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College Graduate Backpacking in Europe for 4-6 weeks

College Graduate Backpacking in Europe for 4-6 weeks

Jan 3rd, 2012, 12:52 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,552
Sammy, you are about to have the time of your life. I did my solo backpack trip around Europe back in the mid 90's when things were much cheaper and I used a first class Eurail pass good for unlimited travel in 17 countries for 2 months. Unlike you I did absolutely no research before embarking on my journey. I bought a Let's Go Europe book and my whole plan consisted of landing in Amsterdam and then see what happens. I'm sure the same pass is much more expensive now and there are now required reservations even with a rail pass on the fast trains. Of course hostels are more expensive now too. But I just wanted to say that this was the best experience of my life and maybe I can offer you a few more tips.

If you stay in hostels you will meet loads of other backpackers and in addition to doing lots of partying with them we all shared travel tips about where we had been, places to stay, things to see, things to avoid and just overall great cultural exchange. Something I was particularly interested in was meeting Europeans who lived in countries I might want to visit. I was quite successful at this and as a result I was invited to stay in the homes of several of the people I met on the way. I probably got two weeks worth of free food and lodging out of my two month trip. But more than that I got to go to local places with local people and meet all their friends. Try to keep some flexibility in your schedule so you can prepare for the unexpected things you will undoubtedly learn about along the way. One of my favorite things about the rail pass was just showing up at a train station, looking at the train schedule and then hopping on the next train to whatever place seemed the most interesting at the moment. You've gotten some really excellent advice here so learn from it and have an awesome adventure. You may not get another chance in your life to do this. Or this might convince you that you want to travel for the rest of your life!
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 06:11 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
I wold really rethink that budget - esp if you are going to try to stretch it to 6 weeks.

Saw the "whilst" and not sure where you are from - but assuming you have to fly to europe that cost of air fare could not be included in $3000. And if you check I think you will find that a student train pass will take a large part of your budget and getting a bed in a dorm room in a hostel will take most of the rest. Have a look at the prices of some of the hostels you might use - as well a the cost of sights (which can be surprisingly expensive).

When my daughter went with 2 friends for 5 weeks she spent almost $9,000. Granted they stayed in (modest but central and air conditioned) hotels - not hostels. But they traveled by train, didn;t do much shopping and stuck to student type and price night life. (Modest beer and wine are fairly inexpensive in europe - but hard liquor is extremely expensive.)
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 07:26 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 576
sammy, a few other things to add to the info given above:

As mentioned, your budget is quite low for the time you're planning to spend away. Hopefully your airfare/rail pass aren't included in this. Most backpackers budget on US$75-100 per day for accommodation, food, drink, entrance fees, public transport, etc. $75 is, of course, a tight budget, but if you think you can do it on that, then you'll get your 6 weeks in, otherwise you're looking at a 4 week trip on a US$3000 budget, sticking closely to your daily spend limit.

Hostels, as has been mentioned, are a great way to meet other travellers, and Hostelworld.com is a good place to start looking at places. The advice to book well ahead is solid - leaving it until the last minute and travelling with a loose itinerary is a luxury you can only afford on a less tight budget. Plus you're travelling in the peak season (ie Summer) so not booking well ahead will result in less choice thus potentially blowing your budget. There are different types of accommodation available in hostels - single rooms, twin rooms, 6, 10, 12, 20 person dorms, etc, so doing a little research will give you an idea of prices in each city (once you've selected the cities you'll visit) and what you can afford in each place.

As far as cities to hit in each country, as this is your first time to Europe, and based on your description of what you're looking to do, I'd recommend something like (not necessarily in this order, but it's a start) Paris 5 nights (ie 4 full days), Madrid 4 nights, Sevilla 3 nights, Barcelona 3 nights, Rome 5 nights (allowing for a long day trip to Pompei if you're interested), Athens 2 nights (1 full day will allow for general sightseeing, add more on the return trip if you're interested in seeing more), Mykonos 5 nights (I've allowed 4 full days here for general relaxing, nigthlife and even a day trip to Delos if you're interested). That makes 4 weeks with a bit of travel but not so much that you'll not see anything except the inside of a plane/train. Of course this is a basic itinerary just touching on some of the "big" places which will offer lots of choice for sightseeing, history, nightlife and are good for a first visit, but hopefully it gives you something to work with for your trip planning. Once you've sorted cities to visit, you'll be able to sort the best route, accommodation, transport options between each and be able to get a better idea of your trip.

To add to the website lists given above, try guideforeurope.com for specific backpacking advice. It's a board that's been going for over 10 years and was originally set up to help first time backpackers to Europe.
madamtrashheap is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 09:04 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Congratulations on your graduation!

Here's another vote for Hostelworld.com. It's much better than Hostelbookers. I've seen good hostels where you can stay for as little as 12 euros a night - usually sharing a room with 11/more other people. I've used hostelworld mainly for the B&Bs which are also listed for some cities, so can't tell you much about specific hostels. However, the reviews are current and are invaluable.

