I'm planning a backpacking trip at the end of this year, starting either mid December 2012, or the 1st January 2013, up until the first week of March. I am Australian, but I will be flying directly to London from New York City (as I will be in the US for several interviews). I am a university student, so my budget is obviously quite limited. Also, being Australian, I know I will be experiencing cold like I haven't felt before so I'm going to buy some full thermal gear and what not. Would it be cheaper to buy the thermal gear in the US or the UK? Here in Australia stuff like that nearly requires a loan out on one's mortgage so I'd prefer to buy it overseas where possible. I am to understand that during the winter, a dollar will take me further than it will in the summer.
Anyway, my base will be in London, as my sister lives there. So far, I'm planning around 65-70 days, and was hoping to get by on about $100 AUD per day (about 80 Euro) for food, entertainment and accommodation. This is not including flights or my train pass, which I will take care of before I leave. Now, I was planning on doing a lot of couchsurfing (not for the free accommodation, but because I will be traveling solo and would like to meet some locals), but I don't really feel right about leeching a bed from people so I will sleep in hostels for the most part I guess. I don't really much alcohol and I don't smoke, so I won't be spending too much out at clubs. I am happy to shop at grocery stores for food with the occasional restaurant meal, and I will take overnight trains wherever possible.
In no particular order, the cities I wanted to visit are:
London (this will be my base, I've already been here before so I don't plan on wasting any sightseeing time here), Paris, Bruges, Amsterdam, Berlin, Cologne, Prague, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Vienna, Rome, Zurich or Lucerne. If time permits, I would also like to visit Belgrade and Bucharest (although Romania seems a bit too far out of the way), as I don't want to spend more than 2 days in Belgium or Holland. I am interested in both museums, historical sites, but in particular, I would like to focus more time in the smaller towns outside some of these cities (ie. Bled, Berner Oberland etc) to get a feel for the culture.
If I don't spend Christmas and New Years in NYC, where would you guys recommend I go?
My itinerary is flexible, so if you guys could critique my plans it'd be much appreciated.