First Solo trip to Europe
Replies: 27 - Last Post: Nov 30, 2012 5:54 AM Last Post By: SadisticToaster
Nov 19, 2012 4:33 PM
First Solo trip to EuropeHey guys.
I'm planning my first solo trip to Europe next summer for 47 days, starting from June 17 to Aug. 2. I've been doing a lot of reading already, but I still have some questions. My budget is 3,000-4,000 US dollar including airfare and transportation and accommodation. I'm 21 and hoping to stay within my budget, but still enjoy my time. At first, I was planning my trip around Tomorrowland at Belgium, but maybe I should just skip it...
I'm interested in WWII history, therefore I want to visit Auschwitz & Normandy...(Do you guys have other suggestions?) I also want to follow the usual tourist route such as London, Paris, Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Amsterdam... I know many of you guys suggested not to over-plan or try to see many things at once. I made a rough itinerary and I was wondering if you guys can give me feedback and suggestion.
Rough Itinerary: Planning around Tomorrowland.
1 week- London (Visit Bath and other places outside of London, maybe some countryside)
1 week- France (I was thinking of staying in Paris for 4 days then go to Normandy for 3 days)
3 D/N- Switzerland (Take a night train from Normandy to Interlaken)
3 D/N- Munich (I want to visit the Neuschwanstein castle on the way)
3 D/N- Vienna (Maybe a stop-over in Salzburg?)
With Bratislava (1 day) and Krakow (3 day & 2 nights):
At first I want to take a trip to Bratislava for a day and take a night train to Krakow and visit Auschwitz from there and take a night train to Prague). If I skip these places, I was thinking of going straight to Auschwitz..
4 D & 3 N- Prague (Take a night train to Berlin)
5 D/N- Berlin
3 D/N- Amsterdam
3 D/N- Brussels (Tomorrowland festival on July 26-28. If I skip this festival I'll have 3 days to explore Belgium and possibly visit some WWII sites)
With this itinerary I'll have extra 5 days at the end of Belgium. If I do go to Tomorrowland, I can use the 5 days to explore Belgium and possibly back to the Netherlands.
If I skip Tomorrowland, Bratislava and Krakow, I'll have an extra 8 days. How should I utilize these 8 days? Should I go to Ireland and Scotland since I'm planning on departing from London. Any suggestions please?
As for transportation, is it wise to get a Eurail pass to get around the Schengen countries? What about in England? Should I get a hop on-off bus? Also where can I find free tour guides? I ordered Rick's Steve book, "Europe Through The Back Door 2013". I'm planning on getting a map of Europe too.
Please don't bite my head off. Lol. Any suggestions is welcome. Thanks in advance.
Edited by: IMCHESKA
Nov 19, 2012 4:53 PM
Nov 19, 2012 5:07 PM
2edgeofthecity beat me to it, the Imperial War Museum and the Churchill War Rooms in London are an absolute must-see for WWII enthusiasts. For me, its the small random remnants from WWII that you come across randomly that really strike a cord. For example, walking past the Victoria and Albert Museum in London there are very clear bullet holes and shell grenade damage to the outside of the building with a plaque hung saying they left the damage there as a reminder of WWII.
Here's a pretty extensive thread from Frommer's about great WWII sites in Europe:
Hope this helps! :]
Nov 19, 2012 7:07 PM
3First of all, kudos to you because this itinerary is far better than the majority posted here. It's still a lot of moving around, but doable and, I'd that's what you're after, enjoyable.
Regarding your budget question: pls read the post about itineraries and budgets on the main part of the W Europe branch. And remember to convert to € and deduct your airfare.
If you skp those cities you named and end up with 8 extra days I'd spend them in the countries you're already visiting and use them to go to the countryside/smaller towns/off the beaten track.
That will save you money on long haul connections (I don't think your budget is very generous) and will provide more balance to your trip which is currently mostly a string of the most visited European capitals. So yes, schotland is an option. If you do go to Ireland, don't make the mistake of just going to Dublin- make sure you have time for the green countryside which is much more interesting.
Nov 19, 2012 8:00 PM
4Hey guys, thanks for replying
To edgeofthecity and Nomadic_Nikki
Yeah, I've heard of the Imperial War Museum and the the Churchill Room. I definitely want to visit them. I agree with you Nomadic_Nikki, I don't want to see just museums. I want to see the actual place where it happened and hopefully hear stories from those who lived through it.
