Vacation to Europe was actually not in the minds of our family from the past. It all started with my cousin, who went to France for some time. We also began to have a desire to see him while he was still in France. In addition, while my parents are still able to walk, I think this is a good opportunity to take them on a trip to Europe. Many of us dream of inviting our parents to go abroad, especially in Western countries. But in fact, planning a vacation to Europe with parents there are many challenges. The point is, you have to be extra patient!
My mother was used to traveling with tour & travel. So everything has been taken care of by them, we don’t need to bother anymore. While my father and I both don’t like to use tour & travel, because of course the fee is more expensive, like being rushed too, like being taken to places we don’t like (silk factories, etc.) and a series of other reasons. But finally my mom gave up too, and let me take care of everything. Starting from making an itinerary, budgeting, hotel booking, airline ticket booking, train booking, even taking care of visas is done by myself. Dizzy? Definitely. But it is also a matter of pride for me, because I was able to bring my parents and family to Europe.
Planning a vacation with family is very different from planning a vacation with friends. There are so many things to consider when planning a vacation to Europe with parents. For example, “What will we ride next if we don’t take the tour? Where do we stay? What do we eat? What if we won’t match with the food?” Most of all this is the question asked by my mum to me.
“Is it possible if we take a local tour from Indo, but with a note that they pick up a cousin in his place?” I have asked to tour & travel here, and they all answered of course not. If you want to take a tour from here, you have to follow their tour itinerary, you can’t pickup my cousin there first.
“Or do we use local tour / guide services there?” There are so many tour / guide services, can be calculated per day or per several hours. I have asked the local guide through the website withlocals.com and showaround.com. Incidentally for the date we want, they are not available. Good, because it turns out the father did not want to spend money on the services of a guide like this. It’s only my mom’s request. FYI, if you want to rent the services of a local guide through withlocals.com, I think the guide is reliable. Because the guide will be verified first by the Withlocals team if they want to become a guide at withlocals.com. Now, if that showaround.com seems to be less reliable. Because there is no verification by the showaround.com team, so everyone who lists on the website can be a guide. Oh yes, besides those two websites, you can also check toursbylocals.com, viator.com, getyourguide.com.
Because the two options above were not suitable, I ended up being the “tour guide” while I was in Europe. I also make the details of travel schedules, budgeting, and other details. So it can be more economical, in Europe it is really expensive.
2. Transportation while in Europe
“Rent a car and driver in Europe? Or just rent a car in Europe? Or public transportation?” We need to know, rental cars and drivers in Europe are very, very rare. In Europe they are accustomed to using public transportation. Unlike in Indonesia, the car and driver rental business is mushrooming. My Dutch native friend got confused, when I asked this question. Why should you rent a car and driver, public transportation in Europe is comfortable and convenient. Well, maybe this is an Indonesian habit, who like driving, plus there is also a driver. Uh, but I found it too, car and driver services in Europe with Indonesian-speaking drivers at jelajaheropa.com. But we are not suitable with the price offer given.
The next option is to rent a car in Europe. If you rent a car in Europe, there are many choices. You can checked on the website sixt.com, autoeurope.com, hertz.com, europcar.com, etc. At that time I found the best price on sixt.com. The following car details: Ford Galaxy or SEAT ALHAMBRA or similar, including Unlimited Km, Loss Damage Waiver, Third Party Insurance, Registration Fee, Premium Location Fee, GPS Guaranteed, Additional Drivers, Diesel preferred, Roadside protection, Tire and glass coverage). That car has a capacity of 7 people. The price for 3 days in Switzerland is 550.91 CHF (or around Rp7,500,000). And according to the father, the price is still expensive, anyways I am also not authorized to drive a car in Europe. Even though I have been looking for info about International SIM, then how do I drive there, etc. Unfortunately the father was worried, afraid of anything if renting a car there.
The last option is to take public transportation. Yes, finally this was chosen by us. Even though the mother was initially worried that we would be exhausted, but because there was no other choice, so yea. I just look for hotels that are close to the train / bus station and are in the city center. So easy to go everywhere.
“Airbnb or Hotel?” that’s the questions I asked to my mom when planning about accommodation. Initially I suggested using Airbnb because most people use Airbnb there, anyway it’s usually cheaper to use Airbnb. But my mom didn’t understand at first. She wanted staying at a hotel. Eh, because she heard from friends and other siblings who said that in Europe, it would be better to rent an apartment, so I was told to look for an apartment in Europe.
