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Looking for suggestions for a "reasonable" Europe trip

Looking for suggestions for a "reasonable" Europe trip

Mar 5th, 2008, 06:42 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2006
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Looking for suggestions for a "reasonable" Europe trip

Hello everyone,

I am trying to plan a trip for the Oct/Nov timeframe and am having a hard time narrowing down options. The lure of a European destination is very strong provided I can formulate a plan that meets a couple of criteria.

There will be 3 of us travelling (all female, all 40-ish). We do have some budget limitations to consider. We need to keep costs under 1000$ pp NOT including airfare. We would also like to go some place with mild weather at that time of year.

Currently under consideration are Southern Portugal, Southern Spain or Southern Italy. None of us have visited any of these places yet, so we are wide open to suggestions.

We are interested in all sorts of things; history, culture, museums, architecture, beautiful natural scenery... We like big cities but would definitely like to see some countryside as well. We would want to stay in decent, clean hotels in safe neighborhoods (we don't require anything fancy).

Given the budget constraints, we would probably be looking at spending approximately one full week on our trip (we would add a day or 2 if it was feasible financially).

Since our time would be relatively short, we would want a location where there's a good variety of things to do in somewhat close proximity as we won't want to lose a lot of time just getting from point A to point B.

Anyway, enough of my long-windedness. Does anyone have some suggestions to offer? Are we crazy to attempt Europe at all with such a budget??

Thanks so much for any ideas or insights!
cmerrell is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 06:59 AM
  #2  
 
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It's going to be a huge consideration how cheap your airfare is, unless you somehow have free airfare.
With Southern Spain, take a look at yk's recent trip report and her list of expenses. You could eat cheaper, and get a triple room at a hostal (not a hostel), and thus save from her expenses for food and lodging, and then you could be in the 80 Euro per day range, which is what you need to be.
If you choose only one destination, or possibly two, you will save on transport.

Be sure not to choose a location where you need a car.

If you are willing to be a budget traveler, and go on 80 Euros per day, which is certainly possible, then you could do this.
WillTravel is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 07:09 AM
  #3  
yk
 
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WillTravel gave you very good advice. I also agree on checking plane ticket prices first - that may be your deciding factor on where to go!

Also, if you're vacation time is flexible, hotel rates for November in general is cheaper than October.

$1000 for 1 week is not a lot, considering how expensive the Euro is. It comes out to €95/day - that will include lodging, food, transportation, sightseeing.

I am not sure which part of Italy you're thinking of when you mention "southern Italy." If you're thinking of the Amalfi coast, weather can be a bit iffy in Nov. My parents/brother went to Sicily in December and they had decent weather. Also, Sicily is a bit cheaper than mainland Italy. However, it'll be difficult to tour Sicily without a car, and getting there from the US (which I assume that's where you live) can be a bit tricky.

I was in Spain last month. It was more expensive than I had predicted (food, entrance fees).
yk is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 07:17 AM
  #4  
 
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Yes, limit your destination to one or two places. Try staying in an apartment where you can eat simple meals or just breakfast if you prefer.

I think Sicily or Lisbon might interest you.
highflyer is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 07:24 AM
  #5  
 
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Stay in Rome a week in an apartment. Many things there are free-just the walking around and viewing is so interesting. If you enjoy artwork as I do the churches are full of it.
Roma is such a walkable city that you do not have to spend that much on Transpo.
As others will mention you can make food as cheap as you like.
My daughter and I did this 1 week in Jan. 2 years ago. I realize the euro has definitely made things higher.
maryanne1 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 11:50 AM
  #6  
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Thanks for the great responses, everyone! There's no substitute for getting advice from folks who have firsthand experience!

The friend with the tightest budget constraints will be looking into using FF miles which should help her out a great deal. I did check current airfares to various European cities earlier today and they are definitely quite high (Madrid was possibly do-able, but Rome and Lisbon were both up around 1000$ RT from Florida where I live), so that may put the nail in the coffin but we're going to stay optimistic for the time being!

