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advice on my 3 month backpacking trip itinerary?

advice on my 3 month backpacking trip itinerary?

Nov 23rd, 2015, 04:26 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 1
advice on my 3 month backpacking trip itinerary?

I'm a 22 year old female planning a solo backpacking trip for this spring/summer.
I'm on the initial stages of actually putting together a day by day itinerary so right now I'm looking for suggestions and ideas to make changes. maybe skip some cities that aren't worth seeing and instead add better ones? for example, I'd like to see more of France!

I'm leaving from Toronto first week of may and flying into Dublin, without actually visiting Dublin, I'll fly to - Rome (stay for 10 days)
- Florence (7 days+a day trip to pisa)
- venice (7 days)
- Milan (3 days)
- bern and/or Zurich (depending on what workwaway host accepts me around 10 days)
- Munich (2 days)
- Prague (3 days-I may skip this and go straight to berlin?)
- Berlin (7 days)
- Hamburg (2 days-skip?)
- Amsterdam (7 days)
- Rotterdam (2 days)
- Brussels (3 days)
- Bruges (1 day)
- Paris (10 days)
- London (10 days)
- Manchester (2 days)
- Edinburgh (3 days)
- Glasgow (3 days)
- Belfast (2 days)
- Dublin (4 days)
then I'll fly back home august 10th.

all the travelling between cities will be by bus. so I've added 8 days for the time travelling between takes(again this all rough, I'll be buying bus tickets and making an hourly itinerary)

I'm very flexible with the dates and duration of each stay; so any advice or suggestions will be much appreciated!
Rochester is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2015, 04:39 AM
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A couple of notes:

You have all cities and almost no countryside. Perhaps this is what you want - but with the countryside so beautiful it seems a pity to miss it all. (For instance in the UK you have only cities and no time in the Cotswolds or lake district - or even great cities by York. Where have you left time to see any of the famous castles or palaces or even gardens?)

For Switz you have picked only 2 cities - and Zurich is a really expensive business city - versus the Alps - which is the reason people really go to Swtiz for. If you want a couple of days in Bern that's OK - but I would spend the rest either in Lucerne - if you want a city with great access to small towns and mountains, or actually stay in one of the smaller towns in the Berner Oberland.

Leaving 8 days for bus travel (which is very slow versus train) just isn;t enough. If I were you I would look at a train pass to save a LOT of time wasted on buses.
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2015, 04:41 AM
Join Date: Feb 2014
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Is there some reason you don't want to take trains? I am not an expert on rail passes, and maybe it would be cheaper to buy point-to-point tickets, but trains are so speedy and convenient in Italy, and run so frequently, I can't see why you wouldn't take them.

It's hard to advise you about the length of time you are spending in each cities, and which ones you've chosen, without knowing a good deal more about your interests. For art and history lovers, many days in Rome, Florence and Venice + Milan is absolutely fabulous. They are stuffed with world-class treasures. For people more interested in the local food and the culture of Italians, and beautiful scenery, then spending time is less tourist-impacted places, small towns and the countryside, would be rewarding.

As a solo traveler, you might prefer the sociability of hostels or b&bs, but in terms of budget for a backpacker, renting a small studio with a kitchen for extended stays in Rome, Florence & Venice & London & Amsterdam might save you lots of money. Many of your destinations are very expensive, both in terms of lodgings and food, so an apartment can help cut that, plus give you an easy way to do laundry to lighten that backpack.
sandralist is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2015, 07:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
why bus - did you check out Youth eurailpasses - they give you access to zillions of trains you can hop on and not have to adhere to skimpy bus schedules - anyway compare prices - Youthpasses are for anyone under 26 and if you buy a Eurail Youthpass you can get a BritRail Youthpass at 50% off - consider rail as more options, more comfy than jammed buses and a lot of overnight trains you can take between bases - for lots on trains check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com. check your student travel agencies in Toronto for pass details.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2015, 08:49 AM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 746
Why are you flying into Dublin at the start if you aren't going to do anything there at the beginning? I see that you have Dublin as your final stop, too.

