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Backpacking through Europe in December

Old Sep 4th, 2013, 04:48 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2013
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Backpacking through Europe in December


I've very recently decided to make this trip to Europe in 3 months, haha. I have the money and I'm about to purchase my initial airfare. My major question is, from people with experience. Should I start my trip at the beginning of December or at the the end?

I'll more than likely be staying for 4-6 weeks traveling all over.
robert_harmon is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2013, 04:51 AM
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I would go for starting at the start of dec because most places will be decked out for Christmas and New Years celebrations. I find January depressingly dreary after the lights come down etc.

But then you will need to plan around Xmas and new year holiday schedules on trains, restaurants, sites etc.
jamikins is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2013, 05:52 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
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Start in December so you can enjoy hot alcoholic beverages in the Christmas markets.
sparkchaser is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2013, 11:20 AM
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Thanks! I didn't think about transportation issue on Christmas, I am planning on spending Christmas in London and them having a for New Years I'm meeting a friend in Dublin for a Pub Crawl
robert_harmon is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2013, 11:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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London is great for Xmas...but ALL public transport is shut on Xmas day. Not a big deal if you plan in advance and make sure you book a hotel in central London so you can walk everywhere. London Walks does a walk that day every year

Boxing Day transport is Sunday schedule so not a big deal.
jamikins is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2013, 03:05 PM
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I definitely would vote for the beginning of December, to be in Europe in the weeks leading up to the holidays.
suze is online now  
Old Sep 4th, 2013, 03:35 PM
Join Date: Aug 2013
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My general rule on Europe is to do as many cities as I have weeks. Every time you pack up and move it is stressful. The big problems with European winter travel are (1) you need a lot more clothing in that backpack than you need during the summer--which makes the backpack heavier; (2) there are limited hours of daylight to see things; (3) being outdoors if the weather turns lousy isn't much fun; (4) attractions are on winter schedule except for school holidays.

Christmas day everywhere things tend to be closed. You can always get a meal in hotel restaurants, but that is about it. Things are closed in the US too, of course. Just be prepared for limited options on that day and know what you are going to do ahead of time.

If it is your first trip, you probably won't be much concerned with Christmas markets. Many on Fodors love them and that's fine, but you will be busy seeing the main sights and probably not visit a Christmas market unless you run into one.

If you have the entire month of December, pick no more than 6 places and go to them. Doing the whole of Europe is impossible. Europe will still be there when you return.

The weather is worse in January (generally) than it is in December, so I would go in December. As in the US, January and February are the worst months for travel for weather.

Have fun!
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2013, 09:47 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
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for New Years I'm meeting a friend in Dublin for a Pub Crawl


You can do that any night in Ireland.
sparkchaser is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2013, 12:07 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
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I was going through my email and found a message from Lonely Planet about December festivals. Here it is with only the European ones mentioned. (I did not include the Christmas markets)


Location: Newtown, Wales
Date: First or second Sunday in December

What better way to start the silly season than doing something really stupid in a Santa suit while trying to earn a place in Guinness Book of Records. On the Santarun, thousands of people slap on a jolly-red Santa suit and run a 7.2km course around the Powys town.

Klausjagen (Chasing the Claus)

Location: Küssnacht, Switzerland
Date: 5 December

Cast aside any preconceptions about the restrained nature of the Swiss as you watch them beat up on a fellow named Santa Claus. On the eve of St Nicholas Day, the good folk of Küssnacht, on the northern shores of Lake Lucerne, drag out their whips and cow bells for one of the country’s more unusual parades.


Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Date: 11 December

If you want a decent excuse to eat chocolate before Christmas, Geneva has come up with it. At l’Escalade, the city’s largest festival, marzipan-filled marmites en chocolat (chocolate cauldrons) are smashed and the sweet pieces are gathered up and devoured.

Hogmanay (New Year)

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Dates: 29 December–1 January

For Scots, the New Year has always been a more important celebration than Christmas, and largely they’ve managed to convince the world of the same through the enormous Hogmanay celebrations that engulf Edinburgh.

Fête des Lumières

Lyon, France; several days around 8 December

France’s third city glows with sound-and-light shows to mark the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.


Vienna, Austria; 31 December

Kick off Vienna’s ball season and see in the New Year in pure elegance.
sparkchaser is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2013, 12:59 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
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Due to work restrictions I can travel only on European winter and I think the whole weather issue is somehow overblown by many. Unless you plan to do strictly summer activities or you have in mind to visit an attraction which might be closed,I find traveling on winter a pleasure. Exception would be of course if you do not have tolerence on cold/rain/snow at all, which is highly unlikely.

As a back packer you may visit less visitors around, by on my experience usually they are more interesting travelers with many stories to share.

Although me my self I like to have a plan A and a plan B and a plan C, I never pre-arrange everything as some people on this forum tend to do. Around Xmas/NY time it is important to do some accomodation and travel arrangement and it is nice to have a place booked for first couple of days upon arrival, but otherwise I do not see reason why not to relax, explore, see how you feel at the moment and decide your next move while on the spot. Some people find accomodation upon arriving on a destination but if you find this a hassle, you can usually prebook a couple of days in advance. A major factor here is the budget issue and how flexible you are.
"Backpacking" means different thing to different people. The more time you have in a place and the more money, the more flexible you may be. If your budget is circa 60-70 euro/day, unfortunately you'll have to move only every few days and maybe prebook to insure cheap transit and in reality this is a very strict budget. If you have around say 100 euro/day, advice differs. Also although this forum is great fan of trains and rightly so, I find that although sometimes slower, buses or even an organised tour here and there make no harm and might actually be cheaper. So you have some alternatives.

Just my 2p .
mariha2912 is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2013, 03:48 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,183
I also don't think you have to pack a lot more than summer. A simple list would be(including what you would wear on the plane):

3 slacks
3 shirts
3 underwear
3 socks (pairs)
2 long underwear (silk or other lightweight)
down vest
waterproof jacket (gortex or similar)
warm sweater or fleece
2 shoes (pairs, one waterproof)
laurie_ann is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2013, 04:00 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7,763
No, 3 long underwear and 3 pairs of shoes. Gotta go by threes.
sparkchaser is offline  
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