Future Backpacking Itinerary help

Old Jun 7th, 2020, 02:23 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,410
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Although I used to never book anything in advance when I was young, times have moved on and nowadays (because of the sheer number of travellers and the internet) it is easier and often cheaper to book ahead. That doesn't mean needing to book everything before leaving home but still booking ahead a little bit. Long distance transport, in particular, can be much cheaper if booked in advance, in some countries. For example, look at trenitalia.com for tickets tomorrow and 3 months out.

A good starting point for pace of travel is to plan for an average of 3 nights (2 full days) in each place, staying longer in the places which really interest you and have a lot to see and do. This isn't a hard and fast rule but simply a guide - everyone travels at a different pace. Allow a bit of cushion time so if something goes pear shaped (missed flight, cancelled flight) it doesn't throw the rest of your plans into chaos. My advice for the best experience in the time you have is to prioritise your favourite - and preferably adjacent - countries or regions. Then wind a path by train and bus between them, being sure to book a return ticket to Europe arriving in one city and leaving from your departure city (no need to return to your arrival city). As boring as it may sound, I find a spreadsheet with columns of date, rough plan of activity for the day, and where I'll sleep that night, to be very useful. Marking travel time, door to door for each journey, can also be helpful. It also helps me with making accommodation bookings for the correct dates. And I leave it with my family so they know roughly where I am and can follow the journey with me from home.

Train is, by a mile, the best form of transport for getting around Europe. Buses can also be good but are sometimes less comfortable. I avoid flights within Europe whenever possible as I worry about their environmental impact and I find flying less than relaxing. seat61 and rome2rio are two great sites for transport information but you always need to visit the actual website of the transport provider for accurate information.

Hostels are great for solo travellers because they are affordable and often offer the opportunity to meet other travellers.

Many travellers enjoy the planning process and you will too. I'm willing to bet that lots of posters on this forum are currently planning holidays with no idea of when - or perhaps even if - they'll actually get there, just because they enjoy it. The Lonely Planet Thorntree site is now closed for new posts but there is a wealth of information there if you would like to take a look. Your local library will have great information (I download their ebooks before I travel which is great).

I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time.
dreamon is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2020, 02:36 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,226
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You don't say whether you're making this trip on your own or with a friend. First-time travelers to Europe usually feel a bit at sea, at least for a few days after arrival, as they adjust to the time change, the language change(s), and just the whole "foreign-ness" of everything. Navigating by yourself without another person's help or perspective in figuring things out might make some days particularly frustrating. You'll need some pluck to manage this on your own. Having a less complicated first-time itinerary with fewer changes/destinations would make for an easier (and I'm sure) more enjoyable trip.

On a very mundane level, I like to identify the days that I will devote a little time to doing laundry. You can hand-wash in a bathroom sink but need to consider drying times. You can look for a wash-and-fold laundry but would need to interrupt your sightseeing to return for the pick-up.
With an itinerary like the one you're contemplating, you'll need to travel light which means taking fewer clothes that will have to be washed more frequently.
Jean is online now  
Old Jun 7th, 2020, 03:07 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,902
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
As others have said, you need to rewrite your itinerary in terms of nights, not days.

Print off blank calendar pages for the months you intend to travel (plenty of freebies on the net). Write in each day where you will sleep, and travel time if you are traveling. Add must see sights, taking into consideration how long you need - major museums can take a whole day, although you'll get museumed out if you do too many of those. Allow about one day per seven or ten days for rest, relaxation and resupply.

Haven't looked at the whole thing, but you might check flights into Ireland rather than London to start.
There's a night train between Lisbon and Madrid: https://www.seat61.com/international...sbon_to_Madrid - (spend some time on seat61 reading up on European train travel)
Why Lille? Why Cologne? Why Adelbord instead of, say, Murren?
There are day and night trains between Venice and Vienna. The day train should get you some good scenery.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2020, 03:23 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 4,824
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I’ve found the more I plan, the more I see, and the more flexible I can be.

