Single Itinerary Help

Jun 24th, 2015, 06:28 PM
  #1  
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Single Itinerary Help

Single mom, about to turn 29 in 10 days, with a serious case of wanderlust. I promised myself I would travel abroad by the time I hit 30. I had a big trip to South Africa planned with a girlfriend and at the last minute before booking, she bailed. I'm too leery to fly that far by myself, so I'm think Europe might be a better destination for me at this time, but I need help with an itinerary. I have the time off from my three jobs already and my mother will be on charge of my little, so I figure I might as well take advantage of rare non-work days and explore.

I've only traveled within the U.S. and the Caribbean (which I don't count as abroad). I have no desire to see Paris, I was thinking more along the lines of maybe Prague or Amsterdam? I will have about 10-12 days and I'll be going in the middle of September. I'm very active, I'm not a sit on the beach all day for a week type of person. I don't mind staying somewhere cheap or eating on the cheap, I more so want to see and experience as much as possible. Traveling by train to a different city is fine by me, I'm just having trouble deciding where to start.

Will be flying from Boston. The cheaper the better as far as budget goes (you know, that single Mom thing). Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!
nightxsky is offline  
Jun 24th, 2015, 07:15 PM
  #2  
 
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No one here has any idea what you might find interesting, beyond that you don't want to see Paris for some reason. What is it you'd most like to do - museums? Hiking? Culture? Nature? Food? Why not do some research to see what you are interested in seeing first, then asking questions about specific places? We can help with the logistics but not your particular likes and interests.

I suggest picking up a Rick Steves book on Prague and/or on Amsterdam/The Netherlands if you are interested in those places. (My local library often has his books available if you want to save money, maybe yours does too.) You can watch his PBS specials on YouTube as well, to get an idea of what some of these places are like.

If you want a couple of potential itineraries: You could fly into Prague and spend 10 days in the area, half of it in Prague, perhaps the other half seeing small towns. Or fly into Prague, out of Vienna, about five days in each with day trips. Or, fly into Prague, out of Budapest (stop in Vienna?). For my first trip to Prague, I did ten days like that - 4 in Prague, 2 in Vienna, 3 in Budapest. These three cities are all easily connected by train.

You might also consider flying into Amsterdam, out of Brussels, and split your time between Amsterdam and Belgium, though I have no idea if you are interested in Belgium or not. (Bruges is beautiful - there are other nice cities such as Ghent as well that might interest you.)

There are lots of trip reports here to give you other sample itineraries you might consider. You can search the Europe forums by country.

You can stay in hostels if you really want to save money. I use the website booking.com to find cheap lodgings, not always conventional hotels. There are often a lot of reviews to give you an idea of what the place is like.
Andrew is online now  
Jun 24th, 2015, 07:28 PM
  #3  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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IMO, solo travel is a great self-indulgence: You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, without worrying about anyone else's preferences -- hard to beat that!

There are quite a few solo female travelers here on Fodor's, and many of us post our trip reports on the following thread. Maybe you'll find some inspiration there!
http://www.fodors.com/community/trav...collection.cfm

BTW, my first solo trip was in the US, and came about because my intended travel companion had to bail THE NIGHT BEFORE we were to leave! It was my first "big" trip (in time, distance, and cost) ever, and I was distraught -- how could I possible manage?!? Well, I not only managed, but had such a great experience that I have chosen to travel solo ever since.

Enjoy!
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Jun 24th, 2015, 08:53 PM
  #4  
 
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Not sure why you think South Africa is too far. Once you get on the plane you just sit there.

But if you want to visit Europe you need to start your research over and spend some time with the guidebooks. Either your library, or hang out at Barnes and Noble and read theirs. Are you talking about THIS
September? Because if so you need get moving.

If this is your first trip out of the Americas, and your first solo trip, I'd be inclined to recommend starting in London. You'll have no language issues, and there are tons of things to see and do, a lot of them free. If you're going in September the LSE student residences will still be open, and are a great budget option (I'll be staying there myself the beginning of September):

http://www.lsevacations.co.uk

You can take a cheap flight (check EasyJet or use skyscanner.net) on to Amsterdam. Or go overland: http://www.seat61.com/Netherlands.htm - and fly back to the US from Amsterdam, use the multi-city option on the booking sites.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 25th, 2015, 05:30 AM
  #5  
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Andrew - My apologies. I'm mostly looking to experience the culture. As I stayed though, I do enjoy being a river which to me reads as hiking, kayaking, etc. Paris simply doesn't appeal to me, maybe because I'm single, I don't know, it just never really has. Thank you for the itinerary suggestions, I will look into those. I like to read, but I'm not big on travel books, which is why I come here to ask those that have actually been and read their trip reports. My problem is that there is SO much in Europe that I don't know where to start.

