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can a get a little feed back for a first time backpacker

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1. Posted by bribomb (Full Member 30 posts) 12y

first of all let me start off by saying any advice given here will be greatly apreciated.

on that note, a little back round.... I am an 18 year old from Massachuesetts that is looking to see "the old continent". me and a few of my pals have decided on backpacking with an alloted time of 3 weeks.

this is ouor agenda

June 20th fly into rome
june 20-21 rome
june 22 -june 25 venice
june 26- june30 paris with a day in versailles
july 1- july 4 munich
july 5 - july 8 interlaken
July 9- july11 rome
july 11 fly out of rome

here come the questions

is this doable?

now one of my friends woould also like to to Prague and/or Veinna. is this plausable?

how much should we budget?

is there any good camping sites in these areas?

what rail pass shouold we get?

if you answer one or more of these questions, i will be forever in your debt

thanks in advance, Brian

2. Posted by mtlchica (Respected Member 922 posts) 12y

Hey Brian,

I'd be happy to help, but you have to remember that you have to figure out certain things before you make any decisions.

Are you gonna do budget hostels or cheap hotels? Are you gonna eat out a lot or are you looking to buy stuff and groceries stores to save money? Do you plan on drinking and going out a lot? Do you want to buy a lot while there (souveniers, etc). Are you willing to sit in a train for 8-hr stretches?

K, I'm just gonna give you some advice on how I would do it. First, I'd tweek your itinerary. It seems that you will have a long trip from Venice to Paris...perhaps go in this order:

Rome - Venice - Munich - Paris - Interlaken - Rome

(Also, I don't think you need that long in Venice)

If you're going to travel by train, then that schedule would probably lead to the shortest train rides from city to city. I would probably get the Europass Youth Flexi for 10 days in 2 months ($488 US) or the Eurail Selectpass Saver for 5 countries for 6 travel days ($406 US). With the second one, you have to buy it as a group, because it's for two or more people, and can only use it while you're travelling together, so if you're planning on splitting up, don't get that. Read all the info on the passes at www.eurail.com

I'm not too good with the camping sites, but I know there are ones in Rome for really cheap...we met up with some people that stayed at one. (Buy the Let's Go or Lonley Plant Western Europe books...they will be your backpacking bible! They're pricey, but they save you a lot of money with hints on cheap places to stay, eat, etc)

As for adding another city, I think you alread have a jam-packed schedule, and if you want to make the most out of your trip, keep it as it is to give you a chance to see everything. If you add another city in, you may feel rushed and like you're not getting the most out of your experience. (although Vienna and Prague are very nice cities!)

As for budget, just think of your answers to the question above. If you budget yourself at 50 euros a day including accomodation, you should be ok...heck you can even do it for less depending how much you spend on everything.

Anyways, I hope I helped!

Cheers,
Katie ;)

3. Posted by bribomb (Full Member 30 posts) 12y

thank you Katie,
i have a few more questions that i forgot to mention, if we travel at night does that count as two days of travel ( on your ticket)?

and would you recommend any hostels, restaurants, markets, places, and/or sights that are " a must see"

is customs tight between european countries?

again, i am extremely grateful for all feed back

4. Posted by mtlchica (Respected Member 922 posts) 12y

Hey Brian,

Glad I could be of service!

Now as for your extra question: I believe the Eurail pass with limited days works like this: if you leave after 7pm (double check the time) it counts as the next day. So don't worry if you book a overnight train that leaves at 9pm and arrives at 6am, because it's one day on the Eurail. When I went I used the regular Eurail, which is more expensive, but had unlimited travel (which we needed because we did a lot of day trips).

Now here are some recommendations:

Rome:
Like I said, I know that there's a camp ground a little outside the city, but I'm not sure the name. We stayed in Chinatown, in a little budget hotel. It was about 45 degrees celcius when we went, and we needed a place with a/c. I also heard the Yellow Hostel is good and reasonably priced. Sites to see are the Colessium, St. Peters/the Vatican (you have to see the Sistine Chapel!), Trevi Fountain, the Ancient City Ruins, the Spanish Steps. For food, we grocery-stored it since we splurged on a hotel, but we did go out once to a cute little resto in the Trevi Fountain area - there are tons there!

Venice:
It's been a loooong time since I went there...about 7 years ago. It was a package deal, so we did the hotel thing. Piazza San Marco is beutiful, and if you can afford it with your buds, take a gondala ride (it is really expensive as well! I didn't get a chanec to do it when I went, and I really wish I had).

