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2 Months backpacking through Europe

A roommate and I are planning a 2 month backpacking trip to Europe from the first week in August until the first week in October of 2014. These dates are not set in stone but will probably be within one week depending on the price of airfare. It should be roughly 60 days. We figured $1500 for plane ticket and about $1000 for the 10 day 2 month Global rail pass. One of us is under 25 and the other is not so we know there are some price differences there. So far the itinerary is as follows:

  1. Fly into Barcelona
  2. Barcelona – Nice
  3. Nice – Florence
  4. Florence – Siena
  5. Siena – Rome
  6. Rome – Bari
  7. Bari – Dubrovnik
  8. Dubrovnik – Hvar
  9. Hvar – Zagreb
  10. Zagreb – Graz
  11. Graz – Vienna
  12. Vienna – Prague
  13. Prague – Salzburg
  14. Salzburg – Munich (day trip to Dachau)
  15. Munich – Cologne
  16. Cologne – Amsterdam
  17. Amsterdam – USA

We plan to stay between 2 and 5 days in each city depending on the prices and how much fun we are having. The only date set in stone is to be in Munich sometime during Oktoberfest (Sept. 20 – Oct. 4). We also plan to stay a full week in Hvar because we have friends there and can save some money. We have budgeted $100 USD a day for hostel, food/beverage, entertainment, and local transportation. We don’t have any problem staying in dorm style hostels and shopping at markets for food. We figured the total cost is somewhere around $8000-9000 USD for the entire trip (transportation included).

Does this sound like a doable itinerary and budget given the amount of time traveling? Do you think it makes sense to go with the global Eurail pass as apposed to paying for each train ticket separately? If anyone has any suggestions on places to check out or ways to save money they would be greatly appreciated!

Posted by
18791 posts

We normally don't recommend Eurail passes, but we will put that off for now. Since the under 25 gets a 2nd class pass, and the over 25 has to take first class (and I assume you'll be joined at the hip) you can get a 10-day Global first class saver for $813 each. You'll have to make some choices, short routes in Italy just buy as you go. (10 trips at $813 is $81.30 per day (60 euro/day), and lots of legs will be less than that). Florence-Sienna is best done on a bus. Salzburg-Munich can be done on a Bayern ticket ( 2 people, 27 euro total). Munich-Cologne can be done with a Quer-durch-Lands ticket ( 2 people, 52 euro total, no fast trains). Many trains will still require reservation fees even with a Eurail Pass. Also, keep some reserves in the bank at home in case you find you are overspending your budget or you have an emergency. As Ed says, "When it's needed, use money like a fire hose. Dowse the flames."

Posted by
984 posts

I am not going to put myself out working with the figures you have presented, neither am I going to look at your flight fares.

'We have budgeted $100 USD a day for hostel, food/beverage, entertainment' - Is this for the both of you or per person? In €uros per day would be good, you will have to start thinking in €uro? What is entertainment? Have you no intention of seeing museums and paid for sites?

'and local transportation' - very local possibly - but have you done any calculations on movement between wherever destinations - I doubt it with 'Do you think it makes sense to go with the global Eurail pass as apposed to paying for each train ticket separately?' The only way you will ever know if you are budgeting enough for this is to do the maths. comparison. You seem set on not planning ahead and spontaneity. Read this - starting at the bold print. If the money matters and you seem to think you are time wealthy, why are you not considering buses?

Posted by
6918 posts

Is it a bunch of traveling? Yes, many on here would probably not do that much, but we are for the most part older, and if not wiser, no longer have the energy. That said, if I were young again, I could see doing this trip.

Your general sequence is good, the stops seem to make sense, follow a progression. Look into the Global pass a bit more, try to find trains taking the route you want, see how much a ticket costs, and understand any additional charges not included in the pass. As an example, many of the trains in France now require a reservation fee in addition to the use of a pass, adding cost. Figure each day is costing you $100 plus any fees, are your costs really more than that?

You also have an issue in that some of your destinations definitely do not justify using a pass for that leg or allow use of a pass at all. For example, Florence to Siena is a cheap bus ride. Siena to Rome, about $50 US, Rome to Bari, about $50 to $70 US. In Croatia, most of your travel will be by bus or ferry, not included in the pass. Even Cologne to Amsterdam is less than $100. Added to that, counting up trips that might pay add up to fewer than 10, meaning you really need to be able to save on those legs where a pass makes sense.

Aside from that, you seem to be realistic about the other costs, just reconsider transportation.

Posted by
32101 posts


At first glance, your proposed Itinerary looks reasonably logical and it should work well. A few thoughts to mention though.....

