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3 months in Europe 2009

I am planning a trip to Europe, East to West over 3 months and would like to cover as much as possible. I am planning to do so by train and considering the Eurail Global Pass Youth - 3 month unlimited travel. Any suggestions - good/ bad idea?

Posted by
11798 posts

A three month unlimited Global Pass is the most expensive option. Any days you can reduce or countries you can eliminate will shave off some of the price.

If you know you will spend a week in one location, a pass will be an expensive waste of money during your stay (the same as having to park a rental car while you visit a city).

It may be that unlimited is what you need. If not, consider paring the pass back. Essentially the more flexibility you need, the higher the price.

Posted by
9 posts

Also, would any one have any suggestions on routes/ itineraries that I can consider in order to save money, time, and any challanges.

Also, I have been shopping around for a seat on a train with a prepaid pass on line and it still adds a charge of anywhere from $11 - $100 depending on the trip. What's that all about? Can iy be avoided, becasue the web site advises to reserve ahead of time.

Thank you,

Posted by
1316 posts

Depending on where you are traveling, keep in mind that in some parts of E Europe your rail pass will be of almost no use. Places like Southern Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, and a lot of Bulgaria buses and vans are the way to travel. I suspect you may find it simialar in Bosnia, Serbia, etc. - i.e. places where the train lines are limited.

Obviously, this won't be a problem if you are not going to these places.

Posted by
5022 posts

If you will be doing a lot of moving around and like it sounds some good distances, then a pass may make sense. If you were staying in an area a week or two and travelling between major cities, then maybe it wouldn't pay as well. See the Railpass tab above for info. Work out an itinerary, then revisit the pass issue. As for additional fees, with a pass you may have to pay to upgrade to faster trains and any reservation you make will cost you a few euros. Most or all can be avoided by taking slower regional trains, the exception would be the "Chunnel" Eurostar. My own travel style is to keep my schedule flexible and not make reservations, especially if your plan is to take regional trains. Generally, you can always get from point A to B, maybe a little slower, or you may be sitting on your bag, but you get there. As for economics, always used to be that East and South tended to be cheaper than North, and certainly Scandinavia and Great Britain can be Pricey, Germany and France middle of the road, Spain, Port., Italy and Greece somewhat cheaper. The Eastern European countries are still good bargains, but Prague, Croatia, and pockets elsewhere learned quickly the art of gaining tourist dollars. Smaller towns and rural areas also can be much cheaper than Popular Cities. Wisely shopping for lodging (you only need a place to sleep) and a good mix of street food and supermarkets with a good restaurant meal daily can easily cut your expenses each day by half over 3-4 star hotels and 3 meals out. Make a list of what is important to you (Art, history, food, natural sights) and cities of high interest, then rough out an itinerary, then fill in the details.

Posted by
9 posts

Its good to know that my pass will not come in too handy in East Europe. Becasuse I do want to start there and really am interested in seeing alot of it. About intercountry commute, I am guessing the pass does cover city to city travel with in the same country, right?

Also, I am guessing there are different train companies and rail lines in Europe, does one pass work for all? Also, does it really work for busses and ferries?

Thank you to all for the reply's.

Posted by
1717 posts

Hello Albert. You said you will be in Europe for 3 months, and you would like to cover as much as possible. Do you intend to be in ALL COUNTRIES in eastern and western Europe ? What number of days do you want to be at each destination ? Do you want to go to many small towns and villages ? Do you want to go to some wilderness locations (a ride in a gondola on a cable at the Dachstein Mountain in the Salzkamergut region in Austria). Do you want to ride on a big boat on a river ? (Danube River in Austria, between Melk and Krems). Do you want to do some physical exercise (swim in the big pool in the summer Olympics park at Munich in Germany ? Do you want to rest and savor being at a place one whole day each week ?

Posted by
9 posts

Hey Ron, I would love to do all the countries but I don’t think it will be possible. Right now my wish list is at 29 countries but I am sure I will be cutting down. The rough idea is travel East to West primarily via train.

Start in Turkey for a day or so then Greece for a week. Head North covering the East as I make my way to Scandinavia. Form there Central as I make my way West and End in Ireland or Iceland.

I am looking to visit wilderness and natural wonders and experience the culture, standard and way of living. I am not really interested in touristy attractions, and famous land marks I would like to see but will not spend too much time on that staff. I will check out more info on the places you mentioned – thank you!

