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Traveling through Europe on My Own...Some questions!

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1. Posted by JKline1229 (Budding Member, 3 posts) 25 Aug '12 14:27

JKline1229 has indicated that this thread is about Europe

Hi all,

So I’ve decided to go to abroad to Europe. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages and my current job is coming to an end, so before I start looking for a new one I felt I needed to take this opportunity to travel abroad. Now’s the time, I’m 24 so I get all the discount prices and I have enough money to do it. It’s now or never, I really don’t want this to be my never.

So plan is to try and do travel for a month though six weeks seem more realistic(I’ll let me parents know of the extra 11 days AFTER I book my flight haha).

I do plan on going to a lot of place…Italy(there are so many places I want to go to in Italy), Germany(Berlin, Fussenn), Ireland, Scotland, Copenhagen and from their due the night train to Amsterdam, Spain(Madrid, Barcelona, maybe some other places), Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium.

I also plan to go to England and France but I studied abroad in England and have been to London a few times, so my plan is to just meet with some of friends there and stay there no more then a day(overnight if we go out..). London tends to be expensive so it might just be a dinner thing. My real plan in England is Bath, Cardiff, and Oxford. I’ve also been to Paris a couple of times, so I just plan to skip it completely and head to other places in France, most likely in the South.

1) So first question is first is, is that possible to do in six weeks? Am I taking too much on at once?
- I plan to stay only a day or two in some places, and then two to three in other places. I’m alright with not going to Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden(basically in that order from one I’m most willing to give up to the one I’m least willing to give up haha). My day in London could go away or maybe it’s where I could end my trip. I’m mostly just going to see my friends from abroad there.

But Italy, Germany, Vienna, Ireland, Amsterdam, Spain and Southern France and parts of England are definite. I know it’s still a lot, but I’ve got 4-6 weeks, so I do have a good amount of time, no? I mean I’d love to check out Rhineland and Toledo and other places like that, but I’m not sure if I plan to spend the night there.

If I should cut it down to see more(I mean I plan to be in Italy like a 5-7 days), what should I cut, besides the ones I’ve already mentioned. What do you all think is the most(and I hate to use this word) expendable? Honestly I’d love to see some small villages…

2) What’s the best country to start? Or I should say cheapest place to start?
-Unfortunately I will be booking the tickets on relatively short notice…probably within three weeks to a month from when I want to go(sometime in late September/early October) so the price will be up there…I’m waiting to hear back from this one job and if I don’t hear back by September 5th, I’m booking my flight. So far haven’t even gotten an interview, so looking unlikely haha. Is Berlin the best place? So far Berlin and Dublin have been pretty cheap..but that’s if I book now. Also should I aim to avoid a connection flight despite being cheaper?

3) Which country should I leave from? I guess that question depends more on where both my second and last spot will, though I imagine a lot of zigzagging, so what’s the best place to finish for a cheap flight?

4) What are the MUST SEES on this trip, maybe even the things no one else know about(again the tiny villages will be cool)

5) I plan to stay in Hostels most of the time, but for like one night part of me wants to stay in some old fashion inn, just for the experience. Are those expensive?

6) Also do the smaller places have hostels? Or would that be my chance to stay at an inn?

7) Is the night train/getting a bed on a train worth it…again it’s an experience thing haha

8) What Eurail should I get?…I’m leaning towards the very expensive Global Two month…though that’s paying for two weeks I won’t be there and I’m not even positive this all will take six weeks. What’s my best option?

9) Do I bring my computer? I have a smart phone, so I don’t see why should I should but I guess it’s an easier way to stay connected to people and my parents say if I do this, they want me too so I can email them…But it will be a hassle, no? The one reason I would bring a computer is that I could write…I love writing and I feel like there will be plenty of things to write about. Of course I could use pen and paper but I have disgusting hand writing and I just feel like I’d be ten notebooks deep by the end of this trip haha

10) And finally…traveling alone…how is it? It seems horrifying but also incredibly exhilarating. For those with past experiences, how did a month or so traveling across a country on your own affect you? Was it great? Did you get lonely?

