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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 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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