Have you checked the prices for open-jaw tickets? That means flying into one city and then back out from another. Don't look at one-way single flights, those are usually more expensive.
anyegr is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2015, 08:55 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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I second the suggestion for open-jaws. On a trip that long it's also a great idea to build in some time off from your vacation. Find a beach or a small mountain town with no cultural obligations. Sleep in, read, etc. to recharge because vacations can be exhausting!
Edward2005 is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2015, 10:16 AM
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I'll be buying bus tickets and making an hourly itinerary)>

Where will you buy bus tickets and again strongly urge you to investigate the Eurail Youthpasses - for reasons sandralist and I give earlier - the cost of a string of bus tickets may cost as much or more than a youth railpass.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2015, 12:25 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 7,004
In Italy, I don't think there even are any buses serving Florence -> Venice -> Milan. Even if there were, they would a lot longer than the train and maybe cost more.

If you buy tickets well in advance (with no possibility of changing or refunding) you can get excellent prices on the trains. For the best bargains, you have to buy three or four months in advance, but it can be worth the risk if the ticket costs only €19. On the Rome to Florence route, there are also cheap regional trains, which are totally flexible. You just buy the ticket, stamp it in a machine when you're ready to use it, and get on the train. I don't think even a Youth Rail pass will save you any money. To see if it would, check the prices for the Italian portion of your route on http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en .

On some of the longer trips, you should consider cheap flights. I use www.skyscanner.net to find budget air fares. You don't have to specify your departure or arrival city; you can just say "Italy" or "France", and they'll show you budget airfares from a lot of cities in the country. (I would specify at least one of them a little more specifically.)

I agree with Sandra that hostels are great for people traveling solo. I used them a lot when I was single, even when I was well past my youth. I'll add that many of them have shared kitchens and washers, so you can get some of the money-saving advantages of an apartment by staying in a hostel. However, you should read up on the whole hostel experience so you know what to look for when you're choosing a hostel. In Italy, some of the hostels are in converted villas or convents. I've heard of this one in Florence, although I've never stayed there:


My daughter once stayed in this hostel in Verona:


And I've tried several times to book in this (female-only) hostel in Rome, but it's always been booked up by the time I get around to it:


I've always met great people staying in hostels, which is one of the main reasons I used to prefer them to hotels. Often you'll meet someone to travel with for the next piece of the road. Usually there are bulletin boards with news of concerts or other cultural activities.

I've stayed more than once in a youth hostel in Manhattan. Once, one of my dorm mates was an upper-middle-class woman from Westchester County who stayed at the hostel so she'd have more money to spend at Bergdorf Goodman.

Now that I'm (re-)married, the hostels have lost their appeal for me.
bvlenci is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2015, 03:37 PM
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 1,205
The regulars on here who backpacked in the 1970s and used a Eurail Youthpass would no doubt not know about Busabout so yes, use that service as you can't beat the price.
10 days in central London will be very expensive, even in hostels, so you may have to move further afield or think about university dorms which let out their rooms in the summer. They're basic but well located.
Blueeyedcod is offline  
Nov 24th, 2015, 12:10 PM
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Posts: 78,322