You guys have provided several very good suggestions for us to consider provided we can make the airfare work.

Spending the week in Rome is something to consider, and we already were looking into Lisbon or various locales in Spain a bit.

One of my friends is particularly interested in Sicily, so its nice to see that pop up as an idea. We were wondering how big a pain it would be to get there. Anyone have any additional insight into that? Do you usually fly into Rome and then take a completely separate flight (or are there usually various connection options)? YK is correct in assuming that we would be traveling from the U.S.

I did read part of YK's excellent Spain trip report last night and really appreciated the inclusion of accomodation/food prices. It definitely helps to get some sort of realistic baseline for planning purposes.

Looks like we need to establish some airfare spending limits and go from there.

Any additional suggestions or info is welcome. Thanks again for chiming in!
cmerrell is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 12:23 PM
  #7  
 
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My suggestion is to fly into Florence, spend 4 nights. Use one of those days to take a day trip via bus (cheap) to Siena. Take the train to Rome and spend 4 nights. Fly out of Rome.
There are lots of 2star hotels that have character and charm. Also apartments can be economical See Rick Steves' books as well as www.venere.it. and www.vrbo.com Once you are in Florence and Rome - you can decide what to splurge on and what to cut back on. There is so much to do in these locations that cost nothing.
caroltis is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 12:37 PM
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I'd do Lisbon. Your airfare will be about the same as it would be to any other destination in Europe, and once you get there your expenses will be lower than elsewhere in Europe: lodging, food, and transportation are all more reasonable there than elsewhere. Very friendly people.

Rent an apartment---it will cost less than a hotel, and you can eat some meals at home, saving more money for fun stuff (like going out). Great nightlife in Lisbon. Beautiful countryside. Mild weather.
Therese is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 12:56 PM
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Given your criteria my first choice would be Lisbon which I found to be very inexpensive. You could rent an apartment there and do day trips (Sintra, Obidos). The other possibility would be Madrid where you could also rent an apartment and do day trips (Toledo, Segovia, Avila) - buses especially (but trains too) were very inexpensive in Spain. Andalucia was wonderful but flying there would probably be more than Madrid, and taking the train down definitly adds a bit. But at that time of year it would be much warmer than Madrid. But I think the Madrid area would be cheaper because of transportation. Once you got there I think the expenses were about the same. If you don't want to do an apartment there are definitly hotels that have triple rooms, you just have to look harder.

If you make sure your hotel (if you don't rent an apartment) has a mini fridge, then you can save a bundle by buying groceries and eating in at least some of the meals. I lived on fresh bread, ham, and fruit (and desserts) when I was in Spain last summer. But I also got some very decent meals in restaurants for €10-12.

I think Rome would be more expensive unless you got a good deal on an apartment which would make it worth while. But in general I found Lisbon and Spain to be less expensive than Italy.
isabel is online now  
Mar 5th, 2008, 01:42 PM
  #10  
 
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Last year our family of 3 rented an apartment in Rome from realrome.com . This agency has a very good reputation and nice although not luxurious apartments. Ours was a 2 BR for 115 euros/night for 3.
We spent about $1000 per person for a total of 8 nights in Rome but the dollar was stronger then. We could definitely have saved money on food by preparing more meals at the apartment. We used public transportation (local train from the airport and buses around the city) and did not take any guided tours. There is a lot to see for free in Rome but you would have to factor in admission fees to major sights like the Forum/Colosseum/Palatine and the Vatican museums
Vttraveler is online now  
Mar 5th, 2008, 01:51 PM
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I suggest Montreal! With the euro at a all time high nothing is cheap in Europe. Paris is also a nice place to consider if you want to rent an apartment and share.

www.parisbestlodge.com
richardab is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 01:56 PM
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Sign up with Orbitz to notify you when the air price goes down. You can do it for more then 1 route (I think 3) and no obligations to buy anything from them.
FainaAgain is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 03:29 PM
  #13  
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More excellent recommendations and suggestions. Thanks guys!

