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2 Month Backpacking Trip, First time, Advice Please!

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Hi All!

I’m looking for tips/tricks/info, anything! Especially from people who have done this before, preferably recently.

My boyfriend and I are planning a 2 month backpacking trip to Europe, from Canada. We have a tentative route planned. It is as follows: Edmonton to London, London to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Berlin, Berlin to Prague, Prague to Vienna, Vienna to Budapest, Budapest to Zadar, Zadar to Venice, Venice to Florence, Florence to Rome, Rome to Nice, Nice to Barcelona, Barcelona to Paris, and then home. We are planning 2 months for the trip. We are staying about 4 days in each place. (give or take…a couple places we are staying less, Zadar we are staying 5 as this is our “refuel” time)

We are planning to get a 10 day flex pass each (he is over 26, so we can’t get the student passes). I’m thinking the 10 day will be enough, as some trains will be short distances and will be cheap to just buy a regular ticket rather than use a day of travel on our pass.

We want to keep it moderately cheap as possible, we will be staying in hostels, and eating street food, or buying from the grocery store for sandwiches. We do want to try the local cuisines. We want to see as much as possible, but we want to utilize all the free and cheap options first. We want to see a few museums, but don’t want to spend everyday walking through endless museums at high cost.

We are each saving about $6,000 to $7,000 Canadian Dollars for the trip, and are planning to go May-June of 2015 or 2016.

I have done a lot of research and budgeting, and I’m looking for any further info you guys have, either from experience or just general knowledge.

I’d love to hear your comments, tips and recommendations. Any thing you think is a must see, or that is a great value for the money. Any info about budgeting, hostels, places to stay, places to eat, anything we should avoid….let me know! Any info on the trains, and travelling with a Eurail pass would be greatly appreciated, what are the extra reservation fees and such.

The route we have chosen took a lot of thought and deciding what to eliminate, what to add. We are not 100% set on the route, those are all the places we really don’t want to miss on this trip, but we are open to alternative routes if they make more sense.

If you need any more info from me, just ask! I can also provide you with my personal e-mail if you have documents you’d like to send.

-Krystal

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    You have 8,240 Euros (12,000 CAD) for your trip (for both of you) which is E137 per day for 2 people for 60 days. This will not be enough money after you buy your plane and rail tickets.

    Hostels are about E25 per night per person. You'll have food expenses, sightseeing (approx E10 per sight, sometimes less), local transportation (bus, metro, tram). If you want to get the most out of your European trip you'll need more money or less time. Even another 2,000 CAD won't help much as that will pay for the plane tickets.

    Moving around a lot (which you are doing) adds to your expense.

    Rail passes - sometimes save you money but not always. You can do a quick calculation on the point-to-point ticket prices vs. the rail pass by looking at the national rail sites for each country. Check pricing 60 days out as you can get discounted tickets then.

    Start reading Let's Go guide books which are great for budget travelers. I've been using them for decades and always found their info to be wonderful.

    Also post on the Lonely Planet Thorntree forum as that's where you'll find young people who backpack and stay in hostels. The people on this board tend to be more mature and don't normally stay in hostels but do look for budget accommodations and inexpensive restaurants.

    You have a great list of cities and it would be difficult to eliminate some of them but you might consider fewer cities and some time outside the cities in smaller cities or large towns.

    For instance, when you visit Vienna you might consider going to Salzburg, visit the salt mine and ice caves, travel to Hallstat (interesting and beautiful small town). Spending more time in this area rather than taking off to the next cities. Cities are appealing but after a while it's nice to see come countryside.

    Perhaps skip Barcelona this trip since it's out of the way and expensive. London is expensive so you might want to skip London also and start in Amsterdam. Rome and Florence could be eliminated in favor of Munich and Bavaria. This is in the interest of keeping a tighter geographical area but not missing any interesting areas/sights. Trading one interesting location for another.

