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JKline1229 Aug 25th, 2012 03:16 PM

Traveling Across Europe By Myself...Some Questions
Hi all,

So I’ve decided to go to abroad to Europe. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages and my current job is coming to an end, so before I start looking for a new one I felt I needed to take this opportunity to travel abroad. Now’s the time, I’m 24 so I get all the discount prices and I have enough money to do it. It’s now or never, I really don’t want this to be my never.

So plan is to try and do travel for a month though six weeks seem more realistic(I’ll let me parents know of the extra 11 days AFTER I book my flight haha).

I do plan on going to a lot of place…Italy(there are so many places I want to go to in Italy), Germany(Berlin, Fussenn), Ireland, Scottland, Copenhagen and from their due the night train to Amsterdam, Spain(Madrid, Barcelona, maybe some other places), Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium.

I also plan to go to England and France but I studied abroad in England and have been to London a few times, so my plan is to just meet with some of friends there and stay there no more then a day(overnight if we go out..). London tends to be expensive so it might just be a dinner thing. My real plan in England is Bath, Cardiff, and Oxford. I’ve also been to Paris a couple of times, so I just plan to skip it completely and head to other places in France, most likely in the South.

1) So first question is first is, is that possible to do in six weeks? Am I taking too much on at once?
- I plan to stay only a day or two in some places, and then two to three in other places. I’m alright with not going to Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden(basically in that order from one I’m most willing to give up to the one I’m least willing to give up haha). My day in London could go away or maybe it’s where I could end my trip. I’m mostly just going to see my friends from abroad there.

But Italy, Germany, Vienna, Ireland, Amsterdam, and Southern France and parts of England are definite. I know it’s still a lot, but I’ve got 4-6 weeks, so I do have a good amount of time, no? I mean I’d love to check out Rhineland and Toledo and other places like that, but I’m not sure if I plan to spend the night there. I know it’s still a lot but I plan to spend 3 days at most in most of the countries, save for Italy which will probably be like 7(so much I want to see!) and German will be 4. I’d love to do Sweden and Spain…but it might be hard. Sweden I’d prefer more then Spain at this point.

If I should cut it down to see more(I mean I plan to be in Italy like a 5-7 days), what should I cut, besides the ones I’ve already mentioned. What do you all think is the most(and I hate to use this word) expendable? Honestly I’d love to see some small villages…

2) What’s the best country to start? Or I should say cheapest place to start?
-Unfortunately I will be booking the tickets on relatively short notice…probably within three weeks to a month from when I want to go(sometime in late September/early October) so the price will be up there…I’m waiting to hear back from this one job and if I don’t hear back by September 5th, I’m booking my flight. So far haven’t even gotten an interview, so looking unlikely haha. Is Berlin the best place? So far Berlin and Dublin have been pretty cheap..but that’s if I book now. Also should I aim to avoid a connection flight despite being cheaper?

3) Which country should I leave from? I guess that question depends more on where both my second and last spot will, though I imagine a lot of zigzagging, so what’s the best place to finish for a cheap flight?

4) What are the MUST SEES on this trip, maybe even the things no one else know about(again the tiny villages will be cool)

5) I plan to stay in Hostels most of the time, but for like one night part of me wants to stay in some old fashion inn, just for the experience. Are those expensive?

6) Also do the smaller places have hostels? Or would that be my chance to stay at an inn?

7) Is the night train/getting a bed on a train worth it…again it’s an experience thing haha

8) What Eurail should I get?…I’m leaning towards the very expensive Global Two month…though that’s paying for two weeks I won’t be there and I’m not even positive this all will take six weeks. What’s my best option?

9) Do I bring my computer? I have a smart phone, so I don’t see why should I should but I guess it’s an easier way to stay connected to people and my parents say if I do this, they want me too so I can email them…But it will be a hassle, no? The one reason I would bring a computer is that I could write…I love writing and I feel like there will be plenty of things to write about. Of course I could use pen and paper but I have disgusting hand writing and I just feel like I’d be ten notebooks deep by the end of this trip haha

10) And finally…traveling alone…how is it? It seems horrifying but also incredibly exhilarating. For those with past experiences, how did a month or so traveling across a country on your own affect you? Was it great? Did you get lonely?

