First Time Family Trip to Europe

May 14, 2013
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. I am planning our family vacation in Europe in the first two weeks of August. We'd like to see Rome, Venice, Florence, Switzerland/Lucern, Paris and London. We have never been to Europe. What type of trip (escorted tour, guided tour or independent tour) do you suggest? Do you have suggestions on which web site or tour companies?

    A. I would say first that two weeks isn't enough time to enjoy all those cities, and I doubt that you'd find a guided two-week tour that covered them all. You'd probably need at least three days -- including travel time -- in each city, and I'd probably save Switzerland for another visit. You could conceivably do the Italian cities you mentioned plus Paris and London in 15 days. If you're not an experienced traveler to these countries, you might want to consider consulting a travel agent. Ask friends, neighbors and coworkers for suggestions. You could also join a guided tour for part of your trip and see the other cities on your own. For example, Go Ahead Tours is offering an 11-day tour of Paris, London and Rome and then at the end you could visit Venice and/or Florence independently. Tours can be pricey, however. That Go Ahead tour costs $3,700 with airfare from New York CIty, based on double occupancy. A great site to get ideas of where to stay and what to do is the aptly named TripAdvisor. And you might save money by renting short-term apartments in each city using sites like FlipKey or AirBnB, especially if there are four or more in your group. Just be careful when booking on those sites because there are scam artists exploiting visitors.

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