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First euro trip, looking for advice from knowledgable travelers :)

First euro trip, looking for advice from knowledgable travelers :)

Old Jun 22nd, 2014, 09:24 PM
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First euro trip, looking for advice from knowledgable travelers :)

Hey everyone!

I am saving up money for my first euro trip I am absolutely ecstatic and terrified at the same time because I have decided to travel alone. Naturally I want to just dive in and not even think twice about it but, that obviously isn't an ideal plan. So, I've come seeking advice from lovely people such as yourselves to help a gal out. I plan of setting out in the spring or summer of 2015, most likely spring to avoid the sweltering heat of summer.
Below I'm going to add my list of cities I'd like to visit and would like feedback on it. I'm looking to find the best route to hit these cities and a rough estimate of how much time(month wise) I will need to do so. Also, if anyone knows how expensive any of the cities I list are that'd be nice info to have as well. If you want to throw in any hotel, restaurant, sight seeing, or hiking trail recommendations I'd love to hear those as well. I welcome any and all input!

My list of cities- London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Milano, Cinque Terre, Roma, Monte Carlo(or Marseille), Barcelona.

Stragglers on the list are Santorini, Dubrovnik, Vienna, Madrid and Brussels.

Thank you for your input and taking the time to help out!
queenkmb is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2014, 10:13 PM
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I love your excitement and enthusiasm, so welcome to Fodors!

So we can help you a little better, we need you to fill in a little information. Like how long do you plan to travel, and do you have any idea what your budget is -- for hotels, transport, meals, along with "can't miss" sites to see. Whether you like or don't like museums, and aside from hiking, which is apparent in your post, what other things do you enjoy?

Since you sound young, for hotel accommodations, would you consider staying in a hostel (cheaper, and get to meet lots of travelers from different countries to hang with) or if hotel is the only option, would shared bathroom be okay or must you have an ensuite bathroom?

Any information that can help us help you would be appreciated!

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Old Jun 22nd, 2014, 10:23 PM
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Ditto what surfer girl said.

Remember moving from city to city is expensive and you lose time.

London and Paris are particularly expensive.

You might consider renting an apartment you would not only save on hotels but food as well.

Pick the four cities you most want to visit.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2014, 10:34 PM
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Well, Cinque Terre and Santorini are not cities. London is huge and requires at least four days. Same for Rome -- actually maybe even more; on my last trip to Rome, I spent 8 days in the city and still did not get to places on my list. I love Paris and have spent months there but a four day trip should give you enough time to hit the major sites. Most of the other destinations can be dome in 3 days -- except for Monte Carlo which is a one day trip if at all. It looks to me that you will need at least a month not including travel days. Berlin and Prague are less expensive than the other cities on your main list. Others may disagree but I think that London is ridiculously expensive. Here is a link to a Forbes article that has a link to an index of the costs of European cities. The index gives you a sense of the relative cost of visiting various destinations in Europe. http://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyamoh...ndex-for-2014/
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Old Jun 22nd, 2014, 10:53 PM
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Yes of course, sorry I was kind of vague! I am able to set aside 3-4 months for travel and will have a budget of $17,000 at the least, possibly more. I would like to see the "must see" sights such as the London eye, the Eiffel Tower, Colleseum etc. but I don't need to take lengthy tours. I probably wouldn't go to the top of the Eiffel Tower but would love a picture in front of it. I might do the louvre if the lines are relatively short but if not a stroll around the outside will suffice. Same goes with the famous sights in each city. If it has a 2+ hr line I will pass and wait until the off season to go back. I'm very outdoorsy and like beautiful hikes and I was raised on a beach so I'll stop at any beach I come across for at least an hour if time warrants.

Would apartment rentals in each city be cheaper than hotels? I don't have anything against hostels but I do kind of like privacy when I sleep but if I was running low on money I would stay at a hostel. I am okay with 3 star hotels. Might splurge one night in Paris for a room with a view of the tower.

What I really need help with is mapping out my route. I have no clue where to start and where to end my journey.

Thank you for being so kind and welcoming!
queenkmb is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 12:15 AM
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Unless you get a special visa, you can only stay 90 days out of 180 days in the Schengen Area.

Fortunately, the UK is not a Schengen member so I suggest making the UK your first or last stop.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 12:27 AM
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Apartments generally only make sense for longer stays.

