Traveling Through Western Europe Alone..Many Questions(Sorry in advance...)
Replies: 33 - Last Post: Sep 7, 2012 9:08 AM Last Post By: regards
Aug 25, 2012 2:25 PM
Traveling Through Western Europe Alone..Many Questions(Sorry in advance...)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.
Aug 25, 2012 2:37 PM
Aug 25, 2012 2:57 PM
2Haha, yeah reading the whole "11 countries in 6 weeks" does seem a bit crazier then I intended. I guess the thing for me is this is probably my last chance to do something like this, maybe not my last chance to go to certain countries in Europe but definitely to travel for then two weeks. The business I plan to be in doesn't always have extended vacations...
I guess I could sacrifice Spain...maybe...haha, I just don't know what to give up. I want to go to them all, but I know that's impossible..but even out of my seven I'm not sure which to give up. Some of the places I always planned to only visit for a day or two...but I guess I wouldn't get the full experience if I did that.
Also thanks for the reply!
I guess the big thing is to figure out where to start and then decide from there which countries to go too....Giving up Spain isn't too hard..Though that's still 7(though four days in most countries in 6 countries, and a week in Italy, that's what 31 days not counting all the travel time)
Aug 25, 2012 4:26 PM
3Even giving up Spain its still far too much in too little time.
I'd be looking at minimum 3 days in each city,plus travel time.So maximum 12 sleeping stops in 6 weeks....better to have only 7 or 8.Thats cities,not countries.
Cities like London,Paris,Berlin you can easily spend a week or more.
As for where to start....all of western Europe is quite expensive.None of those countries you mention are a cheaper start..probably Spain (apart from Barcelona and Madrid) is a little cheaper,but basically it doesn't make much difference money wise.
Most expensive countries of those on your list will be Switzerland and Denmark.
Aug 25, 2012 5:11 PM
4Thanks for the reply Lucapal!
Hmm, yeah well I'm definitely not going to Paris. And if I'm going to London it's just for a day. I've been to both. While I plan to go to places like Bath, it will probably only be a day thing....Though maybe, as much as it pains me I'd give up England completely(going back to England isn't a far stretch)...maybe even Ireland as well. Those seem like they could be easier trips for me to go too, cheaper and quicker that I can do it in a couple of weeks down the line...Though I REALLY want to go to Ireland and Bath haha...I'm so bad and decision making.
So eliminating that my desired trip would be(in no travel order)
Italy(definitely a week or more traveling through there Rome, Venice and maybe Florence for two days), Germany(3 days in Berlin, and a day or two maybe in Fussen...I really love places like Fussen) Vienna(two to three days, Amsterdam(two to three days), and Southern France(two to three days).
Should I maybe replace Southern France with Ireland? Or Is there another place I should go to that would be easier with my choices. I wouldn't mind Copenhagen for just a single day, then take the night to Amsterdam...Though if it's too much expensive I might skip that too...
Does that seem more doable? I'd probably start in Berlin and in Italy(though I wouldn't want to end in Rome, since I want to go South, it probably is the only choice). Or maybe I'd go to Heathrow, get my day in London out of the way...and continue my travel. I just don't think my friends would be happy if I was in Europe and I skipped over them haha...
So I would say my four must(or at least most wanted) are: Italy, Germany(two cities only...probably) Vienna, Amsterdam...And just a single day in London(or I could promise then I'll come another time...in three to four years...)...Would I have enough time to fit another city in(with London or without it?).
Also would eurail still be my best option if I just do these 4 or 5 countries(maybe six?)
Also sorry if I'm scattered, I basically decided to do this a week ago...I mean I've always wanted to do it but the decision to finally take action just happened I'd say Sunday...maybe even Monday. I wish I could take more then six weeks but I think I'm pushing it any further(though 45 days wouldn't be out of the question)
Aug 25, 2012 11:36 PM
5Your first post is a little bit confused, your second and third one get chaotic. What do you think if you make your ideas clear before writing? For example have you had a look how to go from Berlin to Füessen (and why Füssen, you read a book about, its for Neuschwanstein, somebody is waiting for you?) it is nearly 700km and Fuessen has no airport - if you take the plane to Memmingen and than a bus, if you take a train, if you rent a car for the distance you need between 6 and 12 hours.
Southern France for two or three days makes no sense too. 450.000 km² to discover. What you will do/see in the southern half of France in 2/3 days?
Aug 25, 2012 11:58 PM
6the link didn't work in #1- posting it again. Please read this!
Aug 26, 2012 12:02 AM
7Make a list of what you like to see, not just names of cities like London, but specific items, like "meeting friends in London, seeing the Roman baths in Bath". Do this for the whole trip.
Then highlight the items you REALLY want to see or do. About half will be dropped from the first list.
Write up the second list and highlight those items you consider MUST-sees.
Then try to combine the must-sees geographically and check how to get there from one to the next place. You'll get a much better plan this way.
Aug 26, 2012 3:52 AM
8Let's not get excited and plan carefully. When I read things like definitely a week or more traveling through there Rome, Venice and maybe Florence for two days I feel bad.
First time I went to Italy I spent only a week. I regretted it and then I went back half a dozen times, spending 5 or 6 weeks each time. And I do not get bored. In fact I am now debating if I am going back this September or only in 2013.
Take a deep breath and decide what it is for you: covering a lot of surface or enjoying yourself and letting Europe osmose into you? I suggest you the latter.
You will have other opportunities to go back to Europe if you want to.
