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Laurelovebooks Sep 20th, 2014 10:33 AM

30 day Multi-Country Europe Trip in June- PLEASE HELP WITH ITINERARY!!!
 
I am planning a 30-40 day trip around Europe next summer (dates around second week of June to second week of July). The countries/cities I want to visit include:
London
Barcelona
Paris
Brussels
Croatia
Prague
Amsterdam
Berlin
Budapest
Rome
Zadar, Vis Island, Croatia
Ljubljana, Slovenia

The plan is:
London to Paris;
Paris to Barcelona;
Barcelona to Rome;
Rome to Croatia;
Croatia to Slovenia;
Slovenia to Budapest;
Budapest to Prague;
Prague to Berlin;
Berlin to Amsterdam;
then home.

We are planning on starting in London, were we have a free place to stay, and do day trips around England, maybe into Ireland if we have time. Then from there go to Paris, Barcelona, and Rome (with any side trips if we have time, also). In Amsterdam, we will make that home base and do a day trip to Brussels.

I know I have too many places in too short a time to visit them all, unfortunately. I do not know which to cut out, because I want to visit them all. I could really use some advise on places to visit in each place (especially the not as well known places that are amazing). I would like to narrow the list down to closer to 6 or 7 instead of 10, because I want to stay for longer than 3 days in Paris, London, and Barcelona.

The plan is to travel by plane if it is in a similar price range to train, or train if it is way cheaper. Going to be staying in dorm room hostels and maybe couch surfing, if we find trusting places. We are 21/22 and students, so planning on discounts there, also.

Also, what beaches would you suggest? I plan on going to the beach in Barcelona, but where else? Also, know of a good place to kayak?

If the order of countries is better off in another order, feel free to move them around.

I just need advice, so anything is greatly appreciated!! THANKS :D

Laurelovebooks Sep 20th, 2014 10:47 AM

Some of the places I have done preliminary researching on are below. If I spent 5 days in London, Paris, Barcelona, Budapest, 4 days in Rome and Amsterdam, and 4 days in Croatia/Slovenia? Then do either Prague or Berlin for 4 days? Does that sound reasonable or too rushed?

Belgium
Brussels:
Cantillon Brewery (7)
http://www.cantillon.be/br/3_2
Mini Europe- if still open (14,30)
Peeing Statues- three, girl, boy, dog
Royal Palace (July)


Croatia
Dubrovnik:
Dubrovnik- beach
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Vis Island:
Blue Cave (Bisevo)
Kayaking- http://www.alternatura.hr/offer/sea-kayaking/
Zagreb:
Zadar:

Ferries for Islands (Bac): http://www.bracinfo.com/brac-ferries/
http://blog.hostelbookers.com/travel...pping-croatia/

Czech Republic
Prague:


France
Paris:
Eiffel Tower (5-15)
http://www.toureiffel.paris/en/prepa...onditions.html
Arc de Triomphe (5)
http://www.arcdetriompheparis.com/visitor-information
The Louvre (Fri 6-9:45, free; 12)
http://www.louvre.fr/en/hours-admission/admission#tabs
Notre Dame
Versailles
Champs de Elysees
Catacombs of Paris (8)
http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en/vi...seum-admission
Musee d’Orsay (8,50)
http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/visit/a...sion-fees.html
Shakespeare and Company Bookstore


England
London:
Big Ben
Tower of London (17,60) -includes much more!
http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/...ondonadmission
Buckingham Palace
London Eye (20,95)
http://www.londoneye.com/TicketsAndP...s/Default.aspx
Natural History Museum (0)


Germany
Berlin:
Berlin Zoo and Aquarium (15 both, 10 zoo)
http://www.zoo-berlin.de/zoo/visit-t...ssion.html?L=1
Berlin Wall


Hungary
Budapest:
Szechenyi Baths (40 min massage 5450 ft, $22)
http://www.szechenyibath.hu/prices
Budapest Zoo (1900 HUF, $8)
http://www.zoobudapest.com/en/plan-y...it/buy-tickets
Thermal Springs
Cave Church
Wine Labyrinth
House of Terror
Central Market
Margaret Island
Opera House (~10)
http://blog.hostelbookers.com/travel...st-what-to-do/
Miscolc:

Italy
Capri:
Blue Grotto
Baunei:
Cala Goloritze- beach
Cala Mariolu- beach
Rome:
Colosseum (12)
http://archeoroma.beniculturali.it/e...ite/colosseum#
Trevi Fountain
Sistine Chapel
Catacombs (8)
http://www.catacombe.roma.it/en/info_biglietti.php
Pantheon


Netherlands
Amsterdam:
Reg Light District
Anne Frank Museum (9,50)
http://www.annefrank.org/en/Museum/P...-ticket-sales/
Sex Museum (4)
http://www.sexmuseumamsterdam.nl/index2.html


Slovenia
Waterfall Savica (2,50)
http://www.slovenia.info/?vintgar=1734
Skocjan Cave (12)
http://www.park-skocjanske-jame.si/e...t_tours.shtmlc
Triple Bridge
Postojna Cave (18)
http://www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/visitors/individuals/
Ljubljana:
Dragon Bridge
Lake Bohinj
Bled Castle (7)
http://www.blejski-grad.si/en/price-list
Rappelling in Bled, Slovenia

Spain
Barcelona:
Guell Park (0)
Las Ramblas (0)
Basilica of the Sagrada Familia (18,50)
http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng...TarifesInd.php
Casa Batllo (18,50)
http://www.casabatllo.es/en/visit/prices/
Picasso Museum (7,50)
http://www.bcn.cat/museupicasso/en/museum/times.html
Beaches!
Ciutadella Park
Catalonia History Museum (0 Sun and Mon; 3,50)
http://www.en.mhcat.cat/content/view/full/83
Madrid:

anyegr Sep 20th, 2014 11:07 AM

You say 30-40 days. Which is it? It makes a big difference.

You have a list of twelve places/countries in your first post, then you add a few more in the next. That's a lot. They are of course not all equal in size. But it still looks like a bit too much.

Have you accounted for travel time between places? At least half a day will dissapear each time you move, unless you take night trains. And of course some distances are too short for night trains. Flying will be faster for some distances, but you have to add the waiting time at the airport, too.

Do you actually want to experience the places on your list or only do a quick 1-2 day highlight visit? Most people here will tell you to slow down. I think the trip sounds like a rushed whirlwind, but maybe you like that sort of thing. I'm feeling exhausted just looking at the list of places.

isabel Sep 20th, 2014 11:10 AM

30-40 days sounds like a lot - until you actually start to plan things out. As you already noted, you just have too much. You have listed more than 10 'places' and some of your places are entire countries (eg Croatia) which are not as tiny as they may look on a map!

Your biggies, and the ones you mention more than once are London, Paris, Barcelona and Spain. Seriously, you need a minimum of 4 days/nights for each. Because 4 nights really only gets you a little more than 3 days for actual sightseeing/being there. Travel time between places REALLY eats up a lot of time. There are various cheapo airlines to fly between places in Europe, but Easyjet has the most destinations. So I usually try to see where I can combine via Easyjet to determine the order I do things in. And you really just have to spend some time on the computer comparing and contrasting flights vs trains for price and time savings. The benefit to trains is they go city center to city center whereas the airports are always a ways out and you need to factor in the transportation into the city center - which can often be MORE than the flight itself - in both time and money. Not to mention that flight times are the time in the air, not counting getting to the airport two hours ahead.

One possible itinerary would be London - fly easyjet to Barcelona - fly easyjet to Paris - train to Brussels - train to Amsterdam - fly easyjet to Rome. I would allow a minimum of three weeks for that portion, assuming you don't want to do any day trips.

In your second list you have all kinds of places listed that are no where near the cities you originally mentioned. You cannot do Madrid as a side trip from Barcelona, or Capri as a side trip from Rome. If you want to see other places in Spain/Italy/France/England then you can - but then you'd need to forget about Croatia/Slovenia/etc. You could easily do the entire 30-40 days in England, Spain, Italy, France and Netherlands - and in fact that's what I would suggest. It will save you a LOT of money and time over going all the way to Eastern Europe. Save that for another trip.

If you really, really want to go to Croatia, etc then you will need to limit what you see in those first countries to just the one major city each. And even then I don't think you can fit in all of what you list - those areas are bigger than you think, transportation options a little more difficult.

