Student's travelling to a budget

Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 05:31 AM
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Student's travelling to a budget

Hello! I am new to this site so I hope I am doing the right thing here...

Two 21 year old students (will have just graduated as teachers - wahoo!) have decided to celebrate the end of uni to go travelling in Europe for 1 month.

We would ideally like to go to Italy (fly in to Florence) and then from their travel via inter-rail to Switzerland, across France, down into Spain (to Barcelona) and then back across France towards a Ferry which will get us back to England.

We have friends/relatives in Florence and Barcelona.

As we have never done anything like this before, I am writing on here in the hope that some of you could give us some excellent tips and advice about our trip. Is this a good route considering the various relatives? And how can we eat cheap in places such as Florence!!?

Thanks in advanced.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 05:47 AM
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Well for lots on the train portion check out these IMO fantastic sites: www.seat61.com - oriented to Brits taking trains on The Continent; www.budgeteuropetravel.com (download their free and superb IMO European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of suggested rail itineraries; and www.ricksteves.com.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 05:59 AM
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There are many places to eat reasonably in Florence. Lots of places sell panini (sandwiches), pizza, etc. Or grab some cheese and bread from the market, some olives, a glass of wine, and enjoy. Stroll around for a gelato for dessert. I seem to remember Switzerland being expensive, but again, eat where the locals eat, and you'll eat well.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 06:09 AM
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Switzerland is expensive. Given you only have a month I would skip Switzerland - if you want mountains you could visit the Pyrenees, or eastern France.

I would fly into Barcelona, take the ferry to Rome, and go north from there, instead of zigzagging all over the place. You may find that buying tickets ahead of time for the Eurostar will be cheaper than the ferry, given that you have to get to and from the ports. See seat61.com for loads of info on train travel in Europe.

You might want to check Lonely Planet's thorntree for other backpackers.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 12:50 PM
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Switzerland is expensive.>

But it doe snot have to be if you want to stay in places like Nature Friends' House like in Grindelwald or youth hostels or youth hotels - like the popular Balmer's Aubuerge in Interlaken - these places are not only cheap by Swiss standards but are meeting (party) places for folks your age from all over the world. The Interlaken-Jungffrau Region to me is both literally and figuratively the absolute high point of Switzerland - glacier-girdled peaks soaring above lush cow-dotted meadowsand places like Grindelwald or Luagterbrunnen and Interlaken that attract zillions of younger folk like you.

I'd put the Jungfrau Region in and around Interlaken at the top of your list - just about 5-6 hours all told by train from Paris.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 05:53 PM
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On a budget, the less crisscrossing you do by train, the cheaper. I think you need to plot out where you really want to visit and how long it will take to reach each place(and how expensive).

Budget airlines might be more practical depending on your final itinerary.
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Old Apr 4th, 2013, 01:10 PM
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Overnight trains go all over Europe - thus you can crisscross Europe at night and save on the cost of a hotel if you do a reclining chair (not all trains has them however) or a couchette - very few overnight trains anymore have regular cars you can just plop down on - but rather than taking a budget airline go by night train - folks your age often bring provisions along - nothing against that or wine, etc and have a nice little time. If you have a railpass you only pay extra for the sleeping accommodation.
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Old Apr 4th, 2013, 11:47 PM
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Hi,

For others destinations like Switzerland I can't really help but for France no problem. First I think to need to need to plan your trip and list where you really want to visite. Here for Paris, I looked through this marvellous website to find an appartement or a studio for rent for a night or too and it's not too expensive, plus you can sometimes stay in a famous neighbourhood !!!

I recommand you the South of France, it's very nice, the food is good and it's not too expensive. You can visit Avignon (there's the biggest theatre festival every year in July), Nice, Marseille, Vaison la Romaine etc. From Paris you can stop in Lyon and enjoys the town that you can find numerous sites, listed as Unesco world heritage site.

For the train tickets find them here. www.voyages-sncf.com, try to enter your age correctly, and most of the time if you choose "ter" instead of "tgv" it's cheaper.

There's a bus line called "euroline" that can take you fram Lyon or Paris to London, it takes time but it's really ok for the price. Also if you take this bus from Avignon (the south of France) you can you to Spain too.

Hope this can help you,

Enjoy your trip
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Old Apr 4th, 2013, 11:53 PM
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Sorry I forgot to give you some nice places to stay.

http://www.wimdu.fr/paris
http://www.wimdu.fr/lyon?last_city=P...&sort_by=score
http://www.escapade-vacances.com/ (for the south and other places in France)
http://www.eurolines.fr/fr/ (for the bus, from everywhere to everywhere

Or you can share roadtrip with other people in France. Register, choose your destination and check for people who can drive you there. Very cheap and fun.

http://www.covoiturage.fr
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Old Apr 5th, 2013, 11:05 AM
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Get a copy of Let's Go Europe - the so-called 'Bible' of backpackers - written by college students and annually revised - great on accommodations and objectively reviews them IME - calling dumps dumps - also a world of useful info - sold in any major bookstore and of course on amazon.com.
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Old Apr 5th, 2013, 12:12 PM
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I want to know what commission PalenQ gets from the train systems . . . or the websites.