Figure out how many nights you want to spend in each city then address the apartment versus hotel/guesthouse/B&B/hostel question. I agree with you about hostels and while some hostels do offer private rooms, they usually cost as much as a regular hotel.

How were you planning on getting from city to city?

If you are going to avoid "must see" places because of long queues, then you may be skipping many of your "must sees"; however, if you go in the spring, waits won't be too bad. Bring a Kindle to pass the time.

Also, I suggest looking at a map of Europe to best plan your itinerary.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 03:15 AM
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All the cities seems expensive. But my personal preference is Barcelona. It's my all time favourite. A wonderful city for a different experience. At the same time you will also get to avoid the summer heat since Barcelona is so romantic in the summer time.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 03:24 AM
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17, 000 is that US dollars, Canadian or Australian or?
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 03:29 AM
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I would start in the UK to minimize solo culture shock - spending at least a week in London - but you can do a couple of day trips in that. And you might want to consider if there are other places you want to see since you are limited to 90 days in Schengen (but UK is on top of that).

Your budget is modest but doable. However I think you will be limited to hostels or convents - since it would be very tight trying to do hotels, train travel between cities, meals and sightseeing in that budget. It's true apts can be less - but not THAT much less - even a studio - and typically many want you to rent for a week.

I would check out the Let's Go student guides to a lot of tips on how to travel on a modest budget.

One thing I think is key is staying in a very central location - esp traveling alone. You want to be able to walk and the door and be near sights and services - not have to take scarce public transit into and out of city centers at night.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 03:47 AM
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A few things you might think about at this early planning stage:


Consider booking an open jaw ticket-one that arrives one place and departs in another, say arrive in London and leave from Berlin for instance. Based on your profile it looks like you are based in Dallas so you should have lots of options.

Consider flying in and out of smaller airports and doing part of your trip en route to Europe. We just came back to France from the US and had plenty of time so we decided to take Aer Lingus to Dublin from Boston. We spent 3 nights there just relaxing and then flew from there to Bordeaux. Both Dublin and Bordeaux are great mid-sized cities, super young. We are considering flying Icelandic Air next year so that we can stop in Iceland. Anyway you get the drift.

I would also think about flying within Europe to maximize your time. Even though you have 3-4 months, with the great budget airlines in Europe these days you can do a lot more. If you don't know about this link it is handy:


I definitely think apartments can be cheaper than hotels, although that is debatable when you are traveling solo. But you can save money on food by cooking a bit and you will probably be more comfortable and have a bit more space. You might also want to look into renting a room through airbnb because that way you could still have a private bedroom and bath potentially but meet some locals-sort of a compromise to a hotel, apartment and hostel.

Of the cities you listed I am guessing London is one of the most expensive but as usual it kind of depends. But just based using the pound, it drives the price way up.

Helping you budget is tricky because everyone is different in how much they need to spend. But in general, London is expensive as is most of northern Europe and Scandinavia. Spain and Portugal are good and some places in eastern Europe are a bargain still.

Oh and here is link about the Schengen rules:


In general, I wouldn't get too tight yet in your planning. Just read as much as you can, and start to think about flight deals and getting there and back first and then start to really think about housing options. Your budget IMO is generous enough to give you a fair amount of flex. Once you have the general overview mapped out, the rest will become easier I think.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 03:51 AM
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First do the math to see how long you can really afford to stay. Assume up to $2000 for your main flights (are you starting from the US?). This year they are about $1500 depending on the month and the departure city. But then that leaves $15000 which sounds like a lot but - if you stayed the 90 days plus a week in London that would work out to just over $1000 a week for everything including intra European travel, lodging, food, sightseeing. That's only about 750€, so really not enough for that length of time unless you are OK with hostels or couchsurfing. Apartments only save money if there are at least two people and you're staying at least a week. Otherwise, I've always found hotels for less. So think about whether you can come up with more money, or if not if you want to travel for as long as possible but be really tight financially or if you would rather shorten up the trip.

Having said that, you will still be able to see a LOT and have a great trip.

London - I would give it a week and plan on a couple of day trips. There are lots of places you can get to easily by train and you can wait till you are there to decide which places and which days. Possibilities include Warwick (great castle, cute town), Oxford or Cambridge (both worthwhile but I'd pick one for this trip), Bath, even Canterbury/Dover. London can be expensive but all the museums are free and it has some fabulous ones, walking around and seeing the great architecture and just soaking up the atmosphere is free. They have great inexpensive take away food from places like Tesco and Sainsbury, etc. Do a search here and you'll get lots of ideas of how to do London and not break the bank.