Kja - Thank you for suggesting that thread, I'm going to absorb myself in that for the remainder of the day!

Thursdaysd - I'm not entirely sure why SA seems so far to me, but maybe just because I think Europe will be easier for me to navigate and I won't be as worried about being alone. The draw to SA for me was shark diving and I'm not so comfortable doing that without someone I know. Thank you for the websites, I was previously unaware about those!
nightxsky is offline  
Jun 25th, 2015, 05:51 AM
  #6  
 
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It sounds like you are not really a city person. Maybe you should rethink this if you want to spend time on the water. People don't go to European cities like Amsterdam or Prague for outdoor activities, they go for the architecture, the museums, the cafes, the street scenes, and (in those two cities especially) for the nightlife. Maybe you should be looking at hiking trips - the Cornish coast path, the Alps, the Dolomites? Or biking? (See http://www.fodors.com/community/trav...neral-tips.cfm ) I have no idea about kayaking in Europe, not my thing at all, but maybe a little searching on the internet would turn up something.

Not sure what you mean by "travel books". This site is very good at answering specific questions. It is not (aside from reading TRs) as good at helping YOU decide where YOU want to go. You need to spend some time with books like DK Eyewitness and Insight, with lots of photos, to decide where to go. then you need books like Lonely Planet, Rough Guide and perhaps Fodors and Frommers to help you with logistics (how to get from A to B, how to get around town) and where to stay.

I'm still a bit concerned that you are starting to plan this rather late. Keeping it to one or two cities would certainly make it easier. Since you were planning to visit SA I take it you already have a passport?
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 25th, 2015, 08:13 AM
  #7  
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Thursdaysd - The Alps is a solid option, thank you! But I just meant that reading travel books doesn't thrill me, it doesn't sell me on a location. I can search in google and find pictures of places I want to go, but these forums are much better for me in terms of making me want to travel somewhere. It's where I always go before I take a trip.
nightxsky is offline  
Jun 25th, 2015, 08:17 AM
  #8  
 
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BTW, if you are on a budget the Alps are just as good in France and Austria and its cheaper there than in Switzerland.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 25th, 2015, 08:33 AM
  #9  
 
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NO need to apologize that you aren't interested in Paris, different people have different interests. Italy has never particularly interested me, for example.

But if you really care about cost, some places are cheaper to be there (Poland, Prague, etc) and others are cheaper to get to. Prague is not cheapest to get to because it is farther away, you'll have to transfer and just being farther generally means it costs more.

London and Dublin are usually the cheapest to fly to from the US, but Amsterdam on KLM can b e competitive, also (or Frankfurt on United). I'm flying to Prague soon and on United and I must transfer through Brussels, actually, so I guess they have a coshare with Brussels airlines.

Amsterdam sounds good, it's easy to get to, and language will be no problem at all, for sure. YOu could visit Belgium at the same time, although that isn't in a lot of people's dreams. But it's close. And you can get to London without too much trouble from Amsterdam (but you'll have to research more). London isn't cheap though, but for beginners, not a bad idea as dwefinitly no language problem.

Prague would be fine, also, cheaper and if you don't mind the air fare, it's easy to get around there pretty well as people don't expect you to speak Czech.
Christina is offline  
Jun 25th, 2015, 10:10 AM
  #10  
 
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Just echoing others than a London/Amsterdam pairing would be excellent for a first solo trip, although you would need to be mindful of the cost in London.

If you wanted a more active vacation, September in Iceland is transitional enough for you to still do summer season activities, but with fewer people. If you're into hiking/trekking/fantastic scenery/jeep exploration, Iceland has a lot to offer - I went solo this March and loved it. Most people speak excellent English, so again few language barriers to get in the way of meeting locals and exploring the culture. Iceland isn't exactly cheap either, but cheap food options are more plentiful than I thought, there's a great array of guesthouses and farmstays for cheaper lodging, and most major sights are completely free to visit, so if you rent a car as opposed to utilizing tours, you can also save.

And I'd also throw in that I went to South Africa solo in Jan 2013 at age 27 (not a mom, but I am female). I had no issues with safety and had a great time in Cape Town, the Winelands and on safari - I did not elect to shark dive, as my adventurous side tops out just after skydiving.