    << don’t want to spend everyday walking through endless museums at high cost. >>

    There's lots more to Europe than museums although there are so many interesting museum I would try to see some of them. Some of the more off beat museums are less expensive than the popular ones. Churches are almost always free (there are a few exceptions) and are often beautiful or of cultural significance. Period houses are interesting as is architecture, opera houses or music halls. Do some walking tours to get a general idea of the cities you're visiting. Many major cities have tours that are about E12 per person for a 2 or 3 hour walk.

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    Adrienne has given you good advice . . . I'll just add a short note: Instead of 2 months on a pauper's budget - I seriously consider maybe 5 or 6 weeks and have enough $$/££/€€ to breathe a little. By cutting some time and several cities you can easily make your budget. Also -- don't do a blanket '4 days everywhere'. That really doesn't make sense. London for instance is the largest city in Western Europe and has many more sites, spread over a MUCH larger area than many of your other destinations. Paris has much more to see/do than say Vienna. Gear the time in each city to what is there to see/do -- not some fixed time limit.

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    You hve 11 longish pricey train trips - but if you want to just buy the Rome to Florence ticket there it can be, on a regional train, only a few euros - taking about twice as long or more but it's a short enough ride.

    With ten long train trips if you do them all Eurail Flexipass is a no-brainer IMO - even ten discounted tickets may cost as much and do not forget that passes for anyone over 25 are automatically first class - a significant benefit IME - especially as in most countries save italy and Spain and France you can just hop on any train anytime with very few exceptions - and in those other countries yes you do have to pay 10 euros or so (3 or 4 in France) for a mandated seat assignment.

    Discounted tickets inevitably come with restrictions on changing and refunding and are train-specific and to get as they are sold in limited numbers - booked, often in stone, weeks or months to get and of course they are 2nd class for the cheapest ones.

    and you can take overnight trains on some segments - if you board the overnight train after 7 pm then the next calendar day is your unlimited travel day - you can do a day trip from your base city or keep going in the morning and still only use one day on a pass - the so-called 7 pm rule - do not put today's date in if boarding a night train tonight but tomorrow's date!

    For lots of great info on European trains and passes check wwwq.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

    Note that night trains are not free - well the bsic train fare is covered by the pass but not sleeping options - some trains have regular seats you can sit in for nothing or a few euros for reclining seats but often you must pay for a berth in a couchette - about 20-25 euros but of course you save on the cost of a night in a hotel - and there will be oodles of folks your ages from all other the world in European night trains - sometimes a real convivial atmosphere prevails!

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    Hi Krystal. I am helping my boys plan a trip with the same itinerary as the first part of your trip. You can fly Air Transat from Edmonton direct to Amsterdam and return from somewhere else so you don't back track, but you probably already know that. I was amazed at how reasonable their flights cost.

    I would also agree to look at the costs of a rail pass and how much each leg of the journey would cost to see what is your best option. We found that booking in advance on bahn worked out better for the point to point fares.

    In Amsterdam we found that the hostels were very expensive unless you went quite far out of the main area, but then you spend time and money on commuting. We found a good deal on Hotels.com for a hotel with fairly good reviews in a good area for the same price. Your first few days you will be jet lagged, so not staying in a dorm and catching up on your sleep may be an idea if the price is the same.

    My boys (age 24 and 29) are doing Amsterdam, Berlin and Prague then flying home from Frankfurt. The hostels for the other two cities were booked on Hostelworld.com

    We were in Venice and Florence last year and did a monastery stay. We had a fabulous location at San Guiseppe but they did have a curfew. There are others that don't. You get a private room just like a hotel but it is much lower cost, and pretty cool to stay there.
    http://www.monasterystays.com/?a=destination&b=Italy/Veneto/Venice//VEV114

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    another thought. We ended up flying from Budapest to Sarejavo because the trains were not great time wise and the flight was less money. You could look at flying from Budapest to Zadar or nearby to save time and probably money too.

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    Let's Go Europe is a great guidebook to take along - written by folks your age - tremendous coverage of accommodations - cheap ones like hostels, youth hotels, pensions, B&Bs etc - just a wealth of info - amazon.com has it - lots of great tips for younger folk like on night life - really a great resource to have along.

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