Dukey1 Sep 20th, 2014 11:18 AM

Several of the night trains have been removed with more to come it seems.

For budget airline flights look at www.whichbudget.com or www.skyscanner.com

With this much travel you need to consider the use of a multi-country rail pass, also.

Laurelovebooks Sep 20th, 2014 11:45 AM

Isabel, the list of places I meant to take off some of those. The only side trips I am planning on is one or two at most from London, and maybe see somewhere in Belgium from Amsterdam, and Croatia and Slovenia will be covered by overnight trips (possibly, planning that part with a friend who went there last summer).

I only plan on going to Barcelona in Spain, Paris in France, and Rome in Italy.

Is this a little more reasonable:
Day 1: Fly into London
Day 2: London
Day 3: London
Day 4: London or day trip
Day 5: Travel to Paris
Day 6: Paris
Day 7: Paris
Day 8: Paris
Day 9: Travel to Barcelona
Day 10: Barcelona
Day 11: Barcelona
Day 12: Barcelona
Day 13: Barcelona
Day 14: Travel to Rome
Day 15: Rome
Day 16: Rome
Day 17: Rome
Day 18: Travel to Croatia
Day 19: Croatia
Day 20: Travel to Slovenia
Day 21: Slovenia
Day 22: Travel to Budapest
Day 23: Budapest
Day 24: Budapest
Day 25: Budapest
Day 26: Travel to Berlin
Day 27: Berlin
Day 28: Berlin
Day 29: Berlin
Day 30: Travel to Amsterdam
Day 31: Amsterdam
Day 32: Amsterdam
Day 33: Amsterdam
Day 34: Go home

I might take out Berlin and extend Croatia/Slovenia, just do either Croatia or Slovenia (talking to my friend before decision) or extend Paris or Barcelona.

Or does this still seem to rushed for people who have been to these places? Ignore the first comment where I put the list of places, didn't meant to put everything.

janisj Sep 20th, 2014 11:59 AM

>>The only side trips I am planning on is one or two at most from London<<

You haven't allowed enough time to see <i>London</i> let alone one or two day trip. If you take one day trip, then you will have 2 full days plus a few jet lagged hours on your arrival day. London is enormous.

>>Day 18: Travel to Croatia
Day 19: Croatia
Day 20: Travel to Slovenia
Day 21: Slovenia<<

This part makes no sense at all. All that travel to net one day in Croatia and maybe 1.5 days in Slovenia. Why?

MmePerdu Sep 20th, 2014 12:18 PM

I suggest you plan to use London, Paris, Barcelona and Rome as bases for a week each. Spend maybe 5 days in each of the cities and 2 days on trips outside. It's a clear itinerary, leaving several days for travel between and time to enjoy each of them. Count on returning to Europe, almost everyone does, for the rest. Do 4 well, instead of all at a run and likely remembering little of it.

PetrosB3 Sep 20th, 2014 01:20 PM

I can't imagine a Pan-European Trip without Greece. I mean you can't say you've seen Europe if you haven't been in The Parthenon or in a Greek island, it doesn't make any sense. My advice is to drop Belgium and Slovenia and add Greece instead, much more interesting in every aspect.

I think an ideal Itinerary to see Europe is:

1) Barcelona
2) Paris
3) London
4) Amsterdam
5) Berlin
6) Prague
7) Vienna
8) Budapest
9) Dubrovnik
10) Rome
11) Athens
12) Istanbul
Then Home

Spend 3 days in each city and there are 36 days in total.

Dukey1 Sep 20th, 2014 01:52 PM

I can't imagine a Pan-European Trip without Greece.

Well, I can and obviously the OP has also. besides, there isn't even a Scandinavian country included as well as Portugal and all those Baltic nations.

I think the idea of basing oneself in one city for each of the weeks may work if you are content to do day trips.

You are always going to get somebody who tells you about the "depth" thing as in, you aren't spending enough time in _______ or in _________.

