With my travel date possibly being moved to early May or late April (reason for this is here in my Travel Dilemma post) I need to become serious about my travel itinerary.
I have always wanted my travel itinerary to have a start and end point, with the rest left open for interpretation. All over the travel blog community people say to not over plan your travel. It allows you the freedom to move on when you want to wherever you want. The ability to follow a different path when you realise that great idea you had sitting back home in your bedroom, is in fact a really really bad idea.
Maybe you meet up with another great traveler and want to follow them somewhere completely different but you can’t because you booked the 5 day non-refundable tour of museums in Paris and the accompanying accommodation. Perhaps you found a partner your more than friends with and want to travel as a couple for a little while only to find out your itinerary has you going in the wrong direction.
Now I’m not saying I intend to just rock up in Europe and wing it from there (I don’t have the balls for that). A little bit of an idea is useful, especially since this is my first solo trip outside of Australia. Over the last couple of months I have toyed with what would be the best way to see a bit of Europe. Given I will be hoping to set up camp in London for two years on my working visa there are many places I can check out via a quick flight for a few days at my leisure later on.
For the moment though my extremely tentative itinerary looks something like the following:
- Paris – France
- Amsterdam – The Netherlands
- Berlin – Germany
- Copenhagen – Denmark
- Stockholm – Sweden
- Helsinki – Finland
- Talinn – Estonia
- Riga – Latvia
- Vilnius – Lithuania
- Warsaw – Poland
- Prague – Czech Republic
- Vienna – Austria
- Zurich – Switzerland
Having not set any time frames, I can spend anywhere from a day to a week at any of the above locations. Obviously there is also some amazing places in-between that I will want to stop at for a day or two as well.
I doubt my currently allotted 2-3 month window is long enough to accommodate 13 countries. Neither do I think I can afford the accompanying eurail pass I would need for such a trip. In saying that I may also run out of money for this leg of my trip and have to head for London to look for work earlier than planned. Like I said its a tentative travel itinerary.
The beauty of it all is that being based in the UK for the following two years I will have the opportunity to come back and visit the place’s I missed, like the entire Mediterranean.
With all that said thought, I’ve never been to Europe so I welcome all feedback both good and bad.
Looks good!! So exciting. I love that you included Riga and Sweden. (Stop by some of the smaller towns on your way to Stockholm — really cute and fun!) Smart for not trying to fit everything in; we all know people do. You have the right attitude. I’m so excited for you!
Thanks Abby, I didn’t just want to do the obvious spots and I also knew there was no way ever I could try and fit it all in, I didn’t want to either.
Its better to see a few places slowly than lots of places quickly in my opinion.
There is a few smaller places along the way I will stop at so will make sure to check out the route to Stockholm thanks for the tip.
Totally need to go to Copenhagen, I’m intrigued by the place now. I kinda feel like doing a trip and totally winging it. It’d be interesting to see where I’d end up.
I couldn’t leave Copenhagen off the list after all Prince Frederik did marry an aussie.
If I had more money I’d just buy a plane ticket and go. Its my only real travel worry, running out of money. Everything else can be sorted one way or the other.
Why am I always late to the party? You have chosen some great choices! Wow, Europe is not part of my trip, but one day, one day…
PS: it bites that Eurorail pass is expensive and I thought it was for my age group.
Its alright Nomadic Chick I know you still care 🙂 I hope I can keep the trip as above but if I have to end it sooner I will most likely cut the trip short and not divert to central europe. As always thought time will tell.
Hi Chris! Your plan sounds great. I highly recommend a visit to some smaller places as well, you’ll find heaps of amazing treasures just outside the bigger cities!!
Enjoy your trip!
Hi Sofia, yes that’s just the rough route I intend to take (its easier to map to the big cities). I hope to make lots of stop offs along the way checking out the smaller places as I go.
Can’t wait to just wander the streets of place with all the old buildings and history. Australia is just too young a country for that sort of thing.
Ok, this is what I think you should do – instead of quitting Sweden after Stockholm, you should travel all the way to Kiruna and then take a bus to Rovaniemi in Finland and from there go down to Helsinki. Any schmuck can visit Stockholm and call it a day. If you want to see Scandinavia, go north – I dare you!
At the very least go up to Haparanda – there’s a direct bus from Stockholm and cross over to Tornio in Finland. But I’d stop on the way in Lulea – definitely worth it, there’s even a UNESCO World Heritage Site there. Well, if it was me, I’d go all the way up to Kiruna, because I love Lappland. LOL!
