Planning first solo Europe backpacking trip!
Replies: 38 - Last Post: Feb 6, 2013 7:27 AM Last Post By: travelinstyle46
Jan 31, 2013 9:41 PM
Planning first solo Europe backpacking trip!Hey guys so I've been planning to backpack in Europe since September and I think I'm ready to take the plunge. A little bit about myself, I’m a female, 19 and this will be my first solo trip ever. I've done quite a bit of research and I was wondering if any of you guys had any tips/revisions on my itinerary. I have a budget of 4000 including airfare for about 30+ days in Europe. I'm planning on mostly staying in hostels, and maybe couch surfing? Do you think this is doable or am is my budget too low? I’m planning to leave mid-May and return mid-June.
Suitcase or backpack? I’m a pretty tiny person.. 5’ 100lb and I really don’t want to be carrying a backpack half my size around lol. Would it be practical to use a suitcase instead? And if I were to go the suitcase route should I get a cheapo or invest in a good suitcase?
In regards to the flight, on Air Transat I saw a flight from YYZ>CDG, FCO > YYZ for around $750, do you think fares will increase or decrease in the coming months? Should I buy my ticket ASAP or wait for a possible price drop.
Paris – 7 days
• Day trip to Versailles, labyrinth of Versailles, chateau de Versailles
• the Louvre, Eiffel tower, centre Pompidou
Berlin – 4 days
• I’m somehow compelled to visit Berlin for no particular reason.. Maybe because of the WW2 history but I can skip Berlin if need be
Vienna – 4 days
• I’d really like to see the Vienna philharmonic but I’m guessing ticket prices are astronomical.. Which is why I’d love to see the free Summer Night Concert in Schönbrunn (May, 30 2013)
Switzerland – 4 days, base in Interlaken
• Day trip to Jungfraujoch? I’ve checked train tickets and they are quite expensive, does anyone have any insight on if it’s worth it or if there are cheaper alternatives?
Italy – 10 day
• I was thinking either starting off in La Spezia area for the first couple days for Cinque Terre or starting in Florence and taking a day trip to Cinque Terre then heading to Rome for a week.
• Should I even bother going to Pisa other than to see the leaning tower?
Greece – 4 days
• Debating whether I’d rather go island hopping or thoroughly explore one island, 4 days may be too little so I might prolong my trip or not visit one of the previous places
Am I trying to see too many places in too little time? Should I cut something or increase/decrease days in a city? Also am I maybe planning too many things and should make my itinerary more spontaneous? Lol
I was also thinking of taking my first skydive while in Europe. I’ve checked a few different sites and prices range from $200-350CAD in Rome area and $500-650CAD in Interlaken area. Would the 300$ mark-up be worth it to go skydiving in Interlaken or should I save my money and just go in Rome.
Sorry everything is a bit long winded lol, thanks for reading and for your input!
Jan 31, 2013 10:58 PM
1$750 is a good price. Since your return is mid-June, I'd go ahead and book it soon (within a few weeks preferably), since June is high season and prices tend to get crazy if you don't book in time! To give you an idea, I paid $1700 last year for a transatlantic r/t where I flew in July and booked the ticket end of April. If your dates are flexible, you have more leeway.
$4000 for 30 days, so $130 per day for food, lodging, transport and sightseeing? Sounds very doable to me. Especially if you'll be couchsurfing.
I'd go for a backpack. How much will you be packing anyway? My advice would be to keep it light light. You often end up using much less than you think. You can do laundry in Europe. You can also buy anything that you didn't bring in case you need it. On longer trips I often bring enough clothes for 7 days, and that's pretty much it. Books/guidebooks -- keep them on your smartphone to keep weight down! I travel the world with around 12 lbs or less.
Your itinerary does seem a bit wonky to me. One week Paris, one week Rome, then 4 days in all of Switzerland, and 4 days Greece. I dunno. Seems like too much time in the first two, and too little in the last two. Maybe you can look at LP Europe book to get some ideas. Also you might want to consider NOT having a plan, just fly in and stay in each place however long you like it then move on. Chances are you'll meet people whether you stay at hostels or couchsurfing and you'll get new ideas and perhaps hook up and travel with someone for a while. How are you getting around? Bus/train? Budget flights? Flights should be bought in advance. Bus or train I think is fine, I rarely book these in advance and also rarely have problems (although you can sometimes save money by booking in advance).