You've made a start and you can certainly try to see everything on your list. That's one good way to learn self-limitations.

isabel Sep 20th, 2014 02:20 PM

I think your revised schedule is doable, if you realize it will still be only a 'taste' of those cities and that some day you will return. Except for the Croatia/Slovenia part. I agree with the others, it makes no sense. Have you planed out how you will get there and get around? If you scratch Croatia/Slovenia (and I loved visiting there but it took me two trips of more than a week each and I didn't come close to even covering all the 'highlights') and add those 4 days to London, Paris and Rome you will have a pretty good "Intro to Europe" trip.

MmePerdu Sep 20th, 2014 02:53 PM

"Spend 3 days in each city and there are 36 days in total."

Next post Petros will reveal the secret of teleportation between each of those 12, thereby actually giving you 3 days in each place.

Aramis Sep 20th, 2014 03:29 PM

Pretty ambitious, but you clearly want the big city Europe experience, so let's work from that. Apart from thinking that you won't have time for a day trip from London (check again after you list all the things you want to see in London and try and fit them into less that 3 days), your Croatia and Slovenia leg looks like the only logistical issue; 4 nights of "stay" with either very long days of travel (Rome - Dubrovnik, I presume, and Dubrovnik - Ljubljana) or 2 of the 4 nights spent overnight on a ferry and trains.




Day 1: Fly into London
Day 2: London
Day 3: London
Day 4: London or day trip
Day 5: Travel to Paris
Day 6: Paris
Day 7: Paris
Day 8: Paris
Day 9: Travel to Barcelona
Day 10: Barcelona
Day 11: Barcelona
Day 12: Barcelona
Day 13: Barcelona
Day 14: Travel to Rome
Day 15: Rome
Day 16: Rome
Day 17: Rome
Day 18: Travel to Croatia
Day 19: Croatia
Day 20: Travel to Slovenia
Day 21: Slovenia
Day 22: Travel to Budapest
Day 23: Budapest
Day 24: Budapest
Day 25: Budapest
Day 26: Travel to Berlin
Day 27: Berlin
Day 28: Berlin
Day 29: Berlin
Day 30: Travel to Amsterdam
Day 31: Amsterdam
Day 32: Amsterdam
Day 33: Amsterdam
Day 34: Go home

Laurelovebooks Sep 20th, 2014 03:41 PM

Revised again. I might take out one city and split the days between the others. I plan on flying to the different cities instead of taking a train, since it is half the time (unless the train is a lot cheaper, but in my initial price checking, it will be around the same price.) And we will be going back to London because we have a friend their who is letting us stay with her, so we want to see her before we leave.

As much as I want to see Croatia and Slovenia, I will probably just have to go back another time for those countries.

June 10 Day 1: Fly into London
11 Day 2: London
12 Day 3: London
13 Day 4: London
14 Day 5: London
15 Day 6: Travel to Paris
16 Day 7: Paris
17 Day 8: Paris
18 Day 9: Paris
19 Day 10: Paris
20 Day 11: Travel to Barcelona
21 Day 12: Barcelona
22 Day 13: Barcelona
23 Day 14: Barcelona
24 Day 15: Barcelona
25 Day 16: Travel to Rome
26 Day 17: Rome
27 Day 18: Rome
28 Day 19: Rome
29 Day 20: Travel to Budapest
30 Day 21: Budapest
1 Day 22: Budapest
2 Day 23: Budapest
3 Day 24: Budapest
4 Day 25: Travel to Berlin
5 Day 26: Berlin
6 Day 27: Berlin
7 Day 28: Berlin
8 Day 29: Travel to Amsterdam
9 Day 30: Amsterdam
10 Day 31: Amsterdam
11 Day 32: Amsterdam
12 Day 33: Travel to London
13 Day 34: London
July 14 Day 34: Go home

Thank you all for your advise. If you know of any places you recommend in Barcelona, Paris, London, Amsterdam, or Berlin, I will gladly take suggestions. Beaches, museums, churches or other architecture, markets, food places, parks, zoos, bars, clubs, pubs, etc...

Aramis Sep 20th, 2014 03:46 PM

BINGO. Routing is good and if anyone tells you 4 or 5 days in each city is not enough, ignore them. Of course it's not, and it also is..... It all depends on how long you want to stay in them.

Sassafrass Sep 20th, 2014 03:59 PM

You have plenty of time to think more about it.

