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I haven't been to Europe in 11 years. My wife and I (and our 8 year old son) will be taking a trip to Italy this late November. We will be traveling from Venice to Florence to Rome. We will be flying in Venice and out of Rome.

However, our Rome departure leaves at 9:40AM and the first train to the airport is at 5:52 I believe. My agent told us to check in at least 3 hours before our flight which puts us at 6:40 AM. I believe the train takes 32 minutes.

So I'm freaking out a little. I'm thinking I will stay up all night, take cold showers, etc and yank my wife and son out of bed at 5:00 AM and head to the train station.

What can I do to ease my worrying pain?

Does that plan sound OK? A later flight will cost over $700 more.

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  • 11
    Relax. You are there for vacation and not exam. :) Mar 23, 2012 at 10:26
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    What I have found helps me tremendously when I am in similar situations: changing my outlook from, "I must make my return flight," (emotionally invested in things that are partially or completely outside my control) to, "I wonder if I will make my return flight," (curiosity about things that are partially or completely out of my control) turns a potential disaster into just part of the adventure.
    – user82
    Mar 25, 2012 at 15:05
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    For less than $700 you can pay for a taxi to the airport, and bribe a hotel employee to make absolutely certain you meet that taxi in the morning. It really doesn't make sense to spend that money - airlines wouldn't offer the flight if folks could never make it to the airport on time! Aug 31, 2012 at 16:46
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    Official prices for Taxi from City to FCO IS Euro 48, & to other one is Euro 30. Night time may have some extra charges. Taxis are there 24 hours. Then, some buses from Roma Termini departs for Airport every hour or so. Dont worry.
    – DavChana
    Apr 11, 2016 at 10:51
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    @DavidRicherby The airport Paris-Beauvais does this, as the bus schedules are directly mapped on the planes'. Workers need to go to the airport too, and most of them go by public transport as they live in the city.
    – Shautieh
    Feb 19, 2017 at 14:37

6 Answers 6

32

"3 Hours" is a very common recommendation for international flights at many airports around the world - and it's almost always far more time that you need. Airlines like to get passengers to the airport early, not only because it gives more buffer if there are any problems, but also as it spreads out the "rush" period before the flight - you can imagine what the check-in counter would be like if the entire plane turned up exactly 90 minutes before the flight!

As long as you are at the airport 2 hours before you will have plenty of time (even 60 minutes is enough at some airports!). Given you're traveling with a young child and in an area you're not familiar with I wouldn't recommend cutting it any more fine than that. That's not to say that planning to catch the 5:52am train isn't a good idea - obviously the earlier you get there the less chance of something going wrong.

As far as easing your worries, the best recommendation I can make is to make sure that you've got multiple alarms set for the early start. An alarm on your phone, one on the in-room clock, and a wake-up call from the front desk wouldn't be overkill in a situation like this, and means that if one does fail for some reason (phone hangs, power outage in the room, etc) you'll still have something to wake you up!

Check with the front-desk in advance for any hints on getting to the train station - perhaps the entrance nearest the hotel isn't open until 7am, or before 6am you can't buy tickets from the ticket booth, etc.

But most of all, don't panic! If you plan on the 5:52am train as you are, then you've got some buffer in case of problems. Short of something major happening, you'll make it easily! And you can always sleep on the plane :)

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  • Be aware that if you fly to the US 2 hours is a minimum. In Europe I generally take 1 hour
    – Ton Plomp
    Mar 28, 2012 at 13:21
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    If you ask the front desk very nicely, they might even come and hammer loudly on your door rather than call you on the phone. Ask them to make sure you wake up :) Aug 31, 2012 at 16:42
  • @TonPlomp Indeed, in Europe one hour is often enough except for some low budget airlines sometimes. I would recommend at least 2 hours in China too, their security lines take so much time.
    – Shautieh
    Feb 18, 2017 at 5:45
  • The 60-minute advice is a bit dangerous. Many international flights close check-in 60 minutes before departure. Feb 18, 2017 at 9:32
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Depending on where you are staying, the cost of a train trip for 3 may be comparable to a taxi ride. Going with the latter will be far less stressful and you can leave as early as you want, as long as you organize a dispatch with your hotel concierge.

Good luck, and with a 3 hour buffer, I wouldn't stress too much even if you have to ride the train.

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  • Definitely "use a taxi" is the answer here!
    – Fattie
    May 9, 2015 at 6:01
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Travel agents usually recommend some ridiculous 3h, but in reality much less is needed. 1.5h in most cases is more than enough, and on many flights the check-in desk closed only 40 mins before departure (you need to double check your flight though, flights to the US might be different). In any case, RELAX. You have plenty of time. You can set two or three different alarm clock if it makes you feel more secure, but there is really no reason to stay awake the whole night :)

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    Although check-in might close only 40 mins before, baggage check for international flights at major airports almost always closes earlier. eg, United Airlines is 60 minutes at most international airports.
    – Doc
    Mar 23, 2012 at 5:17
  • International flights (especially to the U.S.) usually require 1.5h, because of the extensive security procedures.
    – Simon
    Mar 27, 2012 at 7:47
  • @cbmeeks Carry-on only for a trip to Tuscany? Wow. That's a harsh constraint. Jul 17, 2014 at 16:57
  • @Simon not really. Done it many times. 10 days in Spain with only a carry-on. Same in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Moscow, etc.
    – cbmeeks
    Jul 18, 2014 at 12:16
  • @cbmeeks I think Spehro was making an allusion to all the liquid goodness available in Tuscany you might want to take back with you, not to the general feasibility of a city trip with carry-on.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 11, 2016 at 6:17
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From my point of view 1.5 - 2h should be sufficient for an international flight. If you are too worried about getting there in time, just take a taxi. Depending where your hotel is located in Rome, you may need a taxi anyway to get to the train station.

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The 3 hour figure is there to make sure people don't all arrive at the very last moment. Check the airline's website for when they close the check-in counters - that would be the actual time when you absolutely need to be there. It's usually 45 minutes for EU flights and 1 hours for international ones.

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    Within EU is still international :) You mean intercontinental I suppose.
    – Bernhard
    Dec 15, 2013 at 9:21
  • @Bernhard there are destinations that are neither within the EU nor intercontinental.
    – phoog
    Jul 20, 2016 at 12:28
-1

You don't need to stay up all night, just go to bed early the previous day (and your whole family too). If you allow yourself for 10 or even 12 hours of sleep, you will certainly wake-up easily, probably even before the alarm clock. Also wake-up at 03:30 in the morning the previous day (with an alarm clock) to adjust your body, and then go to bed at 17:30. You will all wake-up with ease in the morning, and will have much more energy to do things quickly and efficiently, with much less risk for mishaps.

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