20,160 Minutes in Europe...

Ok, I’m going on my very first venture outside of North America. Yes, I’m goin’ to Europe! The bad news? I’ll be there for 2 weeks and I have NO idea what to do. Things you should know so you can help me out with an educated reply:

  1. me and my sister. we’re in our 20s.
  2. two weeks in june.
  3. we want to hit spain, france and italy… we think.
  4. we want to do some of the “must-see touristy things” but also get some local flavor.
  5. we’re relatively poor. hostels are good… i think.

Ok, bombard me with ideas! I can take it!

[nudge] come to Ireland [/nudge]

Three countries in two weeks! You want to do the ‘touristy’ things AND suck up some local culture! Oh, and you’re budget challenged!

In two weeks you maybe have the time to do both the touristy things and the local culture things in one region of one country. That would be with lots of cash to spend.

To each their own, but it doesn’t sound like a very enjoyable holiday to me.

More realistic expectations would be in order in my humble opinion.

2 weeks is not nearly as long as you think it is. My best advice to you is not to try to do too much - Spain, France, and Italy is a LOT. If I only had two weeks, I would spend 4-5 days in the city I flew into, then hit one region of the same country for the remaining time. I’m not familiar enough with Europe to give you much guidance on where to go, but please, don’t do the whirlwind tour thing. It’s really not that much fun, and afterwards you don’t feel like you’ve seen the country nearly as much as if you just slow down and see one or two places in much more depth.

Get yer butt down to the local library and check out the “Let’s Go” series of guides and the “Lonely Planet” series. Both are geared towards budget travel, and they’ll give you lots and lots of ideas of where to go and what to do. Both have web pages as well. Check it out!

elbows: thank you for managing to hurt my feelings and embarrass me with one single post. I know my situation’s not ideal; unfortunately, I have to work for a living and it is not possible for me take a whole month or a whole summer of vacation. I do the best I can with what I can afford. I am terribly sorry for having offended your obviously far superior notions of what travel should be.

Anyway, forget it, I don’t want to go anymore.

Don’t get discouraged so quickly, beefymeg. You certainly don’t need “lots of cash” to have an enjoyable vacation. If anything, I’d say cash can get in the way. You’ll have a much easier time meeting people as a budget traveler than if you were staying in expensive hotels and taking package tours.

That said, the other posters do have a point about overplanning. It all depends on your style of travel, of course, but in general it’s more fun to kick back and see some smaller towns, rather than taking night trains from one capital city to the next. And yeah, you’re not going to see everything even in one country in two weeks, but no harm – just leaves you with something to look forward to next time you go there.

If you’re going to do the one-country thing, I must put in a plug for Spain – it’s cheaper than France or Italy, the people are friendly, and it’s got great architecture, food, nightlife, beaches, and just about anything else you could want.

As noted, get thee to a bookstore, pick up a copy of Lonely Planet’s Europe on a Shoestring or any of the Let’s Go guides and maybe a couple of travelogue-y books with pretty pictures, and start figuring out where you want to go. The message board at http://www.eurotrip.com is also a great resource. You don’t have to plan everything, but it helps to have a rough idea of where you’re going when, and how much it will cost.

Good luck, and have a great time!

meg! Hey girl! I just got back from Dublin and I had a great time. I was there for 3 days and that was plenty of time to see and enjoy alot of the city. It was excellent.

Some advice, you will be able to see alot but you’ll have to think about where you go carefully. Europe is a great place to travel cheaply, lots and lots of people do it after college on a very tight budget. You’ll need a Eurorail pass, and listing of all the hostels and a backpack. Unfortunately I haven’t done the backpacking thing personally, but half my friends have. I’ll ask around and see what places you should defnitately go see.

My opinion, and that of many people who I’ve talked to, is that France is not a good place to visit on a budget backpacking trip. I personally hated the time I spent there and I wasn’t on a tight budget. Sadly, I think all the negative stereotypes are true. If you decide you must see France, I’d fly into Paris, see the Eifel Tower, the Arch de Triumph, and the some of teh other famous sights and then hop the first train out of there to the next city. Don’t make Paris a place where you settle in to “experience the culture”. Its not that special IMHO and is impossible to do on a tight budget.