Feb 1, 2013 7:49 AM
4000 is US dollars? Minus the flights and insurance etc.,that will leave you about US3000. Or 2000 euros at the moment.
That's about 70 euros a day,which is doable.Not a huge amount,but possible if you live as a backpacker...hostels,local food,some activities etc.
Agree with max that the price is pretty good..I doubt you will get much cheaper than that for June.
Feb 1, 2013 7:52 AM
Feb 1, 2013 7:58 AM
4On the destinations...i guess there is a reason why you have chosen these,and a reason you have given that quantity of time for each?
Personally none sound too long (though I like to stay in a place for a while...get away from the tourist trail and have time to relax,meet people,get to know the less obvious parts of the city).....Greece seems very short though.I'd either go there and spend some serious time,or leave it out...it is pretty far out of the way compared to your other stops,and getting there will cost you.....a lot.For only 4 days.
Switzerland is also little time but at least it is on your way....try to get out of Interlaken and into the mountains themselves.Its a beautiful area.
More spontaneous is always a good idea.So...don't book all these things in advance.If you are bored in paris after 4 days (impossible for me,but everyone is different ;-) then move on somewhere else.....there is plenty of hostel availability and no need to book beds in advance at all....
Feb 1, 2013 10:14 AM
5Welcome to the TT.
Some tips for you as a new poster.
First, read the Community guidelines, Community FAQs. Then read the Europe FAQs and the other stickies at the top of the W. Europe branch including the one on 'budget and itinerary questions'. Then scroll down and read threads that interest you on the first few pages at least of the W. Europe branch. Then go to the Activities and Gear branch and do some reading there on what pack to buy, what to pack, etc.
'What do you think of my itinerary and do I have enough money' is one of, if not THE most common question asked. Yours is no different than all the others and the same answers have been given a thousand plus times.
When you have done all that some of your questions here will have been answered. Then post specific threads on individual topics. Breaking it down to separate topics will always get you more relevant answers for each one. Topics that cover too many different things discourage more detailed responses for each topic covered if you see what I mean.
The flight price is good but you need to know how Air Transat's business model works. They use a daily changing model. That is, the price is determined each day based on how many seats have been sold on a given flight. They start lower, go up as the date nears and then drop again a week or two before the flight IF seats remain unsold. So NO ONE (I am very familiar with Air Transat out of Toronto) can tell you on what day the best price will be available. It could be now, it could be a week before the flight. My point is the price is near the lowest it is likely to be at $750 CAD return. It could be $650 one day but there is no way to know. Bite the bullet or gamble time.
Re pack and what to pack. The two commonest mistakes people make are trying to see/do too much in too little time and packing too much. That's a whole subject in itself and as I have said, worth a separate thread AFTER having done some reading on the Activities and Gear branch if you still have questions.
Feb 1, 2013 10:15 AM
6flight prices only ever go up. Don't forget your travel insurance.
4 days in Greece - not worth it. (the 4 days, not the country!)
Feb 1, 2013 10:51 AM
7Heres an alternative to being a packhorse with a backpack. I'm a little bigger but not too much. I bought this because it fits in the overhead, can be used as a wheelie, a duffel or a backpack. I could easily use this for 1 month as carryon. I had it full but not stuffed. 50% of what I took I never used even then. I never had to use the backpack (straps are hidden) and it worked great as a wheelie, and I only used it as a duffel for a quick pickup and move. Its so easy walking from station/airport to hostel etc.. and it does great on most cobbles. It makes a huge difference to your trip if you are not laden down with too much gear. The one in the link is not the exact one as I bought mine in an discount store (TJMaxx) but also High Sierra. Just make sure it fits within the carryon measurements..
p.s. also invest in a wrist wallet for security.
Feb 1, 2013 12:50 PM
Feb 1, 2013 2:25 PM
9OMG, 10.5lbs!!!! You have to be kidding. This is why it needs a separate topic altogether. Weight, weight, weight is to backpacking what location, location, location is to property buying marichel.
