Travelling through Europe - should I make plans or wing it?
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Aug 11, 2012 2:36 AM Last Post By: gawkabout
Jul 25, 2012 9:49 PM
Travelling through Europe - should I make plans or wing it?Hello - this is my first post on these forums but I am a long-time lurker as I've been planning my trip to Europe! I am going with my boyfriend for 6 weeks from the beginning of December to the end of January, and our itinerary looks something like this:
Italy (we will be spending a few days in Venice and then driving down to Rome over the course of a few days, stopping along the way)
Back to Paris to fly home
It is my first big trip overseas and I am naturally a very planned and organised person, so I have been researching the trip in a lot of detail. I have found suitable hostels/hotels for us to stay at in every city, but with the exception of Prague (we will be there for Christmas) and Zakopane (NYE) I am yet to book any accommodation. My boyfriend suggested that we could just 'wing it' over there - being the middle of winter it is likely we might run into delays with transport (we will be taking trains) so he thinks it might not be a good idea to have every night pre-booked and just show up and book on the spot, and do the same with train tickets as opposed to buying a pass.
I'm a little wary of this way of doing things, so I just wanted to hear some advice from people who may have done it before and whether or not you would recommend it. As we're going in the off-season I thought it probably won't be hard to find somewhere to sleep, but like I said it's my first trip to Europe so I don't really know what to expect.
Thanks so much :)
Jul 26, 2012 12:56 AM
1I very rarely book ahead, and if I do it's often just the day before kind of thing. What happens if you rock up at a hostel don't like the look of it but have paid a deposit? Of course sometimes it is a good idea to book ahead, very busy periods (I remember showing up in San Francisco and ending up visiting 5 hostels before finding a bed (and it was not a pleasant hostel) but most of the time it's absolutely fine.
Of course if you're in a hostel in Paris and like it and know that your last night you're going to be spending a night in Paris again then by all means book that last night.
Also your bf's right, you're in off peak season, it won't be all that busy.
Jul 26, 2012 12:37 PM
2I'd be inclined to book somewhere over both Christmas and New Year to make sure you've somewhere to stay, especially as these are times when some places are closed, but otherwise you should be OK taking things as they come. You're going to some places where the weather can be difficult or unpredictable and there might be an advantage in being able to change your plans at the last minute. However, the result of that is you lose the benefits of cheaper flights / trains by not booking well in advance. Don't forget that you'll only have 7 - 8 hours of daylight.
Jul 26, 2012 5:00 PM
3Thanks for the advice! We already have booked a hotel in Prague from the 22-27 Dec and a hostel in Zakopane for the 30th and the 31st, so we're all sorted for Christmas/New Year's. It seems like it might be a better idea to just book things when we get there - I will probably take a list of places we could stay anyway so that way I've got a few options without having to just wander around looking.
Is it a big difference in price between pre-booking train tickets and buying them when you get there?
Jul 26, 2012 5:02 PM
Jul 27, 2012 1:37 AM
5#3 - yes there can be big savings, it is well worth having a play around on train operators' websites now, even if you can't book yet, just to get an idea of "standard" prices and the discounts which can be offered - more noticeable in western Europe where prices tend to be higher.
Aug 1, 2012 2:55 AM
6You'll be on vacation, right? Then do something you don't ordinarily do. Shun planning.
We don't know what we'll learn till we get there.
Just flow with it.
If I do two paintings of the same subject...they always come out different. Because I'm seeing things differently on both occasions.
So the "go back and see it right someday" theory doesn't work out IMHO. Besides. More places are calling us. Go back sure. You'll see it in a different light.
I may get fired up over a piece of history along the way. And follow it while in context.
We learn more in school, if we make notes on handy cards.
While at coffee and a question pops in our mind about the subject. Then paruse the cards. And dig it while we're hungry for it.
Aug 11, 2012 2:36 AM
7So, what if the world doesn't opporate according to your system of planning?
I know Spain doesn't care if we are in a hurry.
And why book beds that are so far from your last bed, and you can't quite make it that far, that night? You still get charged for the first night you reserved.
Leave yourself alone. Flow with it and learn. Relaxed.
You have friends out there, you haven't met yet. Don't ditch 'em too quick to learn from 'em.
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