I am one of those not familiar with Bus About - sounds good to me.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 25th, 2015, 11:53 PM
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Posts: 2,340
I suspect that you are flying in and out of Dublin as you have found a good fare on Aer Lingus. Do look at other flights that are open jaw so you do not need to backtrack. I too would recommend a rail pass for several reasons. First cost appears to be similar to Busabout and you have many more destinations and flexibility of time with trains. Secondly it appears that Busabout is very popular with Australians and to a lesser extent Americans and Canadians and while there is nothing wrong with traveling with such people it does appear to promote traveling with those of your own kind. The Busabout travelers I have met however seem to be having a good time. Traveling by second class train during the summer brings one into contact with a lot of student travelers backpacking through the continent and more often than not they are Europeans as well as Americans, Brits and Australians. A rail pass also opens up more of Europe since trains are faster while the buses are slower and seem to only travel during the day. Consider expanding your trip to include Spain and Scandinavia and perhaps eastern Europe. You have three months. I would also recommend setting up a basic itinerary but leave yourself open to changing on the fly as you go. You are bound to meet up with different people as you travel and decide to tag along with some other person or people for awhile to a different destination than originally planned. Do carry a smartphone with GPS and internet capability so you can research possible future accommodation as you travel. I do agree that hostels are great places to meet people but they do vary in quality. Those in northern Europe tend to be nicer than those in southern Europe. Student Dorms that are rented out in the summer tend to be nicer and very centrally located. I also think your itinerary is too city centric. The appeal of Ireland for example IMHO is in the countryside and not in Dublin or Belfast. This however generally means a car is the best way to tour Ireland but you may be too young to rent a car in Ireland and it would be expensive. A few comments on your other potential destinations:
Rome: I do not think you need 10 days. 5 days would be fine for most people. Day trip to Orvieto? (My daughter stayed in the Rome female hostel and thought it was fine)
Florence: 7 days is probably more than you need even with day trips to Pisa, Siena and Lucca. Perhaps consider staying some time in the Tuscan countryside at a Agritourismo?
Venice: Love Venice but I would not spend 7 days there on your tour. Its expensive and I would probably give it 4 nights.
Milan: Not a favorite city for me and I would give it 3 nights max with a day trip to the Lakes.
Consider the Cinq Terre and Naples/Pompeii and the Amalfi coast as well.
Paris: I think a week is more than fine. Consider Nice and Provence.
Berlin: Do not think you need a week in Berlin.
Munich: 2-3 days is fine and you might be able to squeeze in a day in Salzburg
Hamburg: Never been
Amsterdam: 3 days
Bruges: 1 full day is fine
Brussels: 1 full day.
Rotterdam: Never been
London: I would give it a week but I could see spending 10 days there, especially with day trips to such places as Cambridge, Bath, Stratford etc.
Manchester: Never been
Edinburgh and Glasgow: 2- 3 days each is probably fine.
I would look at the Lonely Planet, Rough Guide and Lets go Europe forums for more information. The one thing I would emphasize is that I do not think you need to lock yourself into an itinerary as you have three months and if you have a railpass you can go just about anywhere you want at any time. Leave a destination when you are ready and not because you have a rigid plan.
mjs is offline  
Nov 26th, 2015, 08:07 AM
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Posts: 92,777
It's hard to say which cities to skip, since we don't know why you chose what you chose in the first place.

To allow time to see more of France, maybe skip all of
Hamburg - Rotterdam - Brussels - Bruges and move down to France sooner?

I'd also reconsider some of these: Manchester - Edinburgh - Glasgow - Belfast - Dublin only because after traveling for 3 months straight, I don't know I'd want to be doing a bunch of 2 day stays at the end of the trip.
suze is offline  
Nov 27th, 2015, 07:55 AM
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Posts: 78,322
Yes include some of Britain's neat countryside too - like a few days in the famous Lake District and less in rather blah all around cities - or chose smaller cities like Bath and York, biggish cities that are also IMO along with Edinburgh the finest ones in Britain for tourists.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 28th, 2015, 09:05 AM
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Perhaps Rochester has chosen all cities because she likes the smell of diesel fuel.

Who knows, without any expression of feedback, or delineation of her interests or disinterests?
tomboy is offline  
Nov 29th, 2015, 11:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Well I rather like British large cities but I think that for a first-time traveler who wants to see a more dreamy picture of England they should go other places first - British large cities IMO are mainly rather blah from a good looks standpoint though interesting in their own ways.

Often folks gravitate to large cities because they see them on a map - but unless into House Music or Hip-Hop live or museums or run-down Victorian areas the common bloke traveler will like other places much more - York and Bath being exceptions to the large city blahness IMO - fantastic cities I believe not on OP's hit wish - Edinburgh of course is a world-class place of visual delight - not to be missed.

I'd hit Bath - then go up coast to Lake District - then to Edinburgh - down to York and back to London or elsewhere.
PalenQ is offline  
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