Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Who has been backpacking?

It's that time, I'm planning my summer adventures including Vegas - Twice, Colorado, and a solid 5+ weeks in Europe. I've never backpacked before, nonetheless on the opposite side of the world, so suggestions, comments, places to go, things to see, I want all the input I can get. So far, I have the Europe and Western Europe Lonely Planet books. I'll try to narrow down places to which I want to travel. I know people in London, Lisbon, Rome, Paris and Amsterdam. All great places, but may be a bit hard to navigate and Western Europe can get mighty expensive. Note I do need to be in Germany in the middle of my trip for a wedding and I want to go to Prague - just to go.

Other than that, time is my only enemy (and maybe not spending my savings before b-school)... where should I go? What should I see? And what shouldn't I miss? I've only been to Paris, Rome, Florence, and Capri - thus I'm a newbie.

Any suggestions on backpacks? Items not to forget or items not to pack? I know travel light and only pack what you need. Though I do want to enjoy BOTH the nightlife and the sights. Recommendations on clubs would be appreciated as well!


tinydancer said...

In 55 days, we were able to do the following: Paris, Normandy, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Interlaken, Venice, Florence, Rome, Sorento/Pompeii/Capri, Cinque Terre, Barcelona, Madrid, and San Sebastian. We skipped London because it was expensive to go between there and Europe (we just did it on a different trip). See if you can work with a student travel agency like STA Travel for cheaper rates. Buy a Eurrail pass (must buy it before you go) that gives you a certain number of travel days (I think ours was 15) and then you don't have to worry about buying individual tickets, although you do have to reserve sometimes for popular trains and some you have to pay extra for the fast train. Make use of overnight trains if you are willing to do it because you will eliminate the need to stay in a hotel/hostel and save time, but if you are traveling alone I might recommend against it since you usually have to share with other people. Must dos besides the obvious: Prague, Berlin, Cinque Terre, Gimmelwald in Switzerland (not Grindelwald), Mike's bike tour in Munich, Pompeii. I also highly recommend Rick Steves's books and website. We resisted his recommendations for awhile, but once we succumbed we realized he is always right. We go by the mantra "trust Rick". Of course, he won't have recommendations for clubs and such, but Lonely Planet and/or Let's Go should take care of that. I had a backpack made for women which was great because the straps are closer together. It also had a daypack which allows you to leave your big pack at the hostel and a rain cover that came out of the bottom to protect it if the weather acted up. I think it was Eaglecreek brand. Definitely ship things that you buy home periodically to lighten the load. Bring duct tape and ziplock bags, they always come in handy. Read up on common pickpocket scams so that you know what to be on the lookout for. Carry a long skirt or wrap in your daypack b/c some places don't allow shorts. The people who give free tours at the forum in Rome are for real, they really are free! Have fun, I'm so jealous!

gullu said...

Thats some trip :)
btw i booked my gmat date, its on april 15th...hoping for the best :)
Thats a swell new look you got for your blog...own design??

wip3out said...

You should see Munich! Mikes Bike Tour is nice, let me know when you're here, I can point you to a few more things that are must sees.

I wouldnt cram too much in one trip and rather make sure that you actually get a feel for the places you visit.

JulyDream said...

Thanks all for the notes - keep 'em coming!! :D

For those who asked... not my own design, though I've tweaked the original a bit. Thought it was time to spice things up. ;)

mbabound said...

I think I just finished my travel route. I'm skipping western Europe because I've been there before and the exchange rate is awful. Starting in Prague, down to Austria, over to Hungary, then to Croatia, Cairo, and Tanzania. It will be a challenge with packing, but hopefully I can have friends bring things back and forth for me.

If you don't bring it, you can always buy it. I'm pondering whether to pack heels or just party in flip flops and sneakers.

Wingman said...

Make it to Barcelona! If Ireland can be fit in at all I also highly suggest that.

JulyDream said...

@mbabound - I was contemplating the same thing. I thought may ONE pair of basic heels for the "nicer" clubs, but heels definitely take up room.

tinydancer - any thoughts on shoes?

André P. Santos said...

what kind of travel are you looking for?
visiting castles and other historic monuments? (Munich, Prague, Vienna, Florence, Rome)
going to the beach? (south of Portugal, Spain and Italy)
Shopping and sightseeing? (london, Paris, etc...)

Cheers André

tinydancer said...

Hmmm ... we didn't have clubbing as a priority so I usually just wore sneakers or sandals to the pubs we visited. But you can probably get a pair of flip flops or sandals with a little heel on them. They won't take up much room but they can dress up your outfit. Honestly, I just resigned myself to being a backpacker and didn't worry about being underdressed for the occasional nice place.

mbarunnergirl said...

I spent a semester abroad and would recommend a pair of shoes besides sneakers to party in. Sneakers (and fanny packs - hehe) are the quickest way to tell who the Americans are :)