In Poland, you should visit Gdansk (and go to Hel while you’re there), you won’t regret it. 🙂
.-= AnnaTrouble´s last blog ..Setsubun at Futara Shrine in Utsunomiya =-.
Thx Anna. I did think about heading up further into Sweden but was conscious of the fact people have said its rather expensive and I also don’t want to try and jam all of Europe into a 3 month window. I can also come back later since I am staying in the UK for 2 years.
You have however poked the travel bug monster and now I’m going to check out your recommendations. I’m still yet to finalise the itinerary so everything is open discussion.
Sweden is expensive, but after living there for several years, I can tell you there are ways of seeing it on a budget. It’s just a matter of priorities – a night out in Stockholm or a ticket up North? And depending on how much you like to party, the ticket might actually be cheaper. 😉
.-= AnnaTrouble´s last blog ..Setsubun at Futara Shrine in Utsunomiya =-.
Strictly speaking, there is not that much of a difference between the Nordic capital cities. It all depends on what kind of experience you want. But I would definitely recommend a trip further up north! For the nature, you should head to Norway, by that, I mean Bergen (west coast) or Lofoten (further north). Norway is expensive, but really really beautiful! The couchsurfing community is also really good here, so if you plan well ahead, the trip wont be too costly =)
Nice trip! I am a huge fan of Eastern Europe personally. It’s cheaper, less touristy and so very very interesting. I see there’s not much of it on your itinerary but I know that you will be in Europe for awhile, so I hope you manage to make it out there.
The one spot I would suggest adding to this itinerary, if you can fit it in, is Budapest. It’s so gorgeous. Along with Rome (and London!) are my favorite European cities.
Once you actually end up in London I can give you tons of suggestions on things to do and see there.
.-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Friday Postcards: Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan =-.
Thanks Steph. I really wanted to try and keep the number of places I visit low so as to enjoy them and not attempt all of Europe in one trip. I know I have 13 or so places on my list as it is so I doubt I’ll make it right around and that’s ok with me. Last thing I want is a rushed trip of Europe no point going if I do that.
I’m going to be based in the UK for 2 years maybe more (providing I can get work) so have plenty of time to go back and see the Mediterranean and head to eastern Europe. At the end of my trip I want to either head to Canada or if money is tight I’ll travel back to Australia via Asia and see eastern Europe then.
Budapest could fit as its along my route. Time will be the big thing as that will be towards the second half of the journey. But I’m completely open to change and other places hence the tentative tag. I may get to Europe meet some cool people and go in a completely different direction. That’s going to be half the fun of travel I think.
Will be sure to chase you up for London info, especially as I get closer to leaving.
Oh, that looks spectacular. Living abroad for a couple of years. Hmm, nice idea!
.-= Sabina´s last blog ..Your Part of the World – Is It Springtime Yet? =-.
Thanks Sabina. I can’t wait to be honest. Now that I’m down to the last 4 weeks of work its getting to the point where I can’t wait to get moving on it all.
Awesome planned itinerary! Love the lesser known/traveled areas in Eastern Europe! I ran across your site through some Tweets and just starting to scan your posts so forgive me if I suggest or mention something you might already know. I’m a freelance travel and food writer in Taiwan and moved from the US last year to live abroad and do more traveling so I definitely am excited for your upcoming journey.
I see your post on couchsurfing – another great site to check out is Travbuddy. Although not the same per se as couchsurfing, Travbuddy helps you locate travel partners/friends in other countries or people who might be traveling at the same time as you to help cut expenses, etc. There is a vouching system and many of the people are on CS and Travbuddy.
I am actually a moderator on the site and now friends with the guys who started it. It’s a great site and I’ve met some absolutely amazing people on my travels (including my husband incidentally!) You can plan get togethers (aka meet ups) in the places you are traveling and party or sightsee with some amazing people. My husband was living in the Netherlands when we first met and I got to know a number of the Amsterdam TravBuddies and they are an amazing group of people and an awesome resource for travel help. We spent 2008/2009 NYE in Amsterdam at a meet up with 76 people from 19 different countries.
I mention the site mostly because there is a lot of helpful info on Latvia and Estonia. One of the guys on the site has done a lot of travel in the area and knows the areas quite well.
