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Solo guy traveling to Europe first time, help please :)

Travel Forums Europe Solo guy traveling to Europe first time, help please :)

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1. Posted by robdetroit8905 (Budding Member 8 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

Hello all. My name is Rob from Detroit Michigan and I am about give out a lot of information maybe more than anyone wants to read but figure more is better here this is my first post so hopefully its enough to start.

I have been reading through blogs, forum threads, articles everything i can get hands on and eyes to focus on and wow there is so much information out there it is difficult to put it all together so hopefully you all can help me out.

I am planning to travel to Europe hopefully April/May 2017 is the plan as long as i can get it all together, if not then the fall of 2017 is when id go between August/september/October. I am not very sure on all the places to travel to since everyone says to not focus on seeing 'Europe' but focus on seeing part of Europe a select few places. The plan is for 3-4 weeks to europe with $3500-5000USD American dollars in total for trip, of course I want to do it as cheap as possible for travel to be able to spend more on being able to see, or experience a certain activity while there. Yes i would love to visit every country but I know it is not practical or possible, so I am trying to narrow it down to 3-5 places. I am located in America-Michigan to be specific. My flight will take me from Detroit to New York, to then fly to Europe where I choose to fly into is still undecided, predicated still trying to figure out all the countries to visit The 3 main places I would like to see would be Rome, Italy and see the coliseum, Barcelona Spain, and Amsterdam Netherlands. I know they are far apart so i do realize this may not be possible. have seen posts of people from America just flying into ireland then the UK and ferry/fly over belgium then to france and italy and so on.

So what Im trying to somehow figure out and plan out, which I know all of this most likely cannot be done but the idea would be to spend 2-3 days in one place which i know may not be a good idea and not see enough/experience enough so I am open to staying longer in each location and just not see as many cities/countries and here is an idea probably not the greatest one that everyone will disagree with but I am looking to plan something like this,

Here is the idea, to fly into Ireland from America, travel to the UK and stop in at London, then London to the Netherlands to visit Amsterdam, Amsterdam Netherlands to Belgium, Belgium to Paris, Paris to Barcelona, Barcelona to Rome which would maybe be fly over, take the train or by water across the Tyrrhenian Sea to end up in Rome, Rome to Florence Italy to Venice Italy. So possibly seeing 7 countries/cities in 3-4 weeks. So i understand this is probably not doable, can anyone recommend what could be possible, or if they have attempted something like this and what they did instead.

Or i could/would travel by train and getting an EuRail Pass once in Europe and could take night trains so id spend the days in cities and nights sleeping on the train.

So besides the actual trip being planned, I am still trying to figure out what I MUST DO besides of course see the incredible landmarks such as the Coliseum in Rome and other architectural landmarks. I plan to also just walk about and venture through the cities. I am a health fitness fanatic so i plan to stop off and visit a couple of gyms along the way. Visit the ocean and maybe go cliff jumping if it is nearby enough. Are there any places/hidden gems that are needed to be experienced, or activities or museums that people have been to and recommend that I have to see while being there, or go hang gliding, parasailing, hike a mountain all and every activity possible grabs my attention.

I am also trying to figure out what I need to pack/bring on my trip. Luggage case, and backpack as of right now is the plan but I am not sure of size or if there are specific ones to purchase from a travel store example Arei Outdoor store (it is here in Michigan) To bring 5 days worth of clothing outfits: 5 t-shirts, 3 pairs of shorts, 2-3 pairs of jeans, 5 pairs of socks/underwear, 3 hoodies, 1 spring/summer jacket, pair of good tennis shoes and wear comfortable boots(Timberlands or other recommend pair). iPhone+charger, 1 hat, sunglasses, toothbrush, contacts/glasses, all other daily essentials. Please let me know of anything I would need that everyone forgets or doesn't think of haha.

Would travel by train, bus, ferry, plane. Any way necessary. Is it best to go by train?

Would stay in hostels or AirBnB or if I happen to find cheap enough hotels could stay in the hotels, or if I am train riding I would just sleep on the train.

I think i have covered everything in general for anyone to be able to give me some help. Anyone with any help please let me know what you recommend, and anything else anyone needs to know please feel free to ask.

I know i said a lot and gave out a lot of info i think so thank you all so much for taking the time to help me here! :)

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5055 posts) 24w 1 Star this if you like it!

Quoting robdetroit8905

I am about give out a lot of information maybe more than anyone wants to read but figure more is better here this is my first post so hopefully its enough to start.

Thank you for this. Always better to give more information on where you're coming from than less. (We sometimes get questions on visa information where the person asking doesn't even state their nationality, which makes it all rather hard to answer. *g*)

The plan is for 3-4 weeks to europe with $3500-5000USD American dollars in total for trip, of course I want to do it as cheap as possible for travel to be able to spend more on being able to see, or experience a certain activity while there.