You really do need to have hostels booked. If you were an experienced traveler willing to sleep anywhere, then no. Or if you had endless amounts of money. But the best, safest, and most affordable hostels sell out. Plus, train tickets for day trips can be very expensive day of.

what I do is plan a minimum of 3 nights in each place. Add a night for every “day trip”. So basically cut back to the places at the top of your list AND/OR the ones that group together easily. For example, London and Paris. Or Munich, Venice, Florence, Rome. That sort of thing. Then make lists if stuff you really want to see or do in each place and figure out how many days you need to add onto the full days. THEN, look at lodging in all of those places. What looks interesting, what is unacceptable, unavailable, or too expensive. Then come back to us with a more put together plan.
marvelousmouse is online now  
Old Jun 7th, 2020, 07:11 PM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 1,024
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by laneyyocum2965 View Post
I am having a hard time grasping the travel/transit time between places.
Instead make a list of what you want to do and figure out how long that will take. You thenn tack onto that travel time. This way you have enough time for your interests.
Traveler_Nick is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2020, 07:28 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 94,388
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
To understand what we are saying about changing places, I'll give this as an example to try and explain. In between each city, what you haven't allowed time for, looks something like this:
1) Get up in the morning, pack your bags, check out of your hotel or hostel or apartment - 1 hour
2) Make your way to the train station or airport on foot, by taxi or public transportation - 1 hour
3) Wait for train or flight, board - 20 mins. to 2 hours
4) Make journey - allow between 1 to 6 hours
5) Arrive new city find local transportation or walk to get to your next lodging and check in and unpack - allow 1 hour

...as you can see, and of course depending on which cities you are transferring between and how far apart they are and if you are going by plane, train or bus, somewhere between 5-10 hours *every time* you move that you haven't accounted for in your planning.



suze is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2020, 07:50 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,226
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
rome2rio.com can be a helpful site for understanding travel times between points. Verify all public transportation schedules with the individual websites.

You can search train journeys in Europe at bahn.de/en with one caveat. I would search train timetables for Italy on the Italian railway website. https://www.trenitalia.com/en.html I find that the Bahn website doesn't always include every Italian train departure.
Jean is online now  
Old Jun 7th, 2020, 07:51 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,902
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
What suze said. Planes are worse than trains, since train stations are generally more central. Not counting the time getting ready to leave the hotel (pack the night before), it once took me eight hours, hotel to hotel, for a two hour plane trip from London to Nice. ( For details see: Nice to Paris: on not taking it easy in Eastern France )
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2020, 08:25 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,352
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Someone above suggested getting a paper guide book. I would suggest getting a paper map, mark it up withvwhere you are thinking of going aand the transit details. In 35 or 40 nights, you cannot do half of what you are planning.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2020, 10:01 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 94,388
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I love the idea above of a paper map on the wall and map pins marking your route. And ditto at least one paper guidebook (an older one from the library is OK for initial planning). Then use online where you need more current information, for reviews of hostels, booking hotels, train websites, etc.

Like thursdaysd just mentioned, it could take even longer! I think my estimate is conservative. It doesn't count things that could possibly happen like heavy traffic, transportation strikes, you getting lost etc.
suze is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2020, 10:15 PM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 1,024
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The OP can make their lives easier by picking lodging near the train station or if flying near transport to / from the airport.

For example in Rome being with in walking distance of Termini makes both the train and either airport easy. In Barcelona being near Placa de Catalunya is convenient for the airport. Maybe less so for the train. In Madrid with museums being a highlight being near the train station would make life much easier. Easy for the train. Easy from the airport. Easy to the museums .
Traveler_Nick is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2020, 11:24 PM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 543
Received 6 Likes on 2 Posts
I'm an old codger and now usually research and plan everything well ahead, staying in mid-range hotels, with ideally a minimum of 3 complete days (4 nights) in each place. But man, I wish I were your age going to Europe the first time. I'd be trying to see it all too. (Can I go with you? it'd be fun! - I don't really mean that, I'm just expressing my envy of being young.)

Here are a few suggestions from remembering when I was young:

1. Leave yourself open to unplanned adventure. Nowadays (at least before Covid-19) it's wise to make reservations even for hostels, but you needn't make them far ahead. I personally would only make reservations on the go: in each city reserve a hostel in the next city a day or so ahead of getting there. With the internet that's easy to do. If you're staying in hostels you'll be meeting lots of people and getting advice from them. You may want to adjust your plans and do/see things that didn't expect. You wouldn't want your reservations to hamstring you
Travelling like that you wouldn't be able to take advantage of the cheap advance fares on trains (and planes), but you could likely make up for that by using slower local trains. I'd sure opt for that flexibility.

