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  • "Europe: Can it be squeezed into a month? And how?"

Jessica Ooi

Georgetown (Malaysia), Malaysia

Europe: Can it be squeezed into a month? And how?

Hi Trippy-ans!

I've got a plan, but I'm not sure how to work about it and I hope you guys can give some input. I am planning a Europe trip this year, probably in October, for a month. I am most likely starting my trip in Germany, where I'll be flying in from Malaysia. I've got a relatively low budget, so, anything that saves me money would be a great bonus.

I'm thinking Germany - Austria - Switzerland - Italy (northern) - France - UK (Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England) and then back to Germany to fly home (hopefully, with a stopover at Amsterdam).

Is it feasible? And what's the best way to go about it? I've been told that taking the night trains will help with resting and getting a place to sleep without having to check in to a hostel and still get to a new place by daylight.

Would love to hear your experiences if possible. Thanks!

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  • Kirin Murphy

    top answer by

    Hi there,

    My recommendation: book a destination flight in one city, and a return flight in another city. Figure out a couple different pathways for you to get from A to B, but don't make your plans too specific. Give yourself room to change course and let figuring out your travel path be part of the adventure.

    If you stay in hostels, you will meet tons of other travelers that will influence where you want to go. If you met some really cool people then maybe you want to hang out with them for an extra day or two, or decide to tag along with them to their next magical destination. Some of the best places I've traveled to are places I never heard of until a few days before.

    If you take buses and trains it's not any more expensive to book the trip a few days before you go or a few weeks. And flights can be really cheap in Europe, sometimes they can be a better deal than trains, particularly for long distances. Sleeping on a bus or train kinda sucks. Altough i'm 6'4" so maybe it's different for normal sized people.

    Also couchsurfing.com is a great place to meet local travelers and hosts.

    Have fun!


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  • Crystal Leturno

    answered by

    Hello,

    I would be happy to talk you through the logistics of planning a one month European trip!

    I can't say that your plan is impossible, but I don't think it would be very enjoyable. Being from Malaysia, would you try to see Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, and Singapore in one month? Remember Europe is really big. Your plan would look something like 2 days in each of these cities, with a day to travel between them by train/bus/plane.

    Berlin

    Vienna

    Zurich

    Milan

    Paris

    London

    Dublin

    Berlin

    Amsterdam

    That's 8 locations, and only 16 days actually enjoying them. In this model you spend 8 days of your trip in transit (ok, that totals 24 days, but you see what I mean). Even if it doesn't take a whole day to travel in between those cities, once you add in the time to figure out how to get from you hotel/hostel to the station/airport, the time checking in with a reasonable buffer in case something holds you up, the time to find your hotel/hostel once you arrive, the time checking into that and getting your berings, and then finding a cheap place to eat- by then the whole day is pretty much gone! (I have learned from lots of experience).

    Another point to consider is that the more money you spend on transportation, the less money you have to spend on attractions, entertainment, and food.

    I hope I don't sound to discouraging! This plan that you have is very common to first time European travelers who are so excited to see everything, that they really try to see everything. It's true, there is a lot to see in Europe and it's a long way to go so you want to make the most of it.

    I will give you one sample itinerary that will allow you to see more and save money! You may not see as many countries, but you will will actually get to know the countries you do visit- and have time to breathe. Keep in mind, this is just one idea, and I'm not saying it is the best option for you specifically. There are a million ways to see Europe, and everyone has different preferences. This one is just to give you a different perspective.

    Berlin- If this is the city you are flying to and from your home, spend 3 nights here now, and a couple more before you go home.

    Dresden 2 nights here; easy train or bus from Berlin.

    Prague 4 nights; I noticed this wasn't on your list but it is pretty close and is a beautiful city.

    Brno 2 nights; A different taste of the Czech Republic

    Vienna 4 nights; The city of music.

    Innsbruck 2 nights; Experience mountains and a sophisticated urban atmosphere.

    Zurich 4 nights: A posh Alpine capital.

    Chamonix 2 nights; Take in the French chalets and the views of Mt Blanc.

    Annecy 2 nights; Considered the "Venice of Savoie" with beautiful canals to match.

    Paris 5 nights; It's Paris- there is a lot to see here!