Then I'd take the train to Paris and stay at least 5 days. The day trip options from Paris aren't as great as from London but there certainly are some.

Then train to Amsterdam. Amsterdam itself is worth 2 -3 days but there are several small Dutch cities a short train ride away so day trips are good here - Haarlem, Delft, Leiden, etc. Brussels is one of my least favorite of the places you've mentioned but other places in Belgium are wonderful - Antwerpt, Ghent, Brugge. You can easily base in any one of them and see the others plus Brussels as day trips. So I'd say give Belgium/the Netherlands a week split between two bases, one of them Amsterdam.

The only place on your list that I have not been to is Berlin but probably 3 or 4 days there. Prague is small but densely packed with sights and there are a few day trip possibilities so I'd give it 4 or 5 days. Whether trains or flights would be faster/more economical for these you'd need to research. Often times flying is cheaper than trains, but often times the train will be faster since there's no getting to/from the airport (trains come into city centers) or waiting for flights, etc.

Italy - I would give it three weeks minimum if you are talking about a total of close to three months. Why Milano? There's some beautiful things to see there but in terms of stuff most travelers want to see/experience it's pretty far down on the list after Venice, Veneto towns like Verona and Padua, Florence, the rest of Tuscany, Bologna, Amalfi Coast - none of which you mentioned. It's OK if Italy isn't your thing but at least read up on it before you decide against those places. But Cinque Terre itself can be done in 2-3 days. I personally prefer to stay in another town in the region (Rapallo) and do day trip to the CT plus the many other wonderful towns on that part of the coast (Portovenere, Portofino, Camogli, Santa Margherita, etc.). If you go that route than 5-7 days is good. Rome itself I would say minimum of 5 days.

For the French Riviera portion I'd base in Nice and do Monoco as a day trip. I'd also do Eze, Antibes, Vence, etc. A week would not be too long there.

Barcelona also minimum of 4-5 days, a week with some day trips would not be too long.

Those are the places on your main list and the above totals about 8 weeks, so well with in the 90 days (since it includes London). With your budget I would probably do this, perhaps adding a few days in each place or some stopovers between places. If you want Dubrovnik or Santorini you'll need to fly, but you might find some pretty cheap flights (we flew from Rome to Dubrovnik for 14€ each way a few years ago). I would give each of them 3 or 4 days minimum and add in some other places in the regions while I was there. Both Croatia and Greece are less expensive in terms of hotels than most of the rest of Europe.

This is my photo galleries - there are photos of all these places - www.pbase.com/annforcier

Have fun planning
isabel is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 07:08 AM
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We're assuming you'll use trains and planes for transportation, which makes the best sense for a solo traveler moving between major cities. You can save a lot of money by buying point-to-point train tickets well ahead of time. Especially on the Eurostar between London and Paris. But these tickets are nonrefundable requiring you to commit to an itinerary.

Much as I like apartments, I think a first-timer traveling by herself would be better off at hotels, where you can get help on directions, in-city transportation, good nearby restaurants. It's nice to have somebody to talk to. You can also meet up with people on walking tours, at least for a moments casual conversation. For a huge choice of walking tours in London, look at www.walks.com. London Walks also has some out-of-London excursions.

Finally I'd like to throw out an unasked-for suggestion. How about splitting this trip into two different trips? Maybe northern Europe and save southern Europe for another time. Don't use up all you time and money this time, and save up some more money for your next trip. You're so excited about all these places to visit, but you might get a bit tired after 6 weeks or so. Sight-seeing is work. Every time you arrive in a new place, you have to scope it out, find your way to your hotel, find your way around, learn to use the local buses or subway. This can get old after a while. Just a thought.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 04:38 PM
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If you are interested in hiking then I am confused why you are spending all your time in big cities.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 07:22 PM
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Thank you all for the responses, I am not able to read and respond to them for the next few days due to exams and family visiting but can't wait to sit down and do so. Just wanted to show my appreciation to you all, thank you!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 09:21 PM
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My best advice is to skip Monte Carlo, which is primarily filled with high-rise buildings and very expensive hotels and restaurants. Nice is much more interesting--and affordable.
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