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Old 08-13-2011, 01:12 PM
 
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I could give you a long list of safe, clean, reasonably comfortable hotels within that price range (even in expensive cities like Rome), but imo that is not really the issue.

As much as I absolutely detest them - keep in mind that is my particular preference, only - I think the best for you might be a guided tour.
I might be wrong, but I get the feeling you are certainly not comfortable traveling on your own, and, if you can't find a travel buddy, that is absolutely no reason not to visit Europe. Granted, the exchange rate is far from favorable nowadays, but still, there are lots of wonderful, affordable places to see/things to do.

Like you, I draw the line at certain things. I won't stay at a hostel or share a bathroom (not criticizing anyone who does, just stating my preferences).
The only difference is, I traveled with a group very few times and detested it, not bc it was necessarily bad, but bc I felt everything was way too prearranged. Given that I have a more adventurous spirit and really want to do things/see places at my own pace, I love foreign languages, and have a tremendous interest in learning them, it was not my cup of tea.
Weeks before the trip even starts, my mind is already at my destination and I am studying city maps and learning at least the basics of the local language.

With a tour group you miss a lot of cool stuff you would enjoy by traveling (and doing everything) your own way, but since it will be your first trip, you might feel better within some kind of comfort zone. The upside is you feel "safer", but the downside is you end up being shielded from the bad and the very cool, too. Anyway, other posters have already given you great ideas, and my humble suggestion is, go with a group.

Remember, it is you vacation, the last thing you want then is stress.
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Old 08-13-2011, 01:55 PM
 
Location: San Antonio/Houston
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^^^ Ditto!!

The biggest expense right now is the air ticket. I am watching it since March and not matter what month, or day of the week - the prices are not falling under $1000. There is not much competition between airlines - the budget ticket prices are pretty much the same. 18 days for the cheapest rent a car in Germany is $700
The rest doesn't bother me, because there are endless possibilities for good and reasonable lodging and food.
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Old 08-13-2011, 02:14 PM
 
Location: San Antonio/Houston
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I agree! People that would like to travel should be of adventurous spirit, and not looking for same type of accommodation, same kind of food, same culture, and same language. The real and seasoned travelers do not really care if the hotel has 4 stars and is air conditioned, the food up to American standards, the customer service and the amenities superior and pleasing. Other countries, and other cultures have different standards, and future tourist should explore it before making a trip, otherwise he could be miserable. There are luxury trips, and backpack adventures. One needs to know what to expect and make decisions according to preferences, but that is closely related with expenses.
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Old 08-13-2011, 02:21 PM
 
Location: Central Florida
973 posts, read 1,489,255 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elnina View Post
^^^ Ditto!!

The biggest expense right now is the air ticket. I am watching it since March and not matter what month, or day of the week - the prices are not falling under $1000. There is not much competition between airlines - the budget ticket prices are pretty much the same. 18 days for the cheapest rent a car in Germany is $700
The rest doesn't bother me, because there are endless possibilities for good and reasonable lodging and food.
You are right about those tickets. I had found one in May to fly to Belgrade in Sept. for 940.00, but it would have been even cheaper had I been going some place "normal"! But, too had I flown on the day I had wanted to, it would have $200 more. And I was going to ask what sites you use, but you probably are already checking many. Good luck to you!

BUT what angers me the most (and I even asked several airlines about this, and no one could give me an answer), is that had I been leaving Belgrade and coming to the states, using the same airports and airlines and days, rates ranged from 200-400 cheaper! HOW CAN that be when the distance is exactly the same????


AND to the OP, I just signed up with a site called Airbnb and rented an apt. for a week that was MUCH cheaper than a hotel would be. It is a system where regular people rent out rooms or their whole flat/house depending what you are looking for. And for me, it was worth it as the man owns the apt. and will take me to the police to check in (which is a totally archaic law in Serbia that needs to go!) BUT, if I were to be staying longer, then I would make other arrangements as it would be too expensive.

Good luck to you...and I am excited for ya!
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Old 08-13-2011, 02:25 PM
 
Location: Nantahala National Forest, NC
27,093 posts, read 5,888,275 times
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Well you conquered NYC, Chatteress, so now over the pond! Good for you.

The best overall way to save: TRAVEL OFF SEASON, avoiding summer vacation weeks like the plague. The air fare may or may not be better but the hotels etc are.....

Traveled to Europe...Once in June-July to Spain and Portugal (awesome)....but very hot. Tolerable, but not always comfortable. Crowded too, everywhere we went...frustratingly so.

Second time to Italy and Paris, late March. VERy nice and not nearly as crowded; cool days made for very comforable sightseeing etc. Major museums ie Uffizzi in Florence: no waiting, not at all crowded. Paris sightseeing: very easy with no crowds, easy on and off the Metro...not even busy at major sites ie Eiffel Tower, etc.

Have fun planning ahead...there are great sites online for this, but I enjoy picking up a travel book (buy or library)....for the area, to study and carry around...like a wish book!!
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Old 08-13-2011, 02:33 PM
 
Location: Central Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greatblueheron View Post
Well you conquered NYC, Chatteress, so now over the pond! Good for you.

The best overall way to save: TRAVEL OFF SEASON, avoiding summer vacation weeks like the plague. The air fare may or may not be better but the hotels etc are.....

Traveled to Europe...Once in June-July to Spain and Portugal (awesome)....but very hot. Tolerable, but not always comfortable. Crowded too, everywhere we went...frustratingly so.

Second time to Italy and Paris, late March. VERy nice and not nearly as crowded; cool days made for very comforable sightseeing etc. Major museums ie Uffizzi in Florence: no waiting, not at all crowded. Paris sightseeing: very easy with no crowds, easy on and off the Metro...not even busy at major sites ie Eiffel Tower, etc.

