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Newbie Needs Help planning 45 day Itinerary for Europe

Newbie Needs Help planning 45 day Itinerary for Europe

Aug 4th, 2010, 09:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 205
Newbie Needs Help planning 45 day Itinerary for Europe

Hello! My b/f and I (22 + 26) are planning a 6 week backpacking trip for Sept-Oct of 2011. I know I'm planning a little early but I wanted to post a rough itinerary to seek much needed advice from seasoned travelers.

Anything on cheap transportation (airplane not preferred as our backpacks might cause too much of a hassle), best route plan so we don't have to double back anywhere , food (willing to splurge a little on that), cheap accomodations (budget hotels ideal but hostels are good too), and some awesome sights (historic, achitecture, just anything you think can't be missed)

We've about $5000 to spend per person on everything excluding airfare and possibly railpasses if the trip calls for one, but I'm wondering if that budget is a little tight. Of course we'd be careful with our spendings but we'd also like to enjoy a little. Not big partiers but haven't met a glass of wine I didn't like.

So here's the breakdown so far::

>>London 4-5 days (daytrip to Bath and Stonehenge is one day good?)

France :
>>Paris 6 days (daytrip to Versailles)
>>Languedoc 2 days (daytrip to Albi)
>>Provence 2 days

Spain :
>>Madrid 3 days
>> Barcelona 2 days
>> Seville 2 days

Portugal :
>>Lisbon 2 days
>>Lagos 2 days

Italy :
>>Florence 2 days
>>Venice 2 days
>>Cinque Terre 2 days
>>Rome 5 days

have a few remaining days to disperse in places we're enjoying. Didn't want to plan everything down to a tee. I have a few must dos for each location but wanted to get ideas from fellow foderites first.

I think my biggest problem right now is trying to figure out where to fly in and out of that will be the most budget friendly. Transporation to and from areas are also kicking my butt. Thinking of doing open jaw ticket but the logistics are harder than they seem. We're very excited as this is our first time in Europe and since I'm a serial planner I've been consumed by the process. Apologies for the very long post but thanks in advance as any help would be very much appreciated!

KayDoll is offline  
Aug 4th, 2010, 10:04 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 704

Ok, I will start. You will probably get a lot of response to your post.

Firstly, congratulations on your first trip to Europe, also for the long 45 day trip. I have been to all of the countries you list and about half of the cities. It looks like a good itinerary but you really need to organize it in a streamlined fashion. Also, $5000 per person is just over 100 dollars a day which I think is a bit light given some of these expensive cities. Also, you have some very short ie 2 night stays which could quickly get old when you are on the road for that many days. I would scale back the number of spots and do more day trips (and also allow some time to just relax.)

Logistics. Flying into London and out of Rome makes the most sense to me. You could hit London then train to Paris. From Paris fly to Lisbon, then go from Portugal to Spain to France to Italy by train if you can.

Maybe do something like this: go from Lisbon to Algarve to Seville to Madrid to Barcelona to Cote d’Azur to CT to Venice to Florence to Rome. Some of these train rides will be very long, so get a map and check it out. Anyways, some things to think about.
krgystn is offline  
Aug 4th, 2010, 10:46 PM
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Posts: 1,190
For the London/UK section of your trip check out travelodge - if you book 3 weeks in advance you can (but not always) get a room for £19. A hostel in London can be £15-20 a night so worth it.

How much do you enjoy the actual travelling? You will be spending half your trip on trains. Make a descision, do you want to see a few places well or see lots of places just looking out of a train/bus window?

Personally I'd bump either Spain/Portugal or Italy.

Uk - France - Italy (or Spain) are both logical routes, I also think some sort of rail pass would be a good idea.

How about

Fly into London (btw you didn't say where you were flying from)

London with day trips (8 days, your day trips would reduce time in London to 2/3 days, the day you arrive you will see nothing but a jetlag haze ehich gives you just one actual day, and that is not enough.

Eurostar to Paris -1 day (OK it's 3hours on the train but checking out of London Hotel, checking in for train, checking into hotel, freshen up - it takes most of the day)

Paris (6 days)

Overnight train to Nice - just for the experience - it won't be cheaper than a hotel or hostel

Nice/provence/northern Italy for a week - do your relaxing here, maybe hire a car to see a bit of Provence. This also gives you time to catch up on laundry

Trains in Italy, 1 week northern Italy, 1 week Rome.

A couple of years ago I had a short bereak to Verona and took the train to Venice for the day - personally that was enough for me.

Fly out of Rome.
sashh is offline  
Aug 4th, 2010, 11:13 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 667
We did a similar trip three years ago. We flew into Rome, traveled through Italy, Southern France, Spain and Portugal, then flew from Lisbon to London, took a ferry to France and flew home from Paris.