Sorry that there a lot of questions but I just soo much on my mind and so many questions. I’m incredibly excited for this.

Post 2 was removed by a moderator
3. Posted by ksp2001 (Budding Member, 3 posts) 9 Sep '12 16:20

Still no responses? I’m in the exact situation as you, however I’m 26, with the same questions. Have you had any luck with your questions on other sites?

4. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru, 1532 posts) 9 Sep '12 16:54

I think the lack of responses is due to the avalanche of questions... you're asking about a lot of stuff, some of which is easily Googled. In any case here's my 2 cents regarding the first and last questions...

1.) Whether you're trying to fit too much in is a question only you can answer. Everyone's travel style is different. Personally I think your itinerary is completely nuts but that's because I'm a slow traveller by nature - I'm not in a rush to get stamps in my Passport or complete a big list of tourist sites in as short a time as possible. Different strokes for different folks.

10.) There are countless people travelling solo all the time, all over the world. There's no need to be nervous when you're going to an easy destination like Europe where English isn't too hard to find, the cultures are not intimidating, the countries are developed so telecommunication/internet/etc. is usually simple, there's an extensive backpacker/hostel network almost everywhere, etc. It's not like you're off the beaten path in the Indian Subcontinent, Africa, etc.

You'll be on the road for such a short time that it'll be easy. Relax, have fun.

Cheers,
Terry

5. Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy (Respected Member, 34 posts) 10 Sep '12 06:29

Hi. It all sounds very exciting. You have a lot of questions but I want to try and answer few for you.

Qs 1-4 re: itinerary

I think you need to look at some maps and do some reading about the places you are interested in. If you have a map on hand, depending on how good your geography is, but a map is probably more reliable, see which countries make an logical route. If you plan on taking the train go to Eurail and download their maps, that way you can see how the countries are connected by rail. There may be places that are not conveniently located on the rail. They will also list the type of rail, ie. if you get an all in rail pass and you can use the fast trains etc. some countries esp France, Germany etc. have major lines where they have super fast trains to get you across the country or into another.
There is always a logical route to take between cities and countries. These maps might be useful. Obviously local trains are slower and take longer.

Your start point can be anywhere but looking at the map, taking in to account your flying in and out points, pick a logical circle so you don't backtrack.

In terms of itinerary, maybe look online or go get some brochures if you want to kick it old school, even if you are not interested in doing an organised tour, you can certainly borrow their itinerary. These companies do this a lot so they have worked out the logistics for you, what routes work best and also to some extent how many night you can stay. Of course you will want longer at some places.

Planning length of visits and itineraries is lots of fun, but it really is up to you and what you are interested in. Its worth doing your research, im not saying you need to plan everything, but know what you want to see and do, that way you wont miss anything.
Look in to what you want to do in each place, and don't forget when adding your days up that sometimes train travel is long and can take a lot of the day, some days you will be busy in museums or sites and wont get to see the actual city. Some days you will be tired and not in the mood, so I do recommend giving yourself some flexibility to stay longer or leave sooner from cities.

Somewhere like Italy, if you are really keen to visit, the must see cities of Venice, Florence and Rome will take you quite a bit of time. If you want to see other places in Italy you would def need to go passed 5-7 days. Rome alone needs a few days esp if you want to get into the colosseum etc. the crowds are insane. If you look up what you want to do you can prioritise, ie. if you are not interested in ruins and colloseum etc, maybe skip Rome, that way you can stay reasonably north in Italy and your trip out to France etc is a lot closer.

Thats enough on that, that's all you. There's so many amazing places and everywhere is different and amazing and unlike home so to me its all equally worth the visit.

