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Old 01-04-2015, 01:45 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
7,681 posts, read 16,103,744 times
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If you're staying at a lodging that is at least partially in a residential area, the €10-€15 light breakfast (bread product, bread spread, cheese, fruit) that the hotel sells can typically be assembled on your own for about €4 in shops near the hotel. Plus, getting to see how the world grocery shops, which can be a lot of fun. A coffee pot/tea kettle is commonly found in hotel rooms there.

European star systems tend to rate more on the amenities present, and less on how well the hotel actually does anything. While Tripadvisor and the like do get their share of fake reviews, the reviewing herd can generally clue you in on the three big question of cleanliness, quiet (or lack thereof) and the age of the hotel or the most recent room refreshing. The newer 3 star that gets good marks for being well-kept is often a better bet than the four star with housekeeping issues that is still partying like it's 1999.

There is nothing 'inauthentic' about staying in a chain hotel if the location and amenities fit your needs. Countless German, Italian, and French businesspeople and English and Norwegian families on holiday park themselves at an Ibis, Best Western, or Holiday Inn Express every night across the continent.
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Old 01-04-2015, 02:12 PM
 
Location: Middle of the Pacific Ocean
11,700 posts, read 6,290,166 times
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If you decide to do both countries, you may save more money booking a roundtrip from LAX to Rome or Paris and then booking a separate roundtrip from one of those two cities for when you're on the ground in Europe. Just doing a simple search on Expedia for mid October (roundtrip from Rome to Paris 10/14-10/18) I'm finding fares via easyjet, a budget airline, for under $150 roundtrip! Something to keep in mind.
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Old 01-04-2015, 03:22 PM
 
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Keep in mind that luggage is extra on budget airlines like EasyJet. It starts at about $50 per bag and the price increases depending how much it weighs (on EasyJet it's in 3kg increments).
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Old 01-04-2015, 03:24 PM
 
Location: Middle of the Pacific Ocean
11,700 posts, read 6,290,166 times
Reputation: 11533
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeCollege View Post
Keep in mind that luggage is extra on budget airlines like EasyJet. It starts at about $50 per bag and the price increases depending how much it weighs (on EasyJet it's in 3kg increments).
Great point. Is this only for checked luggage? Or does it apply to carry on also? I ask because I'm taking Norwegian to Oslo and London later this month and they aren't charging for carryon that's under 22 pounds, which is what I'm taking with me.
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Old 01-04-2015, 03:24 PM
 
1,186 posts, read 1,077,394 times
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Breakfast in European hotels is much more common than it is in the US. I've had ones that ranged from standard coffee/pastry/fruit/cold cereal to bigger spreads of meat, cheese and eggs (and sometimes those were in pretty budget hotels). I'm not sure what you mean by a "package" including breakfast.
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Old 01-04-2015, 03:27 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
7,681 posts, read 16,103,744 times
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Or just buy the ticket one way for even cheaper in most cases to fill in the 'jaw' of an open jaw ticket.

The European low cost carriers can have very cheap base fares, but then make their profits from upcharges and restrictions on everything else. Read their baggage rules carefully- 'one carry on' is often one carry on and not carry on plus purse/camera bag as is common with the legacy airlines. When I was pricing out a Edinburgh-London one way last year, the easy jet option was 5 cheaper than the BA fare but had the 'one means one' carry on rule and their bag check fee was something like 30 instead of 15 for BA.
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Old 01-04-2015, 04:11 PM
 
Location: Austin
29,546 posts, read 16,487,525 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latino_esq View Post
We have never been to Europe before so I was wondering if anyone has any advice on booking the trip i.e. Vacation packages (if they are worth it) /vs/ booking my own flight and hotel.
I always book my own trips (over 100 all over the world). I prefer the freedom and flexibility of putting together a trip that meets my needs. Vacation packages might be cheaper, but you have to conform to the package.
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Old 01-04-2015, 04:16 PM
 
Location: Austin
29,546 posts, read 16,487,525 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyTarge13 View Post
Like Annerk, I would also strongly recommend against a rental car, especially in Rome. Also, a small warning, 7he Italian trains are not the most timely or the cleanest. .
We don't agree on the rental car thing. I always rent a car because I like to get out of the big cities and see the countryside and smaller towns. I've rented in Rome, Paris, London, Prague, Mexido, Argentina, South Africa, Spain and many many other places and have had very few problems.

If you stay in the big cities, you don't need a car. But it not, a car is freedom.
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:08 AM
 
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Does your 10 days mentioned include travel time? If not, then you have even less time, especially coming from the west coast.

I think you should stick to Italy. We did an Italy and Paris trip last March with our 10 and 12 year old for 13 days and that wasn't enough time and felt rushed. We flew into Rome for 4 days, then took a train for 3 days in Tuscany, 2 nights in Cinque Terre. We then took a train back to Pisa, saw the tower and then boarded Easy Jet from Pisa to Paris. It was a lot cheaper and less time than the train. We didn't have any problems with the luggage because we read about it ahead of time and knew what to expect. We then spent 3 days in Paris and came back to North Carolina.

We planned our own trip and didn't do packaged tours, except for an Underground Tour at the Collesum, which we loved. We had an amazing time. Definitely learn some Italian. We used the Rick Steves book as well as the trip advisor forums to plan the trip. I also used the tour companies itineraries as starting point and then customize them for our interests. I have done that several times with good success.