The places I am considering to spend a long time in are Greece, Spain & Ibiza and Italy (including Cinque Terre) on my own – about a week in each. As well as Austria and Germany because I have friends there I am hoping to stay with so I can get a real taste from the locals as well as save some cash. Other then that I don’t see my self spending more then 1 or 2 days per city.

Any suggestions on a 3 month itinerary I can take a look at in order to plan my own?
Thanks Ron,

Posted by
11450 posts

Three MONTHS and you plan on one or two day stays( primarily ) ,, that is so sad. It certainly doesn't allow you to immerse yourself in any community and experience the pleasure of really getting to know anything or anywhere well.

I understand many travellers have to do that since they only have a 2 week holiday and want to taste a few places so they can maybe figure out where to return and spend more time indepth,, but you , with the luxury of 3 MONTHS!!

I agree you can certainly stretch your budget with some home stays( family and friends) and I do understand that a week is more then enough time to impose yourself,, but I do think you should consider a minimum of 3 or 4 night stays in serveral more places. My friend and I spent 2 weeks in Greece, during an almost three month trip to Europe ( years ago,when we were young like you, LOL ) and it was TOO short,, we loved Greece, it was cheaper then most of Europe( at that time anyways) .

You'd really be wise to narrow down your stops to about 20.. anymore then that and you are being like the tourist you are likely trying not to be like,, just seeing the surface of a place .

Enjoy this trip,, it will be a treasured memory,, I have never forgotten how fun my trip was, and how free it felt to just be bopping around Europe,, and this was before cell phones and internet,, our families got a call when we arrived in Europe, and about 2-3 after that,, the rest of the time we could have been anywhere, it was very freeing.

Have fun planning too,, ps. have you checked out the Lonely Planet travel forums,, Thorntree I think its called, just google for it anyways,, its great for extended trips and off the beaten track more budget minded travellors..

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for the feed back Pat. Can you or those that have spent an extansive amount of time in Europe give me your thoughs and feed back on Eurail passes and what kind of pass would you recommand or would you recommand one at all?

Posted by
3580 posts

I spent 8 weeks in France and Italy a few years ago. I bought an 8-day two country pass, good for 8 days in a two-months period. It worked well for me. If you are going to be moving around a lot it would probably pay to buy the Global Pass and have fun jumping on and off trains. One of the advantages of having a pass is that you save time not buying tix---but you still may need to buy reservations on certain trains. The pass will not cover trains in the UK. I, too, recommend staying more than one night in some of the towns you visit. You'll find your own style as you go along. "Let's Go Europe" would be a good book to take along. It's written for travelers in your age and budget group.

Posted by
9 posts

I actually purchesed that expact book - the latest version.

If I have a pass, can I just travel with no reservations or does it REALLY get so busey that I may not get a seat? Also, does it work on all rail lines within the participating countries?

Posted by
3580 posts

A rail schedule will tell you which trains require reservations. On some trains reservations are not required but may be made. I usually make reservations if they are available. With required reservations, you have no choice. Usually you have a choice of trains, tho. There may be a slower train that doesn't require a costly reservation, but covers the same distance. When you buy your pass you should get lots of rail info. I know Rick Steves sends a rail schedule and other info about using the pass, along with a discount for other purchases.

Posted by
4555 posts

Albert....yes, your global pass will be valid on the rail networks in all the countries mentioned at RailEurope and Eurail, with the exception of some private rail lines and many urban commuter rail networks. You will find that most of the fast trains, plus any overnight trains you take, will require reservations. In the off-season, getting a reservation up to the time of travel is not often difficult, but it does add to the cost of your travel. Some countries charge a couple of Euro per reservation....others, like Italy, can charge 15 Euro for their premium trains. You can check to see which trains require reservations (altho not their cost) on the German rail website at bahn.de .I would suggest you sit down first and plan an itinerary (say, a huge circle from your airport of arrival and departure) with no more than 20 destinations (not 20 countries) to give you 4 or five days in each area you stop in. Then review the transportation links available. Long distances (trips 6 hours or more) are probably better covered by discount airlines, which can be inexpensive if you purchase in advance...see possibilities at whichbudget.com and flylc.com. As others have said, rushing yourself will make your trip far less enjoyable than if you slow down and give yourself a chance to live the experience. Don't worry....you'll be back!

