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Old 06-16-2008, 12:59 PM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,937,572 times
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Any recommendations for a pair of backpackers transiting Western Europe? We're trying to keep within a strict budget and we need to save money on short hops between our destinations. (Example: Paris-to-Amsterdam, Rome-to-Athens, Frankfurt-to-Berlin, Munich-to-Geneva, etc.)

There's a LOT of travel options in Europe. Some I've seen include:
1. Trains/Rail.
2. Commuter Flights.
3. Hitchhiking (Or ridesharing. There are several organizations that connect riders and drivers, and then there's always your thumb)
4. Bus.
5. Ferry.

If you have any experience with point-to-point travel in Europe, please share your experience here. Helpful things to include would be price, date, method of travel, and the overall experience you had. If anyone has any advice on traveller's multi-city or multi-country/network passes, please let me know if there are any good deals out there.

Thanks!
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Old 06-16-2008, 05:51 PM
 
Location: Assisi, Italy
1,845 posts, read 3,887,891 times
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What is your age?

What is the duration of your trip?

Where do you fly in?

Where do you fly out?

If you are constantly moving, consider a Eurail or Youth Pass (Under 26). It covers your crossing from Bari or Brendisi to Greece.

Do not activate until you are ready to really start moving.

Consider flying open jaw so you do not need to back track to the point of origin.
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Old 06-16-2008, 06:08 PM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,937,572 times
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Sorry, there's 2 people travelling together.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob The Builder View Post
What is your age?
28 & 29

Quote:
What is the duration of your trip?
4 months. 3 On the passport/schengen visa, with the 4 other weeks split between the UK, Switzerland, and Turkey.

Quote:
Where do you fly in?
London. Entering the Schengen zone through the chunnel aboard a Eurostar train which will drop us off in Paris.

Quote:
Where do you fly out?
Possibly Madrid, possibly Lisbon, possibly somewhere else, but probably SW Europe.

Quote:
If you are constantly moving, consider a Eurail or Youth Pass (Under 26). It covers your crossing from Bari or Brendisi to Greece.
Thanks. I have been looking at the Eurail site and trying to decide if it's worth it.

Quote:
Consider flying open jaw so you do not need to back track to the point of origin.
Planning on it. Think the visa requires a flight out, but might cough up for a fully refundable.
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Old 06-16-2008, 10:45 PM
 
Location: Bethel, Alaska
21,362 posts, read 33,036,409 times
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Here is where our college class got our train passes from, they were pretty handy.

Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door

How to use rail passes

Rick Steves' Eurail Passes
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Old 06-17-2008, 03:54 AM
 
Location: on an island
13,382 posts, read 40,906,509 times
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If I had four full months to travel, was mostly sticking to Western Europe, and was on a tight budget, I am not sure I would want to pay the extra money for open jaw, but that's just me. That much time would allow for a really nice loop back--the only backtracking needs to be seeing your departure city once again. I guess it all depends on your budget.

Also, I am not positive that a Eurail pass is cost effective for you.
If you are on or over the age of 26 years old, you are now forced to buy a 1st class pass. (2nd class is plenty nice.) If you move around a lot, you would enjoy the flexibility of the pass, and obviously you won't be standing in lines with your backpack.
Check out Railsaver. Follow the “I have a good idea of my itinerary” route and check “I prefer purchasing railpasses (to point to point tickets) ‘only if it saves money.’”
We trained it from Frankfurt to Berlin a couple years ago; it was me, the husband and younger son and we did some special family deal.

We ferried from Venice to Corfu (by way of Piraeus [Athens]) and really enjoyed it. We had a cabin. You, if traveling on a pass, can upgrade to a cabin, too, or just be on the deck. On the ferry, you might get a chair, you might just get the deck. Not especially comfy, but cheap. Be aware of possible 10 euro surcharges and port charges, especially during high season. There is no discount for ferries between islands. Between Patras and/or Piraeus and Athens, you would take a bus.

We also flew Athens>Rome on the way back. I think it was Olympic Airways, which some people call Olympic Scareways, but we were fine.
This site searches European commuter flight routes: FlyCheapo
Or this site: Which Budget
Or consider EuropeByAir, which offers plane passes. We used these to fly from Split (Croatia) to Strasbourg (France).