A railpass would be a best buy for you in your situation. There are all kinds of permutations on the railpass, so you should start looking into this possibility as soon as possible.

$3000 is a very tight budget. Besides airfare, hostels, transportation on the ground between cities, there's also local in-city transportation, meals, entrance fees, and miscellaneous. Furthermore, you stated your budget in dollars which will have to be converted into euros, making your budget even tighter.

I once met a young man who said that he was sleeping for free in his travels around Europe. Sorry but i don't remember the name of his source. I do remember that the famous bookstore in Paris, Shakespeare and Co, allows one free night in their bookstore. Maybe it's in exchange for doing some work in their bookstore. You might want to look into some of these free accommodations to cut down on your lodging expenses.

Other possible sources of cheap lodging would be monasteries and dormitories.

Good luck! Have a great trip!
easytraveler is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 01:19 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 895
OK, a few notes on Greece:
Athens is a very interesting city with much to do and see. But it is going to be very hot on your dates. It is advisable to be outdoors on mormings and evenings, while be somewhere airconditioned around mid-day. Choose location of your accomondation wisely: Monastiraki,Plaka,Syndagma, areas of Kolonaki are near the main sites and very safe. Avoid Omonoia Square, nor really dangerous but very unpleasant-seedy. A very well-located hostel with good feedback is the Athens backpackers. Google to check details. Hostels are not a very common thing in Greece as on other countries. In Athens this is your more suotable option, but on islands you may want to look for campings or rooms to let. Rates vary according to island,location and date. Nowdays most rooms to let feature ensuite WC/shower, have a small fridge and often a couple of cooking rings so your can prepare some basic meals and save on meal costs. On July/August I think you can hardly find one room for two people for less than 30-40 euro though. Be aware. About Athens, public transport system is excellent. If you want to see the major sites, they are mostly concentrateed on a small arsa, you can simply walk around the city center, some of it is pedestrianised too. Acropolis site has about 6-7 surrounding sites which you can visit on a common 14 euro ticket. Acropolis museum is a must too, and I suggest to jump on metro for a couple of stops and visit the Archeological museum too. As you seem to like walking, Philopappos and Lykavittus Hills are great to enjoy views of Athens from above. Athens has a vibrant nightlife, but not on July and August. Most Athenians go to countryside and islands by then. Still plenty of bars to enjoy a drink around.
Where to visit except Athens...Well, I understand that most people are interested on islands, and mostly on Cyclades due to the stereotype white cube houses and blue dome churches arcitecture... If this is a must for you, I suggest to spend a couple of night to Santorini, in order to see the famous caldera. It isone of the most crowded and expensive islands though. If you are into nightlife, I suggest to skip Mykonos which is nice but equaly expensive and look on Ios. It is a cheap students' party destination on high season , on the same ferry line to Santorini. As Santorini, this is a small island too. Easy to explore most of it on 2-3 nights. Actually most action is concentrate on Mykopotas beach.
If you are into some nightlife, not necessarily wild, you may want to look on Paros instead. It is a larger island with a very handy bus system, a fe interesting sites and mostly about sandy beaches. You van take a bus from Parikia (capital town of the island) to Lefkes, an uphill village which used to be the former capital town and is very scenic. There is a Vyzantine path leading you down on the east coast beaches through Marpissa/Prodromoss villages and onwards on Piso Livadi town. You can then walk for kloms from one sandy beach to next sandy beach. On this coast, you will find Pounda Beach, a sandy beach and a popular complex with swimming pools,bars, beach bars, watersports and plenty to keep young active people happy. Naoussa is an othee place to see on the island, former fishing village, still very scenic but touristy. Near by tiny Antiparos island is only a 15 minutes crossing from Parikia or Pounda port (different location than Pounda Beach!), it features a deep cave in the middle, plus many sea caves accesible only by sea. Plenty of round the island boat trips.
I'll come back later with mainland suggestions.
mariha2912 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 03:26 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 895
OK, mainland:
First of all, based on Athens, you can always visit Cape Sounion (Posidon Temple) as a half day trip. This is easily done on public transport or organised tour. While on Athens you can always take in some suburbs for a change eg Glyfada (posh sea side resort), Piraeus (very nice harbors and nice dinning away from port, plus cheap shopping and decent bars around), Northern suburbs such as Kifissia and Maroussi (malls to hung around) and so on...
Now, Athens has two intercity bus stations KTEL bus station A on Kifissou street and KTEL bus station B near Liossion street. There are buses that can take you in many different areas of Greece. Due to time constrains I suggest two options:
Either get a bus from station A to Nafplion on Peloponnese, either get a bus from station B to Delphi. Nafplion isthe first capital of modern Greece, a scenic sea side town, favorite weekend get away for Athenians. A hike of 999 (or so!) steps will lead you up to Palamidi fortress with gorgeous views to Bourtzi fort. Town has plenty of nice areas to walk, nice dinning, acouple of small museums/exibitions and serves as a great base to visit very important near by ancient sites on a short bus or taxi (or a combination of both) ride. Epidavros, Ancient Tyrins, Mycynae, Ancient Asine and so on... You can easily spend at least 2-3 nights there. Bus from Athens drives through Corynth Canal on the way and on a modern high way. You'll be on Nafplion on 2+ hours.
Delphi... Delphi is a 3 hours bus ride from Delphi, highway at start, mountainous narrow road for next half of the trip. There is a 10' rest stop on a hotel outside Livadia. Delphi was concidered the navel of earth (center of the world) for ancient Greeks, Oracle of god Apollo was set here. People were coming from all corners of the then known world to consult the oracle and so offering many gifts. Lots of magnificent items still survive and are hosted on the museum, and lots of buildings still remaining, including ruins of Temple of Apollon, Athinae Pronaea Temple, an amphitheater and a stadium. Location is absolutely charming and E4 path passes through Delphi. So you can hike either form Delphi through the olive grow to Itea Gulf, wither hike up to mount Parnassos, Corynthian Cave etc...
I am not aware of hostels on those two places, but I am sure you can get a room for about 35-40 euro including breakfast after asking around a bit.
Bus system is in general reliable and handy in Greece. Athens to Dephi costs about 15.50 euro one way for example.
In Athens, you will not really need to use PT a lot. But if you do, this is cheap too. A ticket of 1.40 euro right now can be used for 90 consecutive minutes on all tram, metro, bus, trolley options in the city center.

