Me and a few of my close friends are trying to plan a trip to Europe for a month. We would be interested in any suggestions that anyone has to offer. Some of the places we would like to visit would be London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Switzerland, Venice, and possibly Rome. We are also planning on spending around 2 to 3 thousand dollars on the trip. Will this be possible by booking before December???? Also is it better to use the Eurorail instead of flying, and we are planning on staying in hostels but are also bringing tents to sleep in as well. SO if anyone could please help out with some suggestions???
thank you very much everyone, Cameron
I'm not sure brining tents is a good idea unless you want to visit the countryside. Where do you wanna go in Switzerland?
Are u planning to travel in Europe in Winter?
If so, leave the tent at home. It is too cold.
But hostels are very economical, so not camping wont necessarily make the trip expensive.
I would let were u travel depend on flight prices. Choose the cheapest flight, that gets u into Europe, then expand your plan from there.
Flying around Europe and taking trains can be very inexpensie if u take advantage of bargins.
Also taking night trains will save u money on accomodation.
In case u have not thought about it, investing in a good travel guide will help with your travel planning. Since u dont know which countries u want to visit, get one which covers all of Europe. The following ones are good for backpackers and are availabe in most book shops around the world, at a cost of around 26 Euros each.
If you're staying in the western side of europe the only place i'd recommend you dont have on your list is barcelona, its an awesome place. Vienna was pretty good too. If you want to go a bit further east, Prague, Krakow and Budapest are great places, and are much cheaper, basically the further east, the cheaper everything gets. And if you keep to the bigger cities you wont notice much difference from amsterdam, berlin and the likes.
The other thing i'd recommend are the sandemans free tours, i've been on the new berlin tour and the new amsterdam tour and they're great, you get the tour for free and if you want to tip the guy at the end you can.
Did you mean you plan to spend 2 - 3000 dollars per person?
to give you some ideas of cost:
From the USA to Europe the cheapest available flights are from Zoom - NYC to London Gatwick for 550 USD return. The larger part of the USA pays around 800 USD in low season (before mid-June) and 1000 USD in high season for a ticket to Europe. The midwest and the northwest are generally the most expensive places to fly from. San Fran or LA to Europe is usually between 1000 USD to 1200 USD.
Daily budget for travelling in Western Europe should be at least 50 USD per day. Better is a daily budget of 70 USD per day and person. So 3000 USD per person for a month in Europe is ok if you get a cheap enough ticket.
Bringing tents only makes sense if you are going to use them. You'll need to travel in May and June if you bring tents, as earlier it will be too cold and later you get into the high season. Most people who bring tents are young couples who want privacy and do not wish to stay in dorms. Note that you won't use a tent in Rome and Paris, because in Rome the camping site has house tents available that are much nicer and cheaper than your own tent. Same for Venice. And the only camping sites near Paris are 30 kms away and with bad public transport connections. In Paris you need to stay in hostels. The situation should be similar for London - AFAIK all camping sites are pretty much in the outskirts and you need to calculate carefully whether the savings from staying at a camping site justify the cost of transport to and from the city each day.
Berlin and Amsterdam have decent camping sites within reasonable distance, but for Berlin the going rate for a person in a tent is almost the same as for a hostel bed. Tent is 11 EUR, cheapest hostel beds in summmer are 13 EUR. Plus the camping site in Berlin is very small, you need to book way in advance for a group.
As for getting around:
With 4 people it might become worthwile to rent a car. Generally the best long-term rental can be had through leasing a Peugeot in France but best check with your airline or travel agency for any special offers they might have. Note that fuel is expensive: 1.30 EUR per litre of super. www.viamichelin.com can calculate costs based on route. You also should not plan on driving in London!
If you do not wish to drive, best is a combination of budget flights, bus tickets and train tickets. If you use all options to save money on transport it tends to work out cheaper than buying a Eurail pass. Downside is that you need to have a fairly fixed schedule as you need to pre-book a lot of things. Post your schedule here about 3 months before you leave and we will be able to help you with this task. (International train tickets in Europe are a science in itself, far more complicated than any air fares. Want to travel for 13.20 return from the Dutch-German border to Berlin when the regular fare is 71 EUR one-way? Ask me!)
I also recommend focusing on a maximum of 2 countries. As a rule of thumb in international travel you need about 2-3 weeks to see the major sights in one country, and at least 5 days for major cities like Berlin, London or Paris. Right now you have 6 countries in four weeks, which is way too much. You'll be doing a stop-whistle tour from one major city to the next until it all becomes a total blur. At the end of your trip your mind will be placing the Eiffel tower in Rome and the Big Ben in Berlin.
To make things even more confusing: The one place that totally deserves to be on your list is Florence, especially if you love art. There is actually far more to see in Florence than in Rome, which is quite a feat. You are also missing out on many smaller cities. Places like Pompeii, Dresden, Bath, Quedlinburg and Prague deserve visit too, just as the landscape. The German Bight is pretty unique, the only ecosystem remotely similar to it is San Fran Bay. During low water you can hike across the seaground to the islands out there. And the Spreewald, the peruvian forests south of Berlin are great too. The people there have preserved their own slavonic language and culture for centuries while being surrounded by Germans. Going there is especially nice during Easter. You also cannot get around by car there, you need to rent a canoe or a bike. Tuscany in Italy is known for its idyllic little hills and small farms with wineyards. I absolutely loved visiting San Gimignano. And there is so much more to see and do than the big cities...
I would have to agree that you should try and get to Barcelona if at all humanly possible. I thought it was an amazing city. Great weather, plenty of history if you're into that, good nightlife, beaches, beautiful women. What more could you ask for? I would recommend that you take Venice off your list. I was really looking forward to Venice but in my opinion, it was one big gimmick. Sure, the canals and everything were cool but it was such a touristy city - the only there was to do was basically eat and shop. And they charge you for EVERYTHING. A guy I met got charged for "atmosphere" since the restaurant was on the water. It's Venice!! Every restaurant is on the water! I'd take a trip to Florence just for the gelato - it was that good. One of the best things I've ever eaten. But it was only that good in Florence...Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, and Pisa for reason couldn't match Florence's gelato. I'd also recommend that you consider Prague if you can fit it in the itinerary. My friend and I just backpacked for 3 1/2 weeks and spent right around $2000. However, for about two of those weeks, we utilized a website called couchsurfing.com and slept at places for free. Since you'll be traveling in the off season (whereas we traveled in August), I'd imagine that you'll save some money on the traveling/hostel costs, though. Good luck and enjoy. It was definitely far and away one of the highlights of my life.