I intend to go backpacking round Europe with my girlfriend next summer (late June-July). We dont want to take a tent with us and plan to stay in hostels.
Do we need to book all the hostels before we travel, this would stop our trip from being as spontaneous as we would like but we dont want to be left with no where to stay overnight and realise that the major cities are going to be very busy at this time.
Mark, If you are not already a member join the YHA.
The YHA is linked with most other hostel organisations, the whole idea of the Youth Hostel Associations in each country is to provide accommodation for the casual or passing traveller, since there are so many people travelling they do have a forward booking system.
If you are travelling constantly with only one or a few days in any one place, then the best way is to book your first hostel, then book at the next place you expect to be as soon as you arrive at your first stop, tell them how long you want to stay for and then you repeat this along the way. Some places you might be able to be better than that and book the next two places.
You can do the same thing with backpacker hostels, check out http//travel.roughguides.com and www.lonelyplanet.com for their information on addresses etc.
please get back to me if you want more help.
It's a good idea to book at least one night before you arrive. It's very easy to do it over the net. www.go4less.ie is a good site for booking hostels and it runs fairly smoothly.
Places like Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona and Munich can have really busy weekends, so look ahead at the nationl calender, because there are some weekends you just won't get a bed unless you've booked it. I personaly have suffered the fate of wandering around Amsterdam with a group of bedraggled friends in search of a hostel and ended up sleeping on a bench by a canal. It was cold and we were hassled a bit by some unusual people.........wouldn't recommend it.
Hope you enjoy Europe, try and make it Dublin, and DEFINITELY book ahead for there!
Thanks alot to both of you for your advice.
The idea of booking a day or two in advance definately appeals to me as this still allows us to have more choice of what to do which adds to the fun of it.
I am not currently a member of the YHA but I definately intend to become one closer to the time.
As it happens, I went to Amsterdam with 3 of my friends two weeks ago, we booked the flights but then couldnt find any accommodation so we ended up wandering the streets all night and did encounter some "unusual" people!
It doesnt bother me so much sleeping on the streets but my girlfriend definately doesnt want to.
Thanks again for your help!
If you are planning on visiting Scotland During July, you may need to pre-book accommodation. This applies especially in Edinburgh. It is slightly easier if you avoid the weeekend. If you are travelling in Scotland (in the West) ie Skye, take insect repellent. We have things called midges... they may be small but make up for their lack of size by numbers.
Enjoy your trip.
There's a great hotel/hostel link on this site as well: http://www.travellerspoint.com/accommodation.cfm.
I've used it several times now, last time a couple of days ago, and it works brilliantly. You can choose to book only a day or 2 in advance, that's what I normally do and it's always worked for me.
If you use the links section: http://www.travellerspoint.com/linkcat.cfm?category=13 you'll find other hostel/hotel booking sites.
Enjoy your trip.