Your budget sounds pretty doable (as long as you watch your expenses), although I'd count on using the upper end of the budget given your preferred destinations. It generally doesn't get much more expensive than western Europe.

The 3 main places I would like to see would be Rome, Italy and see the coliseum, Barcelona Spain, and Amsterdam Netherlands. I know they are far apart so i do realize this may not be possible.

Flighs within Europe are relatively cheap, so using these three cities are your main bases of operation that you fly between, and then seeing secondary cities in their surroundings (by train or bus) would be one way in which you could organize your trip. In fact, that'd be my main recommendation for how to do things. For example, if you make it over to the Netherlands in April / early May, you'll be there for the flower fields blooming, so spend 3-4 days exploring Amsterdam, and 3-4 days to see some other the very nice other cities the Netherlands has to offer (Rotterdam, Delft, Den Haag, Leiden, Haarlem, Utrecht - they're all doable within an hour's train ride, and each is worth a day; you're basically spoiled for choice. You can rent a bike from either Leiden or Haarlem to then explore the flower fields (though I don't doubt that there's daytrips being offered from Amsterdam as well)).

Here is the idea, to fly into Ireland from America, travel to the UK and stop in at London, then London to the Netherlands to visit Amsterdam, Amsterdam Netherlands to Belgium, Belgium to Paris, Paris to Barcelona, Barcelona to Rome which would maybe be fly over, take the train or by water across the Tyrrhenian Sea to end up in Rome, Rome to Florence Italy to Venice Italy. So possibly seeing 7 countries/cities in 3-4 weeks.

This is technically doable - and so there's people who do it - but to me, it would just burn me out completely after a week and a half of travelling like that. I find I need at least a day of nothing for every week on the road; you just take in so many new impressions and sights, and your mind just needs time to deal with all of those impressions.
Staying in places longer means that you can start to develop a few small routines in those places, which helps your mind assimilate everything it's seeing and doing. And you get to see how things change over time. If there's a lousy rainy day and you want to stay inside, it means your visit to that destination hasn't been cut in half, but that you can just do that, and still get a great overview of the place. And sure, famous sights are famous for a reason, and generally well worth seeing. But what I remember mostly and most fondly from all the many places I've been, is always some unsuspected little cafe in a backstreet, quiet square somewhere in a more residential neighbourhood, bench along the water, etc. Places where I can sit down and just observe, seeing everyday life happen. And those places just need time to discover.

So yeah, I guess that's mostly just me reinforcing what you already read yourself. :)

Your packing list sounds fine on the face of it, and don't sweat it about what mode of transport is "best". Use whichever gets you where you want to go for a budget that you can afford in a time that you're willing to spend on it. Bus, train and plane are all viable options, really.

3. Posted by robdetroit8905 (Budding Member 8 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

The 3 main places I would like to see would be Rome, Italy and see the coliseum, Barcelona Spain, and Amsterdam Netherlands. I know they are far apart so i do realize this may not be possible.

Flighs within Europe are relatively cheap, so using these three cities are your main bases of operation that you fly between, and then seeing secondary cities in their surroundings (by train or bus) would be one way in which you could organize your trip. In fact, that'd be my main recommendation for how to do things. For example, if you make it over to the Netherlands in April / early May, you'll be there for the flower fields blooming, so spend 3-4 days exploring Amsterdam, and 3-4 days to see some other the very nice other cities the Netherlands has to offer (Rotterdam, Delft, Den Haag, Leiden, Haarlem, Utrecht - they're all doable within an hour's train ride, and each is worth a day; you're basically spoiled for choice. You can rent a bike from either Leiden or Haarlem to then explore the flower fields (though I don't doubt that there's daytrips being offered from Amsterdam as well)).

Staying in places longer means that you can start to develop a few small routines in those places, which helps your mind assimilate everything it's seeing and doing. And you get to see how things change over time. If there's a lousy rainy day and you want to stay inside, it means your visit to that destination hasn't been cut in half, but that you can just do that, and still get a great overview of the place. And sure, famous sights are famous for a reason, and generally well worth seeing. But what I remember mostly and most fondly from all the many places I've been, is always some unsuspected little cafe in a backstreet, quiet square somewhere in a more residential neighbourhood, bench along the water, etc. Places where I can sit down and just observe, seeing everyday life happen. And those places just need time to discover.

After reading more and after your advice. I looked into a different approach, and it is actually cheaper to fly into either Amsterdam or Rome, then fly out of either Amsterdam or Rome. I believe now its probably more cost effective and wouldn't burn me out as much to do that and skip ireland, the uk, and beligum.

Im thinking now it would be better to do that. For example would be to fly from michigan into Amsterdam, train ride of amsterdam to brussels, brussels to paris, paris to barcelona, barcelona to either marseille or nice, nice to venice, venice to florence, florence to rome and end in rome and fly out from rome back to michgan. To either do it this way, or in complete reverse.