Really consider carefully how much time you are giving each city and which ones have good day trips where you might want more time. They are not all equal in what they have to offer, but that also depends on what you want to see and do in each.

I would certainly give more time to Rome and less to Barcelona and Budapest. As a matter of fact, early on, you mentioned day trips from Rome. I would cut a day or two off other places and add them Italy, but all depends on your personal interests.

MmePerdu Sep 20th, 2014 04:01 PM

Go to Budapest a day later and give that day to Rome.

janisj Sep 20th, 2014 04:09 PM

>> I plan on flying to the different cities instead of taking a train, since it is half the time<<

Not necessarily for a some of your transfers. City center to city center is often a lot faster than flying. You need to look at each specific city pair to see which is best.

For example: London/Paris is MUCH faster/easier by train. Get on train at St Pancras, 2.2 hrs later you are Gare du Nord in the middle of Paris. Probably a little over 3 hour door-to-door depending on where you stay. Flying - you have an hour out to LHR, 90 minutes or more AT LHR, the flight to CDG, another hour from CDG to central Paris.

Be sure to factor in getting to the airport and advance check in.

It would be better to fly between a few of your city pairs, Like Barcelona > Rome for sure.

nytraveler Sep 20th, 2014 04:40 PM

First - fly open haws into your first city and out of yor last - in order to avoid wasting a full day returning to London.

Second- look at train times versus flight times (including getting from city center to and fro airports, time at check in and security - and od look at the requirements for discount airlines - they often allow only minute luggage and have very stringent check=in requirements - often at airports very far from the cities they serve. Frankly - for anything 6 hours or less by train air will most probably take longer.

Third - start building a budget now - a realistic budget, incluidng local hostel costs, meals, in-city transit and sightseeing. My DD - then 19 - went for 5.5 weeks with 2 friends 2 years ago and spent about $8k (PLUS plane fare) living modestly - no shopping and only student cafe/pub nightlife (uber cheap wine and beer)

thursdaysd Sep 20th, 2014 08:15 PM

nyt - which countries? That's $205/night - that's not a "modest" budget unless you're in Scandinavia!

janisj Sep 20th, 2014 09:34 PM

thursdaysd: You have to understand nytraveler is talking Manhattan/NYC $ - not Kansas or Tennessee $. For her Mayfair in London and $8,000 backpacker budgets are 'moderate/typical'.

What is reasonable 'depends' where one is starting from

thursdaysd Sep 20th, 2014 09:42 PM

janisj - I know. But since the OP is talking dorms and couchsurfing, she needs to be warned not to take nyt's info at face value.

Laurelovebooks Sep 21st, 2014 04:49 AM

I didn't think about how far the travel to and from the airport would be and how much it would cost. I will definitely look more into trains than.

I am budgeting around 100 euros a day for the trip to include meals, hostel, travel (in city only, like bus or metro, travel between cities is its own expense), and activities. I know each place has its own price, but is that fairly reasonable to budget, for hostels, sightseeing, food, and bus fair(if needed)each day? I hope I won't spend that much each day, but I'd rather budget on the high side and spend less than budget on the low side and things cost more than I was expecting.

And I know I have a while to go before the trip, but I kind of need logistical things figured out in advance for my parents sake... :/

Question: Is it much more expensive/cheaper to purchase plane/train tickets day before/day of the trip between cities/countries, or cheaper to purchase one of the multicountry passes (I know some counties make it difficult for pass holders to get reservations). And we want the freedom to choose what day we want to go to another city, instead of being forced to leave a day later or earlier than we actually want because of ticket times.

isabel Sep 21st, 2014 06:03 AM

For flights between cities it is usually MUCH less expensive to purchase FAR in advance. For example Paris to Barcelona this week is between €70-110 (depends on the day) whereas a few months from now there are flights for €50. And sometimes the difference is even more dramatic. The train from London to Paris is also much less purchased way in advance.

You should price out the differences in train vs plane fares, but for most of your trips flying will be cheaper. Therefore 'passes' probably won't help you. They may save money if you are doing a lot of train travel in contiguous countries. The places you are going are pretty far apart so you will most likely find flights cheaper (and faster). And you at most, have time for a few short, close day trips which would be on regional trains so again, passes don't save.

