Well, if you have absolutely no desire to plan ahead your best bet is indeed a train pass. If everything breaks you'll always be able to board a night train to another city if you cannot find a hostel. (But wait until your friend has taken a better look at what those train passes cost, xe might be singing another song by then.)
And yes, I am suggesting that you mix trains with buses with planes, depending on where you are going. This however will take some planning. For example you'll need to book some flights in July/August as early as February to get a really good deal, so you need to pick a fixed date and places to be in.
For buses and train it is easy to buy tickets on the spot at the station. However you might not always get the best deal that way. In Germany you can get specials on train tickets if you book online at least 2 weeks in advance, bus companies give up to 30 % off when you book ahead, etc.
How much would you suggest that I set aside for transportation costs?
That is difficult to say, as this will totally depend how much you'll move around, where and what distances. As a general rule you can budget around 50 EUR per day and person if you are travelling in Europe on the cheap. If you do not move around a lot this amount will cover accomodation, food, entry to one sight per day and basic cost of transport. As a general rule: The tighter your budget, the more planning and research you'll have to do. Totally unplanned travel basically takes daddy's credit card and or the ability to call home for more money anytime.
BTW, all the above does not mean that you cannot be spontaneous. If you got about 50 % of your time planned out you'll be pretty good.
For example I took a trip to Italy last May. I was on a very tight budget, scrimping on every corner. But I only booked the flights, looked up some places to stay and investigated some train connections. I flew into Palermo, knowing only that 3 weeks later I had to be in Venice for my flight home. I had some sort of plan, I knew I wanted to spend about a week in Rome and another week in Florence, see the Etna, Pompeii and maybe Capri. But I made up the rest up as I went. I bought an international train ticket for Italy in Germany, the ticket was valid 2 months and allowed me to go whenever I wanted on a fixed route. I was limited to regional trains with this ticket, but this was not a problem since I took my bike with me and needed to take the regional trains anyway. This ticket was a much better deal than any train pass. I could have done more planning and more research and twice it bit me in the arse financially, all in all it was ok. I was totally free, I could have changed my plans in the blink of an eye. I didn't, I went almost exactly as I planned - but hey, that's life.
Another good advice I have: 2 friends travelling together do not always mix. I really really love my best friend. I've known her for 12 years now. We get along like a house on fire when we are together. But - I would never ever go on a trip with her. I made that mistake once and it almost ruined our friendship. The only thing that kept me from killing her was that I knew she would go back home earlier, leaving me free to do the things I wanted. We were in London, it was our graduation trip. I had planned to do all the touristy things, go to museums, art galleries, etc. She however wanted to go shopping. Ok, I like to go shopping too - but it was not my idea of fun to spent 4 hours in a "Boots" drugstore and come out with a tiny cup of lip balm, then walk down the street less than a minute, turn a corner, go into the next "Boots" and spent an hour selecting the flavour of a granola bar and then considering another 40 minutes whether to buy the rapsberry flavoured water or not.
The mistake I made was that I did not talk with my friend before the trip about the things we would do together and how we would spent the day. We disagreed from the beginning (shooping vs touristy things), but I did not realise just how contrary our ideas of a fun day in London would be. The fact that (unlike in daily life) we were spending time with each other 24/7 was also not so great. (The latter also ruined the infamous Nicole Richie - Paris Hilton friendship. You can see it clearly in the 3rd season of "The simple life".)
I was just talking to my friend and telling her some of the things you have all suggested. We really don't mind sleeping under the stars or getting completely lost in a foreign country. We don't really want to go shopping or do touristy things like museums, because we figure we'll have time for that later in life. What we really want to do is land in europe, explore a city, meet new people, go to bars and dance clubs, go to some beaches, and do anything else that we feel like at the time. We've talked about this and we're on the same page. I'm hesitent to buy a eurail pass because we would both like to end up in Prague or Istanbul eventually, which would not be covered by the pass. I have a friend in Istanbul who said we could stay with her while there, and my friend has some family scattered through out Austria and Germany that we could stay with. We're planning on getting sleep while travelling and before travelling in stations. Maybe we'll end up having to sleep by the beach or wherever we end up, which may not be the safest plan, but we're ok with that.
Reasons for not wanting a train pass are that it doesn't cover everywhere we want to go and it might not be worth it if we also travel by bus.
Don't be too keen to travel with your best friend - when travelling, your best friend will be yourself. I took my wife and family to North America some years ago. The kids fought across 23 States and 3 Provinces. My wife decided not to have sex for 2 months because the kids "might hear us". How the kids figured out how they came into being, I don't know! You will meet plenty of people on the road you will like, and you will avoid the ruination of your relationship.
Well, with the info above I would suggest you both fly in and out of Frankfurt. Then catch a one-way flight to Turkey from Germany. You'll need to book this flight way in advance (around March) in order to get a good deal. Just pick a date and confirm things with the friend in Istanbul. The "50% plan" will then be to get somehow back to Frankfurt from Turkey.