2. When planning time assign a full day for each time you change cities. It takes time to pack, get to the station, travel, check in, and unpack. That'll likely end up leaving you a half day or more as bonus time to explore. I'd plan at the minimum 1 travel day, 1 night, 1 or more days in a city, 1 or mere nights in the city, then a travel day. That will mean you see less cities, but will give you more flexibility. (And depending what your drinking and socializing habits are, it would help dealing with late nights (in lots of Europe nightlife is still going strong at 3 AM or even at dawn)
At your age you probably don't want to plan laundry days, nor days that you just to relax and zone out ... but that will give you time to adjust to fit those things in as needed.

elbegewa is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2020, 05:07 AM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,077
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by suze View Post
To understand what we are saying about changing places, I'll give this as an example to try and explain. In between each city, what you haven't allowed time for, looks something like this:
1) Get up in the morning, pack your bags, check out of your hotel or hostel or apartment - 1 hour
2) Make your way to the train station or airport on foot, by taxi or public transportation - 1 hour
3) Wait for train or flight, board - 20 mins. to 2 hours
4) Make journey - allow between 1 to 6 hours
5) Arrive new city find local transportation or walk to get to your next lodging and check in and unpack - allow 1 hour

...
Suze is so right ~ my sister and I still laugh (ruefully) about the time we spent a full day flying from Liverpool to Dublin. Flight time was under one hour.

Last edited by nyse; Jun 10th, 2020 at 05:25 AM. Reason: Spelling counts.
nyse is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2020, 08:32 AM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 94,388
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It's just all part of traveling, nothing bad about it, just something that realistically needs to be accounted for in timing out each day and each week. And yes funny stories about what it takes to get from one place to the next and how long may result!

On occasion an overnight train is one way you can move yourself around without "loosing" 1/2 a day. I say on occasion because I wouldn't try to do it every night, although I guess that might be possible. But for a couple of your longer transfers (something that's a 6-8 hour train ride) you might put this in the mix, if it's available.

suze is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2020, 08:51 AM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,902
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
As I posted above, Lisbon-Madrid can be done by night train, as can Venice to Vienna, although if you do that one by night you miss a lot of good scenery. There are many fewer night trains in Europe than in the past as trains have gotten faster. Putting start and destination cities into seat61.com will turn up any available for a given route.

For extensive train travel in Europe I have found the Thomas Cook Rail map helpful:
Amazon Amazon
and of course, bahn.de for schedules.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2020, 09:13 AM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,311
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
An occasional night train can be fun (or not ) and works on a few routes. But one possible issue you would need to factor in is that most night trains arrive early in the AM and one often cannot get into accommodations until mid to late afternoon. You'd need to travel light enough that schlepping your bag(s) around for several hours is doable. Some stations and some hostels do have left luggage facilities but definitely not all.
janisj is online now  
Old Jun 10th, 2020, 09:30 AM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,902
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Main line stations usually have left luggage facilities, and you can check for that online. The only time I found it to be an issue was in Lisbon ahead of a Eurocup final when all the luggage facilities in the city were closed for security. I don't stay in hostels but hotels will store your luggage, it's a bigger issue if you're using AirBnB. I will say that you should never plan to sleep in a seat, always at least pay for a six-berth couchette, for security (and a much better chance of sleeping). With increasing concerns abut climate change, I expect to see night trains make a comeback.

I also don't recommend back-to-back night trains, unless, possibly, you can shower in the station on arrival (something else you can check online these days). But then I don't recommend moving that fast without a good reason
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2020, 06:15 PM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 94,388
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I know I mentioned this earlier, but AirBnB's are not typically available for only 1-3 night stays. The way this person is proposing to travel. Or if they allow short rentals you need to check cleaning fees. For a short stay that may make them more expensive than other alternatives. Also know that some hostels have limited hours that you can be in them. So a modest hotel might be better than either of those for a number of reasons.
suze is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2020, 06:47 PM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 1,024
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by janisj View Post
An occasional night train can be fun (or not ) and works on a few routes. But one possible issue you would need to factor in is that most night trains arrive early in the AM and one often cannot get into accommodations until mid to late afternoon. You'd need to travel light enough that schlepping your bag(s) around for several hours is doable. Some stations and some hostels do have left luggage facilities but definitely not all.
You also need to haul the bags around all day after checking out of your lodging at noon or earlier. Most hotels will let you drop your bags before checking in but the further your hotel is from the station the more of a hassle this becomes.
Traveler_Nick is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2020, 09:27 PM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,902
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Hotels will also keep your bags after you check out. Don't know why you all are making a big deal about this. The real problem with a night train or late flight is getting hot and sweaty while sightseeing. Save the museums for the last day in town.
thursdaysd is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information