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Old 11-10-2014, 12:34 AM
 
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You may not be thinking through this clearly.

London as a base for day trips to other countries? Remember, England is an island! You can possibly do a day trip to Paris and people do so (and vice versa) but that's one day out of a much longer trip to London or Paris. It's possible to fly to Amsterdam or Brussels and back in a day, but you'd lose so much time in security, transit, getting from the airport to the city center and back that it's really pointless. Let's describe a perfect such day trip from London to Amsterdam. Hotel to airport (one hour) + check in, security, customs, waiting for flight (two hours) + flight time (one hour) + arrival, customs (one hour) + train to city centre, including waiting for the train (one hour). So far six hours! If you're tight you can probably cut it down to five hours. Then you have to go back to the airport. How much time left in Amsterdam? Four hours?

You can book a hotel or flat in London for a week and have day trips throughout England (York, Bath, Salisbury, Oxford are just a few places that make for decent day trips). You can take the train or bus.

You can book a hotel or flat in Paris and do day trips to Strasbourg, the Loire Valley and possibly even Normandy.

Otherwise it's better to be on the move if you want to see various parts of Europe. It doesn't have to be every day. I certainly wouldn't recommend the "if it's Tuesday it must be Vienna" approach. A decent itinerary would be four nights in Paris, followed with three nights in Brussels (one day in Brussels, a day trip to Bruges and a day trip to Amsterdam). Then back to Paris for your departure flight.

All travel requires a degree of hassles. Moving around is a hassle, but it doesn't have to be too much of a hassle. Pick two or three main cities (depending on how long your trip is) and spend at least two full days in each city and two extra days doing local day trips.

There's so much to see in most of Europe that you're better off concentrating on one or two key areas and seeing both the major cities and surrounding sights. If you move around too much too often you run the risk of everything becoming a blur of trains and train stations and airports.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chatteress View Post
Thank you for your detailed suggestions and the website. I obviously need to research my trip and the areas that I want to visit but I was thinking about London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Vienna and Amsterdam .... If possible, I'd love to visit the Scandinavian countries ... Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark ....

What about this idea ....

Staying in the following countries London, Paris and staying in one of the Scandinavian countries ... Then I can visit some of the surrounding countries via rail or other mass transit options (I don't drive so renting a car isn't an option).
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Old 11-10-2014, 05:07 AM
 
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I would pack light--no more than a rolling bag small enough to carry on and a backpack or cross body.

You need a full week in London and Paris each to just crack the tip of the iceberg. My advice is to rent a flat for a week in each place--get one with a washer/dryer. They can be found for $150 a night if you aren't too picky. Mind the Tube Zones in London--stay within 1-2 or you'll spend a lot of extra money on Tube fares.

Don't try to do too much in a single trip. Take time to stop and smell the roses.
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Old 11-10-2014, 07:18 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
3,402 posts, read 4,445,399 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chatteress View Post
Thanks for the tips about packing light .... Even if I packed light, carrying my bags would be a pain in the butt especially if I were to make purchases when I'm out sight-seeing ... Plus, I'm concerned about the availability of laundry facilities so I need to have an adequate supply of clothes, etc ....
Why don't you just book a new hotel in the next city or town each time? It will save you a lot of money as long as you don't try and bite off more than you can chew. I think two big cities a week (1-2 for smaller places) is a pretty good itinerary plan, and I wouldn't travel to Europe for less than two weeks ever, so in that scenario you could see a fair amount of places.

The transportation costs will eat at your savings more than the difference in hotel prices will. Backtracking is just so expensive, and this way you can drop your bags off somewhere while you do your thing.

Also, if your base was supposed to be London, if anything you'll save money the less time you spend at accommodation there. It seems to be more expensive than anywhere else in Western Europe. The GBP exchange rate is pretty awful.
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Old 11-10-2014, 07:33 AM
 
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A packing list for a woman spending two weeks in Europe in the cooler months:

Two pair of jeans, one pair of black chino type pants.
One skirt with tights.
Three cashmere or merino wool sweaters--one black.
Two long sleeved cotton shirts.
One pair of boots, one pair of flats.
Three sets of undergarments.
Three silk or tech long sleeved t-shirts/undershirts.
One pair of silk PJ's.
Several scarves to dress up tops.
One pashmina, gloves, hat or ear muffs.
One coat--car or barn or peacoat length.

Make sure all shirts/sweaters match all pants. Wear the t's under the sweaters and wear the sweaters 3-4 times each. Wash the undershirts and underwear at night, it will be dry in the morning. At some point about halfway through the trip find a laundry and wash the pants.

All of that will easily fit into an 18-20" roll on as long as you wear the boots and carry the coat. Put the hat/gloves in the pockets.
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Old 11-10-2014, 07:38 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
3,402 posts, read 4,445,399 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annerk View Post
A packing list for a woman spending two weeks in Europe in the cooler months:

Two pair of jeans, one pair of black chino type pants.
One skirt with tights.
Three cashmere or merino wool sweaters--one black.
Two long sleeved cotton shirts.
One pair of boots, one pair of flats.
Three sets of undergarments.
Three silk or tech long sleeved t-shirts/undershirts.
One pair of silk PJ's.
Several scarves to dress up tops.
One pashmina, gloves, hat or ear muffs.
One coat--car or barn or peacoat length.

Make sure all shirts/sweaters match all pants. Wear the t's under the sweaters and wear the sweaters 3-4 times each. Wash the undershirts and underwear at night, it will be dry in the morning. At some point about halfway through the trip find a laundry and wash the pants.

All of that will easily fit into an 18-20" roll on as long as you wear the boots and carry the coat. Put the hat/gloves in the pockets.
I'm so glad that I am not a female.