Thoughts on going about trip this way instead? Recommendations on how much time to spend in each destination. Example 5 days Amsterdam, 1 day in brussels and see notre dame, next paris for 3-5 days...etc.

4. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 762 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

If you're planning to spend only three to four weeks in Europe -- and visiting Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, Marseille (or Nice), Venice, Florence and Rome -- I suspect you'd be utterly exhausted; and it will all be a blur.

You mentioned that you'd like to visit three main cities: Amsterdam, Barcelona and Rome. Why not stick to that; and perhaps add Venice and Florence to the mix. Florence is about 90 minutes by train from Rome; and Venice is about two hours by train from Florence.

Check this Web site for rail schedules: https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml

One possible routing would be to fly from Detroit (DTW) to Barcelona (BCN); then fly with Vueling from Barcelona to either Rome (FCO) or Venice (VCE). The one-way fare to both cities is around $50, or less. You could then fly from Rome or Venice to Amsterdam (AMS) for a similar fare on EasyJet. Return to Detroit nonstop from AMS.

Check this Web site for flights and prices: https://www.google.com/flights/

Your budget is OK. Take a debit card to get cash from ATMs; and a credit card or two, preferably those that don't charge fees for foreign transactions.

REI has an excellent selection of bags. Try them out. Get one that you take on the plane as a carry-on.

Methinks you're taking too many clothes. Besides the ones you're wearing, take two or three extra shirts; and an extra pair of pants (a convertible one can transform itself into a pair of shorts). No need for boots. Wear a comfortable pair of shoes; and pack a pair of flip flops for use in hostels, hotels or B&Bs. Also take a fleece and a rain jacket. REI sells the Ex-Officio underwear that I like. Bring two or three. Wash one in the sink (with soap or shampoo), wrap it in a towel; and pound it; and it will dry in a few hours. Also bring two or three pairs of socks. Socks are as important as comfortable shoes. They help cushion your feet, particularly if you're doing a lot of walking. I like and use Wigwam Merino-Silk Hiker socks. If you forgot to bring something, or you need something extra, buy it in Europe.

You'll have a great time!

P.S. I worked in Detroit; and lived in Southfield from 1978 to 1984; and still have friends there.

5. Posted by CherylGypsyRose (Full Member 12 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

Flying into one of your three top picks and home from another sounds good. Do not bother with a rail pass, trains and buses are not expensive.
Allow 4 days for Barcelona minimum and five days minimum for Rome. There are high speed trains from Rome to Florence and from Florence you can take a bus and do a day trip to San Gimignano.
Your budget is very doable. Use hotelscombined and find good deals on hotels and hostels. Barcelona can be expensive so try to book a free cancelation place convenient to La Rambla right away. Then you can look for something better or cheaper if you have time.
Have a Wonderful trip.

6. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

1. You can never provide too much background info.

2. You acknowledge the wisdom of forgetting about 'Europe' and concentrating on a smaller area. However you then name 3 places which are quite far apart. Suppose someone from Europe wrote that they wanted to 'focus on seeing part of N. America a select few places', and then listed Mexico City, Mexico; New York, USA; Toronto, Canada. would you say they had got it right? That is the equivalent of what you are suggesting. Not in DISTANCE but in DIFFERENCES.

To me a small area is say for example, the Alps. Or Ireland and the UK maybe. Or Venice, Florence and Rome perhaps. Just as you cannot provide too much background info, no area is too small. But it is very easy to try and cover too much.

3. In line with keeping travel distances down, comes budget. It is received wisdom that every day 'on the road' will cost DOUBLE what a day spent IN a place will cost. So to help a budget go farther, move less. When in a place, the accepted figure in W. Europe, for a backpacker staying in a hostel dorm, eating supermarket food and having the odd beer or museum entry fee, is around 50-65 Euros per day. That does not include transportation at all. If you opt for hotels, use taxis, drink more than 1 beer per day on average, then that number will go up. Transportation over relatively large distances like Amsterdam to Rome etc. will obviously add to costs. Travel from Amsterdam to Paris would add far less.

A trip with one week in London, one in Paris and one in Amsterdam will cost you less in travel time and costs than Amsterdam, Barcelona and Rome would.

4. Packing too much is one of the two commonest mistakes that travellers make. The other is trying to cover too much in too little time. A good rule of thumb to use for packing is the 'Rule of 3s'. That says, 'one to wear, one to wash, one to spare.' You need no more clothing for 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months or even 3 years. Just as you are in the habit of brushing your teeth before going to bed at night, you simply get into the habit of washing socks, underwear, shirt, etc. in the sink before going to bed at night. Taking 10 minutes a night to wash socks and underwear uses no more time in total than taking a whole load to a laundromat once a week.

