Family Travel Question:
Q | Can you give me some tips on planning a month long trip to Europe?
We are planning on taking a month to travel next June with our kids (ages 7 and 5). We would like to do London, Paris, Rome, and places in between! I am overwhelmed on where to begin with planning this and was wondering if you had some tips to get started. Should we see a travel agent or plan it alone? -Kerry, Arizona
A | How to plan a European vacation for your family
My first reaction: do you know what you need for a great European vacation? Are you a Four-Seasons-Hotels-only gal or will you be happy camping your way through Europe with your kids? I’d start there. Other things to consider: can you and your kids tolerate being in a different bed every night or do you need to plan to spend three to five days in one spot before moving to the next place?
Make a list of all the things you’d like to see and do and where they are. For example: visit the Louvre in Paris, check out the Coliseum in Rome, etc.
Once you know what standard of accommodation will suit you and how many cities you can reasonably visit, you can do some research into ballpark pricing for accommodation – on Expedia, hotel chain websites or hotels.com. This will help you put together a strawman budget. Add a 15 to 20 percent fudge factor to cover currency and cost inflation during the next nine months.
Your next step is to put together an initial itinerary for your trip. Pick possible departure and return dates and list all the days in between – the exact dates don’t matter as much as the total trip duration. Try to fit your sightseeing goals to the list of days. Then add in the estimates for accommodation costs for each city. Voila! You have an initial itinerary for your trip.
If, at this point, you’re already getting stressed out by all the choices and decisions, now might be a good time to thing about a travel agent. If, on the other hand, all this researching gets your adrenaline pumping, you’re a great candidate to be an independent traveler. Get ready for lots more research into each of the locations you plan to visit as you refine and improve your itinerary.