Posted by
1717 posts

Hi Albert. I am glad to know that we are of help to you. One book, as a "Bible" for your trip : "Rick Steves' BEST OF EUROPE 2009". And write or photocopy some of the information and directions that is in the LET'S GO book. You asked for a suggestion of an itinerary for travelling in Europe, 3 months (90 days). I suggest : travel in a maximum total of 12 countries : Turkey, Greece, Germany, Chek Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway. Fly from Copenhagen to Bergen (search for a low-priced flight of a small airline in the Scandinavian countries). Travel across Norway, from Bergen to Oslo (the "Norway in a Nutshell" fjord trip : read about it in the book "Rick Steves' SCANDINAVIA). Fly from Oslo to Canada. I think you might not have time to go to Stockholm in Sweden. Stockholm is a pleasant city for tourists, but Sweden is not a scenic country, and visiting Stockholm's museums might not be a high priority for you. The best thing in Sweden is Swedish people. You might meet Swedish people at Copenhagen. (More than a hundred thousand Swedish people work in or near Copenhagen.) I suggest visiting Copenhagen, because a person travelling in trains from Amsterdam to Oslo needs to stop for a night at Copenhagen (be at Copenhagen two nights), and Copenhagen really is one of Europe's great old cities : Copenhagen looks very European.

Posted by
11450 posts

Albert,, I would never be able to give any specific info on the train passes now available,, and there are so many.. when I say I took this trip years ago, I mean decades ago, before cell phones, before internet.. before lap tops!! I remember when a micro wave was considered pretty cool, and when we all skipped school one day in high school to go to a friends house and watch a movie on a BETA vcrs.. LOL( hey, it was a big deal,,)

I still travel to Europe as often as I can( well there was about a 10 year drought while my kids were young) but I tend to stay in one place, or visit two or three max,, gone are the days of wandering for months,, three weeks is my max now, so no train passes for me.

I am dreadfully jealous of you,, LOL, although, as my kids age, I finally see where a three month trip may again be possible for us in a few years,, life is such a circle.

Posted by
31255 posts

Albert,

Your travel plans are somewhat "ambitious", to say the least. Visiting 29 countries in 90 days works out to a bit more than 3 days per country. Depending on which route you choose, you'll certainly have to include some travel time as well.

To begin with, I'd suggest you read Europe Through The Back Door, as it will provide lots of tips, including Itinerary planning and rail tips.

Cheers!

Posted by
1717 posts

Albert, it is a pleasure for me to think about being in Europe for three months. I agree with Norm : go to a total of 20 destinations in Europe. Some people go to many countries, they travel in trains every other day (travel in trains one day, be at a city one day, travel in trains one day ... That can be satisfactory, being in Europe a total of three weeks. Being in Europe three months, no : travelling in trains every other day, most weeks, would not be enjoyable. I think the rail pass you need is the Eurail Global Flexipass Youth : 15 days in 2 months.
The price is $ 741. Buy it from Rick Steves. And Rick's business will send maps and useful information to you, for free. That rail pass is useable during a total of 2 months. You want to be in Europe for 3 months. Thus, having the 2 month rail pass causes your trip planing to be complicated.
In Greece, travelling in trains is not necessary, and the railroad systems are not very good in that part of Europe. I recommend that you be in Greece two weeks (you will want to be at Greek islands in the Aegean Sea for 8 days). And you said you will be with friends in Germany and Austria, thus you may not need to use a rail pass in Germany and Austria. And you would not use the rail pass in Turkey. Therefore, You may want to be in Turkey and Greece and Germany and Austria in your first month in Europe, and use the Eurail Global Flexipass during your second and third month in Europe. You could fly from Greece to Germany. I understand your desire to see 29 countries in Europe. But if you do that, being in a city only one day, the only thing you would remember from Lithuania would be seeing the town hall building and a church. If you do not go to Lithuania, you could see photographs of that town hall and church, and thus you would not feel regret for not going to Lithuania. Experiencing wilderness, natural wonders, the culture, requires being in a country more than one day.

Posted by
1717 posts

Albert, for planning one big trip in Europe, travelling mostly in railroad trains, I recommend that you buy the travel guide books : "Rick Steves' BEST OF EUROPE 2009", and "Rick Steves' EASTERN EUROPE". And buy the book "Rick Steves' EUROPE THROUGH THE BACK DOOR 2009". That book is important : it tells you how to plan a trip, and how to travel in Europe, and how to enjoy a trip in Europe. The LET'S GO book on all of Europe can be helpful, if your overnight accomodations will be in hostels. That book gives detailed directions for walking to a hostel. And that book has information on finding inexpensive food to buy in Europe. If you want to learn more about countries (good descriptions of places, and the histories) read parts of other travel guide books that are on specific countries : the Rough Guide books, and Frommers' books. The Lonely Planet book on Greece is good, especially for planning travel to islands at the Aegean Sea. All of those books can be found at Public Libraries in the United States of America. Are those books in your public Libraries at Toronto ?

