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1st trip to Europe- In March or April

Hi! I have a pretty open schedule in terms of when we leave to go to Europe. We would like to go in either March or April. Any suggestions as to when it's cheaper to go? We are hoping to stay about 2 and a half weeks as cheaply (and safely) as possible. We are coming from RDU.. and would like to go to Brussels (if possible); Munich; Innsbruck; Lucerne; Venice; Florence; Rome; Nice and Paris. Doesnt matter which place we start.. We were thinking about renting a car for most of the trip.. maybe a train to the further places. Any suggestions anyone can give would be awesome. I want to see the most of Europe that I can for the least money.

Posted by
32244 posts

Lisa, You need to take a more realistic look at your proposed Itinerary. You're planning to visit nine locations in a time frame of about 18-days. That allows two days per location with no allowances for travel times, which in some cases will be a half day or longer. Keep in mind also that you'll "lose" two days in travel at the beginning and end of your trip (you'll arrive in Europe the day after you depart). The last day will be spent on the flight home. Therefore, that allows about 16-days for actual touring (or about 1.7 days per location, using the places you mentioned). As this is your first trip to Europe, I would highly recommend pre-reading the Guidebook Europe Through The Back Door before you get too far in your planning. If you could "pare down" your list a bit, I'm sure the group here will be able to suggest a wonderful and workable Itinerary for your trip. To begin with, I'd suggest dropping Brussels and perhaps Innsbruck. Plan on using open-jaw flights, perhaps inbound Paris / CDG and outbound Rome / FCO. As Rick frequently says, "Assume you will return". Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
9110 posts

First of all, get a map, put a bunch of dots on it, then connect them. The track will be Paris, Brussels, Munich, Innsbruck, Lucerne, Nice, Venice, Florence, Rome. That's something like two thousand miles, maybe more. Nice is way out in left field. If you chop it, that's maybe sixteen hundred miles. Lob off Lucerne and you're down to around fourteen hundred - - that's three full days of driving, on average, without even stopping for gas. If you use the full list, you're looking at five full days of driving. If you use the full list with train, planes, and buses; it looks like three full days and four half days of travel - - including the time to get from one hotel to the station/airport, travel, and get to the next hotel. Figuring seventeen days on the ground, you've got only twelve to see nine spots (full list). You ain't going to see much. I have no idea what train and planes cost. Gas and road tolls will stiff you close to five hundred bucks. Car rental will add another five hundred at least. A second-country drop-off fee for the car could well be still another five hundred. You've picked the most expensive cities (except Munich) outside of Scandanavia on the continent. Exclusive of transportation, we can average a hundred and fifty bucks (for two) for weeks at a time - - but not spending all of our time where you want to go. A gut-shot is that we'd need close to twice that for your list - - one fifty per person per day. You don't know how to cut corners, no matter how hard you work at it - - plan on a couple of hundred per person per day. You need to rethink the plan a bit. Even if these rough expenses fit your budget, you have to either butcher the list or add a couple of weeks if you want to do more than pass through the cities at a day-and-a-third-per-each clip.

Posted by
23431 posts

There will no significant difference in costs between March and April. However there could be some major differences in weather. It will still be late winter, early spring in northern Europe which cold, rainy and maybe snow. If you are trying to do things cheaply you need to reduce your travel. Travel is expensive and non productive for seeing and doing things. As posted earlier you are covering a huge amount of territory in a short period of time. Second, line up your travel is a straight line if possible so you can use an open jaw ticket. That saves the cost of back tracking to the return trip site. With two weeks of time you should plan on a max of five cities - prefer four - that you use as a base with a couple of day trips to surrounding areas. It is impossible and impractical to see "most of Europe" in two weeks unless you want to ride by in a car and train and, "Yep !! Just saw that !! If you want a memorable trip focus on a few areas and see those areas very, very well.

Posted by
17 posts

Hi! So I just wanted to let y'all know that we just got back from our trip. We spent nights in Paris, Oberwesel, Munich, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Lucerne, Venice, Rome, and finished in Nice. Drove the whole way. Landed 3/17 and left 4/3. Truely had a blast and loved every minute of it- well except when we got a parking ticket in Pisa.
So yes it can be done. And we saw absolutely everything we wanted to see and didnt feel like we were on the run.

Posted by
361 posts

Ah my dear you missed out on pate salad in Rheims which the locals call "the large greedy plate."

Posted by
32244 posts

Lisa, Glad to hear that you had a good time! If you enjoyed the trip, that's the main thing. Most of us here advocate a more relaxed travel schedule, and that would be too much "windshield time" for me. Just curious, how many of the cities were "one night stops"? I imagine you're now planning the next one? Cheers!