5. How much time to allow per place is an interesting concept. How long any given place will hold any given individual's interest is something only the individual can answer AFTER having been there. Think about it. Someone may say, 'I spent 4 days in Barcelona and that was more than enough for me'. Someone else may say, 'I spent 4 weeks in Barcelona and still wasn't ready to leave.' We often hear people say, they spent too much time or too little time somewhere. That happens because they PLANNED their time. But if you cannot know how long a place will interest you for, how you can possibly know how long to PLAN to stay there? Makes no sense whatsoever to me.

I am an advocate of WINGING it. If you wing it, you NEVER get it wrong in terms of how much time you spend in any given place unless you just happen to run out of time in total before you are ready to leave. I go to A and stay until I am ready to leave. That may be 1 day or it may be my entire available time. When I am ready to move on and not before, I decide where I will go next.

Making best use of time is not about quantity, it is about quality. When you are getting enjoyment, experience, knowledge, etc. out of each day you are in a place, then going to another place cannot get you MORE than that. It may get you as much but never MORE. As far as making best use of your time, moving will never make BETTER use of it. What it will do is cost you time and money making the move. So it is only when you are no longer finding your days fulfilling that it should be time to look at moving on.

Tours are about planned itineraries, hence the name tourist. Planning a tour yourself is no different than buying a package tour someone else planned, it's still a tour and inevitably you will leave some places sooner than you wished to and stay in some places longer than you wanted to. Travelling without preplanning avoids that entirely.

Travel can be as simple or as complicated as you choose to make it. What is important I think is to realize that you have a choice! You do not have to plan travel beyond getting to A. Or you can plan everything down to nearly the minute as some people actually do.

I prefer keeping it simple. Given your situation, I would book a flight to A with A being anywhere I was interested in visiting and there happened to be a good offer for a flight to. I would stay in A until I was ready to leave and then decide on B. I would rinse and repeat until either my time available or funds available ran out and then go home.

That's what I do all the time when I travel. No stress, no hassle, no 'how many days should I plan in X' or how much will it cost to get to Y by train', etc. Just get to A and take it from there.

7. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 762 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

robdetroit8905, it pays to think outside the box when it comes to travel. Many of the truisms of yesteryear no longer apply. For example, it’s often now more convenient – and less expensive – to fly than to take surface transportation in Europe, thanks in large measure to competition. That shrinks distances, making itineraries such as yours more achievable. Today’s traveler has a lot more options; and that’s a good thing.

Much is changing in the world of travel; and it’s often difficult to keep up. Fortunately, there is an array of tools that can help. For example, I check this Web site for changes in airline routes: http://www.routesonline.com/news/38/airlineroute/.

Only you can decide what’s best for you. Whatever you choose, go for it; and have no regrets. We’re all learning through our experiences; and that, too, is a good thing. You’ll have a grand time!

8. Posted by Beausoleil (Respected Member 217 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

Just as an aside, there is an Air France direct flight from Detroit to Paris CDG. We have family in Michigan and often stop for a few days and then fly on to Paris. It's pretty reasonable and AF is a great airline.

I'm a great fan of spending a little more time in each place and planning to return to see other places later. You can't see it all so why think about it? Choose several places you really want to see; keep them fairly near each other and make that the trip. You can plan other trips later. Looking at a lifetime of travel is much easier than looking at one trip to see it all. Just a thought . . .

Enjoy your trip.

9. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 762 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

Delta Air Lines also offers a nonstop flight from DTW to CDG. In the United States, Delta handles reservations for its SkyTeam partners Air France and KLM; and acts as their sales agent.

Please note that when airlines code-share flights, there can be a difference in price. For example, an Air France flight booked as a code-share Delta Air Lines flight can be less expensive. Here's an example from Kayak.com:

March 15, Detroit (DTW) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)

9:55 p.m. DTW -- Delta 8573 (operated by Air France) -- 10:40 a.m. CDG (price $2,943)
9:55 p.m. DTW -- Air France 377 -- 10:40 a.m. CDG (price $3.107)

6:47 p.m. DTW - Delta 98 -- 7:28 a.m. CDG (price $2,943)
6:47 p.m. DTW - Air France 3605 (operated by Delta Air Lines) -- 7:28 a.m. CDG (price $3,107)

So it pays to shop around.

10. Posted by robdetroit8905 (Budding Member 8 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

okay so first thank you all for your rersponding.

2nd do you think its better to change my trip into more of either going to london, paris, and amsterdam. Or instead do barcelona, venice, florence and rome?

That way both trips are still close to eachother so that may be cheaper?

As far as clothing thank you for letting me know I was packing too much and need to pack less.

I like the advice on just winging it, but then where do you stay? dont you need to book hostels/hotels/airbnb/bnbs so you dont pay extra??