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Backpacking in Europe Summer '04 need advice

Travel Forums Europe Backpacking in Europe Summer '04 need advice

1. Posted by SarSar480 (Budding Member 4 posts) 12y

I'm an 18 year old female from the US and I'm going to Europe for 6 weeks with my best friend (also 18/female). We already have our packs, our Eurail pass(the youth 2 mo. pass), your hostel cards, and our plane tickets. We are flying in (june 9) and out (july 21) of England. So far we have picked out 11 countries we want to visit incuding: England, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Italy, Belguim, Austria, and Swtizerland. If anyone can give us tips on what we should see, hostels we should stay in, cheap places to eat, or anything else we should do while we're there that would be so helpful. We are pretty flexible on where we go so if you have an suggestions on other countries we should visit that would be cool too. Also any tips on what to pack or just general info we should know would also be helpful. We really just want to have a good time and experience as much as we can in our 6wks. Obviously money is a bit of an issue since we're paying for our trip ourselves but I think we have most of our major things covered like our transportation, but we're still on a tight budget. Also if anyone else is going to be in Europe when we are we would love to meet up somewhere, traveling with new people is always fun! Write me back...or Email or IM me at (deleted e-mail address)

[ Edit: Sorry, no personal contact info in the forums ]

2. Posted by scotty (Full Member 22 posts) 12y

Hello there,

My name is Scott and I am a 21 year old student in Canada.

My best friend and I backpacked Europe last year for 10 weeks, and we went to just about the same countries you have.
The first piece of advice I can offer is that you are trying to do too much in the time that you have. To travel from England to Greece and back again while still seeing everything else will prove to be both tiring and nearly impossible. The first problem is that you fly into London and out of London. This will require you to back track far too much and you will be spending too much of your time on the train. I personaly feel that it would be worth your while to make a change on your flight scheduale which shouldn't be a problem since you still have lots of time. My suggestion is that you fly into london, and out of a different area so that you don't have to travel as far back (for instance fly into London and out of Madrid Spain....this will allow you to see Holland, Germany, Switzerland and other more northern countries while you make your way south to Italy and Greece).

The next piece of advice is that you may have purchased the incorrect train ticket (not for sure but possibly). I am assuming that you have the 15 trips in two months package. This is a really good ticket and the same one I used, but keep in mind that you are only there for 6 weeks, where as I was there for 10. This will cause you to need to travel every 2 to 3 days on average to use up all of your trips within your time allowed. Once again this is far too much traveling. Although Eurpean trains are very good, you will be burnt out from traveling within 3 weeks if you try and keep this pace. Another thing to think of is what if you find a nice place and you want to stay a little longer, and trust me it will happen. As well as you will without a doubt meet people and you may possibly want to travel with them. I will speek from personal experience on this, but if you try to cram too much in such a short time, it will take all the fun out of this amazing journey you are about to take....traveling can be very hard on the body....not very good food, little to no sleep, and you wont have the chance to get any rest and enjoy yourself.

Don't get discouraged b/c you still have lots of time. I suggest that you purchase the book "Europe on a shoe string" by Lonely Planet. This book will have valuable info while you are in europe such as places to stay, things to see and maps of the regions you will be in. Another book you should get is a book that you should read BEFORE you go. This one is "Read this first Europe" also by lonely planet. It will give you some good info on a lot of things I have just mentioned plus a lot of good tips on how to stay safe and get the most out of your trip.

E-mail adresses are not allowed on this site, so you can just post a reply to me on this thread, or you can messege me personaly if you need any further help.


3. Posted by SarSar480 (Budding Member 4 posts) 12y

Hey Scott-
Thanks for the info. The train pass I have isn't the 15 trips in 2 mo. It's the unlimited travel in 2mo. So I won't have worry about leaving every 2 or 3 days to use up all my days. And I known we're trying to cram in a lot of countries in a short amount of time but both my friend and I are really flexible and most likely we will end up skipping out on a few of the smaller countries like Belgium. And if we end up meeting people and traveling with them for a while neither of us will really care if we spend extra time one particular country and dont' make it to another. We just picked out general countries we think we would like to visit just so we have a small idea of where we'll be going. I know what your saying about backtracking and we know its going to happen but the round trip ticket was a lot cheaper so we figured for the amount of money we were going to save it would be worth it. And our flight from England is a direct flight back to where we live so it makes everything a lot easier. I guess if we really don't want to back track we could always take one of those really cheap flights from where ever we are to England for our flight back, we'll see. I already have the Europe on a shoestring book, but I will look into the other one, that sounds like it will be very helpful. Also did you stay in hostels when you went last summer. I've read you have to make reservations at a lot of the hostels which means we would have to plan out our trip a lot more. I know for the high speed trains reservations are needed but do you know how much in advance you need them? If you have any other advice or any particular cities you really enjoyed I would love to know. Thanks again