I hitchhiked/rideshared a little bit in Europe many years ago. My son does it regularly in France. Also, have you looked into Couchsurfing? It is a good way to save money and meet people.
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Old 06-17-2008, 04:05 AM
 
Location: on an island
13,382 posts, read 40,906,509 times
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BTW
The German rail site is very helpful for figuring out routes all over Europe.
De Bahn
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Old 06-17-2008, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,937,572 times
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Reps!

Thanks BWP. I kinda ruled out couchsurfing, since we're travelling as a couple, but maybe I'll look into it. Hostels are EXPENSIVE!

I had already run up against the age limit on the railpass.

We intend to sort of meander from destination to destination (mostly certain cities), so I'm hoping we can find cheaper local non-express trains and use other discount commuter networks for most of our travel.
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Old 06-18-2008, 12:32 AM
 
Location: Assisi, Italy
1,845 posts, read 3,887,891 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
Reps!

Thanks BWP. I kinda ruled out couchsurfing, since we're travelling as a couple, but maybe I'll look into it. Hostels are EXPENSIVE!

I had already run up against the age limit on the railpass.

We intend to sort of meander from destination to destination (mostly certain cities), so I'm hoping we can find cheaper local non-express trains and use other discount commuter networks for most of our travel.
sponger

EVERYTHING IS EXPENSIVE HERE compared to the USA. Eating out is nearly double. Accommodations are double.

Get a Let's Go. It is written by students for a student budget.

Since you have 4 months, you can actually sit back a little and soak in the atmosphere. Try craigslist for accommodation alternatives to Hotels too. Since I have a good size family, I generally rent apartments. Many hotels and Albergo here charge by the head and many do not care how small the kids are.

Note that if you have not booked ahead, if you get into town early in the afternoon, you can usually find a zimmer, room, camera, bed and breakfast, pensione, that has room.

If you are coming to Assisi in Umbria, I keep an apartment for rent Assisi Apartment

Since you are traveling 4 months, then note that MANY airlines do not allow more than 90 day stays or charge you accordingly. When I fiorst moved to Italy I started with RT flights from the US. British Air allowed RT ticket up to one year. If you take a RT to Heathrow and end up in Italy or Spain, you can get a RyanAir flight very cheaply back to Stanstead. If you do it right, you can get back to Heathrow for under 100 bucks each including the transfers, tickets and taxes.

... and another thing. Capital One credit card is the only Credit Card I found that does not charge a foreign exchange fee. I was using MBNA for years and then all of a sudden I saw an additional 2 percent on each transaction.

If you are going to use ATM, you can also avoid the ATM fees by getting a HSBC and or Citibank ATM card (Very few in Italy though)

Last edited by Bob The Builder; 06-18-2008 at 12:53 AM..
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Old 06-18-2008, 12:28 PM
 
4 posts, read 104,154 times
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the cheapest way to travel from Italy to Greece would be by boat. There are 2 or 3 ports in Italy that go to Greece and 2 ports in Greece that boats from I taly come into. One is in northern Greece and one southern Greece so it really depends on where you wanna go from there. Traveling within the country is not that expensive either by train or bus if you r traveling in the mainland or boat for the islands. You might also wanna check out olympic and aegean both greek airlines that have reasonable fairs if you book ahead of time.

My husband and I traveled around Europe about 2 years ago. We went to Paris first and then took a train to Spain. Traveled through Spain by train and then took a boat from Barcelona to Genowa Italy. Again trains through Italy and then boat from Ancona to Patra (Greece). It was great fun and also alot cheaper that flying from place to place. Can't say that the hotels we found on the spot where that cheap though.

Last edited by alexlenio; 06-18-2008 at 12:38 PM..
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Old 06-19-2008, 08:50 AM
 
Location: St. Louis
9,593 posts, read 17,162,235 times
Reputation: 13415
One thing to keep in mind about hostels is that you can cook your meals at many of them, which will help save a lot of money on food costs. If you do choose to cook, you can go to the street markets and farmer markets to get cheaper food. We camped thru Europe, but we are a family of 4 and leased a car, and that wouldn't be cost effective for you unless you choose to go with another couple maybe.

The ferries are great, but if you want to save money and time, study the schedules and figure out what order you will do the islands in, because sometimes a ferry won't go straight from one to the other and you don't want to zigzag.

Another way to save money is to go thru an organization like WWOOF or helpx. You pay an upfront fee, and they will place you on farms where you will trade work for food and a place to stay. If rural life appeals to you, it would be a great way to go and to make friends. I don't have the web addresses, but google those and they will come up easily.
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