Have fun planning ahead...there are great sites online for this, but I enjoy picking up a travel book (buy or library)....for the area, to study and carry around...like a wish book!!

Definitely going there OFF SEASON is a great idea!!! Everything is cheaper then and less crowded as was stated above; plus, if you are use to air conditioning, many places there are not as they really hadn't needed it until the definite temperature shift that has occurred, so it gets hot.
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Old 08-13-2011, 03:27 PM
 
Location: The Chatterdome in La La Land, CaliFUNia
38,854 posts, read 20,162,577 times
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Thanks guys for the wonderful tips. I will be researching my options and now have somewhere to start. Definitely traveling during off-peak seasons is much more cheaper but that would be a challenge for me to get enough time off as I work in education so it would likely be during the summer months (unless Spring break in March would work out better?). I'll have to look into a tour for my first trip as I'm not comfortable with arranging all of the finer details of the trip on my own. I HAVE traveled solo domestically, including my recent trip to NYC so I know I can do it. It's just overwhelming the idea of traveling solo overseas and dealing with the differences in how things are done as I'd like to visit multiple countries during my visit since I'm flying for 12+ hours each way. I definitely want to make the most of my time in Europe. I'll do some research and see if it's feasible to do a trip as early as next year. I'm just not knowledgeable about exchange rates, etc in the various countries although I did great traveling to Victoria, BC in 2008 and mastered their currency (on my own, I might add).

One of my biggest concerns is the long flight from LAX, if I'm able to get a direct flight. I know that there are some direct flights to the bigger airports, such as Heathrow and Paris' major airport but being on the plane for all of those hours intimidates me ... I was getting stir crazy for the 5 hour flight from JFK to LAX! I could just opt to combine a night or two in the east coast to make the flying more bearable but that could be costly.
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Old 08-13-2011, 04:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Chatteress View Post
It's just overwhelming the idea of traveling solo overseas and dealing with the differences in how things are done as I'd like to visit multiple countries during my visit since I'm flying for 12+ hours each way. I definitely want to make the most of my time in Europe.
Chateress, if I may, I suggest you do not cram many countries in one trip. This is the kind of trip in which one sees everything through a bus window, gets off the bus 15 mins for pictures, and back on the bus again.
I see tourists doing that all the time, and do believe cramming that much in such a short time "see Europe!! 10 countries/10 days!!" style, is actually one of the the biggest travel mistakes one can make, and couldn't be farther from a "best bang for the buck" experience.

Such a disappointment not to be able to appreciate at least a bit of so many beautiful places and things to do/see in minimal depth...it will be much more enjoyable - I believe - if you see few places, but really appreciate them. If I were you, I would choose absolutely no more than 2 countries a week, or something like 10 days/3 countries.

(As the Italian saying goes, "poco ma buono").
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Old 08-13-2011, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Central Florida
973 posts, read 1,489,255 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chatteress View Post
Thanks guys for the wonderful tips. I will be researching my options and now have somewhere to start. Definitely traveling during off-peak seasons is much more cheaper but that would be a challenge for me to get enough time off as I work in education so it would likely be during the summer months (unless Spring break in March would work out better?). I'll have to look into a tour for my first trip as I'm not comfortable with arranging all of the finer details of the trip on my own. I HAVE traveled solo domestically, including my recent trip to NYC so I know I can do it. It's just overwhelming the idea of traveling solo overseas and dealing with the differences in how things are done as I'd like to visit multiple countries during my visit since I'm flying for 12+ hours each way. I definitely want to make the most of my time in Europe. I'll do some research and see if it's feasible to do a trip as early as next year. I'm just not knowledgeable about exchange rates, etc in the various countries although I did great traveling to Victoria, BC in 2008 and mastered their currency (on my own, I might add).

One of my biggest concerns is the long flight from LAX, if I'm able to get a direct flight. I know that there are some direct flights to the bigger airports, such as Heathrow and Paris' major airport but being on the plane for all of those hours intimidates me ... I was getting stir crazy for the 5 hour flight from JFK to LAX! I could just opt to combine a night or two in the east coast to make the flying more bearable but that could be costly.
Everytime I went overseas, they were overnight flights, so I slept most of the time. However, the both the flight attendants and the services offered are A LOT better than on domestic flights as you have to keep hydrated and they keep feeding you!

As far as traveling alone, I did that with my first trip to Serbia, much to the chagrin of my family and friends, but it was something I wanted/had to do. However, I did have net friends that I met in person (and one met me at the airport that really helped), so I really was not totally alone. However, all the times I have been there, I spent a lot of time by myself exploring and even went to Croatia solo! Most people in both countries know English, but if someone didn't, I was sure to find someone who could help. You may want to go into some chat rooms from the countries you want to explore and maybe you can become friends with a couple people before you go.

Now as far as money and the exchange rate, there are exchanges all over the place compared to here and never have I felt I was ever cheated.

But with all that said, my VERY first trip was with a group even though I didn't do everything with them and took side trips by myself. I don't think it is much of a problem, esp. if you tend to have of a "loner" personality like I do.

AND to be honest, I really would put Belgrade, Serbia on your list. It is an undiscovered gem. (But don't tell anyone else!)
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:48 PM
 
Location: Europe, in the Land of the mean
950 posts, read 1,540,544 times
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as the man owns the apt. and will take me to the police to check in (which is a totally archaic law in Serbia that needs to go!) BUT, if I were to be staying longer, then I would make other arrangements as it would be too expensive.

It is inconvenient but that law has its uses. In Germany and Austria, one needs to have the property owner or hotel to register you with the police with you presenting yourself at the district police station -for a stay that's three days or above . They traced some of the September 11 terrorists in Hamburg through the Meldezettel .
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