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First time backpacking - realistic itinerary?

First time backpacking - realistic itinerary?

Feb 20th, 2013, 01:41 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1
First time backpacking - realistic itinerary?

I am planning on backpacking through Europe this summer with my boyfriend, both our first time. I have been doing some research and would like to know if my current itinerary is realistic or completely over-ambitious... It is as follows
Paris - 5 nights
Brussels - 2 nights
Amsterdam - 3 nights
Berlin - 3 nights
Gdansk - 10 nights (family to visit)
Krakow - 1 night
Overnight train to Prague
Prague - 2 nights
Vienna - 2 nights
Night train to Venice
Venice - 2 nights
Cinque Terre - 3 nights
Florence - 3 nights
Naples - 2 nights
Sorrento - 3 nights
Amalfi - 2 nights
Rome -5 nights

In total it's 51 nights. We might fly into Gdansk and from there to Gdynia, but for the most part, our transport would be train. My main concern is that we might be jamming too many places in.. Would 2-3 nights for most of these locations be adequate enough time? I like museums, etc but he doesn't, so I don't think we would be spending too much time in every city doing that. There will probably be a focus on food, beer, and wine!
Any advice, tips and opinions welcome!
cbtk is offline  
Feb 20th, 2013, 01:52 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 2,617
My $0.02: First you are not spending enough time in each location. Remember that 2 nights is only one full day, not enough to get really oriented, let alone see a few sites and find a favorite pub.

Second, on a free-form backpacking trip I wouldn't necessarily pin down each location precisely this way. Have a general sense of where you want to go, as you've done, but if you get somewhere and truly love it then stay longer. Or if you hate it, then just leave right away. Readjust the rest of the schedule as required.

Third, sounds like a GREAT trip! Have a lot of fun!
Nelson is online now  
Feb 20th, 2013, 01:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,212
You have way too many places and haven't accounted for travel time between locations.

For example, you have 1 night in Krakow when the fastest train from Gdansk takes 9 hours (you'd need to be on the 5:02 AM train for a 9 hour ride). Followed by a long train ride to Prague.

Most of this itinerary is crazy.

Use the bahn.de site to calculate the time it takes to travel between locations and add at least a half hour on each end to get to and from the train stations. You'll quickly see that you have almost no time in any place.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 20th, 2013, 10:16 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,722
> My main concern is that we might be jamming too many places in.

Personally, I think your concern is justified, as also suggested by Nelson and adrienne. And I would say there are at least three reasons for questioning your timing.

First, I know it's hard for first-time travelers to grasp, but you really do lose 1/2 day on average when you move between cities that are as far apart as the ones you hope to see -- you need to get to and from the train station or airport or whatever, you need to check out of and into hotels, you need reorient to different locations and you should expect a few wrong turns along the way, and in some cases, you'll need to adjust to a different language. I'm not saying these things to discourage you - I'm saying them to help you plan your time.

Second, it is hard to say how much time to spend in any particular place without knowing what you hope to see or experience, but as a rule, I would say that you are allocating FAR less time to each of your destinations than might make most sense. Even if you weren't losing time to transportation, I think your time frames are too limiting. IMHO, you will enjoy your time much more if you make sure that the time you have to visit a limited set of destinations is substantially greater than the time it takes to get to them - and that will mean paring your itinerary.

Third, for a 51-day trip, you might want to plan some down-time along the way. I travel HARD, and even so, this itinerary exhausted me.

I would strongly encourage you to invest in a few good guide books, get a better sense of how much time it will take to get from place to place and how much time it will take to see your highest priorities in each place, and then come back with a more limited and more realistic plan that works for the two of you.

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Feb 20th, 2013, 10:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,692
Try also www.seat61.com for information on train travel and passes.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Feb 21st, 2013, 01:04 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,622
Brussels? Why?
Krakow for one day, I assume you have been before as 1 day is too short
Prague for 2 days, ditto

Which month?
bilboburgler is offline  
Feb 21st, 2013, 02:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,298
I would also head over to the Lonely Planet's Thorntree message board as you will find lots of backpackers there.
jamikins is offline  
Feb 21st, 2013, 04:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,440
You're reminding me of the summer of 1984.
: )

I agree with the advice to pare down, but that doesn't mean you can't have a great time going from place to place.

You do want to study the train schedules to get a better idea of how much time you'll be spending getting from city to city. For example, two nights in Prague means a day and a half for seeing the city (half a day the day you arrive, then one full day) and then you leave again. Vienna is five or six hours away, so you can't linger too long on that third day. That does not seem very enjoyable to me.

I would suggest taking two or three cities out of your itinerary and spreading those days around. Then, think of the itinerary as a target rather than a fixed schedule.

Having some opportunities for "down time" is a great idea. One of the days I enjoyed most during that long-ago summer was a day in Vienna when I was museum-ed out. I ended up just taking a bus to some huge park and wandering around for several hours - people-watching, mostly. I have no great pictures of the day or even any specific memories, but I remember being quite happy about my decision to do nothing. If I had only a day and a half to see Vienna, though, I would have been reluctant to do nothing for half a day.

I hope you have a great trip!
Barbara_in_FL is offline  
Feb 21st, 2013, 07:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,869
Write down what you want to see in each location and how much time it takes. Check out train times. Are you reserving places to stay or are you 'winging it'? If winging it, then add a couple of hours each to find a place.

For my taste, you are spending too much time in Italy - but as I say, that's my taste and not yours.
bigtyke is offline  

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