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LonelyVaka Oct 10th, 2019 08:32 PM

Group Tour or Solo? Late 20s Male Traveler
Hi there,

I am currently planning a 3 to 4 weeks backpacking trip to Europe next year either in May or June.

I have looked at various tour companies and itís so hard to decide on the right one. Some of the tours are way overpriced and the itineraries look insanely cramped and rushed. Group tours would be great to meet others however I am in my late 20s and most tour groups such as Contiki tend to attract 18 to early 20s crowd. I am leaning towards Top Deck.

Has anyone been on Top Deck?

The other option is to travel solo which I might have a better chance of meeting other like minded people. I have over 3 weeks so I fully understand I wonít be able to cover many countries. The main countries I would like to visit are Uk (only London), France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Germany and Netherlands. Iím not interested in exploring the whole country but just visiting the main cities or main attractions.

Has anyone traveled solo and have any recommendations on mapping and creating itineraries?

My budget is AUD$5k which is roughly over USD$3.8k excluding flights as I will have enough points for return flights.

janisj Oct 10th, 2019 08:46 PM

You have three weeks and want to visit six countries plus the largest city by far in Western Europe - on US$1000-ish per week. Just the transport between all those places will eat up a big chunk of your budget. And after travel time you'd have between 2 and 2.5 days free in each country and London.

You need to scale waaaaay back. Unless you are simply a 'box ticker'.

>>AUD$5k which is roughly over USD$3.8k<<. . . . Closer to US$ 3,300.

kja Oct 10th, 2019 08:59 PM

I've been to all of the countries you mention, as a solo woman, and have enjoyed every trip. But as janisj suggests, you might do well to consider focusing on a much more limited set of options for your trip. Remember that all the time you spend in transit is time that you are NOT spending on the ground!

Some of us are addicted to solo travel -- and I'm one! You might want to browse this thread:

Travel_Nerd Oct 10th, 2019 09:07 PM

I would think that you would have a hard time finding a tour company that fits ALL the countries on your list and in your budget AND in a 3 week timeframe. Honestly, you'd be better off planning on your own. Tour companies are expensive.

First things first, figure on what you actually want to accomplish. Your current ideas of "main sights" is too vague in all of those countries. Get some guidebooks (go to a library if you must) and decide what YOUR must see are and what you truly want to see in each. From there you need to plot opening times (some landmarks are closed on certain days of the week), and also plan on how long in transit between destinations.

Keep in mind, each time you move (say London to Paris) eats up time sightseeing - usually half a day at least. You will have to plan on checking in/out lodging, getting to/from train station/airport, security (if applicable), plus actual time in transit. Also, every time you move, adds to your overall costs and budget.

Figure your time in nights rather than days. For example, 3 nights in a city equals to 2 days sightseeing and so on.

With all of that having been said, 6 countries in 3 weeks: too much. London can easily take up at least 5 days (and even more) with everything it has to offer. Ditto for Paris (if that even is an option). Other cities are smaller, but I don't what they could be without specifics from you.

Peter_S_Aus Oct 10th, 2019 11:39 PM

You have to think in terms of euro for most of Europe, and pounds for the UK. Nobody much has a clue as to what the Australian dollar is worth.
I can only comment on Italy, but you can do Italy on about 50 euro a day, excluding accomodation and air fares.

margo_oz Oct 11th, 2019 12:20 AM

Yes - I feel you have too many places in not enough time, and too little funds.

Concentrate on 3 places and see a bit of them - perhaps England, France and Spain, and travel by train between them.

Look at to learn about trains.

margo_oz Oct 11th, 2019 12:22 AM

Consider this your first European trip - not your only trip.

StCirq Oct 11th, 2019 04:13 AM

Too many places, too little time, not enough money. I agree with picking three places and doing each of them justice. You can pick three big cities and do countless day trips from them - one of the nice things about Europe is that you can get out into the countryside on the fabulous train systems easily, quickly, and cheaply from most big cities (but plan ahead to get discount train fares where you can).

I could be wrong because I'm not a tour taker, but it seems to me that the demographic of most tours is either younger or older than you. And it really is so easy these days to plan your own trips. One thing to consider to save time and money is to purchase open-jaw tickets, into one city and out of another, so you don't have to backtrack.

suze Oct 11th, 2019 10:13 AM

7 countries (even just skimming the surface of a city or two in each) is too much for 3-4 weeks. If you really want to keep that pace then you need to join a tour.