When my daughter and I traveled by ourselves we stayed in youth hostels. They were great. When we traveled as a family we were in hotels. We found the Campanile chain in France and Spain to be reasonably priced, however they may be out of your budget. I spent hours on Venere.com looking for affordable rooms.
cferrb is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 12:32 AM
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Transport - understand the likely waste of money (and time)on Railpasses, - read at least - http://europetrainsguide.com/Advice/...ot-to-buy.html

A resource for train travel is - http://www.seat61.com/ - a fine effort (until redirecting to agencies which deal with RailPasses), but this resource, again, suggests you are probably better dealing direct with the national rail carrier of the individual country to save money.
WomBatt is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 12:36 AM
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Spain and accommodation - there is very extra little value to find when staying in a hostel - compare with hostals (spelling), pensions and small hotels.
WomBatt is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 08:00 AM
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I suggest cutting back on the short stays by visiting fewer destinations. Fewer destinations with more quality time will allow you to really enjoy each destination and also save some money and time on transportation. It may also be less exhausting.

Whatever you eliminate you can plan to visit on future trips.

Definitely do an open jaw (multi-city) flight. It would make no sense (expensive, time) to backtrack.
zoecat is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 02:20 PM
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Wow! I really didn't expect replies so quickly! sorry about not posting where i'll be leaving from. To clarify I'd be leaving through ORF airport in Virginia, US. I've done some dummy bookings through kayak.com for open jaw flights and they ranged from 790-950. too expensive? Where can i go for cheaper flights? i had hopes of taking advantage of student discounts but my b/f is a bit too old (26)

Krgystn: first and foremost, Thanks for starting off with such a terrific reply! I was hoping to avoid airports mainly because our backpack will probably be above the weight limit for smaller airlines. I also heard that airports in Europe are very troublesome. However, it will probably save a lot of time. Do you know how much a flight from Paris to Lisbon will cost?

Sassh: I don't really mind the road that much. I'm Vietnamese so the trip to my country a lot of times is 20+ hrs., so 5 or 6 hrs. in a car,train, plane doesn't really bother me. With that said I would much rather spend time exploring than traveling. We might cut out Portugal (we were only considering it because it is so close to Spain) but Spain and Italy definitely cannot be scrapped as there are many places that we'd like to hit in these countries. I've a couple of extra days left what places would u suggest I base at and/or make daytrips too?

cferrb: I never thought of that route. I'm checking on some tickets prices to see if it would be cheaper to fly in and out of those cities. Did u use a rail pass going through those areas and if so did u find it useful? Also how much was your flight from Lisbon to London? I'm sure u had an amazing time!

I've been reading more on railpasses but have gotten confused. Too much researching!!!! In your opinion with those areas that I've listed would u do a rail pass or would a combo of point-point tickets + bus and maybe a flight or two be cheaper? Still working on the itinerary so nothing is set in stone but we'd really like to see as much as possible without running ourselves ragged. Sample itineraries with transportation info anybody? Thanks again for all of the quick replies everyone and sorry for yet another long post!
KayDoll is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 02:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8,351
You must look it to what visas you need before you get too deeply into planning and booking, if you have a Vietnamese passport, if you haven't already done so.

Have fun planning and touring Europe .
hetismij is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 02:35 PM
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Posts: 78,322
Anything on cheap transportation>

Well train travel is not always so cheap in Europe but for such a trip i would think it the best way to get around - esp for the many big tourist cities you are going to where cars are liabilities - huge parts of towns like Florence, Rome, etc being off-limits to private vehicles and parking problematic and expensive when found.

I am partial to trains and have literally done trips with railpasses annually at least for four decades - even when i first went some of the trains where steam-powered (yup an old fart) and now they go up to 200 mph.

Anyway for such a long trip and wide-ranging - like i did several times at your age (the Fodor mantra is you have to spend a whole week in every city - forget it as young folk often like the travel part as much as the places - hop overnight trains to save on hotel/hostel costs and to relocated easily - any two cities far enough apart seems to have overnight trains running between them.

Anyway to help plan a European rail trip for the clueless and novices i always spotlight these info-laden sites: www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com - be sure to download the latter's free and superb IMO European Planning & Rail Guide that has a chapter of rail travel in each country with suggested itineraries, maps, etc.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 02:37 PM
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hetismj: oh no! i'm american. hehe just originally from VN. I have a 10 yr US passport though. =D
KayDoll is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 02:55 PM
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For cheap flights in the UK and Europe, take a look at Ryanair and EasyJet, though you are right, they are troublesome about luggage. But as long as you read their fine print and follow their rules, you can manage.