4. Posted by samanthah (Budding Member 10 posts) 12y

hi sara
i livein england and have travelled around europe quite a bit. firstly- definitely book your hostels!!! you're going in the summer, just think how many other people are too. you really need to make reservations. obviously, everything is flexible, but having that security will make everything a lot easier. it's kind of live having a basic structure in place and then you can shift it around.

trains aren't so much an issue, buti suggest you check with the individual companies...

lastly, my take on europe: it's funny that you have 6 weeks for europe, cos i'm spending 6 weeks in the usa with my best friend this summer and we're both 18 too, although he's a guy!! maybe you could help me out too lol? my post is in north america! thanks. The thing about europe, as you'll discover, is that each country has a completely unique vibe going on..and each is beautiful in it's own way. I saw that Czech wasnt on your list which I think is a real shame! I went to Prague last summer and it's absolutely gorgeous! Also everything there is nice and cheap, we even stayed in a four star hotel!!! This would be especially helpful to you given that London, where you def should go (it's awesome here!) is really not cheap and can be a shock for incoming people- i'm just used to it. seriously though, prague is beautiful, all my friends thought so, and we have quite different tastes! an unexpected find!

Other than that, I suggest you think about varying the journey. I mean, cities are great, but all the time? Think about breaking it up a little with beaches, countryside etc..Right: must see cities (in my humble opinion). (Incidentally i love art, shopping, history, so thats what is influencing my choices, oh and nightlife! actually that''ll be great for you- you're legal to go out, drink, party in europe! I also love just taking in the athmosphere of places...Sorry..I'm rambling.)

Paris- amazing lovely place. Loads of art, loads of gorgeous little cafes and brasseries, bistros. You can eat relatively cheaply if you avoid the tourist traps. Also, eiffel tower, notre dame etc. each quarter has its own athmosphere.

Barcelona- wow i looove barcelona! also lots of art, the whole city designed by gaudi. Great shopping, really happy, friendly place. my friends just went alone, ive been with family, so i could get you the name of their hostel. go out for tapas and salsa in the evenings!

Amsterdam- totally unique! really small and easy to get around. anne frank's house, boat trips, van gogh museum, nice shops, pot is legal (akthough i dont go in for that myself)...

Prague- I already said!

Rome- Wow, you have to visit rome...there's just soo much to see. And while you're in Italy hit Venice and Florence as well! I can probably get you the names of some hostels there too.

Berlin - I didn'; expect to like Berlin as much as I did at all, but its actually a pretty nice place. very big and lots going on accordingly. i didnt like the hostel i stayed in here so im not reccomending it! but berlin is nice, for a few days. and the home of haagen daz!

London- well im a bit bias on this but London is amazing. its this huuuge, sprawling city, and i think to get the most out of it you really have to stay a while cos there is so much to get around. Its so big you can find something for everyine, from the obvious tourist stuff, to covent garden and oxford street, camden market, london has it all!

OK, ive just become aware of how long this is so I really hope you look at it! If i was around in the summer I'd offer to show you round but i'll be in the usa wow! Pllleeease help e back I'd appreciae your input lots! But basically, those are the places I'd say defnitely go to and you'd be silly to miss if you're coming, and then customise the rest to your own interests and balancing everything out geographically etc.

Hope all that wasn't too overwhelming and was a bit helpful..sorry I'm not good at being concise

Sam xx

5. Posted by SarSar480 (Budding Member 4 posts) 12y

Hey Sam!

Wow yeah that was alot but it helped. I think almost every place you listed we were planning on going to. But it's good to know that those places really are worth seeing. My friend and I are really interested in seeing the art and history side of Europe because theres just so much of it there. I'm also really excited about England. One of my best friends from here is from England and still has family there. She's going to be there when we're flying out. So we're spending a good 5 days or so with her family and she's going to take us around so that will be great. I also have family in the Netherlands and I think my cousins (18 and 20) might travel with us for a while so that will help. You will have so much fun in the States this summer...I'm going to go post on the N. America forum and try to think of all the great places you should go. Thanks again. And if you know the names of the good hostels you stayed at that would be great.