Here I will answer some of your original questions:
1. Is it possible to do in 6 weeks: yes, but not recommended for obvious reasons.
7. Is the night train worth it? Yes, I did it once, then I decided it was way better to travel short distances during the day.
8.Which Eurail? None for me, but I am only travelling short distances.
9. Do you bring a computer? Why do you need one? Really?
10.How is travelling alone? It is great!
Aug 26, 2012 5:07 AM
9For me it is still not clear what your interests are. What you should visit will depend on these.
If you are on a budget, you should avoid the Scandinavian countries and Switzerland. Realize that traveling is expensive. You do better to go to a place and take short day-trip from there. Madrid is a good example: day trips to Toledo, Avila, Segovia, Cuenca. It also saves you the hassle of settling into another room every other day. And you start getting a feeling for the area. where your lodgings are.
If you go for architecture, you should visit Barcelona: Gaudi, and maybe Amsterdam with its canalzone. If you want to visit museums most of the western european cities have more than one and some are world-famous: el Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia in Madrid, Louvre in Paris, Rijks-museum and van Gogh-museum in Amsterdam, Berlin with the "Museum-insel", etc.
To determine what is the cheapest option for traveling in Europe one has to do the mathematics, compare the price of a card with the price of point-to-point tickets. Have a look at the man in Seat 6. Use the search-function of this forum. Booking high-speed trains in advance can save you money, but once booked, you can not change the ticket. So you have to know your schedule when booking.
Aug 26, 2012 8:27 AM
10Thanks to everyone for the replies!
I think everyone is right and I apologize for how chaotic my posts were. I guess I was a little too excited. I'm going to hunker down, write what I want to see, how much everything costs, time between travel, and everything else everyone has suggested and then take it from there.
Might my schedule still be a bit semi-rushed after? Probably...I know some say I could have another six weeks, but I'm not so sure myself, so do what to see what I can but I also don't want my trip to become "a train ride". So it's definitely tough. But I'm going to look through a few guide books and decide what makes the most sense time wise, financially and for me to fully enjoy the trip and get the most out of it.
I think I'll get Eurail, for freedom's sake. I do have the money for it. I don't think I'll get the two months though.
So thank you all again for pretty much talking some sense into me! I have a much better idea on how to plan this now.
Aug 26, 2012 9:44 AM
11Only yesterday RakiMan ( regular on this forum) provided this link http://www.seat61.com/Pop-up-tgv-europe.htm#.UDivRMHibh8 explaining the pitfalls and excessive costs of Eurail passes. Be warned that they are neither cheap nor likely to be value for many, particularly looking at your draft itinerary.
Sep 5, 2012 10:29 AM
12So after looking through guidebooks and deciding what I want to see and not see, I have a pretty solid idea of what I want for my itinerary, save for a few details:
Day 1 Flight
Day 2-4 – Amsterdam
Day 5 – Travel to Berlin
Day 6-10 Berlin
Day 11– Travel to Vienna by Plane for very cheap
Day 12-16 – Vienna
Day 17 – Travel to Munich by train
Day 18- 21 Munich
Day 22 – Train to Venice (most likely taking a night train to Venice)
Day 23-25 – Expensive city…so don’t plan on staying too long. Venice is sort of my “relaxing” city…even getting a cheap hotel room!)
Day 26 Travel to Florence. Train
Day 27 -30 – Florence –
Day 31 – Travel to Rome by Train
Day 32 - 36 - Rome
Day 37 – Home
I’m trying to decide on two things.
-Should I eliminate going to Munich? There are many things there I want to see there, and I would love to take a day trip/tour to Neuschwanstein(which would be a 9 hour trip, so basically a day…)..but it would save me money and time to skip it. It would shorten my trip by a few days, which would make my parents happy as they aren’t thrilled with the length of the trip or the price. Without Munich I’d add one more day to Rome and maybe another to Vienna or Florence. I’d also be taking the night train from Venice. So is Munich/Neuschwanstein worth the extra price and extra grief I'll go from the parents?
- I’m also trying to decide if I should take one day away from the top of Berlin and add another to Amsterdam. The only problem is a significant price jump in my hostel stay(it goes up 30+ euro for that extra night!). But I feel I’m short changing Amsterdam. I was planning on having one “relax/walkabout” day in Berlin, as I’m there for five and half days days but I guess I could let one day go.
Sep 5, 2012 11:11 AM
13When are you planning to go? If you plan to go to Munich during the Oktoberfest be aware that the prices for hotels go up a lot. In that case it would make sense to skip Munich.
Spending three days in Amsterdam will give you a good idea of what the city is. If you want to visit other cities in the Netherlands, Haarlem, Utrecht, Leiden,.... another day would make sense. The Netherlands is small enough that you would not have to find another hotel in a different city. Just stay in Amsterdam and make a daytrip to another city.
Edited by: Liberat
Sep 5, 2012 11:27 AM
14I'm planning to go to Amsterdam on September 30th, arriving on the 1st. I would be in Munich on the 17th, so Oktoberfest is over by a couple of weeks.
As for Amsterdam, no I don't plan on going anywhere else. I had thought of a day trip but it was more of a "wait and see how I feel when I'm there" deal. Utrecht With three days, I wouldn't even consider it. Meanwhile, Berlin has so much I want to see(Museum Island is definitely taking up a whole day) but I might be able to knock out the rest in three days. W
(3 star Hotel)
From US$86.35 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$292.70 per night
(1 star Hotel)
From US$79.70 per night