lodging. Getting those right will save a lot. If you can avoid intra-European flights by confining yourself to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, you will save significant airfare from the Paris->Munich and ?->Venice flights.
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Old 04-03-2014, 04:46 AM
 
1,789 posts, read 1,448,264 times
Reputation: 3680
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish Taco64 View Post
Fly from Chicago to Paris. 3-4 Nights in Paris.

Fly from Paris to Munich. 9-11 Days exploring Bavaria and Tyrol.

Train from Garmish or Munich to Venice. 2 nights in Venice

Train from Venice to Rome. 4 nights in Rome

Fly from Rome to Chicago.
Short time to see everything there is to see in Paris...

I wouldn't go so far out of the way for Venice. First its overated. Second, it can get pretty miserable in july/august there.

Short time to see everything there is to see in Rome....

I would narrow down the list some. Pick Rome and spend a week there + the time in Bavaria and maybe a small stopover between the 2 in the Italian or Austrian alps like Innsbruck or somewhere in Italy like Bologna or Florence.

Or pick Paris and do the same with a stopover in Zurich or somewhere.


The schedule you have seems more like a marathon instead of a vacation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish Taco64 View Post
So here are a few questions, with possibly more coming later.

1. Which month would be best for this trip? I was leaning toward either June or late August/early September. We want nice weather while we are there.

2. Best way to get to Venice? I have been once and driving is virtually out of the question, but the train rides seem to be rather long considering the relatively short distance.

3. About how far out can I expect to get the cheapest possible airfare?

4. Three or four nights in Paris? I have never been and so have no idea how long it will take us to see the sights. I'm leaning towards four to account for jetlag after the flight from Chicago.

5. And finally, any tips for cutting costs would be great. Both of my trips were almost ten years ago and I'm sure many things have changed, and last time my grandparents paid for airfare and lodging!

1. I would not go in June/July/August.

2. Fly. Lots of cheap small air carriers operate in Europe, you need to check for those.

3. 60-45 days

4. 3 or 4 nights is not enough to see everything in Paris.

5. Get out of the high tourist areas. Impossible to avoid completely and still see the famous sites but you can carve time out to get away from it. Tons of smaller towns in the Alps that are great to visit. Lots of great smaller towns in Southern Germany, Northern Italy and Eastern France also. You can opt to for cheaper places to stay for part of your time and spend part of it in something more luxurious. Same with meals, you can find lots of wonderful but wallet friendly family owned restaurants off the beaten path.

For the flight, if your not locked in on a particular airline or alliance I would look at any major carriers that service chicago and each of your major destinations, you might find a cheaper flight that way and you may decide to do a layover for a few days in that city. For example.. I see that Turkish airlines (pretty decent airline) serves Chicago and every major EU city. You could do a multi city search ORD to IST, IST to FCO, MUC to IST, IST to ORD with a 2 night layover in Istanbul. You can often find something like that cheaper than, and more interesting, than the vanilla United flight.

Use openflight.org to see airline routes to various cities

Use ita matrix to find pricing between particular cities and/or airlines. Takes some tinkering to understand how to use but it smokes kayak or any other flight search I have used. You can see the rules on tickets and can combine them to build cheaper itineraries than is possible just using kayak.

Last edited by justanokie; 04-03-2014 at 05:00 AM..
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Old 04-03-2014, 05:43 PM
 
Location: NW Indiana
1,318 posts, read 1,182,273 times
Reputation: 2079
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish Taco64 View Post
This is actually on our list of things to do, I have seen it, but she would like to see it as well. Other things locked in for that part of the trip are Eagles Nest and Bertchesgaden, Neuschwanstein, and Salzburg. We would probably rent a guest house in the far southern tip of Germany, Mittenwald looks appealing.


We are the kind of people that prefer outdoor activities, not much into the big-city party scene. Hiking, ski-lifts and cable cars, will definitely be doing a tobogon ride or two while we are there. We want to spend that much time in Germany/Austria because we love the idea of exploring the countryside and all of those tiny little towns in the Alps.