Posted by
9 posts

Yep we got of these bookes in libraries and book stores all over the place. I guess you guys just convinced me to look at more bookes, which I was hoping not to have to do but there is no way around it. I did look through a whole bunch just deciding which is most appealing to me and was hoping to get by with just one that I will use as a bible :) But this is not all that bad becasue I am sure I will only benifit from it all - after all part of the experience is the planning stage.

No that i think about it 29 was over the top wishful thinking and I will defenatly be cutting down and spend more time in places that matter most to me. I am all about immersing my self in the culture and I should know better that at least a few days are required for that.

Posted by
1717 posts

For travelling in Europe in the year 2009, I think buying the airline tickets now (this week) may be a good idea, because I guess the price for buying airline tickets will be higher in the year 2009.

Posted by
9 posts

Hey Ron, thanks alot for the last couple of posts, those are going to be great help and a good guide line. Believe it or not I also want to work Iceland into it becasue after looking into it seems very differnt from the rest of Europe and I want to take in one last hike out there before heading home.

As far as flights to Europe go, its alittle more complicated then that becasue it all starts in Israel for two months in early Jan then I am heading down to New Zealand for a month and dont quite know the exact date I will be heading up to Europe. I am guessing early April.

Posted by
1717 posts

Hi Albert. I think you will have time to visit Iceland, at the end of your Europe trip, if you will be in Turkey 2 days, and in Greece 8 days. (Fly from Athens to a country in central Europe). If you do not go to Iceland, I think you would have time to visit the island Corfu (at the Adriatic Sea, west of the border of Greece and Albania), and ride in a boat from Corfu to Albania, visit Albania, and fly from Albania to a country in central Europe (Germany ?). If you want my recomendations of what to do in Greece, ask me about that in a Private Message at this website.

Posted by
1717 posts

Albert, in an earlier reply here I suggested flying from Copenhagen to Bergen in Norway. But, if you will go to Iceland, I think you may want to travel in trains from Copenhagen to Oslo (7 hour trip), and travel from Oslo to Bergen (including the "Norway in a Nutshell" fjord trip, and riding in a train to Bergen). Stay at Bergen one night, and fly from Bergen to Iceland. You asked about extra charges (fees) for travelling in railroad trains. Paying extra money for a reserved seat in a train is desireable, for some trips in Europe. When I was in a train (Second Class train car) going from Salzburg toward Vienna in Austria, at one train station that the train stopped at, a conductor told me to get out of my seat, because that seat was reserved for a person, beginning at that train station. Actually, I was in a small room (compartment) in the train, filled with people, and all of the people in that room were required to move out of it, because a group of Austrian Boy Scouts reserved all of the seats in that room. The boy scouts, carrying big bags, suddenly appeared at the door to the room, they were walking into the room when the people in the room were trying to get out of the room, throuh a narrow door way. I ran out of the room, to try to find an available seat in an other train car. Some of the people in that room could not find a seat in an other location in that train. For travelling in trains long distances in the Scandinavian countries during the month June, paying extra money for a reserved seat is highly recommended. Paying extra money for a reserved seat may be required for riding in a high - speed express train. Every thing is high - priced in NORWAY.

Posted by
506 posts

Albert, is this some kind of sick joke, to make the rest of us feel envious? Well, it's working.

If you have 3 months and your arrival and departure points are set, I suggest remaining as flexible as possible in between and going with the flow. It's very tempting to try to see "everything" and no way possible to do so. But you can sure see a lot.

Have a great trip. I know you will.

Posted by
9 posts

No... no joking around here. This has been long in the making and finally I am at a point in my life where if not now then never.

As you said I do want to see everything but that's impossible. For most of the time I guess I will go with the flow, for now I am just trying get a rough plan so I get the see whats most important.

Thanks for the support,

Posted by
386 posts

Albert,
what an incredible opportunity!!!!!!!!!!! Wow!!
Here is what I would suggest,
on top of the luxury of having 3 months, give yourself the gift of TIME and spontanety!
You already mentioned that you will stay with friends in Austria and Germany, and that you will visit Turkey and the Greek Islands and want to hike in Iceland.
Plan for your three biggest wishes, get your butt over here, and then decide on the rest while you are over here! Then you can take advantage of the local travel deals, exchange and toss around ideas with locals and friends, and have the flexibility to do it!
Don't plan yourself into a corner, don't just whiz through countries just to have been there!

Let stuff happen!