I always just bring a pair of jeans, a pair of khaki type pants, a couple of t-shirts, swim shorts, a long sleeve, a scarf, and 5 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of socks. Done. As long as everything is darker and form-fitting, probably nobody can tell I pack in five minutes flat.
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Old 11-10-2014, 08:06 AM
 
10,509 posts, read 8,428,809 times
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The packing list above is good - but the OP is planning a summer trip, so she can get by without a lot of the heavier garments. OP, don't forget that you can find great woolens in England and beautiful things in France - along with essentials (undies, socks, etc.) if you should run short.

Pack dry laundry detergent in individual packets and a small clothesline to extend your wardrobe's wearability. In the summer, things should dry overnight. If not, include sealable plastic bags for damp things, but remove them at the first opportunity to avoid mildew and musty clothes.

How long will you be on your trip? Do you want to get a broad, shallow view of a lot of places, or would you prefer to get a deeper experience in one or two main venues?

Daytrips by bus or train or a combination (to Bath, Stratford, Oxford, Canterbury, etc.) can be arranged quite easily out of London, but you might want to consider staying in a town within an hour's range (by train or bus) to keep costs down. Oxford or Windsor would work well for this. You could then travel into London for a day, see the sights, then come back to your reasonably priced B and B or small hotel for the evening.

Make sure your accommodations include a "full English breakfast" in their rates - eat twice as much as you would at home, then pick up a roll and cheese or a sandwich at a bakery or pub for lunch. Sample the local treats and save money at the same time. There are also reasonably priced tearooms throughout England that are great for lunch - soups, sandwiches, quiches, plus wonderful desserts that are very localized traditional dishes are often available.

On my previous trips to England, the British Tourist Authority's free and abundant materials were extremely helpful with advance planning - but it's been a while, so check this online and see what's out there now.

Use common sense and good manners and you should have no concerns about your safety or welcome in England. Also, when you first arrive, take a short bus tour of any major European city you visit to get your bearings and spot places to which you might want to return on your own to spend more time. Most such tours last a couple of hours, and can be invaluable to newcomers.

Now's the time to research what's there and match it up with your own interests and what you'd like to see. If you are going to spend time on the Continent, brush up essential phrases in whatever languages are spoken in the countries you want to visit. Borrow some current guidebooks from the public library, and see if the library has travel DVDs. Talk with people who've visited the places you're considering. If you plan to visit England first, obtain a modest amount of local currency - pounds, not Euros - at your local bank to save time and exchange expenses. A hundred dollar's worth should be enough. Major credit cards are also welcome in most places, of course.

Good luck with your plans - hope you have a wonderful time.
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Old 11-10-2014, 08:09 AM
 
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Another thing to consider is shipping any larger or fragile purchases home.
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Old 11-10-2014, 08:27 AM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
7,680 posts, read 16,098,271 times
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The modern woman's panty in a breathable technical fabric can fold up into almost no size, so I operate on the 'one for every day plus one spare' underwear packing plan, figuring that as long as you've got clean underwear in your stash, you can always hold off on other laundry for another day. And in general, I don't go on vacation to wash stuff out in a hotel sink. As long as I haven't spilled anything on it, and it passes the sniff test, I figure I can get a number of wears out of a single item.

Pack with the idea of mixing and matching- it's Garanimals for grown-ups.
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Old 11-10-2014, 12:16 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
13,886 posts, read 25,316,043 times
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Is this your first trip and what's the objective? From what you have written so far, seems like you want to see as much as possible. If that's the case, do a tour. Especially since you don't drive. A tour will give you the most bang for your buck, minimize the amount of time you spend in security lines and always take you exactly to where you want to be in each city. Plus they keep your bags for you and you don't have to haul them around every day. I almost always suggest starting out this way because you will see the most possible and know the places you'd like to explore later in great depth.

Check out vacationstogo.com. Specifically Cosmos and Globus. I prefer the lower end tour companies because they usually stay in smaller hotels. The Marriott is the Marriott if it's in Chicago or Paris. And I can stay at the Marriott in Chicago. In Europe I want to stay someplace more...European. If you do a tour you don't have to worry about language problems or getting lost. And you know exactly what it's going to cost. No surprises. And pretty stress free. They will try to sell you a bunch of optional tours. To me, MOST of these are not worth the time and effort. It doesn't bother me at all to say no thanks. I tend to minimize the churches and museums and spend most of my free time walking around in the 'Old Towns'.

Packing... Dark colors that don't show dirt with a waterproof top layer. Shoes that are good for walking and dry out well. The underwear trick is to bring all your old, disreputable undies, wear once and throw away. Gives you more room in your suitcase. Bring an old, big t-shirt for your nightie and dump it on your last morning. Put some Dawn in a small 2 oz bottle(with a good lid) for emergencies! Bring a few plastic grocery bags for things that are dirty or wet.

Bring as few electronic items as possible. Get one good universal adapter. You will need extra memory cards for your camera. Leave your expensive jewelry at home. Travel light. You want space in your luggage to bring things home. If you make major purchases many places will ship to your home.

I have traveled by train on my own as well. Over all, it's pretty safe as long as you are aware of your surroundings. But it's more work and planning. Plus if one thing goes wrong you have to be prepared and know your options.

You will do a lot of walking. Make sure you are in good shape! And have fun! See everything!
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Old 11-10-2014, 01:02 PM
 
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After many years of traveling, I don't bring much of anything anymore.
One set of all black clothes, 3 underwear and 3 socks, some workout gear, some silk boxers and a thin t-shirt to sleep in, a pair of foldable running shoes, toothbrush and toothpaste, an iPhone and a macbook air. It all fits into a tiny bag. There is no reason to bring a big bag to europe, you can just buy stuff there if you need it. I used to bring more but I'd always end up with a lot of stuff I never even took out of the bag.
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