Senior College Trip!!

Travel Forums Round the World Travel Senior College Trip!!

1. Posted by jjthejet (First Time Poster 1 posts) 18w Star this if you like it!

We are incoming seniors in college getting ready to graduate, we plan on going on a 4-5 week trip to 6-7 cities in multiple countries. So far we have locked in London, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Istanbul and are thinking of adding cities in Northern Africa like Fez or Cairo, or stay in Europe and add Italy. We want to begin planning sometime during this upcoming spring and we go on the trip summer 2022. What advice do you have on saving money, flights, accommodations, trip planning timeline, destinations, etc. (fyi we're from the midwest in the United States)

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2264 posts) 18w 1 Star this if you like it!

It kind of depends on what you want to see and do. So far it's cities, do you want more of the same? For partying or history, architecture?

Your destinations so far are expensive. You could add cheaper places like Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Zagreb, Ljubljana. As Istanbul is currently a bit of an outlier you could route there overland - some of the above plus Belgrade, Sofia, to Istanbul. Or yes Italy is worthwhile, particularly Venice and Rome. Or head North and you could spend a great few weeks seeing some of Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius.

Beware of adding too many destinations. Many of these cities could take a week to see properly.

If you can link nearby cities by rail or ferry, that can reduce the number of airports you have to process through. And reduce your carbon footprint.

For accommodation, all these cities have lots of choices such as backpacker hostels or cheap hotels. At hostels you've more chance of mixing with other travellers. Budget hotel chains like Ibis Budget will be more comfortable and almost as cheap.

The east is far cheaper than the west. Go from Berlin to Warsaw and the same Ibis Budget hotel room is a third of the price.

[ Edit: Edited on 13 Dec 2020, 15:21 GMT by AndyF ]

3. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 2391 posts) 18w 2 Star this if you like it!

1. Unless you're simply box-ticking/checking don't underestimate how much time you need to see places. Plan for at least 2 full days in each city, preferably 3. You could spend a whole week in Paris, London, Istanbul etc and not even begin to scratch the surface.

2. Remember that if you decide on countries other than the UK and those outside the EU/Schengen/EEA you may have to get a visa (e.g. Egypt).

3. Make 100% sure you all have proper travel health insurance which includes repatriation costs. Also make sure you have any extra vaccinations which may be necessary if you travel to e.g. Egypt.

4. Double-check the US government advisory for each country. If your government advises against all or all but essential travel to a country your travel & health insurance will almost certainly become invalid.

5. Use https://www.skyscanner.com to check flights and fares from anywhere to anywhere.

Always book on the airline's own website. Using a third-party agency causes mega problems if your flight is cancelled or delayed.

If you plan to use Europe's many excellent budget airline (assuming they're still in business) make absolutely 100% sure that you know and stick to their size and weight limits. Excess charges are very expensive indeed. Also make absolutely 100% sure that you allow ample time to check-in bags, get though security and to the gate. Budget airlines keep fares low by sticking tightly to their airport slots. Arrive a few minutes late and you'll almost certainly miss your flight with no refund.

Remember to factor in time and cost of transport to and from airports. Within Europe, using the trains for a long journey (see below) is usually cheaper than flying and very often quicker as well.

6. Mainland Europe has a huge railway network. Trains are safe, comfortable enough, used by everyone (not just people too poor to own a car!) and easy to navigate. Stations are usually in or very near town/city centres and always have good public transport.

Use the excellent and reliable German railway website (in English) to initially explore routes and options: https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml but move on to each country's own official railway website to check (all have English pages) and, if necessary, buy tickets online in advance. The fastest trains offer advance discount fares so it's worth exploring options. You can find the official websites by googling country name + 'official railway website'. Here are a few to get you started:

UK https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

Eurostar London > Paris (and other places): https://www.eurostar.com

France: https://www.sncf.com/en

Spain: https://www.renfe.com/es/en

7. If you decide to do a lot of train travel it might be worth buying a rail pass BUT double-check the pass cost against the potential point-to-point fare total. Passes aren't automatically the cheapest option and there are some downsides e.g. France has limits as to how many pass-holders can travel on a certain train, you sometimes have to make and pay for seat reservations when you are actually in the country etc.

https://www.eurail.com/

8: Europe also has a network of long-distance buses. These are safe, comfortable enough, cheaper than trains BUT almost always take much longer. Look at https://global.flixbus.com/bus, https://www.eurolines.de/en/home/ and country-specific operators such as ALSA in Spain: https://www.alsa.com/en/web/bus/home

9. Accommodation in city centres is always more expensive than accommodation further out but you have to factor time and cost of travelling into and out of the centre.

Hostels are likely to be the cheapest option, especially if you stay in dormitory rooms. Look at https://www.hostelworld.com/

Also look at the reliable and long-established https://www.booking.com/ which lists self-catering accomm & hostels as well as hotels. Unlike e.g. Tripadvisor reviews can only be posted by people who have booked through the site and completed their stay.

Airb&b is a possibility though it isn't legal everywhere, so take care,

10. That should be enough to get you started! Feel free to ask more questions as and when. :-)

Post 4 was removed by a moderator
5. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1740 posts) 18w 1 Star this if you like it!

In my younger days when I planned a trip in advance, I made a tentative budget and then divided it by the number of weeks until the trip. I tried to save that amount each week so when the trip arrived, I didn't have to worry about money. It always worked for me so you might try something similar.

You've got all the rail web sites above from leics but you might want to read through the web site, The Man in Seat 61 that tells you all about traveling by train in Europe. He explains it step by step. It's very thorough and very useful. Click here for the Web site The Man in Seat 61

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