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Tips for making an itinerary for 1st European trip.

Tips for making an itinerary for 1st European trip.

Apr 1st, 2013, 10:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 1
Tips for making an itinerary for 1st European trip.

My boyfriend and I have decided to take a trip out of the country to Europe, and we both have almost zero travel experience! We are graduating college, and we are both very excited to venture out. However, we originally wrote down all of the places we really wanted to see. After reading through countless forums, I realized we probably were a little in over our head with all of the places we wanted to see. For example, his list included Paris, Madrid, Barcelona and Figeures, Spain (He is a huge Salvador Dali Fan). I, on the other hand, love the historical sites and old cities. The WWII buff inside of me wanted to see Auschwitz in Poland, Dachau in Munich, Germany, and entirely saturate ourselves in the country of Italy for the majority of the trip! Haha, overwhelming, I know!! So I will have to wait on Poland and Germany since we are only going for 2-3 weeks. Our itinerary is still a little vague, but I just want to make sure we keep it realistic. We plan on taking our trip May/June 2014. 2-3 weeks depending on whats feasible for what we want to do. What I am really asking, is 2-3 weeks long enough to visit Paris, Spain and Italy? Particularly the cities Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Pompeii, and either Capri or Cinque Terre. I know we are all over the map and this is so broad. We've never been there and really just looking for advice for people who are familiar with these countries and recommendations for really breathtaking sights to see! I've read mixed reviews on the best ways to travel between them as well. Since we want to see so much, maybe plane or night train would be best? I'm bracing myself for some tough criticism with this vague post lol so any advice is appreciated. Thank you!
kmiche4 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2013, 10:31 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
If you want to be constantly on the move, then yes, you can cover three different countries in 2 to 3 weeks, but since this will be your first trip to Europe, try to concentrate on what you actually want to see and experience and plan accordingly. You can do three major cities, with a few day trips, in three weeks, but you need to slow the pace if you want to actually enjoy the time. You can always return.
Robert2533 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2013, 10:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Actually you did pretty good as your post was much more detailed and helpful than many (many!) others that often go like this "I want to go to Europe, tell me why"....

First off let me just say: 2-3 weeks is not enough time to see Paris, or Rome , or London. Period. So, recalibrate that thought that you want to see all of Paris, or Rome, or London. You will feel overwhelmed and deflated otherwise. The time span 2-3 weeks will be enough to see some of THE HIGHLIGHTS. That's it. I go to Europe twice a year (sometimes three!) for the last 20 years and I still feel that I have not even scratched the surface of Paris, Rome, London, Madrid, or Amsterdam. So, take a deep breath and thank God that Europe isn't going anywhere....

You stated age, length, time of the year, and durantion, you also stated budget (out of college). So, a couple of pointers:

1. Go to the local library and borrow a copy of "Let's Go Europe 2012 (or 2013)". It is a budget travel advice compilation put together by the Harvard Students Travel Association. Excellent source for budget-minder travelers.

2. Consider going your own way for some days; why should you be dragged to Figueres or him to Dachau? This will give you a breather as well; nothing wrong with that.

3. Consider traveling in low (winter) or shoulder (Fall-Spring) season. That said, low and shoulder season prices used to be drastically lower than High seson prices. The gap has closed considerably. Say, consider late April-early May or October-November. The crowds are lesser and lodging is still lower prices and much more availability.

4. Consider Open Jaw-- fly out to your easternmost destination and "train" your way back to a departure city.

5. I would suggest a max of 5 home bases for 3-4 weeks.

6. Consider a flight to a major European hub, say Frankfurt, Dublin, London, and then connecting using an intra-Europe airline, i.e. Ryanair, Vueling, etc...

7. Front-load the heavy sightseeing. It will start getting repetitious and exhausting towards the end.

8. Consider studio/apartment rentals; you have more space, more privacy, more access to cook your own meals and save some $$.

So, if I was to put together a plan I would say, fly into Rome, take an intra-Europe to Paris, train to Barcelona, schedule a couple of beach days in Barcelona.
Viajero2 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2013, 10:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,159
Hi K,

Neither of you have been to Europe before. You have 2, 3 weeks at most.

The less time spent traveling the more you will enjoy what you see.

I suggest you fly into London - 1 week to see London and some of the UK -, train to Paris - 1 week to see Paris and vicinity.

If you have another week fly to Venice 3 nights, train to Florence 3 nights, fly home from FLR or PSA.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
Apr 1st, 2013, 11:24 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 11,806
Since you've just graduated from college, you are young. Assume you will return--many times.

Pay attention to the advice from the above posters. They're experienced and can save you money and time.
Pegontheroad is online now  
Apr 1st, 2013, 11:29 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2,950
In addition to the excellent advice above, just write down every day in a list, and allot at least three days to each place (this is flexible for places you might just want to pass through, etc., but is a good rule of thumb). You will quickly see what you can include that way. Plus, the less money and time spent on trains, the more resources you have to enjoy each place.
yorkshire is online now  
Apr 1st, 2013, 11:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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see! I've read mixed reviews on the best ways to travel between them as well. Since we want to see so much, maybe plane or night train would be best?>

Well for wide-ranging travels yes a mix of budget flights and trains and overnight trains may be the best - overnight trains let you cover wide swathes of land whilst you sleep and saves also on the cost of a night in a hotel (whereas planes will not save on a hotel night).

Anyway for lots of great stuff on European trains, including overnight trains, I always spotlight these IMO fab sites - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - be sure to download the latter's free online European Planning & Rail Guide as it is a great primer for planning a rail trip and gives loads of possible rail itineraries in many countries.

And if traveling on several or more trains then look at various railpasses - if you are under 26 then you qualify for the bargain Eurail Youthpasses (2nd class passes vs the 1st class regular Eurailpasses - but if you buy a Eurail REgular Saverpass you get a discount if you put two or more names on one pass and this actually comes out usually to about the same price as two solo youthpasses - there being no Saverpass deal on Youthpasses - so for the same price as two Youthpasses you can get a Saverpass for the same price and have first-class travel and IME of decades of incessant European rail travel first class has significant benefits over 2nd class - especially for those hauling luggage around - a pass in many countries still lets you hop on virtually any train anytime - fully flexible individual tickets can cost a ton - online discounts that many recommend over a pass are usually train-specific and are sold in limited numbers so must be booked months in advance to guarantee getting them and then are typically non-changeable non-refundable - you set your trains in concrete months ahead of time - if only taking a handful of train trips and not desiring flexibility that could be the best way to go.
PalenQ is online now  
Apr 1st, 2013, 01:06 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,153
One thing that might not be obvious if you haven't traveled to Europe before is how much history is in layers wherever you are. Want to see Roman ruins? Don't have to go to Rome, they are right under London, or Paris or near Burgundy or Frankfurt if you look into it. Want to see WWII sights? They are all over Europe just like the war. As are rewarding memorials and museums to all. Appreciating that is a good reason to not try to see too many different places so that it is not so hard to dig in a little deeper and really get the most out of it. And that Europe isn't just cities. I would think you could make a lovely trip and a great introduction to what is possible if you planned between Barcelona and Paris, a few days in each and a mountain and another country visit or smaller cities like Nice or Toulouse in between.
laurie_ann is offline  
Apr 1st, 2013, 05:29 PM
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PalenQ is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 10:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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What I am really asking, is 2-3 weeks long enough to visit Paris, Spain and Italy? Particularly the cities Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Pompeii, and either Capri or Cinque Terre>

3 weeks yes 2 weeks no - and only if you fly between Spain and Italy.
PalenQ is online now  

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