Here is my list:
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2280830 My pack weighs under 2.5lbs.
Second, while it used to be fairly easy to go carry-on, these days it is becoming harder and harder. Size is no the ONLY limitation to carry-on. Both weight and contents are equally as restrictive. Many airlines enforce their weight limits and they can be as low as 5 or 7kg. Contents mean you cannot carry-on a trusty swiss army knife which I never leave home without or any liquids that don't fit the restrictions such as these:
Nor is time a factor in what size you need or what you pack. You pack no more for 3 years than you do for 3 weeks.
Feb 1, 2013 5:45 PM
10Hey! Im Lauren, a 21 year old planning a solo trip to Europe at the same exact time as you. I'm so glad to see that I'm not the only one doing this! I absolutely LOVE LP's Europe on a Shoestring guidebook... If you don't have it, definitely invest! In the book, there are so many great tips about some of your questions that you asked. It also gives a lot of recommendations on hostels that are cheap and safe. Definitely research those before just choosing one. Personally, that's my highest priority since I'm going alone (choosing safe hostels in a good location). I pre-booked hostels and whatnot, but be sure to get cancellation protection in case you change your mind, especially on things like trains/flights/whatnot. Anyways, just thought I would comment.. it sounds like you are going to some amazing places! Feel free to reach out if you want to talk more - I'm going to a bunch of the same places as you, so feel free to throw around any ideas you aren't sure about!
Feb 1, 2013 6:00 PM
11Sacre Bleu ! (Shame on me) I did say it was only similar...my one actually weighs 8.4 lbs (3.8kgs)and I know but for a month at a time for someone who is not really a diehard backpacker it is a very userfriendly bag that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Even though it does have backpack straps they would only be used in emergency.
If I was going to do serious longterm backpacking I would also get something lighter ...Most of my flights were AA and they have very restrictive allowances. I had no problem with carryon and yes I did want to take a pocket knife but thought if I needed one I could buy a cheapo over there. I know it would not be a swiss army knife...Victorinox rules and all that.. Anyway going to Europe is not exactly bushwacking
Feb 1, 2013 7:27 PM
12Hey guys, thanks for all the input. I've decided to get rid of Berlin, go to either Vienna or Prague (Still deciding) and increased my time in Switzerland (5 days) and Greece (8 days). Also, should I buy travel insurance and such before or after I book my flight?
@max_mexico A lot of people have told me to go with a backpack so I think that's what I'll be doing. And re: my itinerary it's just a estimate of my days in xyz city, I can spend more or less days there depending on my mood that week or whatever.
@lucapal My currency is Canadian Dollars but currently we are only a few cents off so it's pretty much the same. I'll book hostels in advance to get the best price, as I've been told it's only a few dollars to cancel if anything.
@travelinstyle46 I've read all those threads already, thanks. I thought a big thread would be better than 10 small threads which is why I put all my questions in one thread. I asked the "most common" questions here because every itinerary is different and I wanted perspective on my specific itinerary.
@marichel1981 Thanks for the suggestion but at 10lb+my stuff, it'll be far to heavy for those times I'll have to carry it on my back. And I'll be looking into hidden wallets and such for security, thanks
@laruenshaber Hi Lauren! I'll definitely take a look at LP's book and does cancellation protection come with your insurance or did you buy it when making your booking? Please shoot me a message or something if you'd like to meet up while in Europe! It'd be lovely to meet
Feb 1, 2013 11:12 PM
13On the 'booking hostels'in advance...
That is possible of course (you can use Hostelworld and pay a small deposit) but really it will make no difference to the price you pay for a bed.Booked in advance or turning up at the hostel,the price will be the same.
Personally i wouldn't bother booking them in advance...hostels are rarely full (at least dorm beds),and if they are there will be another one down the road in these types of destinations.
Plus...it is aways better to see a dorm/hostel before you commit to staying there ;-)
Feb 2, 2013 5:01 AM
(4 star Hotel)
From US$91.93 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$106.65 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$142.97 per night