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Backpacking Europe planning

Travel Forums Europe Backpacking Europe planning

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1. Posted by wanderingfool (Budding Member 10 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Me and my girlfriend are looking into taking a semester off of school and seeing europe. I've never been to europe and she's only done a tour of france back in high school. We'd be going from mid september to right before christmas.

I'm trying to get a route planned but i don't know when the best time to see stuff would be. Is late september too late for beaches on the Mediterranean (italy/greece)? We deffinently want to see italy, france and germany. Depending on money i'd like to include greece, prague, netherlands/belgium, spain, and london (UK looks expensive and rail pass doesn't cover it).

I'm trying to figure a route that would make the most sence. right now i'm leaning towards heading south first and going clockwise around europe, but is Berlin in december a good idea (keep in mind I live in Chicago and we get some nasty winters).

we would start at Frankfurt and get the 3 month unlimited rail pass. I'm looking for advise on the best season to see these places and what to see in each country, we know what we want in france as my girlfriends been there, but everywhere else i just know the major tourist stuff.

also, any advise on hostels or camping(while its warm out at least). Money is the main factor on this trip, looking at a budget of about $9000-$10000 USD for 2 people for 12 weeks (is that realistic/possible).

2. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I can't help you with the planning, but I can tell you that the south of Spain at the end of October was still warm enough to swim (although aparently not for the locals). The beaches around the Mediterranian are, as far as I know, pretty ideal in September - not too hot or too cold.

3. Posted by nickla (Respected Member 223 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

HI, first off i have to say that im not sure ull be able to do 3 months on your budget. I live in the UK and did a trip around western europe a couple of years ago. I was there for 1 month, got a railpass and must have spent around £800 which is around $1500. This was a budget trip as well. We always stayed in hostels, most of them costing no more than $15 a night. When you think how much the rail pass will cost you, esp a three month one, or is this not included in your budget? If you dont include the rail pass, then you will need to be very careful about what you spend as this is not a big budget.

If you dont have a lot of money then London is best avoided. It is very expensive even to us natives!! Greece may be a difficult one to include becasue of its position, it can be quite hard to get to and from it from the rest of europe and it will take u quite a bit of time.

In terms of itinery i would probably suggest - Prague, Cesky Krumlov or Cesky budejovie (small towns in the south of Czech, about 3 hours from prague, absolutely beautiful), Budapest (if ur pass covers it of course) then down through Croatia. You can get a ferry across the Adriatic from Dubrovnik to Bari, than over to Naples, Rone, Florence, Venice, (or, if ur pass does not cover croatia, then just head to Italy and work down the adriatic coast and back up the med coast) Then head over to Nice and BArcelona. Then you could work your way to the places you wanted to see in France from Barcelona, would recommend a stop somewhere in the Pyrenees, esp of you can ski. This way you can make ur way up to APris, then Amsterdam and you can finish in Frankfurt or Berlin.

These are just my suggestions. I spent last summer in Eastern europe and the summer before in western. This year am planning on doing the rest of italy and croatia. if you need any more help please feel free to send me a msg and i can see what i can do.

In terms of weather, nothing here gets quite as extreme as Chicago does in winter. It will obviously still be cold and there may be some snow, but generally speaking you should be fine. Hope this helps


4. Posted by wanderingfool (Budding Member 10 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for all your input so far. as far as a budget goes would $6000ish per person be more reasonable?
$1500 a month plus 700-1200 in train passes and 500 for airfare there and back.

a preliminary route so far is :

Fly into Frankfurt (air india is REALLY cheap chicago-frankfurt ($450 round trip))

rammstein (I have family there)
heildberg (look at a school there)
Munich (Oktoberfest)

Bari (free Ferry to greece w/ railpass)

Athens (i don't know what else is in greece)

back to Bari, Italy
Rome/Vatican City

Monaco/Monte Cristo/Nice
small towns along the coast

Spain (this leg of the trip might be cut do to $$):

back to france:
towns and sites on the way to Paris (my girlfriend knows all that)
Normandy (not sure where that is)

Brussels, Belgium
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Hamburg, germany
Prague, Czech rep
small towns south czech rep

Vienna, austria

Frankfurt, germany

I kind of skip switzerland but you can't do everything
any information on anything along this general route is more than welcome, thanks for your imput so far everyone!


5. Posted by pranavc (Respected Member 318 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I am not too sure if you received me personal message. You may want to take a look at that. As far your plan goes, it looks pretty good. I would suggest throwing out Frankfurt and including Interlaken (Switzerland) instead. You mentioned visiting towns in Czech republic. Visit Karlstejn. It is not far from Prague and will give you a good glimpse of the Bohemian countryside. It's also a great place to buy crystal. It's cheaper there than in Prague. Another suggestion. Replace Brussels with Brugge in Belgium. You mentioned not knowing any other place in Greece. Do not miss the islands of Santorini and Crete in Greece. Hope this helps.

Take care,


6. Posted by wanderingfool (Budding Member 10 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Frankfurt is where i fly in and out of, so i can't really skip that, but we'll look into the other places u recomended, we have to see what we want to do where and how long we want to spend in each place and see if we can do all that time/money wise. Thanks for ur input.

and now i know about the PM's in this board, i got it now


7. Posted by pranavc (Respected Member 318 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Hey Doug,
I just of one more thing to cut down on costs. You can use the bus system within Europe if you want to cut down costs on train rides. I would only recommend this for shorter trips. The bus service is called Eurolines. I think the website is I used it only once since I ran out of days on my Eurail pass. I took an overnight bus from Berlin to Prague. It was comfortable. Just thought I'd let you know.


Post 8 was removed by a moderator
9. Posted by wanderingfool (Budding Member 10 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

After figureing out some school stuff, this trip goes on the back burner for one more semester. Then i'll graduate community college and can take a whole semester off before going back to university. so the plan is go from Jan 06 - june/july ish 06. More time to save money... YAY! of course with the season change being reversed i can move things arond and with more time/money i can add the UK.

Does any one know how i could go about finding a more perminent place to stay for a month or 2 and work while i'm there? That way i'll have plenty of money to spend on whatever i want for the rest of my trip. I only speak english, so i'm thinking the UK, but open to anywehre. i have family @ rammstein i might be able to stay with, but i dont know what kind of jobs an english speaking person could get in germany.

10. Posted by notarealme (Full Member 49 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

To put it abit bluntly, you cant work anywhere within Europe. Being an American there isnt any program that would allow you to work. As for Germany they are in WW2 level unemployment, so any job would go to a German or another EU citizen.

In short, you would be treated the same way someone would be if they tried to work in the US, and was not a citizen. Deported or locked up / fined.