A good friend of mine spent 2 weeks in Italy and had plenty of time to see it all. He wasn’t very impressed, and he’s 100% Italian and stayed with family there. I think its another of those countries thats much nicer on paper than in experience. It might also be a good idea to hit Rome and Venice for a day and thats it.

Spain on the otherhand, my mother loved. I haven’t personally been there either, but I’ve heard many more positive things about it.

The one thing that stands out about the countires you’ve mentioned is that they are all big and far apart. If you try and see all of those three you’ll spend the bulk of the two weeks on the train. You might be better off picking a region (North, Mediterranean, East, Mountains) and make sure you see everything there.

An example would be that you could fly into Paris, spend on night and day, see the sights and then go east to Germany, Austria and Switzerland and see the countryside and castles. Then finally ending the trip in Barcelona and fly back from there after spending a day or two.

Geting from France to Italy would probably waste a ton of your time, you’d probably have to pick one of the other in just 2 weeks.

I agree with Porp that you shouldn’t over plan. You want to pick an area, and obviously a starting point and a leaving point. And then leave the things in the middle to chance. But you will need to research so you know accurately how much time it takes to get from one place to another so you don’t waste too much time on a train backtracking.

You could make a nice 2 week trip of just Ireland, Scotland, England and probably Amsterdam. A good one of Spain, south France and Spain (this one will be expensive). And a good one of Paris, Germany, and the north alps. You sipmly will probably be wasting too much time traveling if you try and cross too many regions though.

Meg, you definately should do the trip. You also should do as much research as possible so you can choose whats most important to see while you’re there.

Promise me you’ll be careful. The hostels and trains are cheap, but they can be a little risky for two girls on their own. Especially ones as gorgeous as you ;).

Keep us posted on your ideas, and if you want a travel companion let me know, I might be able to clear up some time. :wink:

That should say:

You could make a nice 2 week trip of just Ireland, Scotland, England and probably Amsterdam. A good one of Italy, south France and Spain (this one will be expensive). And a good one of Paris, Germany, and the north alps.

And BTW, please ignore the spelling errors in the previous post, I am a little rushed.

Um, excuse me but I did not attempt to embarass you, nor do possess superior notions about ‘how travel should be’. I believe I said, ‘to each their own’.

I was not implying that you:(a) don’t work hard for your living,(b) can take months and months off,© are not doing the best you can with what you have.

I simply offered ‘my humble opinion’. Why? Well, because you asked for it.

I have spend 10+ years traveling to many countries, I have filled two passports and two innoculation booklets, all of it on the cheap, with a backpack. But hey, I’m sorry I spoke out of turn.

Oh yeah, and what about, ‘bombard me, I can take it’?

A thin skin isn’t a very good thing to take into a foreign culture with you either. For what it’s worth.

But hey, I’m sure you don’t want to hear anymore from me so I’ll just mosey along…

god you’re a fucking dick.

If I can just bring this thread back to the OP for a moment, here’s my own tuppence on the matter:

  1. Yes, overplanning can ruin a good vacation – if you spend all your time rushing around trying to see everything, you won’t have time to enjoy anything and you’ll be exhausted. In the same vein, once you decide where you want to go, priorize the things you want to see in case time gets short. Having done the “but we still have four things to see, and we only have two hours left!” thing, it’s not worth it.

  2. Don’t come to London if you’re on a low budget – it’s expensive. :frowning:

  3. Have you considered Central/Eastern Europe as an option? Prague is beautiful and relatively cheap (especially worth seeing if you like Art Nouveau and dark beer), Budapest is nice as well, and you could easily do Prague, Budapest, Vienna and several German cities (and maybe finishing in Amsterdam) in two weeks without killing yourself or breaking the bank. If you prefer sunnier climes, how about Greece/Cyprus/Istanbul?

  4. Italy – if you go, be sure to take time out for long meals. They’re worth it.

Just to add a possible alternative idea given you’re talking about southern Europe (warm, sometimes very warm indeed). Hostels are the cheaper option but you’re thinking about travelling at the busiest time of the year (lots of frustration and time wasted finding accommodation).

It might be worth considering camping sites (very well equipped, usually) and use the extra money saved on renting a small car. That would mean you don’t have to fit in with timetables and you get to see the countryside, stopping off wherever takes your fancy. For a two week trip, I’d think that offers a much better use of time and money. Have fun.