Q's 4,56 Hostels
Hostels in Europe are pretty good, standards have improved heaps. They range in price but most are between 15 and 25 euro a night, obviously big cities can be higher, you will obviously pay for quality and location, so a lot of the time its worth paying a few more euros to stay in a better location. There are heaps of websites for hostelling, hostelbookers.com and hostelworld.com. Travellerspoint has some as well. Look at the reviews when booking, they are scored by travellers, whatever your preferences are, personally i take cleanliness and location and security more on board than the atmosphere for parting etc.
--also re travelling solo - Hostels are also a good place to meet people, travelling on your own is great fun and rewarding, you meet lots of like minded people, just be safe and sensible. People are often on similar itineraries and you might get travel buds for a few days.
B&Bs/Inns exist, they are obviously usually dearer and often offer twin share so you pay for 2 people when there is just one. Its always an option. There are hostels in most touristy places, just do a search on the sites if you are unsure.

8/9: Train travel go to the website, chat to a eurail agent or even have a look on msg boards here and talk to people who get eurail. The best ticket really depends on your itinerary and how much flexibility you want. Overnight trains can be a good way to make big journeys without wasting a day and also your accommodation is already paid for. Obviously if your journey is 3 hours, a midnight train means a 3am arrival in a foreign city, so not wise. Good for big trips.

10: Computer is up to you. I like to travel with mine but im not big on using my phone for the internet, you will want to keep in touch online, book hostels, research cities etc. if you are happy to do that on your phone then that's easier. I have a little computer, its light and its fits in my handbag, i like to travel with it because i write, i have movies to watch on journeys and quiet nights and I can upload my photos to get them off my camera. If you have a fancy, big, heavy computer maybe not. If you have something that you are happy to carry in your case etc. take one. Speaking for myself, on a big trip i always use mine, esp when alone, but I could also live without it, I don't need to be on FB :)

I hope some of that was useful. Have an amazing trip :)

6. Posted by JKline1229 (Budding Member, 3 posts) 10 Sep '12 07:49

Thank you both for your replies, very helpful!

Since I've posted this, I thought of took a couple of steps back and thought things through. Now I actually have a solid itinerary, and I'm not so scattered. I've decided against eurail as it seemed like it would cost me a bit more and I wouldn't be able to use it for what I want(taking a train to where I want whenever I want, since I'd be getting a select pass). I'm also taking a plane to Vienna from Berlin. If I had the money for the unlimited, I'd do it.

Nice to hear your thoughts on computers Rex, I have a Macbook pro and it's pretty light, so I'm definitely leaning towards taking it.

I'm pretty much all booked now...I just need to book my flight from Berlin to Vienna and confirm a hostel I reserved. I'm unsure of where I'll be staying in Venice. i was going to go for a hotel. I'm going to be there three days, so I was just going to relax and enjoy it. I found a relatively cheap hotel but after confirming a couple of days, they stopped returning my emails. I've emailed them four times! Is that shady behavior? Should I pass? It's one of the only cheap places in Venice proper!

Also for those who've been to Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, Florence, Venice or Rome(where I'm going!) do you guys get the city cards? Berlin has the "Welcome Berlin" card, giving you free transport and museum(they also have a museum pass for 19 euros) and the rest have pretty much the same(save for Vienna which only gives you discount to museums). Should I get those? They seem like good buys!

7. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru, 1940 posts) 10 Sep '12 08:23

Yes, the problem is the number of questions - cut it down and you'll get more response. Yes, just too many stops for 6 wks. I did 4 weeks in Scandinavia alone. You're also hitting all the expensive places in W. Europe. For a more authentic trip that would also be much less expensive, I suggest spending maybe half of that vacation in E. Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria). I think you will also find the people much friendlier in E. Europe. In W. Europe my favorites are Rome, Paris, Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Most beautiful places are Switzerland and Norway (also most expensive).