Munich:
Two words: Beer Gardens! These are resto pubs with beautiful trees and courtyards. Plus you can get a one-litre glass of beer! (Little advice: don't drink a litre of beer before going on an overnight train ). Best one: Hofbrahaus. There are tons of hostels to stay at there, all of them surroundig the train station (so you don't have to lug your heavy packs too far). The city centre is quite small, and you can walk it in an afternoon. Sites: English Gardens, Neuis Rathaus (new town hall, which at 9 and 5 has this little show for a few minutes...I won't ruin the surprise, but it's world renowned, lol :) ), the Angel of Peace and the Residenz (palace). Good day trip if you're up for it: the Dachau labour camp from WW2. It's good if you like history and is very sobering.

Paris:
K, this is my fave city in the world, so I may ramble Good hostels are the Centre International de Paris (BJV): Paris Louvre and the Auberge International des Jeunes. This first one is a five minute walk from the Louvre, and the second is a little further out, but is dirt cheap. Restos: for a cheap lunch, go to the Latin Quarter. It's known as a younger area, lots of students live around there, and has cheap grub. One place has a coke and a sandwich for 3 euros. In a resto that would cost you 8 or more. Ok, Paris is a big city, so to see it all, I suggest that you get a couple day passes or a week-long pass for the Metro. It's relatively cheap, and it will get you around the city fast. It's good on the Metro, the RER (commuter train) and buses. Sites: The Eiffel Tour, Louvre (to see the whole thing you need like a day and a half! it's huge!), Musse D'Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Versailles (glad you want to go!), Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge, Le Halles, Centre Pompidou, Cemitaire Pere LeChaisse (Jim Morrison is buried there), Notre Dame, les Invalides, La Grande Arche and lol, well the whole city! I think that's enough for a starter ;)

Interlaaken:
Stay at Balmer's Youth Hostel. It's great and the people are nice. They have shuttles that pick people up from both train stations (Interlaken Ost and Interlaken Est). It's a small town so you can really walk around it for a day. Now, for the cheesy advice I give everyone: if your budget permits, do an extreme sport (it can be quite pricey). It's known as the extreme sport capital of the world.

As for customs, you'll be travelling between countries within the European Union, so there are open borders. Kinda like travelling from New York to Vermont.

Ok, I'm done!

Cheers,
Katie ;)

5. Posted by bribomb (Full Member 30 posts) 12y

wow Katie,
you made my life much easier and if i may, burden you with one more question( although this might not be the last) do your have to make reservations for hostels/trains

thank you again

6. Posted by IMonaghan (Respected Member 431 posts) 12y

In general it is a very good idea to make hostel reservations before travelling to Europe in peak season. There's always going to be somewhere to sleep, but you may or may not get into the place you are hoping for without a reservation.. plus if you are not driving it can become costly trying to get back and forth between different hostels/hotels seeing if they have a bed open.

7. Posted by bribomb (Full Member 30 posts) 12y

thank you, very much for the last reply

for that i am now in debt to you as well

8. Posted by mtlchica (Respected Member 922 posts) 12y

No prob Bri

I agree 100% with IMonaghan, but I've also showed up in cities and gotten great places too. As for train reservation, it costs about 2 extra euros for seat reservation and it's worth it. Plus, you are required to if you aretaking an overnight train (in a sleeper car). Those reservations cost a little more.

Cheers,
Katie ;)

9. Posted by bribomb (Full Member 30 posts) 12y

thanks agains,
but now i am faced with the most expensive part of my trip, airfaire. i am looking to spend 500-600USD on airfare and am pretty " loose goosed" as my freind would say about what city i arrive in, does anyone have any good "hidden jems" on such a topic?

any info on such a topic would be appreciated thank you in advance

10. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 12y

probably, don't try and fly direct to Rome. London/Paris/Amsterdam/Frankfurt are often cheaper, and connecting flights in Europe tend to be quite reasonable. Try through tickets via one of those hubs as well as just to the hub, and look for the connecting legs yourself, may save money. London tends to be cheapest. Also, there's a new low cost Canadian operator. (zoom maybe???? can't remember) which was 99usd each way London - 6 canadian cities. If you can get a cheap flight to say, Toronto to connect, that might be a possibility.

Agree that an order of doing Venice - Paris - Munich is a bit daft as you are doubling back.

Customs are officially non-existant (excepting to/from Switzerland to an extent) but chances are you will have your passport checkied (not stamped) on at least a couple of your legs, especially on overnight trains (in some cases, even internal ones within 1 country). But unlikely to have any problems.

You'll always find somewhere to stay, but you are travelling in high season, have fairly solid plans for when/where your going and there's a group of you (or more than 2), booking ahead is probably advisable to ensure your all together. I rarely book ahead, but as a rule i'm a single traveller with an extremely changeable itinerary, so it doesn't matter to me.
Good luck and have a great trip