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bearbear7 Sep 24th, 2014 06:12 PM

First Europe trip - Where do I go????!!!
Hi all, so I'm heading to Europe next summer (I know it seems far away but I'm working to save enough money over the winter to afford it) I've been looking on hubub at a lot of pictures and articles to decide where to go. The pictures of Croatia look asstoounnding, as do the ones of Norway. But it's my first time, and I'm going alone. I want to be safe but also see the best I possible can in two months.

I haven't decided where yet at all, so I'm totally open to suggestion! I just know that I need to get out of town and experience something new. I have an affinity to France I think, and cities in general (I'm an English student and I'm interested in historical places where famous writers have been inspired)

I'd really like some advice from experienced travellers. I'm overwhelmed but I also have time. Just trying to plan the best getaway for myself. Thanks.


bobthenavigator Sep 24th, 2014 06:23 PM

First, decide when, how long, and how much. That may dictate where.

bearbear7 Sep 24th, 2014 06:48 PM

2 months, May 2015, probably like a 5000 dollar budget? Backpacking.

Hez Sep 24th, 2014 07:04 PM

Does that include flights?

Either way, it's not a huge budget so you might want to stick to cheaper destinations. I did a quick google - here's a good list -

Have an awesome time!

nytraveler Sep 25th, 2014 04:22 AM

Being on a budget you will probably want to avoid Switz and the Scandinavian countries - since prices are typically much higher - often double - those in the US. And remember than the euro (never mind pound) is worth much more than the $.

Assuming $5K includes flights from the US (probably at least $1k - we don't know where you're flying from) you may not even have enough for the absolute lower limit of a viable budget. (If you look at Let's Go and other student guides you'll often see quotes of about 50 euros per day as the bare minimum to cover a hostel and picnic type meals with modest sightseeing.)

So I would continue to work on saving money and also focus your research on countries where you can get the most for your money.

Continental_Drifter Sep 25th, 2014 04:42 AM

I have lots of thoughts on this for you, as I'm planning a similar trip for my college students.

The one thing I would suggest thinking about is finding someone with whom to travel. I love to travel independently and I can understand why you would want to.

However, as a student on a budget, your money will go much farther if you can share a room, even in budget hotels. Now, hostels charge by the head, so if you're doing all hostels, it can be done, but your budget will restrict some of your travel.

I'll come back later and add some more thoughts.... off to the morning commute!

Continental_Drifter Sep 25th, 2014 06:56 AM

Okay, I'm back, but since I think bearbear7 is new here, she might not check back. Before I start typing a ton of info, I'll check to see if she's back at all.

bobthenavigator Sep 25th, 2014 07:19 AM

This trip will be all about $$$. You need to set that number before you decide where and how long. You do not want the UK nor CH, nor Scandanavia---all too expensive. The type of rail pass will also be a factor. Your air cost can easily be $1400 during that season. Asssume a total of $2000 for transportation. Then, set a daily budget for living costs. I doubt if $5000 will be adequate.

bearbear7 Sep 25th, 2014 07:30 AM

I'm back!! Awh see Scandinavia is kind of on my bucket list but maybe it's better to hold off for the first trip? I am kind of low on cash. I know people that have back packed for 5000 that's why I'm ok with that number. They didn't invest in a rail pass but took flights instead for like 40 euro when they were available. Booked flights as they became available and were cheap. I just don't want to take a friend of a friends advice you know I wanted to open in up to a forum of experienced travellers.

ian_hart10 Sep 25th, 2014 07:40 AM

Scandinavia is awesome! But as someone has already pointed out is expensive, i found especially in Copenhagen there are a lot of parks where people go to drink etc. in the summer! It helps that there is a very low crime rate, anti social behaviour over there :)

traveller1959 Sep 25th, 2014 08:56 AM

Yes, Scandinavia IS expensive. So, try the Southern neighbour. Germany, due to low inflation rates, is surprisingly cheap and has everything to offer what you expect from Europe.

Berlin is an outstanding destination with a zillion attractions of all kind. You may visit Wernigerode and Quedlingburg, two gems of historic towns. Erfurt, Lutherstadt Wittenberg and Dresden are good destinations, and from there you may proceed to Prague - the socalled "Golden City", which is very affordable. You might also include Austria, especially Vienna, which is also affordable.

Trains can be very cheap, especially if you book early. See Public transportation is also inexpensive in Europe, especially if you buy day or multi-day passes.

