I have recently decided to embark on my first solo/ backpacking trip. I estimate that I will have roughly a $4,500 budget after the price of air travel.
I plan on beginning in May and returning in late July or early August if funds permit.
I am planning on staying in hostels and living as cheaply as possible.
The goal of my trip is photography and experiencing wines . I'd love to see historic places but I am not very interested in seeing art museums or anything that costs more than 20 euros to enter.
I want to start in Morocco then move north into Spain and eventually France. I don't have any set dates that I want/ have to be anywhere so I will stay as long as I am enjoying the scenery.
The reason I'm writing this is to ask a few questions.
1. What size pack would you recommend. I'm 5ft and 11 inches tall about 190 pounds.
2. What sights and cities would you recommend in these countries.
3. Any tips or experiences you'd like to share from traveling these areas before would be greatly appreciated.
I'm low on sleep and high on excitement so I apologize if this post is kind of all over the place.
I'll speak about Spain as I have visited neither Morocco nor France yet.
It seems you will have approximately one month for each country which is good. The Spanish itinerary could look like this: Gibraltar, Jerez de la Frontera, Sevilla (a must see), Cordoba or Granada, Murcia, then heading north to Madrid, Zaragoza, Barcelona. If you have time there is a great little town Ronda near Jerez de la Frontera. While staying in those cities you may look for local wineries located in smaller nearby towns.
There is a lot of hostels in major Spanish cities at affordable prices and generally at the moment prices in Spain ar relatively low comparing to other European countries, e.g. France. However since you are travelling in high tourist season, I'd suggest to book hostels in advance. Be also prepared for high temperatures.
Your budget is fine. Over the past year, the dollar has appreciated against both the euro and the dirham. You'll get about 17- to 20 percent more for your money than a year ago. You don't have to stay exclusively in hostels. Hotels and guest houses are much cheaper outside the big cities. Staying there will help offset the higher cost of cities such as Barcelona. Consider a mix of transportation: Buses, trains and flights. Sometimes surface transportation (rail) can be more expensive than flying. Always check if rail discounts are available. In some countries, such as Austria, they are available if purchased in advance, on some routes, or at specific times. Going from Spain to France, I suggest taking the bus from Barcelona to Andorra, stopping there for a few days (hike the area around Arcalis), then continuing to Toulouse. The bus fare is reasonable. You'll love the mountains. I visited Andorra from Barcelona last year. As for your backpack, choose anything under 50 liters. Most travelers carry too much; and they regret it. If you don't mind washing in a sink, you need only two extra quick-dry shirts, perhaps a polo shirt (more useful than a T), an extra pair of pants (convertible is good), shorts, two-to-three changes of quick-dry underwear and socks (I like wool socks...they don't smell and provide extra cushioning), a lightweight fleece jacket or vest, waterproof shell; flip flops, etc. Caution: Don't wear flip flops on hikes. You need to protect your feet. Injure them, and travel can be hell. I speak from hard experience. My daypack (for hiking) is a 25-liter waterproof Aquapac, available from online retailers. I keep my camera(s) in there. The Aquapac can be rolled up (remove the backing) and stuffed into your backpack. You'll love the vineyards and the wine!
[ Edit: Edited on 22-Feb-2015, at 06:50 by berner256 ]
I haven't personally backpacked myself but I did travel France for 2 month in dec/jan in a camper.
If you make it to Northern France I strongly suggest you check out most if not all the ww2 sites. The normandy landing beaches, graveyards etc it sounds pretty morbid but it will blow you away and it really have me a whole new appreciation for life. The whole of Northern France and I'm talking like the border is pretty much dedicated to the rememberance of the tragedy and bravery of those men who fought there. There is a lot of museums but most of the places you will want to visit are free such as the American war graveyards and The beaches such as Omaha beach.