8. Posted by libae (Budding Member, 8 posts) 10 Sep '12 10:09

4. Belgium: cities of Bruges(medieval buildings), Ghent, Antwerp,Brussels + les Ardennes (green)

9. Posted by JKline1229 (Budding Member, 3 posts) 10 Sep '12 10:21

Thanks guy! I've decided I'm going to Western Europe this trip. Just think it would be an easier trip to handle for the first time haha...Most of my questions have been answered or I've figured out on my own, so thanks again :).

Now I guess my new question is..

1) Do I trust a Venice hotel that won't even return my emails?

2) Are city passes worth it

Here is what each gives:

Discount Cards to Get:

Berlin Welcome Card – 5 Day 30.90 Euro(Free Transport and museums)
3 Day Museum Pass- 19.Euro (free museums for only three days)
-I'd be there six days.

Cost Euros 49.90

IAmSterdam Card – 3 Days = 60 euro
Free Public Transporter
Free Canal Cruise
Free entrance to many museums and attractions

-I'd be in Amsterdam four days.

Vienna Card(Free transport, discounted tickets) – 19.90
-I'd be in Vienna six days.

Venice Museum Pass – 12 euros
-Three days, so sounds to be worth it. Venice is small so I plan to walk everywhere.

Firenze Card – 50 Euros – Free museums and free transport (good for three days)
-Five days.

And yes I plan to visit LOTS of museums in Berlin and Vienna alone I'll probably be spending 100 euro each on the museums..so it seems to be worth it.

Also a very recent job opportunity came up...well opportunity is too big of a word right now. I'm being put in contact with someone who might have a job opportunity. That puts me in fear of booking flights and confirming this Venice hotel...:-/...The flight from Berlin to Vienna does have flight insurance for an extra price.

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Sep-2012, at 10:48 by JKline1229 ]

10. Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy (Respected Member, 34 posts) 10 Sep '12 10:57

I haven't got the cards in any of those places. All i can suggest is look up which museums it includes and their costs. If it covers the cost of things you definitely want to do then why not.
A lot of the time the big museums are free. Quite a few of the ones in Berlin are free.
It might take the hassle out of it, but Berlin has excellent transport, and you would have no trouble just using the ticket machines and buying day tickets for the S-Bahn.

Florence, if it lets you skips queues for the galleries it might be worth the money, if its summer they are a nightmare.

Venice to be honest I cant see being worth it. You walk everywhere unless you want to take the water ferry but they are always crowded and you would only maybe do that once to get a look. I cant think of anything I paid to go in to, San Marco is free.

Your hotel i'm not sure, if they confirmed then maybe just go with it. They are probably just not up for a conversation via email with you, unless you have specific problems. If you have the confirmation take it with you. I cant see why it would be an issue. They probably just don't want to keep talking about it if you have sent 4 emails? If you don't trust it, and you haven't paid yet, maybe just cancel and rebook elsewhere. Otherwise just take some names of other places with you and if you have an issue make them find you somewhere else or at least you know some names of other hotels.
I haven't stayed in hostels in Venice but i spent some time there and i would say that for ease and cost, find a hotel in Mestre which is just on the mainland, the old town of Venice is across a bridge, the buses go constantly for 1.50 and abt 10 minutes to Piazzale Roma or the train goes into the central station. Then you can buy food out of the city. Venice, the old city is expensive and a maze and a real pain to find where you are going which is fine when siteseeing, when carrying your stuff looking for your hotel its not much fun.

Amsterdam, might be worth it if it covers a few museums like Anne Frank and the canal cruise is a bonus its a nice thing to do that you mightn't otherwise have done.

I think they can be worth it because they give you an idea of places you can go. I got the New York one which was great it gave me a serious week of siteseeing. The transport thing is a bonus, but a lot of the time you tend to walk in the city centre. Also Austria, Netherlands and Germany particularly are very good and organised for getting tickets and English use is high. So I reckon you would survive without it if you chose to.

Re: Rome if you want to go in the Colosseum, pre-book online, it will be the best decision you will make. :)