100€/day/per person should do fine (if you are staying in hostels) for lodging, food, in-city transportation, and admissions (assuming you don't want to go into every single 'sight' ).

Are you traveling alone or with someone? Because sometimes you can get very decent double rooms (in many countries including breakfast) for well under €100 so that's under €50 each. There are also places like convents that rent out rooms cheap.

In Budapest definitely look at Buda B&B. Run by a couple of American guys who have lived there for years. One of them wrote the Frommers guidebook to Budapest - they know everything and are super nice, and the apartment is very nice. Price for the small room is <b>45€ for both of you</b> (€30 if you are a single). I can definitely say my trip to Budapest was wonderful because I stayed there. But book it way in advance, they are very popular.

thursdaysd Sep 21st, 2014 06:10 AM

Sorry, but in general it is cheaper to buy ahead. This is always true for cheap airline tickets. For train tickets it depends on the train, and to some extent the country - trains are cheaper in the east. If you're taking a long distance fast train, tickets will be cheaper the further ahead you book (up to 60 or 90 days depending on the train/country). Slow, regional trains can be bought day before/day of. Do some test bookings ( use seat61.com for links to the national railway sites ) and you will see the difference.

A rail pass MIGHT make sense if you are under 25, but likely not for this itinerary. I'm sorry, but on the itinerary you have chosen freedom will be very expensive.

You budget sounds fine, but go over to Lonely Planet's website and take a look at their destination sections. They have suggested budgets for diffeent levels of travel.

janisj Sep 21st, 2014 08:44 AM

>>Is it much more expensive/cheaper to purchase plane/train tickets day before/day of the trip between cities/countries, or cheaper to purchase one of the multi country passes<<

Those are not the only two options. Sometimes a rail pass will save you $$/€€/££, sometimes not. But walk up fares are almost ALWAYS much more expensive plus you run the risk of all seats being sold out.

Many times the best option is for trains between relatively nearby cities and flying the very long legs . . . and booking all of them as far ahead as you can. Often you can't book til about 12 weeks before the trip.

nytraveler Sep 21st, 2014 10:41 AM

IMHO staying in 2* hotels - but with AC - (3 girls sharing a room) doing modest meals and no shopping and student nightlife is traveling modestly. (No it;s not couchsurfing and eating only 2 picnic meals a day but I don;t consider that modest - IMHO that is just not a way to travel. I didn't at 19 nor did I expect my DDs to travel that way.)

And that amount included intercity train or plane fares - just not transatlantic flights.

Could they have done it for less - I suppose so. Would they have enjoyed it so much? I don;t think so. What's the point of going to europe and then not seeing all the major sights and using tour guides for some to get the most out if it - unlike me she wasn't a history major and found guides somewhat helpful.

thursdaysd Sep 21st, 2014 11:00 AM

I have just finished booking accommodation for 79 nights in Europe, ranging from eastern Europe to London. Three free nights with my sister are balanced by four nights in London and five in Venice, and I am spending 12 nights in apartments, plus assorted pensions, guesthouses, B&Bs and honest to goodness hotels. All my rooms (except at my sister's, lol) are en-suite, with hairdryers, free wifi and frequently breakfast. All have good reviews. My nightly average is $75, and I could very easily have spent less. If I were traveling as half of a couple, as the OP seems to be, the cost would be not much more than half, say $40/night. With the OP's 100 euro budget that would leave $88 for lunch and dinner, city transport and admissions. Sounds pretty generous to me.

With a $200/night budget that would leave $160/day (more with a threesome). Sure would be interesting to know how you can blow through that if you're not shopping or club-hopping.

bvlenci Sep 21st, 2014 12:36 PM

Well, she mentioned guided tours. If they're private guides, that will blow a lot of money.

In London and Venice, $75 won't get you much. Maybe the Eastern European countries are pulling the average way down.

MmePerdu Sep 21st, 2014 12:39 PM

"... that is just not a way to travel. I didn't at 19 nor did I expect my DDs to travel that way...What's the point of going to europe and then not seeing all the major sights and using tour guides..."

"Sure would be interesting to know how you can blow through that if you're not shopping or club-hopping."