Because I will be traveling to 3 cities in Europe (Paris, Amsterdam, Interlaken), so I was looking for apartments in 3 cities through Airbnb.com. It turned out that the Airbnb apartment in the city center was similar in price to hotels in the city center. There are even more expensive ones. But the apartment is comfy, there is a kitchen and can cook as well. After being searched, there’s no one who match with the criteria of my mom. There is no elevator, the bathroom is only 1, there are also only 1.5. The thing is we have a total of 7 people, so it’s definitely less if the bathroom is only 1 or 1.5. There are also many bathrooms, but share with others. Even the mum doesn’t want it, she wants the private bathroom. Well, if in Paris there is a private bathroom (1 room with shower, 3 rooms in total), the location is really right in the city center, the review is really good, even though the price is similar to the hotel, eh but right on the date we want it already full book.
Finally, the edges return to hotel choices. When I look for hotels in Europe, I use Booking.com more often. Because there are many filters available, ranging from location filters, hotel facilities, room facilities, reviews, prices, and even free cancellation. The filters provided by Booking.com make it very easy for me to do hotel searches. Finally, after a few months of hotels in the city (a bit overdone, but that’s the truth!), We finally found a suitable hotel. If in Paris we will stay at the Hotel de Suez. If in Amsterdam, we will stay at the Golden Tulip Amsterdam West. If in Interlaken, we will stay at the Crystal Hotel. All of the hotels have elevators, the location is close to the train / bus, the reviews are good, the price is pretty good (compared to other hotels), private bathroom, and clean.
We use the Booking.com website only to find the hotel. If you book directly from the hotel website, because the price is cheaper when booking directly. But if there are other hotels, I check there are also the same price as those on Booking.com.
Indonesian tongue is different from western tongue. Even though the mother was initially a bit worried afraid of not matching the food there, but I tried to calm her down by saying “Just calm down, I’ll look for the restaurant. The review is good, and the cheap.”
I searched for restaurant recommendations through Tripadvisor.com. On tripadvisor.com there are lots of filters, ranging from filters based on location, price, food menu restrictions (vegetarian, vegan), etc. In our family there are vegetarians, so I have to find a restaurant that provides food for vegetarians too. But of course there’s meat too, the reviews are good and the prices are affordable. Finally I found several restaurant choices for these 3 cities (Paris, Amsterdam, Interlaken). I also already thought that there was any menu in the restaurant (how to do it: see it directly on the restaurant website). So the price is found out, what are the menus, what kind of food photo. Then I give it to my family, is it suitable or not when eating here. I just wrote down all the lists first in Jeane’s “Europe’s Travel Guide”.
I checked once eating in a regular restaurant in Europe around 10-15 Euros (or around Rp.156,000 – Rp.234,000, the exchange rate of Euros Rp.15,600). To save the budget, you can even drink water in tap water, do not buy at the restaurant.
The restaurant that best fits the tongue of Indonesian people, in my opinion seems to be in Amsterdam. I found there are many Indonesian restaurants there. Just wait for the restaurant review when I get home from there huh 😉
5. Transportation to other cities/countries
In Europe, transportation between cities / countries can be reached by train, bus or plane. Logically, the price of the train is cheaper than the plane. Well, but if in Europe sometimes the price of the train is not much different from the price of the plane. With prices that are more or less similar, I ended up preferring to take the plane rather than ride the train. Let it also quickly reach its destination.
But for inter-city in France, I chose to take the TGV fast train. If only between countries that get on a plane. The reason is because I also want to feel how to ride a fast train in Europe there, which is operated by TGV 😀
Initially I thought that the one-way price of the plane was Rp. 500,000 / person. But it turns out because buying tickets is waiting for the visa first, so the ticket is getting more expensive 🙁 For train tickets, it should be able to get Rp300,000 / person. At that time because it was tight, so per person around Rp570,000. Then for the ticket some planes were up to Rp. 2,000,000 / person, I did not lose my mind, I searched for other flights that were closest or looked for the nearest city from there. From Amsterdam-Switzerland the price is IDR 600,000 / person.
At that time I found the route through goeuro.com. The good thing about using this website is that we can compare the prices of buses, trains and planes. Then there is the “closest flight” feature too. Oh yes, momondo.com is also okay to compare flight ticket prices. Even though I search through third-party websites like that, but I book directly on the train or airplane website. For the train in France, I booked it on voyages-sncf.com. For planes, I use budget airlines, EasyJet. This EasyJet is like Air Asia in Indonesia. If you want to use luggage, you have to add more costs, if you want to eat, you have to add more costs, anyway, everything must add more costs.
All of the above are my concerns when planning a vacation to Europe with parents. Because I consider this a gift that I can give to my family, so I try the best I can. I looked for as much information about Europe as possible, so that I made Jeane’s “Europe’s Travel Guide” myself. The itinerary must also be suitable for the family. The hotel is also comfortable, affordable, and in accordance with the criteria of my mom. The food is also suitable that fits on the tongue and fits in the budget 🙂