Trains are the best for travel in Europe, in my opinion.

I do think you should leave out Portugal if you can.

If you fly into London, then to France, then Spain and then to Italy, that is in IMO the most manageable itinerary. There are flights and train links from Barcelona to Italy and you can fly out of Rome. Or reverse the whole route.

Plenty of time yet though = )
sam86 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 05:43 PM
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Check out Let's Go Europe - the best IMO guide/resource for young backpackers - unparalleled IMO coverage of zillions of hostels - both official HI Hostels and the many more cline-oriented 'private' hostels that are more centrally located - have bars, etc. In any major bookstore or library.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 06:45 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 4,332
Hi KayDoll ,
Congratulations on what will be a great trip. You are not starting your planning too early at all. There are a lot of logistics to figure out. Besides, a big part of trip planning for me is learning about new places and why I want to go there.

We are planning our second trip to Europe and plan to do a combo of train and car. Last time we did a lease car for three months. When you get a final itinerary you can compare the train prices to passes. You might end up getting passes for a few countries and individual tickets for the shorter rides. You can check out http://www.whichbudget.com/ to see what airlines fly where.

See...there is a lot to do.

michele_d is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 08:24 PM
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Six months after we married, we spent six months in Europe, mainly in Spain. (It was a looooooooooong time ago.)

One of the things I remember most was getting to know a place. It is not that I do not like seeing many places, but there is a deep sense of satisfaction about knowing the quirks, charms, and customs on a certain city or town. So I would consider spending more time in certain locations. We all have our favorites and prejudices on these boards, but I doubt anyone would disagree about a full week in Paris and London. And you will cut down on your transportation costs.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 08:39 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 704
Kay, here are a couple of other things to consider. For budget, think about it in major categories like this:

Airfare from USA
Other Transportation (ie. train fare—-you can determine this pretty closely before you go)
Misc daily expenses/attractions

This way you can play around with the numbers until you get to your target budget (this works great if you put it into a spreadsheet.) As far as daily expenditures, remember that every tower you climb, every villa you enter, every museum you go to will charge you at least 5-20 dollars. This adds up fast.

Finally, remember that 2 nights typically means 1 day in a city which is very rushed.
krgystn is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 09:37 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 51
A lot of god opinions here. Mine would be to skip UK, it is the most like US, (though I would like to see Stonehenge) and you already have WAY too much to do. That way, you will have more time, money and energy for the more "exotic" locations. And $900 for open jaw to europe is a very good price!
ankhboy is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 09:52 PM
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After reading all of your inputs we've decided to cut Portugal and extend our London and Paris stays. I'd like to stay in an apartment if we stay a week or so in these areas but do not know where i can find apartment rentals.

PalenQ:: I've already bought let's go Europe and have checked out a few RS and lonelyplanets guides from my library. Going to check hostels once I get the itinerary done but are there any u recommend?

So how does this sound::

London 7 days .... Day trip to Bath and Stonehenge

Flight to Italy
Rome 5 days
Cinque Terre 2 days
Florence 3 days
Venice 2 days

Train to France
Provence 3 days
Paris 7 days .... Daytrip to Versailles
Languedoc 3 days .... Daytrip to Albi

Train to Spain
Seville 2 days
Barcelona 3 days
Madrid 3 days

Fly into London and leave from Spain. Does that sound like a more relaxed itinerary.
KayDoll is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 10:29 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 26,710
Rick Steve's is to travel writing what Barry Manilow is to rock n' roll. His is an insipid narrow view of the world.

Here is my less than humble opinion for guide books:

Frommer’s and Fodor’s-Good on restaurants and hotels, poor on history and culture, small town recommendations non-existent

Rough Guide and Lonely Planet-Opinionated and edgy, good on history and culture, terrible on restaurants and hotels

Cadogan-specialized for a specific areas. Quietly helpful, especially Spain

Eyewitness and National Geographic-Like stereotypical models nice to look at but little else.

Rick Steve’s-I would rather be lead by a blind man

Michelin Green-probably the best for sites.

Time Out-excellent for the large cities
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2010, 10:44 PM
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Posts: 2,041
I really think you're shortchanging Spain. I'd add at least 1 day to Sevilla in order to make time for a daytrip to Cordoba. I'd add a day to Madrid and do at least 2 daytrips from Madrid (Toledo and Segovia). I'd add a day to Barcelona - 4 days will give you just enough time for Barcelona but I doubt any daytrips. I'd also add 2 nights for Granada - a shame to visit Andalucia and not see the Alhambra. These would be my minimum recommendations. It would be great if you could add a couple of days in Ronda or Arcos when traveling between Granada & Sevilla.
CathyM is offline  

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