Yet another account of parallel worlds and NYC woman's inability to comprehend any but her own. And why most of her "advice" is beyond useless. And yet, she persists. It's a phenomenon.

thursdaysd Sep 21st, 2014 12:50 PM

London is 70 GBP for an en-suite single with full English breakfast. ($114 - probably the most expensive.)

Venice is 55 euro for an en-suite double with balcony and fix it yourself breakfast buffet. ($70 - it will be November.)

I'm also staying in Portugal, one up-market B&B, one cheap-paid-in-advance very central residencial. But Italy and France pull the average up. Of course, that's why it's an average.

Somehow I manage without a guide almost all the time.

Sue_xx_yy Sep 21st, 2014 01:21 PM

"And we want the freedom to choose what day we want to go to another city, instead of being forced to leave a day later or earlier than we actually want because of ticket times."

Many high speed trains require advance reservations, and needless to say all planes are reserved seating only. So even a rail pass or an airline pass would still require you to make a reservation for a given journey, and if a given train or plane is booked, it won't matter what the terms of your pass are, you won't get on.

Re budget:

If you want to buy air tickets or high speed train tickets as you go, or if you want to buy the kind of ticket that allows you to change your itinerary at the last minute, you will pay a lot, because that is what business travelers with expense accounts do and the airlines and train companies know this very well, and price the tickets accordingly.

Rail passes do not cover the cost of reservations or supplements for high speed trains, these are extra.

So: If you want to stick to a tight budget, you must stick to a schedule. You can't have it both ways.

Sassafrass Sep 21st, 2014 03:18 PM

Having the freedom to stay or depart a city is not just transportation. It also involves lodging. While finding rooms in November would be no problem, rather than having them all booked ahead, you would be wasting some of your travel time to be booking at the last minute - non a good or fun use of precious time.

Also the likelyhood of not getting the room you wanted and paying more for something less desirable goes up. Because of traveling space available and with last minute plans, we have often (not by choice) traveled as you want, and nearly always have paid more for both transportation and lodging and not got the best places like that.

So, better to do more research ahead of time, make the best decision possible and go with it, knowing you won't be totally spontaneous, but will have reliable transportation and lodging at the best prices.

Some people love guides, but the truth is, I rarely remember much of what they say, and think you can save a lot of money by reading and downloading, or printing out some guide stuff for yourself. There are some exceptions - when the guide has some unique connection to the site. Our very old guide in Cappadocia had lived in the underground city as a child, until the govt moved people out. Hearing what his life was like there was truly interesting, but why have someone tell you about architecture or historical events, or paintings, that you can read about for your self and learn and remember just as much. Read for yourself how the foundations of Venice are constructed. Get maps and written guides for Rome. Read about the painting of the Sistine Chapel and the construction of the Pantheon. So, think carefully before plunking down a lot of money for guides.

thursdaysd Sep 21st, 2014 03:40 PM

Aside from paid private guides, there are also, depending on the country, free tourist information center walking tours, or paid/free (but tipped) walking tours. Some cities also belong to the "Greeter" system, whree locals volunteer to show you their city. (Free, but you should pay for their transport and any food/drink.)

thursdaysd Sep 21st, 2014 04:28 PM

Actually, now I think about it, I feel rather sorry for nyt's DD and her friends. Rick Steves is always talking about how spending more money builds a wall between you and Europe, but hotels and private guides cut them off from their fellow travelers as well. What a bore - being stuck in a hotel and shepherded around, when you could be hanging out with a bunch of new friends at a hostel. I don't do hostels myself, because I travel solo and don't like to sleep with strangers, but with three of them they could easily have afforded four bed dorm rooms. En-suite, probably, these days.

MmePerdu Sep 21st, 2014 05:25 PM

I've come to the conclusion that there are those who post here with the attitude that the more one spends, and talks about it, somehow the more their advice counts. But I believe, as in many things, that the currency of imagination has infinitely more value in many situations and adds, rather than subtracts, from many travel experiences.

It is pitiful, indeed, to hear some here putting forth one expensive sanitized trip after another. I'm not suggesting that one must go slumming to have an authentic experience. I've done it both ways and find I prefer a smaller guesthouse, and consequently almost always much less expensive, accommodation in most parts of the world. I don't think it's better, it's just a style that suits me. So when I hear the incessant harping of nytraveler implying that shoestring travels cannot be any good, I must protest. It simply isn't true.