It's all individual preference there isn't a right or wrong way. But I'd scale it way back by drilling down and thinking in specifics. Instead of "Spain" what cities are you interested in? What interests you in Barcelona, for example, that you want to go there? Figure out what's really there for your interests. Pick maybe 5 or 6 places and figure out how to hook them together by train, bus, plane.

Forgot about the social aspect, unless that's really the reason you are traveling in the first place.

5000 AUD is approx 3000 euro, so with a 4 week trip, that's 100 euro a day for everything on the ground... place to sleep, food, transportation between cities, etc.

dreamon Oct 11th, 2019 01:52 PM

I'm Australian too so maybe I can add some relevant advice. Europe is crammed full of stuff to see and experience and you don't have to travel far to see an awful lot - unlike Australia. I agree absolutely with the others that you are attempting to cover too much ground and it's not compatible with a good time.

May and June is the perfect time to visit Europe and you have a good chunk of time. I'd just narrow your focus a bit. Think in regions, not whole countries. I'd also avoid internal flights in Europe unless absolutely necessary. The train and bus network in Europe is brilliant.

With regard to a tour, if you haven't already, then I'd consider your criteria for what makes a successful tour. I've only ever taken one tour - it was with Intrepid Travel to Italy and I had a brilliant time. But tours are always going to cost more, if for no other reason than they need to make a profit. On the up side, they will make the logistics easier for you. Be careful that you don't spend your whole holiday with other tourists, rather than meeting people outside of your group. But on balance, I'd always recommend travelling independently. And you mention backpacking. That's a million miles from an organised tour. Check hostelworld and for accommodation.

I can travel on 100euro/day if careful and don't have excessive travel costs. But you'd have to consider which countries you visit. For example, Switzerland is much more expensive than Italy.

There is a wealth of experience on this forum and others so I'd take advantage of that. Perhaps come back with a tentative itinerary and we can all comment. Remember that everyone will have a different opinion but you can glean some really useful information. Whenever I travel, I also check out my local library for travel guides and photographic books of where I'm travelling so I can choose what I want to see and nail some of the logistics.

Have a great trip!

suze Oct 11th, 2019 03:45 PM

This comment is about creating itineraries. Rather than naming off a long list of countries. Write out your number of days. Then decide where you want to be each night to sleep. That helps shape a trip. For example:

Day 1: arrive London
Day 2: London
Day 3: London
Day 4: take the train to Paris
Day 5: Paris
Day 6: Paris
... and so on.

That give a more realistic picture of what you can actually fit (reasonably) into your time frame.

Seamus Oct 11th, 2019 08:25 PM

Understandable that after spending all that time in the air getting to Europe you want to see as much as possible, but your stated plan really is overly ambitious. I like StCirq's idea of choosing three cities as bases to do day trips.Pick up a copy of to get an idea of how you might build an itinerary using day trips from a base city. (Note that the Eurail pass may or may not be your most economical option, you'll need to do a bit of comparison to determine that.)

As for tours, you do pay a premium for the convenience. Most large cities have low cost - sometimes even free, with tipping expected - walking tours - Google is your friend for this.

Will hostel type accommodations work for you? That would bring down your lodging costs. You might want to book a stay at a bit nicer place once a week or so, maybe a place with laundry facilities like an Air BnB property.

JessicaBr Oct 12th, 2019 01:42 AM

As mentioned before, you should narrow the cities down... see which ones are the best connected. And maybe if you like to travel and meet people, you can also book a few day tours in each country? And look for Airbnb places to stay where you can also make a meal. saving some money.

annhig Oct 12th, 2019 09:30 AM

Were our dear friend PalenQ still with us, doubtless he would be suggesting you look at whether there are any train passes that would reduce the cost of travel. Then you know exactly what your transport will cost you and you know you'll be able to get back to the place you're flying home from!

The man in Seat 61 probably has the info on this.

yes - here you are:

Also you could think how much you need to plan in advance. Of course you want to get your starting point nailed down and if you're going to get the Eurostar to Paris you'll need to book that too [and probably at least your first night in Paris] but after that you should be able to book as you go or book ahead from the place before [does that make sense?]

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