Thanks for not biting my head off. Lol. Yeah, I know my budget is tight, but if I need to break my budget, I'll do it. I'm not a big drinker b/c I'm allergic to alcohol. But I still want to take a sip here and there and have a night life.
I am thinking of skipping the festival. I don't want to rush my trip and do the "been there, done that" idea. Right now I'm calculating the travel expenses and whether the Eurail pass is worth it.
To save money on hostels, is it cheaper to stay outside of the main cities, e.g. London and Paris?
Nov 19, 2012 11:13 PM
5To save money on hostels, is it cheaper to stay outside of the main cities, e.g. London and Paris?
Assuming you want to visit those cities, no it isn't cheaper. Reason - you'll spend your time commuting back and forth and any savings in accommodation will be seized back by increased transportation and time costs.
Itinerary is sensible, but budget is insufficient.
4000 USD = 3125 EUR. Divided by 47 days that's 66 euros, but you've not included a flight over from the US of A, nor transportation nor a ticket for tomorrowland (General entry tickets were €172.50 in 2012 with camping tickets extra on top). Basically you need another $1200-1500 to be safe on the budget front. Sorry.
Nov 19, 2012 11:40 PM
6I fear you've a misconception about nighttrains: their number is dwindling and there are far less than a couple of years ago (main reasons: new highspeed lines and budget airlines), so don't expect them, check with bahn.de whether they still exist at all...
for WWII related sites in Berlin, see these slightly older threads: one, two.
Nov 20, 2012 1:00 AM
7Sorry for incomplete info. I was going to use a credit card to buy the plane ticket, and other expenses along with the $4000. I'm thinking of skipping the Tomorrowland and possibly drop Switzerland and Munich and maybe reduce my trip to approx. 6 weeks, if needed. Don't worry guys, I'll be able to come up with enough money to make this trip happen. I already have $6,000 saved, but I just don't want to be broke when I go back to the states. I'm still saving $. In 6 months, I'll be able to save up enough money to cover the trip and enjoy it without going broke.
Is $5-6,000 doable in UK, France, Belgium, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Krakow and Vienna.
Now my other concern is getting around the city. I'm checked out seat61.com, but I'm still confused on whether I should buy an eurail pass or just point-point ticket. And what is the best way of getting around the cities?
Nov 20, 2012 1:03 AM
Nov 20, 2012 1:27 AM
9Eurail pass pro's -
offers maximum freedom,
can simply hop on next train to wherever,
can linger longer in somewhere that you're liking,
total flexibility to change routing if something grabs your fancy.
Eurail pass con's -
point to point in Italy and E Europe is usually cheaper (doesn't really apply in your case),
high speed trains require additional small charges for reservations,
Night trains also rqeuire additional small charges (although usually equal to cost of hostel bed for the night anyway). IMO taking a sleeper seat is a false economy vs taking a couchette bed. In both cases, do not assume you'll get a solid night's sleep but you've built enough time in various cities to ensure a decent night's sleep whilst stationary.
Note that in some countries (especially Germany and France) whilst slower trains exist to avoid the reservation fee they are much slower. Example: Paris to Interlaken can be done as quick as 5:05 via TGV. Fastest without TGV to avoid extra fees is 8:47. Over time these additional small charges can stack up. Refer to the eurail.com website which has the information (albeit rather buried in their various pages).
Nov 20, 2012 1:30 AM
10PS - Europe wide train timetable is available via http://www.bahn.co.uk. Tickets go on sale from national rail websites 90 days in advance (more in the case of Eurostar London to Paris). First come, cheapest served. You can only buy from the national rail website concerned. E.g. if travelling Paris to Interlaken, a point to point is only available from either SNCF or SBB. You can get any ticket from raileurope but they stick on massive markup commissions so avoid them.
Nov 20, 2012 2:02 AM
11if you've been to seat61, you've already reached the non-plus-ultra in advice on pass vs. point-to-point. my opinion: pass only if you're eligible for the youth discount and/or flexibility is a key issue.
fwoggie @9: no, damnit, DB doesn't charge passholders for ICEs (except for those very rare ICE sprinter trains and some international services), in fact it's about the only rail company in Europe that won't charge you for highspeed!
Nov 20, 2012 2:27 AM
Nov 20, 2012 2:30 AM
Nov 20, 2012 2:42 AM
(5 star Hotel)
From US$212.78 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$170.04 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$9.78 per night