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Help me plan my Europe trip!

david3558

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Hey guys - thought I would call upon the collective wisdom to plan my Europe trip this summer. It'll be my first time ever headed over to Europe.

Here is what has already been planned:

July 1st - August 10th (London; studying at London School of Economics)

While I am studying, I have a long weekend during the middle of this program where there will be no homework or studying to be done. Friends have suggested taking advantage of this to travel nearby, most likely Paris.

August 11th - 22nd (Free travel; must return to London for flight back to USA)

This segment of the trip is where I need the most help. I know I will have to start my backpacking adventures in London and must return to it for my departure back to the United States. I will be locking up the bags I don't need at the airport and will attempt to travel lightly. My tentative plans are below, but please feel free to suggest other destinations/adjust timing. I will be traveling with one friend.

London to Barcelona (fly) - spend 2-3 nights in Barcelona
Barcelona to southern France - drive along coast (1 day?)
Fly to Florence, Italy - spend 3 nights
Florence to Amsterdam - spend 2-3 nights
Amsterdam to London for return to USA

Here are some details that may help you out:

  • Trying to keep the trip balanced between cheap and safe on budget.
  • First time in Europe, will unlikely be returning anytime soon.
  • 2nd segment of the trip I will have one friend with me.
  • Planning to backpack 2nd segment - any pointers here would help.

Really appreciate all the help!
David
 

david3558

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Also, any advice on bags to use and sites to visit for additional resources? Google has been a big help but there are so many sites and forums want to narrow it down to a few!
 

s2kev

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I'm also going to Europe for a month soon and could use the info you're looking for. Flying into Barcelona around Aug 6 and then going to Paris, Amsterdam, Italy, and maybe Prague (not particularly in that order). I was planning on using medium sized roller bag and a backpack for the whole trip

I've read that if you want to use the budget airlines like Ryan Air or Easyjet, you can only have a carry on luggage the size of a back pack. I'm still figuring out how I'm gonna do this. I might just pay the extra fees or fly a different airline or just try to fit everything I need in a back pack and leaving the rest in a locker in Barcelona or something.

I'm also still trying to figure out where to stay, I'm thinking about using hostelworld.com or just staying in regular hotels if the price difference is that much.
 

denm bar

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From personal experience one thing I would recommend above all is to safeguard your passports and personal information when jumping country to country. Europe is not as goody-two-shoes as America and it's pretty wild out there so you have been warned!!

With that being said, I think 2 nights in small cities are good as you would want the most time in the larger areas. If you're studiyng in London then you should definitely take advantage of the locality. You can get to Paris by Train so try to visit that while in London and leave the hard to reach areas for afterward. I see you are going to Italy but only to Florence, I'd take advantage of the train system and visit Venice and Rome while you're at it.

Since you're on a budget you might want to stay in hostels as they are cheap and easy to find. Location matters the most and when you book early you can get a better room at the lowest cost. Also, Europe loves trains so you will do most of your traveling that way, be prepared to shell out around $100 on getting around alone. RyanAir is also a very popular option (and cheap) means of flying around.. its first come first serve seating so get there early and travel light.. they have high fees for luggage.


P.S. what are you trying to do on your trip? Sight See? Party? Shop? Depending on what you are trying to do should influence your direction.
This information is based upon my personal stay in Europe when Studying Abroad as well.
 
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s2kev

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Thanks for the helpful info. BTW I actually stay and work in downtown LA too. And apparent the OP and I are from the same hometown. Small world.

From personal experience one thing I would recommend above all is to safeguard your passports and personal information when jumping country to country. Europe is not as goody-two-shoes as America and it's pretty wild out there so you have been warned!!

With that being said, I think 2 nights in small cities are good as you would want the most time in the larger areas. If you're studiyng in London then you should definitely take advantage of the locality. You can get to Paris by Train so try to visit that while in London and leave the hard to reach areas for afterward. I see you are going to Italy but only to Florence, I'd take advantage of the train system and visit Venice and Rome while you're at it.

Since you're on a budget you might want to stay in hostels as they are cheap and easy to find. Location matters the most and when you book early you can get a better room at the lowest cost. Also, Europe loves trains so you will do most of your traveling that way, be prepared to shell out around $100 on getting around alone. RyanAir is also a very popular option (and cheap) means of flying around.. its first come first serve seating so get there early and travel light.. they have high fees for luggage.