Italy has always been very high on my wish list, but I am fairly intruiged by thoughts of Portugal as well. I seriously doubt we could go wrong with either option, but the cheaper cost associated with Portugal does give one pause...

I'll have the girls read through these posts as well and hopefully we can move towards making a decision. I think we have to move somewhat quickly for the friend who needs to use FF miles to make sure she can secure airfare for whichever destination we decide on.

richardab's suggestions of Montreal or Paris are terrific as well, but one of my traveling companions is visiting France this summer, and she and I have visited Montreal together (which we loved!). We're sort of yearning to explore uncharted territory for this trip!

I welcome any and all additional input. I'm sure I'll have some more specific follow-up questions shortly as we home in on a game plan.

cmerrell is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 03:36 AM
  #14  
 
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One thing I meant to add about the idea of Sicily: I really think you would want a car there. My husband and I traveled by train when we went (had an Italian train pass) and it was not very convenient.
Vttraveler is online now  
Mar 6th, 2008, 03:48 AM
  #15  
 
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Might look at a week in Arles/Avignon/Nimes area and then a second week around Barcelona. Hotels stay in 2 star but local hotels not international will keep down prices. So Barcelona try Hotel Windsor.

Lots to do by train in both areas
bilboburgler is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 04:14 AM
  #16  
 
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My husband and I do quite a bit of travelling in Europe and have never spent more than your budget - we live in Scotland, so airfare is less of an issue, but there are definitely ways to travel cheaply almost anywhere.

As airfare will be the largest cost and your friend is trying to use FF miles, it might make sense to figure out where you can fly cheapest and go from there. As long as you aren't opposed to having a triple or an apartment you can keep your costs low in any city. As airfare tends to be the largest expense for us, we usually just see where we can fly affordably and go from there. It keeps things interesting!

Grocery shopping in another country is one of my favourite things anyway so I always enjoy the challenge. I have also heard Lisbon is very affordable, although we haven't made it there yet.

Good luck!
PittPurple
pittpurple is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 09:33 AM
  #17  
 
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I spent 9 days in Prague in late October 2006 and not only was the weather mild, but it was very affordable. We rented a 2 bedroom apt. just a few blocks from everything for 8 nights for about 900 Euros and walked everywhere. Trains to other towns are also affordable and there are excellent day trips offered by groups in town. While it's not southern Europe, Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited, and its history and culture are fascinating.

Something to consider!
lspuck is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 11:34 AM
  #18  
 
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Hi Merrell,We use WWW.go-today.com theyhave wonderful package to choose from. November is a great time for spain also. We use them the last three trips to Europe,you can pick and choose package. They all come with breakfast. Check them out.
Spendy is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 02:17 PM
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If you book your airline tickets for travel beginning November 1 or later, you will find the price will have dropped quite a bit from October. Also, look into renting an apartment - you will save a lot over hotel rates (check out VRBO website once you have decided upon your destination) and you can save a lot on food as well. Avoid the British Isles as the exchange rate is about double that of our currency. The euro is about $1.35 -$1.40 to the dollar. For only one week, you might look into Amsterdam; a fascinating city with lots to see and plenty of good restaurants. You might also check out renting a canal boat to stay in. Lots of great websites - just google Amsterdam apartments/canal boat rentals. Rome is another favorite destination of mine, again some really good reasonable restaurants and lots of apartments for rent.
ruthie1 is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 05:52 PM
  #20  
 
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The value of the dollar is making all of us who travel challenged from a budget perspective. There are good suggestions here and you need to think about what is you top criteria. Sun, Europe, sightseeing, a different culture??? If u=you give up sun, Prague is an option, If you give up "Europe" than consider Montreal. Or really go for it and spin the whirl - how about Kansas City - The Plaza feels like Spain. If you are are in Florida, how about an island with a European flair. I know this may not help...I just want to suggest broad thinking...what about a last minute cruise???
seafox is offline  

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