Sorry that there a lot of questions but I just soo much on my mind and so many questions. I’m incredibly excited for this.

Rastaguytoday Aug 25th, 2012 03:44 PM

Have you looked at guidebooks? Once you get an idea, sit down and write out a first pass itinerary.

When you have a tentative itinerary planned and have checked it twice for reasonableness, then start looking for pricing for open jaw tickets (arrive in one city leave in another).

I usually start the farthest away and work my way back to the nearest place. BTW: most of my travel has been as a solo. My longest trip was 42 days In those 42 days, I visited 3 countries, Germany, Switzerland and France.

JKline1229 Aug 25th, 2012 04:07 PM

Thanks for the reply!

Yeah I've looked in books and some have given good travel plans but the only issues were that
1) They all included like 4-5 days in London and Paris each and I'm skipping those.So I guess it's more about just finding suitable replacements for them...I'm definitely looking to do more then 3 countries because I' not sure when I'll get this chance again...Italy, Germany, and Netherlands are definitely my top 3. But I really want to see SOuthern France and go to places in England I haven't gone too. Oh and Vienna. I REALLY want to go to Vienna haha

gh21 Aug 25th, 2012 04:41 PM

Your initial thoughts in your post seen to be a bit disorganized. I would suggest you try putting a tentative itinerary on paper to see exactly what you your dream plan would be. Then you may have to pare back. Remember in visiting many countries rather than just visiting 2-3, you will have transportation costs (train, plane) between each country.

Sample itinerary
Day 1 arrive in Berlin
Day 2 tour Berlin
Day 3 tour xxxxx
Day 4 train to southern France
Day 5 tour city xxxx
Day 6 tour xxxx
Day 7 train to Italy
Etc, etc.

DebitNM Aug 25th, 2012 04:46 PM

You need to learn about using your phone in Europe for calls, texts and data. It can be very VERY expensive, especially for data unless you stick to wi-fi.

gh21 Aug 25th, 2012 05:10 PM

I have used an iPhone in Europe. To avoid incurring HUGE data roaming charges, I limit internet and e-mail use to when I have access to free wifi in my hotel or via an Internet cafe where I can control what I am paying for Internet time.

I limit phone calls to just a few to check on family members at home. I also text or receive 2-3 texts per day. The few phone calls and texts can add $50-60 to my phone bill for the 2 week period I am traveling. There may be cheaper alternatives--Skye, or international plans from your cell provider.

JKline1229 Aug 25th, 2012 05:27 PM

First, thank you all for the replies!

Yeah I have an iPhone. I guess I'll be keeping my internet off haha. I'll be using my iPhone to store a couple of guide books. From the sounds of it, it sounds like I should bring my computer...It would allow me to skype, email, search what I need too...

@gh21 - You're totally right, I am incredibly disorganized right now. It's all sort of coming together for me. I pretty much only made the decision to do this a week ago. I do realize that 11 countries in 6 days is a bit insane...haha

I might just stuck with Italy, Germany, Vienna, Amsterdam and one other city/country. Probably Southern France. I'd also through a day in Copenhagen in there somewhere.. I really want to take a night train haha. I'm okay with eliminating Belgium and Switzerland. It sort of pains me to eliminate Sweden.

Probably biggest pain will be taking out Ireland and England. I love England. I've lived their for four months, I have friends there, but I've never been to the country side. Ireland, I've just always wanted to go. But maybe I can make that another trip in the future, a two week to three trip of England, Scotland and Ireland. Who knows when I'll have the chance again but it's much more likely I can do that then go to Germany and the rest. Still, it stinks :(.

I might have to go to start in London(I was thinking BErlin) just spend one dya there to hang out with my friends and then leave either that night(which will be...rough) or the next morning. I just don't think my friends will be pleased if I skip over them haha...but it might be the most logical choice..