Know it's kind of early, but planning this kind of thing puts some fun into the week after we get home from work! We've been planning a Yellowstone trip for the last 18 months and we leave in 69 days(not that anyone is counting lol). We had to stop planning that one because we kept wanting to add more and more things to the trip! Thanks so much for all the helpful tips already!
Visiting Eagles Nest, Bertchesgarden, Neuschwanstein and Salzburg are great all great choices. Eagles Nest on a clear day has outstanding scenic views. Salzburg is a real gem of a city, especially with the castle (Hohensalzburg). (bye the way, did you know that the song "Silent Night" was created in Salzburg).
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Old 04-05-2014, 11:12 AM
 
Location: Idaho
533 posts, read 471,116 times
Reputation: 1029
Wow, a lot of great stuff on here. I get why some people are suggesting we cut a place or two but here is our thought....with the cost of airfare and the difficulty in getting prolonged time off of work, we aren't sure how many chances we will get. We would prefer to use any future European trips to visit other places we would like to see, like Iceland, Norway, Croatia, and Britain.
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Old 04-05-2014, 03:42 PM
 
Location: NW Indiana
40,200 posts, read 15,174,148 times
Reputation: 102173
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish Taco64 View Post
Wow, a lot of great stuff on here. I get why some people are suggesting we cut a place or two but here is our thought....with the cost of airfare and the difficulty in getting prolonged time off of work, we aren't sure how many chances we will get. We would prefer to use any future European trips to visit other places we would like to see, like Iceland, Norway, Croatia, and Britain.
May I come with you? Those places are all on my bucket list!

I agree with others who said not to visit Europe in mid to late summer. It can get pretty steamy! My vote is for September.

.
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Old 04-05-2014, 05:49 PM
 
1,603 posts, read 1,459,209 times
Reputation: 2024
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish Taco64 View Post
Ok, so my girlfriend and I would like to travel to Europe. I have been twice, but she has never gone. This trip will most likely happen in 2016 due to the time needed to save up these kinds of finances, but considering the complexity, never too early to start coming up with a gameplan right?

So I suppose first off I should talk about our general itinerary.

Fly from Chicago to Paris. 3-4 Nights in Paris.

Fly from Paris to Munich. 9-11 Days exploring Bavaria and Tyrol.

Train from Garmish or Munich to Venice. 2 nights in Venice

Train from Venice to Rome. 4 nights in Rome

Fly from Rome to Chicago.


So here are a few questions, with possibly more coming later.

1. Which month would be best for this trip? I was leaning toward either June or late August/early September. We want nice weather while we are there.

2. Best way to get to Venice? I have been once and driving is virtually out of the question, but the train rides seem to be rather long considering the relatively short distance.

3. About how far out can I expect to get the cheapest possible airfare?

4. Three or four nights in Paris? I have never been and so have no idea how long it will take us to see the sights. I'm leaning towards four to account for jetlag after the flight from Chicago.

5. And finally, any tips for cutting costs would be great. Both of my trips were almost ten years ago and I'm sure many things have changed, and last time my grandparents paid for airfare and lodging!


