I'm going to be backpacking Western Europe April 29th till June 28th with my boyfriend and two other people. This is our first time and we've never left Canada. We are flying into Amsterdam and planning to make our way down through Belgium, France, Spain and Portugal and then back up to Germany to depart out of Frankfurt. We are bringing tents and camping supplies, but will probably spend some time in hostels too. We decided against buying a rail pass, as we received advice about using ryanair to fly between cities instead. Did we receive good advice or should we buy a rail pass? Would buying train tickets as we need them be a good option or too expensive?
As well, camping is my biggest concern...We haven't decided on which cities to visit, as camping accomodations will be a major factor in our route. I was hoping someone could give us some good options for campsites. Will we have a hard time traveling to and from the campsites by bus/train? Which places are the best/cheapest to camp? We were thinking about staying at Camp Zeeburg upon arriving in Amsterdam... has anyone stayed there before or could recommend a better one? I read another post about camping around Paris being impossible, so would there be other locations in France with better camping accomodations? Or should we stick with hostels while in France? Also, is camping in Spain & Portugal safe and reliable? We are planning to spend the marjority of our time in Spain & Portugal so I'm hoping we can find inexpensive accomodation.
I'm just looking for some good advice for traveling on a cheap budget for 2 months. I will have about 3000 euros to cover costs, and we don't plan on shopping at all! Of course a few souveniers that would fit in my pack, but otherwise I would prefer to see more historic sites and national parks. I would really like to do a couple day hikes but have no idea where to start looking for options within a close distance to the cities.
So I'll start with this and hope someone can shed some light on what we're in for...
It is hard to tell what will be best for you, Eurail or point-to-point. With the countries you are planning to see I would say that you best go for a rail pass and then buy a cheap flight from Portugal to Germany. But depending upon your route you might save money buying point-to-point train tickets in advance over the internet. Depends how much you move around and how much flexibility you want.
If you buy the 2 month global pass:
2nd class youth (under 26) for 1099 USD equals spending 12,22 EUR per day on train travel. In order to make it worth it you'd need to spent on average more then 1 hour each day on the train.
2nd class youth 15-days in 2 months for 749 USD equals spending 33,33 EUR everytime you take a train trip. You'll need to make each of your train trips longer than 3 hours to make it worth it.
Note that Ryanair sucks when you fly with big backpacks, as they charge you for your checked luggage. A 20 kgs bag costs you 100 EUR in fees.
If you are going camping in April you'll want to bring either very warm sleeping bags or fleece liners. It can get cold in the night.
I don't see a reason why you should not be able to stay on camping sites most of the time, regardless of the country. And yes, it is safe. The main problem with camping sites is accessibility. Most cannot be reached by public transport. Therefore the majority of tourists who camp rent a car to get around.
Thanks for the advice!
I didn't know Ryanair charged ridiculous prices for checked luggage. I'm glad I found this out before my trip, because I think I will limit how many flights we take. We're packing light anyway, but now I know I need to pack as light as possible... I could have bought a backpack that fit the standards for carry-on bags, but I decided to go for comfort instead. I'm glad I bought an awesome light weight backpack, but I guess having to check it on flights will be the only downfall.
I've been researching taking the bus, as oppose to the train and I think it might be a better option. Based on the prices you gave me for train passes, I think I'll stick to buying point-to-point when needed.
How far in advance do you have to book train tickets to save money? I was thinking that when we arrive in a city, we will decide how long we want to stay and buy our next destination tickets at least a couple days or a week in advance... would this plan save us some money compared to buying the ticket the day of travel?
Also, we are arriving at the very end of April (the 30th), so we're going to be camping in May & June... would you still suggest bringing a warm sleeping bag? I read the Rough Guide book "First Time Europe" and I was a little shocked that it said I wouldn't need to bring a sleeping bag. It seems a little weird but I was considering bringing a sleeping sheet and a small blanket because they can easily be condensed with a compression bag and it'd be lightweight... I think this would be enough especially in the hot weather in Spain, but I don't know for sure. Should I ditch the sleeping bag?
Alright, thanks for posting this helpful information!!!!!!!
if you book inadvance with train travel you can get bargains! amsterdam to paris return is €50 if you book ahead, im not sure about one way but hats good price! you just have to BOOK AHEAD and youll be fine...
and yeah ryanair charges shit for its checked baggage... you can pool ur stuff together and check one bag and split the costs and carry on the rest... but sometimes it surely beats the trains over a long distance!!
Thats a great idea to lower the cost of checked baggage on Ryanair... Thanks so much!
Concerning campsites: Get a guidebook on European campsites from AA (British driver's association.)
Also if you are set on campsites I strongly suggest that you rent a car. At the very least compare the price of 4 railpasses to the cost of renting a car for 2 month. You might be able to get a good deal with a car sales man willing to lease a car for 2 months. Peugeot and Renault are good for this.