15 Day Europe Trip With Family

The Question:

I need help with my trip!

I am planning a trip to Europe and i need some help, it is going to be for a total of 15 days and my family and I are going too the following places in Europe: Switzerland, Paris and Germany we plan on spending 5 days at each of the locations and we have a budget of 12,000 dollars for EVERYTHING not including the travel ( the flight there and back as I live in Florida ) I’m really excited and i really need help, my family loves to get outside, experience unique things, and were a little bit of history freaks anything would help and thanks in advance!

My Answer:

You are going to have an awesome time in Europe! Most people would have very little trouble having fun on that budget if you are ok not traveling extravagantly. If I knew how many of your family members are traveling on this trip I could better help break down the budget, but for now I will just give you some itinerary suggestions and ways to save some money. I’m not sure if you have anything set in stone yet, what time of year you are going, or where you want to go exactly, but I hope this gives you some ideas.

To start here is are some general thoughts:

  • If you haven’t booked any accommodation yet, consider renting apartments on airbnb.com or a similar website. It is usually cheaper than a hotel and you can get places that possibly have some separate bedrooms, or have a kitchen.
  • On that note, preparing your own meals in your rental apartment is a great way to spend money. I personally love shopping in the local produces markets, delis, and bakeries and then making my own food when I travel. It is a great insight into local culture. Not for every meal or anything, but you will save money with every meal you make on your own. You can even look up recipes online in the local cuisine and try to reproduce them.
  • My general rule of thumb is that I try to spend no more than 1/4-1/3 of my daily budget on accommodation. Since you have roughly $12,000 for 15 days (I am assuming US dollars), or an average daily budget of $800, you should try to average no more than $200-$266 per night for a place to stay. You should have no problem finding a hotel or apartment in a nice are for that amount unless you are traveling with a lot of family.
  • When planning an itinerary remember that the more cities you include, the more expensive the cost of the trip because of the price of transportation. It also can be a burden on your family to move too much, especially if there are any young children. If you choose three cities to spend five days each in, that would be a very leisurely pace.
  • Search online for articles listing great free things to do each place you go. You may be surprised! If you have a smartphone there are a ton of apps out there with audio tours you can download to explain what you are seeing.

And now I will give you a sample itinerary. I don’t know very much about your family, so this is just meant to be a rough idea to help you plan.

Day 1: Fly into Paris, and check into your accommodation. Relax, get familiar with the neighborhood, and readjust from any jet lag.

Day 2: To get a good overview of Paris, consider going on a walking tour in the morning. There are several reputable companies that offer free walking tours. It is expected you tip the guide at the end if you enjoyed your tour. Here is an example:http://www.newparistours.com/ .

After lunch hit up some of the icons of the city such as the L’Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame.

Day 3: After having breakfast, make a trip to see the palace of Versailles. This will probably take a good portion of the day.

In the afternoon, to give yourself a break from the constant sightseeing, visit a famous French market to snack, browse, and perhaps buy ingredients for dinner. Le Grande Epicerie de Paris or Bastille Market are two out of many of the options.

Day 4: For your last day in Paris pick a museum or two that are calling to you. The Louvre is an obvious choice, but there are also other museums that might lend to the history buff in you such as the Army Museum or the National Museum of Natural History.

Day 5: Time to say “au revoir!” to Paris and board a train to Geneva, Switzerland. There are several departures per day and you will get to Geneva in 3-4 hours. Check into your accommodation and enjoy the afternoon/evening by exploring on foot.

Day 6: Get some fresh air and enjoy the jaw dropping lake! You can access it from downtown and rent a bike to cover the most ground. The city and lakefront are very bike friendly. You can also take a tour of the lake by boat, or even just hang out in a coffee shop that has a view of it. The views of the surrounding Alps are sure to thrill you any way you go about it.

To get your dose of history consider another walking tour or visit some of the historical points of interest. The archaeological site at St Pierre’s Cathedral, the International Red Cross Museum, and the Science History Museum all fall into this category.

Day 7: Take a third day in Geneva to take it easy. This is the halfway point through your trip, so you may need some time to do laundry, post photos, check in with people from home, and just digest everything that has happened so far. You could add in some low key, but still rewarding activities such as visiting a park like the Botanical Gardens or Parc La Grange (both free). You could even do some shopping for chocolates or go see a movie. This will help you recharge and have plenty of energy for the second half of your holiday.

Day 8: Time to hit the rails and board a train to Lucerne. It is a smaller Swiss city, also by a gorgeous lake. The Old Town area is very charming and fun to explore. You will feel like you are in a fairy tale. The train ride will take less than three hours, still leaving you with a good portion of your day to check in and explore.

Day 9: One of the most popular sights in Lucerne is Mt. Pilatus. You can take a short bus ride from the main bus station to a cable car that will offer you breath taking views! It is a little pricey, but widely agreed on to be worth the price.

Get your history fix and get some more great photos by walking the Nine Towers Wall. You will get views of the whole city. The Swiss Transport Museum is also worth a couple of hours of your time.

Day 10: The next scenic train will whisk you into your final country, Germany- Frankfurt to be specific. You will most likely have to switch trains in Basel, and the trip will take around five hours. Arrive in Frankfurt, check-in, and walk around to get oriented.

Day 11: Frankfurt is a very scenic city and is so quintessentially German. You will love the classic architectural style that you will see in the older part of town. I definitely suggest doing a walking tour here to get the full perspective.

Most of the city’s museums are in a row on the Rhine River called Museumsufer. You could pick a few to enjoy, or if you wanted to save your museum viewing for Berlin you could simply do the walk. It is a great place to take in the sunset too, or be among trees.

I also have another suggestion if you wanted to do something different. A popular attraction popping up all over Europe, and actually the world, are Escape Rooms. They come in many shapes and sizes and Frankfurt has a bunch of them. The principle is that you are locked in a room (don’t worry, there is always a moderator who can let you out if you need to), and there are a series of puzzles you have to figure out to escape. Most places give you an hour, and you may need a variety of skills to gather the clues and keys. It’s really fun for families or a small group of friends.

Day 12: You may be glad or you may be sad about it, but today is your final long distance train ride. Berlin is the final stop, and it will take 4-5 hours for the ride.

Day 13: Berlin is famous for it’s collection of world class museums, conveniently located on something called Museum Island. If you felt ambitious you can get a pass that gives you access to all of the museums, or just pick a couple that sound good to you. Either way a visit to Museum Island is a must. You can easily spend the entire day at just one or two of them.

Day 14: Being the history buff that you are, you should love Berlin. You should try to make it to the Berlin Wall memorial, a very moving sight indeed. In that same vein is the Holocaust Memorial, the Palace of Tears, and the Topography of Terror. Prepare to feel sad, but enlightened.

To balance the heavy mood, visit some more uplifting places too, like the Olympic Stadium, or one of the many great gardens of the city.

It’s your last night so be sure to have a memorable dinner!

Day 15: Savor your last moments in Germany and board your plane to go home!

On this itinerary, you will be spending about $500 per person for all of the train tickets. If you wanted, you could skip Lucerne and take a budget flight from Geneva to Frankfurt. This should save at least $100 per person, depending on the airfare deal that you get.

I hope this offers some focus and inspiration to your travel plans. If you want anymore details or have any questions, feel free to write a comment below. Alternatively, just post another question to the website.

Happy travels!

Original Question Post:



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