P.S. what are you trying to do on your trip? Sight See? Party? Shop? Depending on what you are trying to do should influence your direction.
This information is based upon my personal stay in Europe when Studying Abroad as well.
 

circumspice

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Cut a city or two out.

You don't want to be on a death march, and since this is your first time, you are likely to screw something up - you don't want to be somewhere you immediately fall in love with, and yet have a ongoing feeling of doom hanging over you because you only have 33 more hours there.

London is awesome - you don't make clear if your friend is meeting you there, and if they have been there before - they may want to see stuff in London.

I travel with a 2 wheeled duffel bag and a messenger bag large enough to hold my laptop + camera gear as my one carry on. I have had trouble making weight with the checked luggage with Ryanair - I was about 20 days + 5 countries deep into a trip

Hostels are good for the social aspect, and for laundry - I refuse to pay hotel rates for laundry. But traveling in a pair may mean bed and breakfasts are comparable price wise.

Prague is awesome, but it isn't particularly near anywhere else either of you are talking about going to.
 

pabloj

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Hey guys - thought I would call upon the collective wisdom to plan my Europe trip this summer. It'll be my first time ever headed over to Europe.
Here is what has already been planned:

July 1st - August 10th (London; studying at London School of Economics)
While I am studying, I have a long weekend during the middle of this program where there will be no homework or studying to be done. Friends have suggested taking advantage of this to travel nearby, most likely Paris.
August 11th - 22nd (Free travel; must return to London for flight back to USA)
...
Cut on the cities you don't have much time, I'd use the long weekend you mentioned to visit London or England, then from 11th I'd visit Paris (not a one day visit ;-)) and then from there you have the TGV, this means that Bruxelles and Amsterdam are not far.
You can't do much better in 10 days.
 

ballmouse

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I think you have a good variety of cities, since none of the ones you listed are particularly similar to one another.

However, you just picked some of the most expensive cities in Europe to visit (London, Paris, Amsterdam). I am not sure what you meant by cheap, but I studied abroad in Europe and the above 3 were probably the most expensive cities in Europe I visited. Granted, you can see a lot of things in those cities, but it's nice to know beforehand that you will (should) spend more there than in Florence or Barcelona.

If you want to have cheap fun, cities in Spain, Prague, and Berlin are nice. Florence is also a good choice.

I used hostels which, for the majority of them, were safe. I'd probably pick higher rated ones in Barcelona and Florence, mainly because the cheap ones are a bit sketchy and annoying to deal with since they don't have a 'real' front desk (so staff is only on call sometimes).

I recommend easyJet or Ryanair and taking just 1 bag. The train is only convenient if you're moving between London and Paris/Amsterdam/Brussels. Otherwise for your international destinations, take the plane.

In addition, plan your trip ahead of time and book your tickets for the Eurostar (train involving London), easyJet, and Ryanair ahead of time. They are much, much cheaper if you book earlier. I remember tickets for Ryanair were as low as 3 euros for a flight, although it seems like you don't have much time before you start.
 
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tullytra

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Since you're on a budget you might want to stay in hostels as they are cheap and easy to find. Location matters the most and when you book early you can get a better room at the lowest cost. Also, Europe loves trains so you will do most of your traveling that way, be prepared to shell out around $100 on getting around alone. RyanAir is also a very popular option (and cheap) means of flying around.. its first come first serve seating so get there early and travel light.. they have high fees for luggage.


You'll end up paying much, much more. Getting from London to Paris and back on Eurostar is expensive and will eat up at least the $100 on it's own. When taking RyanAir don't forget to factor in getting to the actual cities (5-10 euro each way with public transport). It isn't difficult to figure out, but it's definitely something you want to have an idea for before you arrive somewhere. As for where to go, you could end your trip by going to Amsterdam from wherever then working your way back to London through Brussels. It really only needs one or two days, but it is beautiful. You could then take the Eurostar from Brussels back to London. I'd recommend Rome over Florence, but many students I've talked with absolutely loved Florence. Florence was fun to walk around in, but with your limited time I wouldn't want to spend it there.
 

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