Backpacking/Europe newbie and going solo! Any advice?
Replies: 15 - Last Post: May 5, 2013 4:03 AM Last Post By: gawkabout
Dec 19, 2012 4:41 PM
Backpacking/Europe newbie and going solo! Any advice?I am an 18 year old girl who really needs a break of her everyday life. So, coming this summer (Probably around the end of May), I want to depart from the States and head to Europe. I only want to be gone for 30-50 days (I have wiggle room), I've been doing some research, and I'm getting really excited about going. I've been getting tons of advice and insight from friends and familiy and people online, but I still would like to have other perspective and insight from others. I do not want an exact itinerary, that's is way too boring for me! I only have a few key places that I want to go to before I go home, anywhere else I go is just a bonus for me.
The places I really want to go:
1) Paris, France- I want to see the Eifel Tower in person, it's been my dream since I was in 5th grade.
2) Belgium- I want to get some chocolate!
3) Rome, Italy- I love the Italian renaissance architecture (I am an Architecture Major in college)
4)Sicily, Italy- Just a place that perked my interest when I took my World Civilization class.
5) Pisa, Italy- I saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa when I was about 6, and I truely don't remember much about it.
6) Sardinia, Italy- to be more exact I want to go the La Madalena Islands, I used to live there when I was 5-7 years old. I want to go back and see how it's changed
7) Greece- no exact place really, but my parents got married there and I think it would be cool to go. Also, I love suflaki(sp?) and I want to eat one from greece!
8) Poland- My family is from Poland, and I think it would be very interesting to go to the country where my family is from.
Those are the only places that I want go to at the moment. And I know that they are all stretched out across Europe, but it also gives me an oppurtunity to see other places along the way if I wanted.
Would it be a good investment to get the Eurail Pass? or find another option? Are the train stations easy to navigate for a person who can only speak english?
Should I book hostels to stay in, before I leave, or should I just book them as I go?
I really appreciate any advice I get. I've decided to take this adventure solo, and I really hope to meet other travellers along the way. I am really open-minded and a complete adrenaline junkie (as long as what i am doing isn't too life-threatening) :D
Is there anyone else planning to take a trip around the same time...?
Are there any tips and tricks that I should know before I go? Please feel free to share events/places that stood out to you!
Thanks for any advice! And I'd love to hear from everyone and anyone!
Thanks and happy travelling!
Dec 20, 2012 12:28 AM
1HI and welcome to the TT.
To answer your questions....
Unfortunately the only way to know if the Eurail Pass is 'worth it' for you is to add up all the individual prices and compare them to the price of the pass (and you also need to add supplements for fast/sleeper trains etc.)
On a quick look at that 'itinerary'...I'd say no.Better to fly between those places that are really far apart,using cheap budget flights,and then pay for your train tickets on the spot for places that are near.
Train stations are easy to negotiate...usually someone speaks English..or you can just point or write the time and destination of the train on a piece of paper.
Dec 20, 2012 12:33 AM
2On the hostels...as a new traveller I'd probably book the first nights in your starting point.
That will give you time to get used to the set-up,how things are organised etc and will be a less worrying start....;-)
Then...usually I'd say don't book anything.Just turn up in a place and find a bed in a hostel..there is almost always one available,and if its full there is usually another hostel down the road..
HOWEVER...if you really want to stick to that itinerary you will be moving fast.Even without 'seeing other places along the way' Of course 50 days is a lot better than 30.And some places you will either have to fly,boat or spend a long time getting to overland.
Dec 20, 2012 12:36 AM
3AS for meeting other people...stay in hostel dorms,and you will meet plenty!
That is other backpackers of course..
Personally I'd cut the itinerary down(in terms of countries),and visit places closer together.That way you can plan less and have more freedom to move when you want,and it will also cost you a lot less in travel expenses...
Dec 20, 2012 2:46 AM
Dec 20, 2012 8:11 AM
6Don't go just for the chocolate, alltough it's the best and it's really not the same in other countries!
Visit Gent or Brugge and wonder thru the canals, drink Belgian beer and try the fresh Belgian fries (they really arent french)!
Check out Antwerp, city of diamonds and fashion with the most beautifull trainstation you will ever see and go to the giant cathedral in the old part of the city!
Really, Belgium is a hidden gem between the touristic giants who surrounds it!
Dec 20, 2012 9:24 AM
7I suggest you do some reading here on the TT. For example, you should start by reading this thread.
and this one:
The two commonest mistakes travellers make are trying to see/do too much in too little time and packing too much.
Here is a thread on the second of those two.
Your list of places is in fact a lot for the amount of time you have available, in my opinion. North Americans and Europeans have the same problem when it comes to distance but in reverse. N. Americans are used to covering large distances between places. Europeans are used to short distances between places. Both tend to think in terms of their own perception without regard for the differences between N. America and Europe.