Should I do Ireland over Southern France? I mean I really want to do Southern France too...but Ireland more...Though Southern France is much more convenient and cheaper. Though does anyone have a suggestion as a fifth to replace Southern France? Should I have a fifth?

nytraveler Aug 25th, 2012 05:30 PM

The itinerary you have listed would take 3 to 4 months to actually see anything. And all the bouncing around from country to country (never mind how many cities) will end up costing a fortune - even with low-cost flights and student discounts on trains.

And do remember that when you move from one city to another it takes from 1/2 to a ful lday - so 2 nights in a city is really ONE day.

As for overnight trains, my understanding is that any sort of berth is ot covred by passes - but extra costs for each one. And while you may be willing to sit in a chair all night - many overnight trains don;t offer this option - and if they do you have to stay awake to guard your belongings. (A friend of mine had her camera stolen (she never even woke up) on an overnight train when she has it pressed between the far side of her body and the side of the seat).

nytraveler Aug 25th, 2012 05:38 PM

Agree you should lay out your itinerary day by day - and realize you are trying to cover a good part of a continent.

My DD (19) and 2 friends went for 5 weeks last summer and ended up staying in 8 different CITIES, not countries - to have a chance to really see much of anything. (And she had already spent significant time in London, Paris and Italy - so this trip had no England, a couple of days in Paris (plus the Riviera) and only Venice in Italy. And no scandinavia - which is really an outlier - as well as very expensive.

JKline1229 Aug 25th, 2012 05:58 PM

Well that makes the night train infinitely less cool haha

Thanks for the reply nytraveler!

And you're right my original plan was a bit insane. I've pretty much have it down to just the four countries listed above and maybe one more. If I go to London for a day, it isn't too expensive or time consuming, right? It's about 4 and half hours. That way I can spend my day there...If not I just go right to Amsterdam then Berlin then Fussen then Vienna then down to Italy. It might not leave much room for France. Though not counting Italy(which I plan to spend at least 8 days and I guess, it will be where I fly out of) it seems like I do have time. Or is what I have perfect from six weeks? I mean I wouldn't mind 45 days if it helps me fit something else in. Would I be able to do more of England with my trip?

Amsterdam(Three Days) >Berlin(Three to four days Days)>Fussen(Two Days)>Vienna(three days)>Italy(I'd imagine 9 days)...that's about 21 days not counting travel time(which I'm sure increases it more to 30)...Do I have time for more? Should I stay in those cities for a longer? Is there a good place to check out along that route south I'm taking? I love places like Fussen, so I wouldn't mind a couple of days in another one of those.

janisj Aug 25th, 2012 06:01 PM

"<i>Italy . . . Germany . . . Ireland, Scottland, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Spain . . . Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium.</i>"

Then you add about about <i>ten</i> other cities/countries in the rest of your post. This isn't a month trip, not 6 weeks, and not 3 months.

Your post is all over the place - sort of stream of consciousness and 'wish list'. It is great that you are so enthusiastic - but now its time to be realistic.

2 days in a major city really nets you about 36 hours (and most of that is overnight) because you have to find your hotel/hostel, check in, check out and head to the next place.

You need to sit down w/ a guidebook(s) and cut your wish list about in half.

JKline1229 Aug 25th, 2012 06:11 PM

Oh yeah definitely. I actually did sit with a guidebook but I think it was more of a "top 13 places in Europe!" type of book, so I think that's where I went off the rails haha.

But yeah, I think I've given it a good trim since my original crazy stream of thought.

And thanks for the reply :)

StCirq Aug 25th, 2012 06:17 PM

Your first post is as rambling and all over the map as your itinerary is. You need to focus. You can't possibly see a country in 3 days. Even 6 weeks isn't that much time. I've done a bunch of 6-week trips and didn't even get to more than 2-3 countries. What you initially posted (if I understand it, and trust me it was hard to get through) would take several months.

You seriously need a good map of Europe and some guidebooks and focus on a handful of places that you really want to see. Then figure out how to get between them and whether you want to make a loop, flying into and out of the same city, or a straight line of sorts,or open-jaw tickets. THEN figure out the train costs and whether a pass of any kind is going to save you money (it may not).

Check out the Let's Go and Lonely Planet guidebooks and websites. They're geared to this sort of trip.

janisj Aug 25th, 2012 06:31 PM

I didn't notice your 2nd post and it looks like you are at least considering cutting back. But that entry is really just as scattered as your OP.