One way to travel "on a budget" is to determine at the outset how much you can actually spend. That will help dictate your itinerary and travels. And overnight trains will cost more, in many instances, than flights on cheapo airlines plus a night in a hostel-quality accommodation. Consider an 80E overnight train v. a 30E flight plus 25-30E hostel.

You can also freeload by couchsurfing.
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Old Apr 6th, 2013, 04:23 AM
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In Barcelona, most local restaurants will have a great value three course lunch menu with drinks included for some 8-12€. Lunch is the main meal of the day for most Spanish, so do as the locals and save much money.

I can highly recommend l'Aribau in Carrer d'Aribau, 3. On a corner close to the impressive university from 1450. Here businesspeople and academics drop in for a three course lunch for 8,60€ (before 14, 9,60€ after 14h). Salad or today's soup, grilled meat or fish with poatatoes/vegetables and dessert. Excellent place with lots of Catalan specialities. http://barcelona.salir.com/laribau

Plenty of such places all around.
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 04:19 AM
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I agree with Kimha, Eat a good lunch it is almost always a cheaper meal, and sometimes you can eat quite nicely for a MUCH less. then grab a snack from a sandwich vendor (or whatever the local food) or from a grocery store for dinner. EAT any breakfast that comes with your room if where you stay has a B-fast plan, if not, do not pay extra because the hotel breakfast is rarely worth the price they charge. It is often better outside the hotel and almost always cheaper.

Figure out the public transport ahead, get on the internet and study it. I can tell you that I normally do that and am glad, because rather than being in a foreign country figuring out something new, I am just in a foreign country looking at the boards and recognizing that I reviewed at home. And public transport is normally the cheapest way to go, unless your relatives haul you around!

I did the night train thing once, every time we hit a town and the train tooted and the lights flashed at the intersections, it startled the heck out of me and that night was not well rested at all! So if you are sound sleepers, maybe.... NOT a do over for me, granted I was in my 30s when I tried this the first time, not as young as you probably are, but still.....

Lean a little bit of the language wherever you plan to be, please, thank you, good morning, etc, enough to be polite. People will usually just be nicer to you because you tried, even if is it terrible!
And remember, often, what we foreigners misunderstand for rudeness, is really just a cultural way of being and not really at all rude within their cultural setting. So, if you feel that someone is being rude, just try to remember that it is probably not their intention.

Lastly, just be ready to roll with the punches, while there are McDonalds scattered all over now and they do serve their purpose, for example a beverage and (reliable) bathroom break. Don't fall back on the known. Slow down, and experience the place, rather than try to see and do it all. Spend time in a cafe, get coffee the way the people in front of you do, sit down (or stand if that is the custom), let the coffee roll around in your mouth, taste it, (or not if they toss it back), watch the others there. Take time over your meals, try the gazpacho in Spain, the steak tartare in France, bangers and mash in England, and gelato in Italy, you may not like it all, but at least you KNOW, rather than just trying something familiar. Get to know the people a little bit, BS with the ones you can communicate with, dig in and be PRESENT in your moments there or you will have missed the point of the whole experience. To quote Brad Paisley, let this trip take you out of your "Southern Comfort zone". It will give you an appreciation for your own country and the ways in which we "get it right". And it will aid you in understand that there are other people in the world beside us and that their way of life may not only be as good as ours but often better.

(So there is the sexual assault nurse examiner coming out in me) Stay sober enough to be in control! Avoid any "local" drug use and try to live by the local law. Mostly just have a stinking good time and be safe.
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 04:32 AM
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One last thing (maybe) copy your passport and cc info, trade that with your travel buddy and keep it separate from your originals, justin case some one rips off your wallet or purse. I carry mine in my bra, there are all kinds of ways to do it. Just do it!
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 06:54 AM
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I don't have any special tips about savings money, I think it is just mainly typical common sense -- eat and stay in cheap places, look at menus and see the prices, etc.

But as for Switzerland, if you want to go there, go. I had heard all these warnings about how expensive it was, but when I was there a few years ago, it wasn't any more expensive than most other places I had been in western Europe. As usual, big cities are more expensive than small towns, etc. It is more expensive than mid to eastern Europe, sure, but so is France and Italy. I'm referring to everything, transportation, food, accommodations.
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 09:27 AM
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Well I disagree that Switzerland is not any more expensive than the rest of Europe - to me things are shockingly more expensive across the board - I always bring in anything like toiletries, etc I need from France or Germany, etc.

The Big Mac Index - a reputable comparison of prices for things at McDonalds documents that Switzerland is the most expensive country in Europe - barely edging out Norway and those two being way way more expensive that the third more costly country.

Most folks report sticker shock in Switzerland and if low on funds you may want to skip the country and be able to say spend twice as long somewhere else.

McDonalds Index:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/graph.../daily-chart-3
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 10:10 AM
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http://www.mytravelcost.com/Switzerl...ice-countries/
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 10:15 AM
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Make your mind up PalenQ. Up thread you were disagreeing with me about Switzerland being expensive, now you're saying it is.
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 01:32 PM
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Thank you all so much for this information! I have sent almost an hour reading it all and taking notes... Very much appreciated!
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 07:06 PM
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Switzerland IS more expensive , even comparing prices at McDonald was shocking to me, lol And remember Switzerland does not use Euro they use Swiss Franc and its not to our advantage at all.

I also think you really need to look at budget airlines simply put they can save you a lot of time and even some money ..
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