If someone said to you they plan to visit N. America and in 30-50 days they plan to visit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver (Canada), Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, Niagara Falls (Canadian side), Toronto and Montreal. What would you say to them? Too many, too far apart, too much missed in between would be my reaction.
Your list is the equivalent of saying that for Europe.
Dec 21, 2012 7:35 AM
8If you want to do all of this fly into Belgium, from there to Paris go down to Marseille and take a ferry to Sardinia, this takes 16 hours, or go onto Genoa and take a ferry from there, from Sardinia you can take a ferry to Livorno and visit Pisa, go down to Rome onto Sicily, from there you have to backtrack a little to catch a ferry to Greece or fly, from Greece to Poland definatly fly and then depart from Poland to the US.
Search for open jaw or multiple city tickets for your flights from the US to Europe and back, also ferries are slow and there is not much to do, you could look at it like a little cruise.
http://maps.google.de/maps?saddr=Br%C3%BCssel,+Belgien&daddr=Paris,+Frankreich+to:Marseille,+Frankreich+to:Livorno,+Provinz+Livorno,+Italien+to:Pisa,+Provinz+Pisa,+Italien+to:Rome,+Provinz+Rom,+Italien+to:Palermo,+Provinz+Palermo,+Italien+to:Athen,+Kentrikos+Tomeas+Athinon,+Griechenland+to:Warschau,+Polen&hl=de&ie=UTF8&sll=45.058001,13.095703&sspn=23.861706,39.506836&geocode=FSTqBwMd3mZCAClnaMdz7aTDRzGnAnN4ZjqLwQ%3BFSZ-6QIdXuQjACkPt-IGH27mRzFglIxow4ILBA%3BFeKmlAIdtO9RACkzU9pEQ7_JEjEgApf9pRkIBA%3BFTl_mAIdp1OdACmjD37rZ-nVEjHUE9oiffMtYA%3BFVcomwIdmbeeACmPWfbwmpHVEjHIeISntQ-4qg%3BFcpdfwId5iK-ACm7jpL5lmEvEzE4bmWTBncPuQ%3BFWiZRQIdc-DLACmZ0E6ByegZEzGA2DsjLAQLCg%3BFeOVQwIdnhRqASnxQ3AGH72hFDHdjWZ2RTU2Jw%3BFSz2HAMdBZ9AASkBn4aaZsweRzH80-qIKr7wcg&t=h&doflg=ptm&mra=luc&z=5, hope this link works but I skipped Sardina on it, it's just so you see what kind of distance you want to cover, less might be more and more enjoyable, but it's your trip and I just wanted to put it in the best order.
Dec 21, 2012 12:50 PM
Feb 5, 2013 12:38 PM
I'm Lara and I'm from Italy.
I decided to reply to your message because I saw that you would like to visit some Italian places :-)!!
First of all you can easly visit Europe with public transport and you can sleep in hostels, campings and one star hotels.
If you search in internet "ente del tursmo..." follows with the name of the country for example Francia, you will find the turist web-site of this country.
There are a lot of tourist informations and if you want you can ask some brochures regarding the place you are going to visit!!
Feb 24, 2013 10:56 AM
I am from Montreal, Canada and I am planning a trip to Europe around the same time. Since I have just 2-3 weeks, I would only keep to one country which is Italy and Sicily since I've never been. Are you looking for a travel buddy? Message me if you'd like to meet up somewhere! :-)
For suggestions, well I lived in Paris for a while and I have visited Belgium and Greece in your "want list". If you are a history fanatic like me, you will love Greece! Mycenae, Olympia, Delphi, Athens... Well, its one of the reasons I know I will love Italy too since I am passionate by the roman civilization. Its a very cheap country to visit as well!
May 4, 2013 5:42 PM
Im going to travel Europe for a month or two and leaving it open for more
Wondering how everyones trip went. My biggest concerns have been getting from country to country and where to stay when Im there. I need to meet people along the way, Im a 28 year old male from US.
Im thinking of going to France, Amsterdam, Italy, London, and wherever else it takes me.
Where can I meet the most people around my age?
Should I just plan my first hostel and plan as I go? What are good hostels with young people... How easy is it to get a double room or just a single room?
May 4, 2013 10:29 PM
May 4, 2013 10:32 PM
14Anyway...for what its worth......I will give you mine ;-)
Agree with just planning your first hostel and 'take it from there'.Of course having a rough idea of an itinerary is ok,but don't book it all in advance.
If you are travelling Europe in summer,you will meet loads of people in hostels..in all those places you mention.
Most hostels have a few rooms and a lot more dorm space.Obviously private rooms cost considerably more,and you are a bit more isolated.But with more privacy.....
(0 star Hotel)
From US$44.03 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$142.16 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$24.77 per night