Check out my profile if you want (www.travbuddy.com/poohstanggt) and let me know if you have any questions. I can put you in touch with a number of great locals who would probably be happy to show you around, suggest places/things to see, etc. It’s a fun site and reading a bit about you – seems like you would get along great with all the people I know. BTW, there is a pretty big London group on there as well, which might provide useful when you begin your job hunt.
Best of luck on your upcoming trip! Just got back from Amsterdam 2 wks ago – still freezing there, but hopefully will be warmer soon!
wow Erin that’s one great comment. I tried to give myself a mix of mainstream and lesser known spots in Europe and I think this works well.
Thanks for the mention of travbuddy as I’d never heard of it so will defiantly check it out. I’m still planning out the few must see things around the place as I’d like to keep it fairly casual. Find some friends see where they are going etc but in saying that meeting some locals is going to be way more fun. Thanks again.
No problem! 🙂 Ironically, one of the people I was thinking about when I sent you the comment just created a list of budget things to do/see in Latvia. Here’s the link to his list that should hopefully give you some good suggestions on the area.
Glad I could help out – I think you would love the people on TravBuddy – some of them have become my closest friends over the past couple of years. Let me know if you have any questions!
Sounds like and awesome trip you are planning! I would really like to get up to some of those Scandinavian countries one day. Maybe in the next couple of years we’ll get the chance.
In the meantime I’ll keep reading your blog to learn about the different places you travel.
Not long now 🙂
.-= Colin Burns´s last blog ..iPhone & iPod user read this =-.
I forgot you were going to Berlin! Please stroll through and relax in James-Simon Park for me. One of my favorite places ever. And say hi to the Ampelmann. And tell the city I miss it.
.-= Heather´s last blog ..noplacelikeoz: Not sure how I’m doing to do with my eye doc appt today when I’m so tired. =-.
When you’re in London take a walk one sat a.m. across the bridge at Westminster to the South Bank and walk east to Borough market where you need to have hungry enough to sample and eat, sample and eat!
Sounds awesome Laura. I’ll be sure to make time to head that way one saturday morning.
You’re totally skipping Spain/Italy/Greece? The Mediterranean is a good spot in summer.
.-= EagerExistence´s last blog ..Getting Started =-.
Yeah I’m skipping the Mediterranean for now. Just too much other stuff I’d like to see so saving it for next year.
Chris. You got a similar map for places you’ve actually been? So we can see how much you’ve deviated from the plan 🙂
I don’t actually Ian, but I can tell you that as of Estonia I’m still on target but after Poland things are going to change 🙂
Hows it all going Chris? I haven’t been keeping up to date as much as I should. From what I see, your homebase is the UK, and you’re taking short trips to all these places in your itinerary.
Im closely following your budget, and how much you’ve been spending on beers.
Running out of money fast?
My trips scheduled for April now. Same vague plan as yourself.. with the YMV. Feel free to share the pitfalls you’ve had so far with independent solo travel. I’ll try keep up with the reading 😉
Bugger. If I travel the way I’ve been imagining, I think I will have to get a job sooner-rather-than-later… it looks more expensive than I initially thought 😮
Hey Ian, no I actually landed in Paris and travelled to each of these places over a bit over 2 month period.
After that I headed for London and that’s where I’ve been living ever since. No short trips as I’m sticking the money away for another 2 month venture to southern europe this coming summer.
I never ran out of money in Europe but had I stayed another month I’d have really struggled in London as my job pays monthly so working a month for free hurt. Especially when you need to buy extras to settle down.
Without a doubt Europe is expensive, hence the reason for my budget posts to try and make it easier for folks to work things out. I could have travelled cheaper but in saying that I also drank less than my younger travelling companions so price evens out very quickly.
How much did you budget a day and how long are you planning to travel before going to the UK for work?
My trips only 42 days away!! I haven’t even hashed out an itinerary yet; but I have the YMV, like you.
I’d say my 1st 2 months will be travelling around, making the most of the 90 in 180 day non-visa. Enjoying the south of EU before it gets way too busy.
Then straight up to the UK to find work, or tour around with the safety-net of the YMV visa.
Hopefully back to EU for short-trips, much like yourself, and use the rest of the 90 in 180 Schengen deal.
But, yeah, its all up in the air still. Being a noobie traveller, I’m starting to panic.
I don’t have a budget persay, I have quite a bit of money squirrelled away, but saying that, if I stretch it over a year its only $80 a day. So I will have to find work… the earlier the better.
Looking at your posts, its quite easy to spend $150-160 a day. What about at home-base (was it Paris?) surely thats gotta be cheaper, because you’re settled.