Spreading yourself too thin means you actually see LESS. You end up spending 1/2 your time traveling between places and not IN places enjoying the sites. You end up being expert about trains/stations/schedules - not the amazing cities/sites.

"<i>But maybe I can make that another trip in the future, a two week to three trip of England, Scotland and Ireland</i>"

One can't 'do' England, Scotland and Ireland in 2+ weeks. You <i>can</i> get a tiny taste of each but they are all large countries and very varied. So maybe 7 days in a couple of areas in England, a week in Scotland (that would give you time for Edinburgh and one or two other regions) and a week in Ireland - Dublin and a couple of other towns.

frogoutofwater Aug 25th, 2012 06:49 PM

You will remember nothing but planes, trains and buses if you travel that much.

When I travel, I try to spend at least 3 nights in most of the places I go - with just a few 1 or 2 night stops.

I would encourage you to do something with this trip that could actually translate into something you can put on your c.v. The easiest is to spend a week or two in one country studying a foreign language. If you already speak another language, pick that one and invest in getting a bit better. It's a cheap way to travel (especially if you choose a homestay), and you'll meet other young people who you can sightsee with in the city you're studying in, or even travel with afterward. Spain, Italy and France are great options, and some schools let you study for as little as a week (although many require a 2-week minimum stay).

As for Eurail passes and the like, they're often not worth it unless you're hopping on and off trains every day (and everyone is discouraging you from doing that). With the advent of low cost airlines, it's often quite cheap to buy a one-way airline ticket for a long distance, and train fares are often a lot cheaper than you'd think. So don't spend money on a Eurail pass until you do the research about the trips you'd actually like to take and what it would cost you do to buy the tickets one by one.

JKline1229 Aug 25th, 2012 06:49 PM

Oh well damn, haha....I'm just trying to figure out a way to fit this all in...I'm not really going to have an opportunity to do something like this again so I'm just trying to fit in as much as I can...I get it's scattered but I just want to do as much as possible, because when I get back it's just work and work and more work. There won't be many other six week trips or 45 day trips.

So even four countries, and eight cities is too much? Each trip would take about six to seven hours each. A lot of guides I did skim through say that three to four days in a city is good enough....though I'll look at more guides tomorrow.

JKline1229 Aug 25th, 2012 06:59 PM

Scratch that...Berlin to Vienna is like 10 hours, same with Berlin to Fussen...

JKline1229 Aug 25th, 2012 07:13 PM

Should I maybe just take out Vienna? That way there is no detour and it's just me continuing to go south toward Italy, while stopping in one German town along the way.

Still three countries though...But I just don't remember any guide that gave me Amsterdam, Berlin and Italy all in one trip.

janisj Aug 25th, 2012 07:20 PM

8 cities is definitely more doable - but still semi-rushed.

Let's do the math using 45 days: 45 - 1 day flying to Europe - 1 day flying home - 1 day to recover from jetlag - 1/2 to 1 full day every time you move leaves approx 35 days free for sight seeing. Or about 4 days per city. You can see a lot in some cities in 3 or 4 days. For others you'd want more time.

gh21 Aug 25th, 2012 07:36 PM

I understand it's Europe and you want to see as much as possible. But you are young and you will have other opportunities to travel to Europe again. You need to focus on what is actually doable in 4-6 weeks.

If you are from the US-- your plan is similar to traveling 10 hours from NY to North Carolina for 2 days and then Travelling 10 hours to Miami for two days and then 7 hours to New Orleans for 2 days etc etc. Would you ever plan that kind of trip in the US?? If not, then why do it in Europe?

Take a breath, list he sights you would like to see in each city. Realize that at max you can visit 2-3 sights per day. Plan your travel time between cities/ countries and see where you stand with number of days. Leave some time in the schedule for just wandering, sitting at a cafe for people watching.

Also, start adding up costs for airfare, trains, hostels, meals, museum tickets etc and see what your budget will allow. Staying for a longer time in fewer cities will cut down on transportation and will save money on this trip.

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