    And then take a budget flight back to Berlin if that is where you are flying home from. On this kind of itinerary you will:

    • Spend less time in transit with shorter travel distances
    • Spend less money on transportation
    • Have more time in the cities
    • See more than just the standard tourist sites
    • Have some time to relax
    • Have a balance of expensive cities and not so expensive cities

    Another thing you may have noticed is I switched up shorter stays and longer stays. This really helps with staying energized throughout the trip. It is still a rather fast paced itinerary, but is "smarter" than simply traveling from capital to capital.

    I hope there is some useful information for you here! If you want to talk over more travel decisions feel free to contact me through The Traveler's Toast.

    Happy travels!

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    • Jessica O.

      Jessica O.

      Whoa! Thanks for the write-up! Will definitely drop a line once I've narrowed down the list of dos and maybes. Trippy-ans are the best! Thank you SO much! · (0 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

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  • Ashley and Ryan R

    answered by

    Sounds like fun.

    Night trains definitely help to save money on hotels and you aren't "wasting" a travel day getting to the next destination.

    Never been to Switzerland but I've heard it is extremely expensive.

    We found Germany was pretty reasonable for a lot of things and the accommodations were lower priced than France and far nicer than what you get in Italy. It's generally always cheaper outside of the big cities as well so trying smaller cities, if that interests you, could be helpful. Try finding accommodations that include breakfast so you can save money on one meal a day (don't be tricked by those who include it as an extra fee though).

    Grabbing lunch at bakeries, delis, or wurst stands (Germany/Austria) helps save, you aren't paying restaurant pricing, waiter tips and you get delicious local eats. Also try and eat at places that aren't in the heart of all the tourist attractions, there is generally a mark up in price and a drop in quality. In France a good, filling and usually inexpensive meal would be a croque madam or croque monsiuer, maybe some French onion soup.

    Prepaying for tickets to major attractions will likely save you money and time as well.

    I would skip Milan and spend an extra day in one of the larger cities where there is so much to see.

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  • Sarah Fabian

    answered first by

    Hi Jessica,
    that's a LOT that you want to see! I'd skip at least 1 or 2 countries. For me it's really stressful only staying at places for one or two nights but if you don't mind, maybe you can squeeze them all in.
    Budgetwise I'd skip switzerland. It is SO expensive. You'll pay at least 50% more than in Germany for accomodation and food.
    There are cheap flights (easyjet and ryanair) in between some of these countries, maybe you could look into that to save some time.

    Within Germany there are cheap busses going everywhere (for example Flixbus). Trains are kind of expensive but definitely much faster. If you book in advance you might get a discounted ticket.

    Have fun!
    Sarah

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    • Ashley and Ryan R.

      Ashley and Ryan R.

      We found Germany way more reasonable than France for hotels! · (0 likelikes)

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  • Tiffany Weber

    answered by

    I think that Kirin and Crystal's answers are spot on considering the countries that you want to see, but keep in mind that the UK and Switzerland are VERY expensive countries to visit so if you want to see those, I'd recommend less time in the cities and more time in small towns where you'll get a better feel for the people and lodging and food will be less.

    I'd fly in and out of different countries - perhaps begin in the United Kingdom, but spend less time in London and then explore the other places you want to see on the island. From here it's an easy hop over to Amsterdam on a budget airline like Ryan Air where you can spend a day or two before heading south. This would be a good first week between the two areas.

    Another way to save a little money and to get a better view of Europe is to diversify your itinerary by spending a little time in the eastern countries which tend to be less expensive and are beautiful to see and different from the west. Germany and Austria are similar culturally, so perhaps pick one of those and then diversify by going to Prague or Budapest. (Budapest is very close to Vienna with Bratislava just across the river from Vienna too, so you could see all three easily in a few days). Perhaps spend a week between these regions.

    In France, Paris is a must, but places like Normandy and the Alsace are also beautiful and less $$.

    You didn't mention Spain... it's one of my favorite countries, so I have to shamelessly promote it here. :) Sorry. It's beautiful, culturally different than the countries north, and you can eat very well for not too much $$ - try tapas and head to bars for good bocadillos. Portugal is even more reasonable than Spain.

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    • Jessica O.

      Jessica O.

      I didn't mention Spain because it was a little "out of the way" if I was going in the direction I was aiming for, not because I don't want to visit Spain. Thanks for the plug. Will definitely consider that too! · (0 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

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    4. Germany (country)
    5. Austria (country)
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    7. Budapest (city)
    8. Vienna (city)
    9. Bratislava (city)
    10. France (country)
    11. Paris (city)
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    13. Alsace (state)
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    15. Portugal (country)

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