Accomodation can be inexpensive, too. Try and airbnb, especially if you want to stay for several nights at one place. Alternatively, you may look for hostels. You might find even good hotel deals on websites like

Food and drink can be very inexpensive in Europe. In train stations and in the downtown areas you find huge selections of self-service eateries which offer good food at cheap prices. A decent meal would be 4 to 6 Euros there. Alternatively, you can go to grocery stores and buy your supplies there. Having a picnic meal including beer or wine on a park bench is perfectly acceptable in European cities.

$5000 should be more than sufficient for a fantastic trip! (writes a native who knows how to live in Europe)

And regarding safety: Europe is very safe, day and night.

zmzm917 Sep 25th, 2014 09:09 AM

My wife and I have been going every yer for the last 10 years and tha is a question we are often asked. My opinion is that a great introduction to European travel would be Paris and London. Try not to see to many cities at one time so that you'll get the flavor of the place. I refer to these 2 cities as the "brand name cities of europe" similar to Rome and Berlin. London makes a great hub to every other conection and either place is not expensive to visit if you are wise with your choices.

bobthenavigator Sep 25th, 2014 09:37 AM

After transport she is left with $3000 for 60 days.
That is $50 per day for food, lodging and tourism---which is 38E per day. I think that is about half of what a backpacker may spend per day. Am I wrong---especially in Paris, London, and Rome. Maybe 30 days may work, but not 60.

Continental_Drifter Sep 25th, 2014 01:00 PM

Yay! You're back, bearbear7!

I helped my college student plan his trip to England/Ireland/Scotland and Wales. He was only gone a month, but did his trip on a shoestring.

Do you have any interest in those areas?

Airbnb might be a perfect way for you to go on the cheap, but again, consider traveling with someone.

Europe is exceptionally safe. But there is also safety in numbers.

Are you male or female? Sorry, but it does make a difference.

Can't help it. I'm a mom.

Also - have you considered Spain? It's much les

Continental_Drifter Sep 25th, 2014 01:02 PM

*less expensive than some of your other choices.

zmzm917 Sep 25th, 2014 01:12 PM

The lardger cities have hostels and they are generally safe plus you'll get to meet other travellers who may been to your future destinations and become a remarkable resource. Every city has its own version of a supermarket where you can buy bread, cold cuts, a rottisierie chicken etc. choose your cities distance wisely so you don't have to pay a lot on transportation. eastern europe is cheaper to visit. we love spain and there's a lot to do, see, and eat but its not close to anything else. your interest and budget will dictate where you'll end up.

RoamEurope Sep 25th, 2014 05:51 PM

London, Paris and Rome are the cornerstones of Europe and I would almost always tell you to start there. However, if your budget doesn't permit it, Spain, Portugal- maybe Italy- and Eastern European countries are your best bet.

Pintxos Sep 25th, 2014 06:17 PM

Thanks for sharing with us. I have never come across it before. You may want to post on Lonely Planet's thorn tree forum under backpacking in Europe. Their demographics is a bit younger and quite a bit poorer than Fodor's. Here, you have primarily experienced travelers with sophisticated palates.

Are you of an age where you can get an ISIC card from STA Travel or some other source?

Pintxos Sep 25th, 2014 06:19 PM

Oh, and check out hostels, especially YHA/HI hostels.

mariha2912 Sep 26th, 2014 02:40 AM

I a firm believer that setting a specific ammount of time then trying to make budget work is a wrong approach while planning a first trip to Europe. I would try to get some more specific ideas on what destinations are a must for you, what kind of sights/activities are of interest, see how much those will cost and see how long you can afford been there for. There is no point to go all the way somewhere then wanting to visit this site or doing that activity or dying to try this food or meeting some interesting guys who invite you for a drink but skip all those because you can't afford it... This will not be a trip, this will be a torture. Balance quality vs quantity is a difficult one and even if your budget was much higher, still compromisses would have to be made.
But I think you need to start forming some more solid ideas and research carefully on costs before setting a time frame!
There are websites such as numbeo where you may check prices for different countries and while very generic, this is a start. If there is a museum/monument/tour you are very keen on, usually their websites provide admission fees and other info too. Tons of accommodation searching machines online too, such as hostelworld, booking and so on...

I am user of ThornTree lonely planet too, I suggest you to go on Western Europe brand and check stickies on top of the page. You may check other brunches too. There are interesting pointers on budget, traveling methods etc. Do not post there before you have more specific questions on your mind because although TT regular posters are very knowledgeable and experienced on many topics, they can be very sharp and do not tolerate naive posts, no matter how well-intended. Read up a bit and you'll see what I mean.

Good Luck!

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