Just some ideas, of course you have no time to visit all, but you can peak some of those if you wish....

I hope I helped a bit!
mariha2912 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 04:55 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,026
Sammy...here is a Couch Surfing website. Check it out because while by no means a perfect alternative, it does provide you with the ability to join an international group that can end up dramatically reducing your costs and you can meet a lot of people, whether staying with them or not.


daveesl is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 06:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,266
Does the $3000 need to buy you a plane ticket to Europe (if yes, from where)? If ~$1000 is coming off the top of $3000 for a plane ticket, then your budget is too tight. Is it covering your rail pass?

If the $3000 is only for when you are on the ground, daily expenses, local transporation, etc. would be OK. Unless my math's wrong that's 4 weeks = $107/day or at 6 weeks still = $71/day.
suze is online now  
Jan 4th, 2012, 10:13 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 21
To answer some of your questions, nytraveler: I am from North Carolina around the Charlotte area. Sorry about the 'whilst' thing haha I just spent 5 months in Australia so a little bit of the Aussie lingo has rubbed off!

Also, I suppose my budget is a bit tighter than I had thought. I was thinking about $3000USD just as a rough estimate. It wouldn't include airfare, but I was not aware that rail passes were as much as they are. Perhaps I'll have to cut the trip down to about 4-5 weeks instead of 6.

Another thing I forgot to mention is that I have a place to stay in Italy for at least a few days. My friend lives in Tradate and agreed to take me and my friend around Italy to Florence, Rome, etc. Also, I just recently found out that I will be having family staying in Italy around the 20th of July because my cousin is getting married so I could probably bum some floor space with some family during that time.

I am also not opposed to the whole 'couchsurfing' thing as I have always been interested in trying that. I've heard mostly good things about it, as far as I can tell, but please correct me if I am wrong.

I also have a cousin that lives in Barcelona at the moment, but am not sure how likely it would be to stay with her because I believe she may be working as an au pair? So that could be an option, but not positive on that one.

Also thanks to mariha2912 for all of the Greece advice! Sounds awesome
slammin_sammy180 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 10:18 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
I suggest a railpass of the type that allows you to get on any train at any time.

The reason is because with the euro-crisis, the countries that you have picked are very prone to strikes. You do not want to buy a specific train ticket for a specific trip only to find out there's a railroad strike. If this happens to you once during the trip, it's a headache. If it happens multiple times, it's going to be a nightmare.
easytraveler is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 11:27 PM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 895
You are very welcome sammy!
One last note: I think unless you have plenty of time to connect on a ferry from Italy, flight is the best option to reach Greece. Train system was never very developed in this country, and now due to all the financial difficulties, most shedules are for the time been canceled. I would subscribe on aegean air and olympic air for newletters... Sometimes about February,March they release some very handy offers. Flights might apply when in Greece too. A flight from Athens to Santorini lasts 50 minutes, while a ferry ride lasts 6 to 8 hours. If you finaly decide on some set dates, using special offers, a flight cost same rate or even cheaper than a ferry sometimes! Easyjet is an other good option if you decide far in advance. Plus check carefully if you can fly into one placed, then fly from an other place.If you decide on an island, on July and August there are some direct flights from some European capitals. It would be handy to fly on an island, explore, take a ferry or flight to Athens and fly home or to next destination from Athens. Or v.v. You save lots of backtracking!
mariha2912 is offline  
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