Maybe start with Europe solo, and if you get hooked to the solo experience (I know I am) put South Africa as the next trip.
inspiredexplorer is offline  
Jun 25th, 2015, 10:36 AM
  #11  
 
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Traveling by train to a different city is fine by me, I'm just having trouble deciding where to start.>

Start in Prague - then perhaps go to Munich (best by bus) then up say to the Rhine or Mosel rivers area - very very scenic - like staying in Cochem, a fairytale small city on the Mosel - then take train to Amsterdam - do a day trip by train from Amsterdam to a neat old city like Delft or Haarlem or to Zaanse Schans to see those behemoth old windmills.

Anyway for lots of goodies on planning a rail trip - www.seat61.com - great advice on discounted tickets (you are not traveling enough to look at railpasses IMO); www.budgeteuropetravel.com (download their free and superb IMO online European Planning & Rail Guide for loads of rail itineraries in those countries; www.ricksteves.com.

Or do Prague to Berlin to Amsterdam - spending 3-4 days in each location and possible doing a day trip from one or all of them. This one is easily done by rail.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 25th, 2015, 03:07 PM
  #12  
 
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nightxsky, for future trips, don't write off Paris. I've only ever been there solo, I don't drink wine or eat fine food, and I don't care for museums (though occasionally I force myself to go to a few) - and I STILL love Paris. It's simply a beautiful city, a delight to explore. I can't even explain why completely. I fell in love with Paris on my very first trip Europe and some of that has stuck with me ever since. Nowadays it's a little less amazing, but I'm sure I'll go back again. I still get excited seeing the Eiffel Tower again each time I visit.

I love Prague, too, but it's much smaller than Paris (for better or worse), and parts of it are overwhelmed by tourists - especially the mobs that congregate between the Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square. It can feel a bit like Disneyland. Still, it's a beautiful city and very walkable.

Many people who visit Prague enjoy a visit to the little town of Cesky Krumlov a few hours away. If you like outdoorsy stuff, here is a town in which you can take rafting trips. But you have to go in season, I think; I visited late September and didn't see anyone rafting.

You could do Prague, Vienna, Budapest as I suggested - or perhaps just Prague + Vienna or Prague + Budapest (with a day trip to Cesky Krumlov or maybe even an overnight). Or Prague + Krakow if you want to be a bit more ambitious. I'm not familiar with the outdoor activities possible near these places, though (Zakopane is supposed to be a beautiful town/outdoor area not far from Krakow though).

Or maybe Prague + Germany. I know you could train from Prague to Berlin easily; I hiked near Dresden (which is right between) in an area called Saxon Switzerland.

If you want something a little more off the beaten path, try Slovenia, one of my favorite countries. It's small, and there aren't many American tourists - and seasoned travelers may be impressed if you tell them you visited there (vs. doing the usually Western Europe spots most people visit). Slovenia has some beautiful outdoor areas such as Lake Bohinj, Triglav National Park, and the Soca Valley where you can hike, kayak, raft, etc. The capitol city of Ljubljana is another favorite city: not very big but feeling like it's right out of a fairy tale.

Nearby Croatia offers some beautiful parks and natural areas as well e.g. Plitvice Lakes National Park, an amazing place with dozens of waterfalls and huge lakes full of trout - the water is naturally turquoise colored. I just got back from my second visit. But Croatia and Slovenia may not be ideal for a first trip, because getting around without renting a car is a bit more challenging - no extensive train network like you have in other European countries, so you either take buses (which are OK) or rent a car. Trains seem to be easier to deal with at least on a first trip, I think.

I repeat my suggestion to watch a few of Rick Steves' travel shows on YouTube. He has shows covering Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, and no doubt The Netherlands as well as many other countries. And I find his books full of practical tips and suggestions. I like to leaf through them when considering a visit to a new place - not cover to cover, just browsing through them and seeing what catches my eye. There are other travel books that may work better for you. I highly suggest hitting a book store and leafing through a few travel books (without buying them yet) and seeing which ones appeal to you. As much as I appreciate the wealth of information I can get here at Fodor's and other travel forums, I can't imagine not having travel books for planning my trips.
Andrew is online now  
Jun 26th, 2015, 10:27 AM
  #13  
 
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I too love travel books and now with Kindle or smart phones you can have practically any guidebook there with you - Let's Go Europe for example is on Kindle - the bible for younger folk traveling on their own.
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