  • As someone else mentioned, is your budget of US$100 per day for one or both of you? That's only about €74 which (IMO) might not be adequate for two.
  • I assume you're planning to use ATM's to obtain cash during your travels? It's a good idea to take a backup card, in case of problems with the primary card. At least one credit card would also be a good idea. BE SURE to notify all your financial institutions that you'll be travelling so they don't "freeze" your cards when they detect transactions in Europe.
  • Also as mentioned, be sure to do your homework on the Railpass issue, using the Seat 61 website mentioned earlier (or others). Keep in mind that Railpasses DO NOT include the reservation fees which are compulsory on the premium trains such as the TGV in France or Freccia in Italy. You'll have to pay separately for those. Especially in Italy, DO NOT be caught without a valid reservation for the train you're riding on or you'll probably be fined on the spot. The fines are about €60 PP which will chew up your meager budget in a hurry! Also note that your Railpasses will not be accepted by some independent rail operators such as Italo or the some of the small operators in the Bari area.
  • Note that being fined on the spot will also apply for not validating tickets on the Metro or Buses in Rome (for example) or the bus from Florence to Siena.
  • I can understand your desire to "stay between 2 and 5 days in each city depending on the prices and how much fun we are having". However keep in mind that August especially is PEAK travel season and many Hostels will be fully booked. As a result you may spend a lot of time wandering about a new and unfamiliar city carrying all your worldly possessions and looking for a place to lay your head. Pre-booking at least some of your accommodations may be advisable. You might consider taking out an inexpensive membership to HI HOSTELS, as having that provides preferred booking and rates over non-members. When you're preparing to move from one city to another, get online and book your next Hostel.
  • Be sure to consider "security" as there WILL be pickpockets and scammers operating, especially in peak season.
  • If this is your first trip to Europe, I'd highly recommend reading Europe Through The Back Door prior to your trip. It provides a LOT of good information on "how" to travel well in Europe.
  • Are you planning to travel with any electronic / electric devices? There are a number of things you'll have to be aware of with things like cell phones. You will of course need Plug Adaptors specific to the countries you'll be visiting (pack a few as they're easy to misplace). It would be easier to provide more specific information if you could indicate what you're planning to pack along.

If I think of anything else, I'll post another note.

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
11613 posts

To piggyback on Ken's advice on electronics, use wi-fi only and turn off data roaming.

Posted by
1020 posts

It all looks good. Recognize that, as some military general once said about a battle plan, once the battle begins the plan goes out the window. So it is with a long travel itinerary.

Speaking from experience I can say that you will, and should, go places you haven't even thought about until you get there. Feel free to make plans and changes on the fly. You may wave at stops you thought of spending days at or even skip them entirely. What the heck, make it up and have fun. The only things fixed are your arrival and departures. In between it's an adventure.

Posted by
14208 posts


Your trip is absolutely doable within two months. I recommend staying in hostels, cheapest are dorm rooms which hold 6 or 8 guests. You'll find the hostel is mainly occupied by guests of your age....all twenty somethings. If you do get a rail Pass (I use a Pass), I would suggest the Austria-Germany, 2nd class, Youth for the travel partner under 26. Both of you can get a second class Adult one if you're 26 and older. For the other flanking countries, use point to point tickets, or buy ticket covering eg, the Dutch segment of the ride , ie, from the German border to Amsterdam. No need to spend all that money for a Global Pass.

If you plan on being in Munich over Oktoberfest, book your place at the hostel. They will fill up fast. Wombats Hostel across from the main train station (Hbf) is very good, the same as in Vienna, across from Wien Westbahnhof. That was where Wombats Hostel started. If all the Munich hostels are full both the private independent and the HI, I would suggest staying at the HI hostel in Augsburg, closest to Munich instead of paying the elevated prices for a Pension since it's Oktoberfest.

Coming from Graz you get in at Wien Meidling station where you take the U-Bahn (subway) to Wien Westbahnhof.. How long do plan on staying in Graz? A very interesting and nice place.

Keep in mind that your connection Munich to Cologne can be done by taking the CNL night train, provided you're not adverse to taking night trains. The CNL is the best compared to others. Even with a Pass you have to pay extra for a sleeper or couchette. That's pricey. The cheapest is the compartment seat and the Ruhesessel, a reclining seat in a general seating area. with one Ruhesessel after another in two rows.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks everyone for the feedback!

Just to clarify, we have budgeted $100 USD per person so total would be $200/day between the two of us.

As for entertainment, that would include things like checking out museums and other sites. We will try and do as many free activities as possible and are aware that many of the main attractions do cost money. Therefore, we will have to pick and choose which activities to spend money on.

It sounds like point-to-point tickets may be the way to go due to the fact that some of the traveling will be done by bus and ferry and not included in the Global pass. I am going to map out each leg of the journey and determine how much it will cost point-to-point all together.

Does anyone have any recommendations on when to purchase an international plane ticket? From what I have read it sounds like the best time is 3-4 months out.

Thanks again!


Posted by
18791 posts

Where are you planning to fly from. It wouldn't hurt to start shopping now. I use this tool for airline searches.
You can use it for round trip monthly calendar with a variety of trip lengths (7 day maximum spread), or the multicity for open jaw trips with a +/- 2 day window.
It will give you a base line to work from.

Posted by
988 posts

To piggyback off of the bus suggestion, there are bus passes; two thirty day passes are considerably less than the rail passes and allow for more flexibility plus there are no reservation or additional fees. YOU need to visit the websites for Eurolines and BusAbout and research the options to determine if this is an option that will work for YOU. One advantage to buses, you will probably have more options for overnight bus travel and then actually being able to get a night's sleep during that travel.