It will be exactly the trip you want. Greece, Turkey, Croatia and Bulgaria have great beaches and some of the best party spots in Europe. Eastern Europe is cheaper than Western Europe too.
You have essentially 2 routes to get from Istanbul to Germany overland:
1) With ferry/bus/train to Greece, then with ferry to Italy and from southern Italy to Austria and Germany.
2) From Turkey to Bulgaria and then travelling across the Balkan peninsula.
You can decide which way to take and what cities to hit along the road once you are in Turkey.
Only that with this half-baked plan in mind you can research possible options for travel, ways to get from A to B, look up hostels in advance, etc - all the things you need to be doing if you are on a budget.
As for costs, I think the Germany-Turkey flight will be in the range of 100 EUR. A bus ticket going all the way back to Frankfurt from Istanbul without stopping is 120 EUR. So you'll likely be spending around 300-500 EUR per person on transport within Europe (bus, train and plane), depending how much you'll travel in expensive countries like Germany and Austria.
[ Edit: Edited on Nov 27, 2007, at 9:12 PM by t_maia ]
Maria, did she buy the rapsberry flavoured water or not?
That does sound like hell. Ok Gub, I wish u luck. It seems I think u are American, so you wont need visas except for Turkey - which u may need about 30 dollars in cash at the Bulgarian border. So hav that planned anyway. If u are not american then just check visa restrictions. and yeah stay in Eastern Europe. I really think it will be a better choice for u.
It seems that you and i have the same sort of idea! My mate and i are flying to london on the 1st june, so far all we have organised is our flights which we have booked and payed for we basiclly plan of rocking up and then finding hostels and transport as we go and when we need it.
We are going there to meet ppl along the way and then go where eva, going to beachs, pubs, clubs wateva we can afford. Basiclly we have no plan at all the only thing we have said is that we want to be in pamperlona for the running of the bulls and october fest as for the rest we will just have to see. As for sleeping under the stars and being completely lost in another country to be honest i couldnt care less, i have some family in the uk and a british passport even though i have never been there so i am sure that we will be alrite plus i have done a bit of travelling in bali and phuket and i couldnt imagine europe being ne dodger. We arent really to interest in the artsy stuff, musems and all the other run of the mill tourist stuff (that is really expensive) but just going over there for an adventune, and have some life long memories.
As for money goes i am sure that this isnt the smartest and by far the cheapest way of doing things but i havent saved for this long to get there and have everything organised right down to a 6 month day by day iternary, i dont think thats neway to travel, really takes the fun and adventure out of it. If we do run out of money just look for a dodgy job or scab or the relatives that i dont know, i am sure they will take us in haha.
Neways thats my 10 cents worth cant wait to get there and meeting crazy ppl thats wat its all about. If u wanna chat or wateva myspace/owen.povah my mate and i r both 21 m from Perh Australia.
lol i dont think its any way to travel lugging your crap around a city trying to find a place to stay! id rather know wher eim staying, go there, dump my bag and go, but thats just me
Let me start by saying I'd also like to backpack having no set plan. But let me state I don't think it's the best of the ideas, however, it's feasible I guess.
If you wanna buy a train ticket at madrid train station, let's saya tocha, to travel from madrid to barcelona expect to queue for at least 2 hours. That's only an example, there are more of these.
Regarding Ryanair flights as said in another post somewhere above this one... you can't buy them like the day ebfore, can you? I paid €188 for a ryanair flight from girona (spain) to liverpool, which i bought 3 days ebfore departure. So unless you're pretty sure you'll get a good deal, i'd say be careful with that. And if you are to take a plane, book it like 2 or 3 weeks before, at least.
If you can avoid travelling during summer, just avoid it. As said above everything becomes twice as expensive, it's filled with tourists anywhere you go and finding a bed isn't an easy task.
If you go in summer, you'd need to book your beds in advance, else you could end up sleeping in some train station, which I wouldn't like, but that's me.
Eastern europe tends to be cheaper, but not that much anymore. Poland is cheap, and so is hungary and the Czech Republic. But Krakow, Prague, Budapest, etc, aren't cheap. Maybe cheaper than the U.K, but these tourist places are just as expensive as barcelona, and this isn't cheap.
yeah n u cant always get on the trains you want... i went to madrid last year and wanted to go to toledo but the train i wanted was sold out n i had to get a bus from somewhere else that took twice as long... summer just makes things more difficult...
i think amsterdam in the summer would be perfect and gorgeous but i hate it cos its swamped full of toursists you can barely walk... you take one look at the Damrak and just go a different way cos its SO packed...
[ Edit: Edited on Nov 30, 2007, at 4:52 AM by jaxstar84 ]