Imagination and experience can combine to produce some really great travel times and I encourage the practice. For me it has meant early retirement and trips as long as I care to be away while not feeling I've given up anything. That cannot be a bad thing.

nytraveler Sep 22nd, 2014 09:53 AM

I don't ever recall saying that shoestring traveling isn't any good.

I just think that there are different definitions of shoestring. Some people may be happy with beds in dorm rooms in hostels no private bath and no AC in hot countries, with a picnic lunch on a bench, with not seeing major sights since they are too expensive, or with spending a whole day to fly from one place to another using a super budget airline that uses airports nowhere near the cities they serve.

I happen to think that time can be as valuable as money (not for everyone, but for many people) and that having a comfortable vacation does not insulate you from the culture.

I think being hauled around on a tour bus all day insulates you from the culture. But when you travel independently (and we rarely use guides since I have encountered many that are least common denominator but do often like walking tours exploring a specific neighborhood) there are many opportunities for in-depth exploration of a city/culture. I don't see why it's more valid to stay in a BnB than a hotel (although we have stayed in private chateaux and manor houses at times, even gasthauses in some of my earlier trips in Germany, Switz or Austria). Either way you have access to the local culture if you go out and explore it.

If you are able to travel more by doing so more simply and enjoy it - that's fine. But everyone is not in the same position.

It's just that our time is limited at this point - so we don't focus on small savings that waste time/energy/effort.

As for staying in centrally located hotels - yes, this is what tourists do. I don't want an apt - although can see where it makes sense if you have kids - since I'm not cooking anything, the mini-fridge holds the drinks/snacks we want and we like the concierge service - to get dinner reservations (yes, we usually do one special dinner in each city) and help get tickets for specific activities we want (opera or ballet etc). And I really see no benefit in staying out at the end of hell and gone to be "in a residential area" or "where the locals live". Locals live all over most cities. At home we live in Manhattan - less than a block from Central Park, a few minute walk to a bunch of museums and 2 subway stops from Times Square and an easy cab ride from almost anyplace. Why should we not do the same on vacation? What is the benefit of renting a tiny apartment with facilities we won't use that is 30 minutes from the places we want to be?

Agree that everyone should design the vacation that they can afford and will enjoy. As long as they understand what they are getting into.

But that doesn't make comments about absolutes any less valid. (Many things in europe DO cost more than in the US - esp if one is going to Switz or Scand. And if one has experience only of US by the side of the highway motels with 2 queen beds plus a seating area the average hotel room in europe will likely be a surprise.) And I don't think it is helpful to people with no travel experience in europe to support ideas that really don't make sense - or that will leave them disappointed after the trip - or out of funds before the trip is over.

thursdaysd Sep 22nd, 2014 11:11 AM

Who said anything about staying out in the boonies? All my accommodation (with the possible exception of Venice - but how far can you get from anywhere in Venice?) is very central. Nor are the apartments I'm staying in "tiny". After several weeks on the road I like to eat in for a change, and in Nice there are too many indifferent restaurants.

But the point is not to argue about the "right" way to travel: the point is that you keep claiming that $205/day is a "modest" budget, which is totally misleading, and unfair to new posters who want to travel cheaply.

MmePerdu Sep 22nd, 2014 01:58 PM

There's a point beyond which a post is too long, whatever the point, to be bothered to read. Nytraveler and I will never agree on just about anything so I need not anyway. I've made my case, and since thursday and I often agree, I'll just presume she's read all that and agree with her. It does reinforce my point some here will never understand, more money spent in itself does not a better trip make.

janisj Sep 22nd, 2014 02:25 PM

nyt: I do travel fairly up market sometimes, but I also often travel on a 'middle class' or lower budget.

>>And I really see no benefit in staying out at the end of hell and gone to be "in a residential area" or "where the locals live"<<

I think this may relate to all the times you have posted that in London you stay in Mayfair and that South Kensington is too far out. <i>South Kensington</i> is not in the boonies and is very central and is mostly pretty posh. No one is suggesting staying miles out of city centers -- Mayfair or 'Hell and Gone' aren't the only options.


Lets just say you see things through a different filter than many who don't live on Central Park.


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