Instead of just doing the big three cities (Rome, Florence, Venice), consider spending time in a smaller town as well to really get the feel for Italy. We stayed in Lucca and honestly that was our favorite place and we are planning to go back at some point and just stay in Lucca doing day trips. Another town we almost stayed in was Siena. Our plan was to do a day trip to Florence from Lucca, but honestly after Rome we were kinda museumed and churched out and needed a few days to just ride bikes and eat gelato. Yes, we missed some important sites, but it really is more important to have the trip that you want to have than check off the lists.

Also since Italy is big, consider flying into one city and out another.

We are always car rental type people and hate to be confined without one. But honestly didn't need one at all in Italy. Never missed it. Only really need it if you are in the country. We rented bikes in Lucca and rode them all around. So much fun.
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Old 01-07-2015, 04:42 PM
 
3,565 posts, read 1,875,228 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latino_esq View Post
I am planning a week trip (10 or 11 day) to Italy and/or France for two people sometime before October 2015. Flight would be from LAX.

We have never been to Europe before so I was wondering if anyone has any advice on booking the trip i.e. Vacation packages (if they are worth it) /vs/ booking my own flight and hotel. I am a pretty savvy guy when planning getaways, when I have to be, so my biggest question surrounds whether I would typically be saving money by choosing one method over the other.

Any recommendations on vacation packages that are reasonably priced and worth it? I understand that most of these vacation packages include breakfast, which is nice not so much if it is some run of the mill hotel breakfast.

Any recommendations would be really appreciated.
When you are talking about packages, I think you are just referring to airfare and hotel. It should be very easy to compare a package to a separate purchase.

More importantly, I would make sure that the hotel is a place you want to stay before deciding package or not. Use Tripadvisor and/or airbnb to figure out where you want to stay.

I agree with the poster who suggested that you figure out a rough itinerary before deciding on flights and hotels. Where is it you want to go? Your time is very limited, and both Italy and France are large countries, so you are only going to have time to go to a couple of places. Which are most important to you, and is travel between them feasible in your timeframe? You will not see Paris, Rome, Florence, and Venice in 10 or 11 days. I would advise taking your time in one or two cities max.

For breakfast, I would suggest you make like a local: coffee and a bread/pastry. It is not expensive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by latino_esq View Post
That's pretty much what I was suspecting as the air rates are what they are, but it seems like the vacation deals offer the bundle of air+lodging at just a few hundred dollars more. There really is not budget that I'm working with, per se, as a trip for two will probably cost over $2,500 easily. Just looking for the best bargain. As part of that, I know these vacation packages offer free breakfast daily and a free dinner once or twice so I'm also wondering about the authenticity of these meals.


Good advice, I will be looking into that.
I certainly would not rely on a vacation package dinner. To me at least, finding food is part of the joy of travel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jenniferg72nc View Post
Does your 10 days mentioned include travel time? If not, then you have even less time, especially coming from the west coast.

I think you should stick to Italy. We did an Italy and Paris trip last March with our 10 and 12 year old for 13 days and that wasn't enough time and felt rushed. We flew into Rome for 4 days, then took a train for 3 days in Tuscany, 2 nights in Cinque Terre. We then took a train back to Pisa, saw the tower and then boarded Easy Jet from Pisa to Paris. It was a lot cheaper and less time than the train. We didn't have any problems with the luggage because we read about it ahead of time and knew what to expect. We then spent 3 days in Paris and came back to North Carolina.

We planned our own trip and didn't do packaged tours, except for an Underground Tour at the Collesum, which we loved. We had an amazing time. Definitely learn some Italian. We used the Rick Steves book as well as the trip advisor forums to plan the trip. I also used the tour companies itineraries as starting point and then customize them for our interests. I have done that several times with good success.


Instead of just doing the big three cities (Rome, Florence, Venice), consider spending time in a smaller town as well to really get the feel for Italy. We stayed in Lucca and honestly that was our favorite place and we are planning to go back at some point and just stay in Lucca doing day trips. Another town we almost stayed in was Siena. Our plan was to do a day trip to Florence from Lucca, but honestly after Rome we were kinda museumed and churched out and needed a few days to just ride bikes and eat gelato. Yes, we missed some important sites, but it really is more important to have the trip that you want to have than check off the lists.

Also since Italy is big, consider flying into one city and out another.

We are always car rental type people and hate to be confined without one. But honestly didn't need one at all in Italy. Never missed it. Only really need it if you are in the country. We rented bikes in Lucca and rode them all around. So much fun.
I agree with the need to limit an itinerary for this amount of time. The OP needs to decide what kind of interest s/he is looking for. Are you interested in historic sights, beaches, food and drink, museums, art galleries, the outdoors, etc.?

Both Italy and France are big. The OP could split time between Paris and Rome and have an awesome time if interested in history, food, and cities. If the OP wants countryside, s/he could fly into Paris and rent a car for a driving tour of the Loire Valley and its castles and vineyards.

In my view, neither Florence nor Venice are big cities--they are, however, big tourist destinations. I definitely think there are great reasons to go someplace "off the beaten path," but that can be done in Paris by staying in a less touristed Arrondisement.

In short, I think the OP will get more meaningful feedback if s/he can provide more detail about what exactly they're looking for in a vacation.
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