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Quality > Quantity and Land > Cruise?

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Hi! I am a first timer (Only have done Costa Rica and a lot of Mexican all inclusives) trying to plan possibly a solo trip backpacking through Europe for this coming August! 29 yo female! Would maybe have a friend or two join for fun for a week or two but that's about it! My travel dates can be slightly flexible at this point so I am planning (tentatively) leaving Boston around July 29ish and being in Europe until for sure Aug 29 if not for a week or so longer!

- These are the countries I know I want to visit: Spain (Barcelona), Greece (Athens, the Greek Islands), France (Provence, French Riviera?.. with the Eiffel tower maybe thrown in), Italy ( Rome, Cinque Terra, Florence)

-- Other places to kill time of course (if needed) I've considered Amsterdam, London (I here a good place to fly in for first timers!)..maybe Germany since I love beer! Austria?

- I believe I would rather spend more time in Italy and Greece but of course make the most of my tour over there and still see some other countries as I dk when I'd be able to make a trip back!

- As far as the Greek Islands... I've also considered doing a cruise... Pry one of the large name ones... it would also be my first cruise but thought kill two birds with one stone! I've read plenty of forums regarding land vs cruise tours of the isles and still having a hard time deciding (although now leaning towards land)... I get motion sick at the drop of a pin hence why I believe id prefer to go with the larger cruise vessel then some of the smaller ones people have suggested!

- Also I see layovers in Iceland... Would any recommend spending a night there to check out Iceland maybe on the way back or the way there?

-- Would like to have options be budget friendly... but of course enjoy my time as well getting as much out of the experience as possible! So any tips would be helpful! I am outdoorsy... love to hike... and Saw of pic of floating down a river in Provence which looks amazing!! So anything anyone recommends to do! Please let me know :) Sorry for the novel!! Feel so clueless at this point!

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    Start by slowing down. You are trying to cover way too much in a month or so. This is the typical beginner's error. You feel like you want to see everything, and by trying to cover too much, you would end up seeing nothing - but the inside of trains, planes, airports and train stations.

    Start by thinking about your time like this: Count number of nights in a place, not days; you will lose most of a day each time you change location, so it takes spending 4 nights in a place just to have three days to do/do/experience. Also, if you are traveling on a budget, the more locations you visit the more money you will burn - transport costs include not only your train or air ticket but also transport to/from the train station/airport. One night stays are worthless for seeing/doing anything. If you are lucky, you will eat dinner and breakfast in that location then more on. Sometimes the are unavoidable for logistical reasons.

    You won't have any time to kill - you would be wise to prune your places you know you want to see just a bit. I count 10 places if we include the Eiffel tower and two Greek islands. In a month that would mean you would spend fully a third of your time in transit. And some of your stops are whole regions, not just a city. Pause and consider what the top, say, five things are that you want to see and do. If Italy and Greece are the places that call to you most, I'd say make your trip just Italy and Greece. You will get a chance to explore a good amount of the country.

    If you are interested in seeing Greece, forget the cruise. Cruises can be relaxing, and they offer a glance at several different islands, but a couple of hours in a place isn't really enough to give you a flavor for a place. But, if you opt for just Italy and Greece, you could spend a week (half of your Greece time) on a cruise and still have time to explore.

    Happy planning!

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