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Backpacking Europe, advice and insight wanted?

Travel Forums Europe Backpacking Europe, advice and insight wanted?

1. Posted by SDaouk (First Time Poster, 1 posts) 9 Mar '12 08:51

Hi All,

I was wondering if the readers of this forum would be interested in helping me. In September, I am planning on backpacking through Europe, mainly western Europe. I have around 1.5 months to travel across the western of Europe and have started planning things.

Route

Toronto --> Spain (Madrid + Barcelona) --> France (Paris & Surroundings) -->Switzerland (Geneva & Alps) --> Italy (Milan + Rome) --> Greece (Athens)

Interests:
- Seeing how the locals live in these countries. I don’t want to stay in a hotel and eat at the fanciest of restaurants. I’d like the local experience of how the natives of these countries and their cities properly live, including food, night out, activities.
- I want to see what all the main cities in these countries are like, live like the locals during my time there, walk through the streets, eat what they usually eat throughout the day. Learn how each city operates and what makes it special from the other cities.
- Open my eyes to life more and learn as much lessons as I can on the trip and grow as a person.
- Stay in hostels and couchsurfing in order to get an even better experience.
Costs:
- Money is not necessarily an issue, I’ve been saving this up for a while. I have around 5,000$ for my time in Europe give and take, after flights have been paid for
- I don’t necessarily want to shop and buy souvenirs, I am more about the memories and seeing and learning, id prefer to have those than actually products, so most of my money I want spent on cover fees to museums, simple tasty local food, and hostels/stays.

What I’m asking for:
- This is the first time I’m travelling alone to several foreign countries and am unsure on how to go about this
- I am asking for your experience (the readers) in helping me plan this trip properly
- I would like to know how to go about: Transport within cities, between countries, how to move around. How to properly plan it.
- What would be the best way to go about all of this to get the proper life-changing experience?
- It is a bit daunting to go to a foreign country whereby I do not know the language or even when I get to the airport where do I go and what do I take to get there (taxis are pretty expensive I assume)? Do I book hostels from now or when I get there.
- Is 1 week or so good enough for each country?
- Do you see any flaws in my plans that I should change?

I also hope this can become somewhat of a guide for others on how to plan all of this.

[ Edit: Edited on 09-Mar-2012, at 08:51 by SDaouk ]

2. Posted by morro (Full Member, 102 posts) 11 Mar '12 03:09

hmmm, where to start?

firstly, good luck with your trip. It is really hard to rock up and "meet locals". Most of the people you'll meet wll be other travelers. If you want to meet locals, couch surfing is the only way to go as hostels are full of other travelers from every country but the one you are visiting.

Now to your questions, I don't think you should worry. Just take it as it comes and you will have a good time. Being Canadian, it is pretty easy. You don't even need a visa and can just rock up to Europe. Once in Europe, there are no borders or checks between Spain and Italy so it should be seamless.

Most of your journey will be by train. Google is your friend here. Look up train timetables between all your destinations and decide if that is acceptable to you. For example, Barcelona to Paris would be a long trip. You might want to consider booking a flight for this leg of the trip. I don't tend to over plan it. Bring a ipod / ipad / iphone or laptop and research transportation the day before you are due to depart.

If I were you, I would book the first hostel for maybe three nights. September is shoulder season and hostels should be readily available (except for some weekends). The day you are due to depart a city, you can go online to hostelworld or hostelbookers or couchsurfing and book the next place.

If you are unsure how to get to your destination once arriving at an airport, go to the airport information desk and they will help you get to where you want to go. All airports have transport links (other than taxis) which go to downtown. It is incredibly nerve racking taking public transport to your destination when you first arrive but you'll get used to it.

Don't plan it by country, plan it by city. Min. 4 days are required for the larger cities.

3. Posted by JoyC (Full Member, 98 posts) 11 Mar '12 13:41

Get a couple Rick Steves books. You'll get more useful info from them than anywhere. And I agree with Morro: if you want to meet the locals, go couchsurfing.