Thanks so much to all of you!
1) I'd say April-May are excellent: not too warm and rather fresh. Paris and Rome in August are like hell, once in Paris (august 2003) I saw 43C!
2) For intercontinental flight I don't really know, try to use those websites which search for the best offer and maybe try to come in low season.
Another thing, if you to check cheap hotels use Trivago or Eupedia or some other websites (maybe use also Tripadvisor for check reviews).
3) I have been to Paris roughly 15 times and I still have things to see, so I'd advise you to exploit one more day, especially taking into account the tiredness following your flight.
4) Some advice I can give about cutting costs are:
a) Avoid if you can touristic areas and luxurious restaurants.
b) Tipping is NEITHER compulsory NOR common. Do it only when you are very well served.
c) In Rome ALWAYS give a deep (VERY deep) glance at your check because there have been several cases of tourists who were tricked by restaurants' owners.
d) In Italy, if you want to eat well and cheap look for "Trattoria" which means a local and common restaurant. They are cheap and excellent in food.
e) Avoid non official tourist guides or people offering to bring you for a tour.
Other suggestions:
a) Take a dictionary, especially for Italy because English isn't so common as in Germany or Northern Europe. Don't get scared: you'll always find people glad to help.
b) Especially in Rome, prepare yourself to walk because public transports suck (and I'm kind).
c) You had better fly to Venice, there's an airport just outside the island (Marco Polo Airport).
Otherwise you can rent a car in Germany/Austria/Italy (you must check beforehand which are the laws I'm sorry) and travel: highways are great in in all countries.
d)Be careful at Venice and Rome: people are going to try to sell you at higher prices when they'll realise you are a tourist and you don't speak Italian (assuming you can't).
e) If you want to explore Tyrol and South Tyrol (where I live) I warmly recommend you to travel to Dolomiti mountains: they are stunningly beautiful.
f) I don't know if it works also in the US: in Europe hotels are ranked in accordance with a stars' number, from 1 to 5, the higher, the better.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyTarge13 View Post
Wow! Sounds like a great trip.

I would suggest going in September rather than August. Your prices may be a bit cheaper and a lot of the kids will be back in school. If you are interested, Octoberfest in Munich is in late September. I have been to Munich twice for this and it is a lot of fun. However, it is also more expensive and a very crowded.

If a massive beer party is not really your thing, early September should work fine.

You will probably get a lot of comments about where to go and how long to stay. However, your general plan is very workable. I love to travel in Germany and think the 9 - 11 days there will be great. Rent a car and just go on drives.

A couple of things I highly recommend seeing while in the Munich area is the BMW plant tour and the Dachau tour. Note, the Dachau tour can be very emotional and depressing.

You might consider taking a train from Paris to Munich, depending on price. An overnight trip with a sleeper car would be a fun adventure and the train essentially becomes your hotel room and transportation for the night. This would probably save money and save the daylight hours for sightseeing.

A quick note about trains in Italy. I took a train trip from Milan to Rome in 2001. I had a real issue with the smoking on the train. Many of the passengers smoked non-stop for most of the trip.

I think you will love Rome. Look into the Scavi tour under St. Peters. It is a fantastic experience.
Don't worry: since 2005 in Italy it's forbidden to smoke in public places.
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Idaho
533 posts, read 471,116 times
Reputation: 1029
Loving all of the great info I'm getting! I have another question. For a trip like this, would you recommend traveling with only carry-on sized luggage? Rick Steves recommends it and I can certainly see the advantages, especially on a trip like this one where we will be changing locations a few times. If we were staying in one place I would probably just go ahead and check a big suitcase.

I wouldn't have a problem travelling with one mid-sized backpack, although my girlfriend certainly is not warm to the idea. If you recommend this method....please recommend things I could say to make that appeal to her! I think she is mainly overestimating the time it would take us to do some quick laundry, or how few sets of clothing we will actually need. Thanks again for all the great help!
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:51 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,066 posts, read 18,990,908 times
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No worries. You carry a backpack, let her bring a carry on of her choice.

I DO NOT recommend checking luggage unless it's entirely unavoidable (read: Almost never unless you are relocating permanently or have significant physical difficulties that make it impossible to put your own luggage in the overhead).

But even when I was in my twenties, and before wheels on carry ons, I never would use a backpack. They just weren't comfortable on my female body, nor did they make me feel especially 'attractive.'
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Old 04-06-2014, 05:07 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
7,678 posts, read 16,092,150 times
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I actually prefer checking a wheelie bag a) so there's a longer gap between doing laundry becoming mandatory b) so I'm not dealing with TSA security theater about allowed items in carry ons- I don't want to say 'I can't bring it back; if I find the perfect bottle of wine or olive oil or amazing jam in more than a 2 ounce container and c) I tend to connect through giant airports, and schlepping a large carry-on from B terminal to F terminal at ATL can actually be a lot more annoying than an extra give minutes waiting for it to show up on a baggage carousel after the flight.
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