Hi! I am a 24 year old female and I am planning a solo trip starting in March which will go like this: (the dates will be pretty accurate give or take a few days with the exception of Europe)
I start from Chicago, USA and go to Johannesburg, South Africa - March 20th - April 20th
Bangkok - Ranong, Thailand - April 20th - May 11th
Chennai, India - May 11th - June 1st
Kathmandu, Nepal - June 1st - June 29th
Athens, Greece - June 29th - whenever
travel Europe end at
Dublin, Ireland - Mid July
San jose, Costa Rica - Leave late July to go back to Chicago
Ok so here are all my questions/concerns I have:
1. In South Africa, Thailand, and India I have either an internship or am volunteering so it's somewhat structured, but Europe is wide open. I am a bit upset my trip will take me there early July because I know that's peak season, so I was wondering if anyone would know how to travel and where to go so maybe I won't be in the thick of everything? Perhaps some hidden traveling Europe gem haha
2. Also, I was wondering if anyone had experience going from Greece to Ireland, would the best way be just train? Or a mix of train and plane? Or throw some ferries in there maybe from Greece to Italy? Not sure how pricey those are and I am trying to go the most cost effective way but of course still getting an experience of everything.
3. Is it a problem to just kind of wing it when I get to Greece with transportation and lodging to get to Ireland? Or is it much better/cheaper to have your tickets for transportation and reservations for hostels already? Or is a healthy dose of both good?
4. I looked up rtw flight tickets and the best quotes I've gotten are 3700 - 4000, would you think this is a good deal or would I get a better deal if I booked the flights separately? The only problem with the rtw tickets is the lack of flexibility, but I can't imagine booking myself would give me much more flexibility because you still have to book pretty early.
I will also be solo like I said, so if anyone is around where I will be at that time or even wants to follow the same route let me know and maybe we can plan something! I am a bit nervous to go alone, but my excitement definitely trumps my nervousness
Thank you so much for reading and sorry there are so many questions! I really appreciate any advice, suggestions, or tips!
I am a big believer in NOT having a tight schedule because it really limits your ability to have slow days and busy days, and while you will see a lot you do stop enjoying yourself if you are exhausted and grumpy.
But I would recommend getting some things booked for Europe in July because some cities can get particularly mad and for your own peace of mind and for the sake of your wallet it might be worth it. The big cities have lots of hostels but they can fill up, particularly the better ones. The prices of plane and train tickets sky rocket last minute, esp. in peak times. So if there are any big rail trips etc. or places you know you want to go to at certain times i would book them sooner rather than later. That also gives you a rough goal itinerary wise, ie. if you have booked to be in Paris in 3 weeks time you can do what you will getting there.
In terms of getting from Greece to Ireland, I think sometimes people don't realise just how far away Greece is from everything else. You can get ferry across to Italy, to Bari I believe but you would need to be on the far west side of Greece for that to be viable which chances are you won't be.
The other option you could look at is going east to Istanbul, I know they have recently improved the rail link between Turkey and Greece.
I would look at flying, there are heaps of cheap airlines operating in Europe, and you need to get out of Greece, it is in a funny spot in that sense because to it's north are countries still reasonably unexplored by tourists (Albania, Macedonia) and i'm not sure there is a rail link through it, but if there is I can't imagine it your be an easily route. Flights booked in advance can be pretty reasonable, even if you were to fly to something more central and continue to Ireland from there.
--skyscanner.net is a good site. But Ryanair is Ireland's low cost carrier, and though they have some tight luggage restrictions, you can get a good deal. It's really your only way to Ireland anyways unless you want to take the ferry but its slow and rather inconvenient.
Saying that if you can get through Albania (heard it's a bit rough) you could head into central Europe via Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia all of which are beautiful and though getting more touristy, a lot less busy than most of Europe.
If you have never been before I would suggest fighting the crowds in some places, Paris, Rome etc. but there are certainly quieter places to go to avoid the summer rush.
Eastern Europe is slightly less busy though getting busier but some of the smaller cities in each country are off the tourist trail.
Good luck. Enjoy your travels. It will be awesome.
Thank you for your response! I was trying to avoid planes so that I didn't fly over any experiences, but I think your right that I may have to book at least one. Greece is pretty far out. Thanks for the websites!
I personally like to mix it up in terms of traveling - I like trains (fast trains are great on the continent, too) because you can sit back and see the scenery, but I am also a fan of the rental-car option because it allow you to makes stops and see the country in a different way. It could be hard if you don't have a navigator, though.
My other suggestion would be for you to rack your brain about connections you might have in Europe - college friends working or studying abroad, distant relatives, other vacationers. That's a long time to be traveling alone, and it's nice to be able to break it up by seeing familiar faces once in a while, and maybe even staying in a real home.
The only problem about renting a car would be I am only 24, I believe the 25 to rent a car rule is in Europe too? And the price could be a bit steep for me.
Good call about the connections, I'll have to scrounge those up Thanks!