(Closed) Planning My First Trip Overseas! Help?

posted 5 years ago in Travel
Post # 3
Member
1361 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

For me venice was completely over rated. The concept is really cool, but not so much anymore, We went during the winter when I was a teenager and I hated every second there (thankfully it was only a day). It smelled, bad. The food was not particularly good compared to the rest of italy. The churches were stunning but well, most Catholic churches in Europe are, so after seeing 7 or 8 they all start looking the same, If you’re a culture/art/museum fan definitely go to the Louvre, seriously it was the best part of the whole trip I wish I could have spent a week there, but then again I have always been a huge art fan. Go to a produce fair in France, and hole in the wall restaurants in Italy are so much better than the over priced places in travel books. Don’t be afraid to get lost! When you walk out of your hotel take business cards with you, then explore and when you’re ready find a cab and show them the card. Also, learn how to use the subway and get a multipass thingy, it will save you tons. Oh and Versailles if you have time is ridiculously beautiful. Food in Europe is expensive, if you can find a portable water heater take it with you to make coffee and tea (so not buy) and you can ‘save for later’ breakfast items like hardboiled eggs and croissants from the included breakfast at most hotels.

This is so exciting!!! If I think of more things I will let you know 😉 

Post # 4
Member
1361 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

OH!!!!! Never carry your passport with you, lock it into the safe (if you have one available) and carry a copy of it. Try to get a fanny pack that is very flat, or a small messenger bag that you can put under your clothes to stash most of your money and important documents so that if you get mugged (lets hope not) they will take your purse and not everything else and you wont be stranded in a foreign country with nothing. 

Post # 5
Member
2874 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

Look for flights on ryanair, easyjet to get around within europe

Stay in hostels? London is v tricky on a budget, im here now visiting my parents and even without the tourst sites it adds up

Ill try to write more later im so jetlagged its ridiculous

Post # 6
Member
133 posts
Blushing bee

Check out the free tours (http://www.neweuropetours.eu/). They only ask you to tip the tour guide. It’s a good way to check out a city and you can meet a lot of friendly people who can give you tips or hang out with.

Also, rail travel is popular and fairly inexpensive. Look into getting a Eurail pass (http://www.eurail.com/) – it gives you a lot of flexibility for travelling around Europe.

Post # 7
Member
178 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

Yay, your trip is going to be so awesome!

I would suggest buying a good guidebook (e.g. Lonely Planet Western Europe or Europe on a Shoestring) to help your planning process.

I was backpacking in Europe by myself a few years ago, and one of the best things about my trip was the freedom to go where ever I wanted and change plans in a heartbeat. So my advice is to make flexible plans, so if you want to stay longer than planned in one place or skip some other town altogether, it’s possible.

Check this thread about money saving tips for European honeymoon on the Honeymoon board, there is some good advice.

Post # 8
Member
903 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

Well I can’t talk about Italy (never been) but I live in Ireland and have been to the UK/France a few times.

Once in Ireland you HAVE to go see the cliffs of mohair. It’s a necessity. I’ll be on the other side of the country from dublin, but thats only a 3 hourish drive (its not a big country!) I really recommend if you like outdoors to try the burren horse back riding trek in Lisdooverna. On a clear day you can see the cliffs from the ride, and its absolutely stunning, and the horses were terrific!

If you don’t want to drive back to dublin at this point to fly to your next destination check flights at shannon airport. It’s a smaller airport on the west of the country but has regular flights to london on air lingus.

Other areas in ireland that i like – Galway is beautiful, and they have the original creator of the clauddagh ring (thomas dillon)

Killarney and the ring of kerry is breath taking but i recommend taking a tour bus for that – the roads and super narrow and hard to navigate…

theres a handful of good castles as well (im not into castles so i won’t comment…)

Everyone says book ryanair, but honestly air lingus normally has similar prices, but they are much more accomadatin. Ryanair is like sitting on a cheap bus in brazil with chickens above your head… they are awful. and they are constantly bothering you to buy stuff. the seats are small and uncomfrotable. urgh. i have nothing nice to say about ryanair. fly air lingus… much nicer =)

London and france – do the hop on hop off bus tours. super convenient, well priced and takes you to all the important attractions while giving a bit of history. If your into shopping stop at harrods in london and gallarie lafayette in paris. They’re both spectacular! 

Post # 9
Member
1471 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

@ImHungry247:  120% recommend these tours. They are fun, interesting, active, and, even with a good tip, great value for money!

Post # 10
Member
240 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

Use tripadvisor.com – they have tons of honest reviews by travelers from all over the world and I use them for every trip.

If it’s your first time in Europe I’d recommend London, Paris, and Rome. At least 3 days in each. There is so much to experience in each of those cities – you could probably spend a week in each city and still not get to see everything. Ryanair and Easyjet are probably your best bets for cheap flights. Aer Lingus has cheap flights in and out of Dublin. I suppose you could just fly to London, take the TGV to Paris and then the train to Rome.

 

The Cliffs of Moher are gorgeous but they are way on the other side of Ireland. If you have time that area of Ireland is really lovely. I guess it depends on your priorities. Do you enjoy nature and hiking and lovely scenery, or would you rather see museums and famous landmarks? If you don’t have time to see the cliffs, take a day trip from Dublin to Glendalough. It is a beautiful lake in a really lovely part of the country, and it’s not far from Dublin. You can book a tour there easily.

Oh yeah, another good website is airbnb.com – they have listings from all over the world. Basically you pay to stay at someone’s place rather than an official B&B. In the big cities, you’ll probably find something a lot nicer on airbnb than you would for at a hotel or B&B for the same price. They have reviews for each listing so you don’t have to worry about ending up with an ax murderer or anything. Great way to save money.

Post # 11
Member
2889 posts
Sugar bee

Sounds like you have an exciting trip to plan. The thing about flying into Ireland is that it’s not connected to mainland Europe so you will need some short flights. In my experience, if you book early enough, it’s actually often cheaper and more time efficient to fly around Europe and skip the Eurail pass. If you want to save money, sleep in hostels. http://www.hostelworld.com is a good place to start. As far as food, a PP mentioned bringing a hot water heater but I think part of experiencing and enjoying Europe is the cafe culture. Skip Starbucks and stop in the little street side cafes to enjoy a latte (or whatever) and people watch. I think you will spend about 3 EUR and to sit and take it all in that is totally worth it IMO. Besides, as you travel sometimes ou will be happy for a cafe for a bathroom stop or just to sit after a day of walking. Be prepared for a lot of walking. If you want to see cities, museums, etc. you will need to walk a lot and often on cobble stones and uneven sidewalks so think about what shoes you are packing. Chuch Taylors and neon Nikes are very popular in Europe but white running shoes will scream tourist. 

I like to carry my passport on my person when I travel. In case I have an issue and need to show id and also so I know where it is at all times. Do what makes you feel comfortable. If you are nervous, one of those flat money belts under your clothes is fine as long as you don’t have to access it in public and skip the ones that go around your neck if you don’t want o look like a tourist. 

For keeping in line with your budget, check out he local travel zoo websites as well as Groupon in the cities you plan to visit. Unfortunately all of the cities you are visiting, except maybe Dublin, are expensive places for hotels so consider staying outside the city a bit and buying a day pass for the train/subway/bus. I stayed about 20 mins outside of Paris for 50 EUR in a double room while a room off Champs de Elysse cost nearly 200 EUR on sale. If you are traveling at the beginning of the month, many museums in France have free entry on the 1st Sunday. In London, you will also find many museums have free entry on a regular basis. Also, think about buying food from a grocery store or market and having a picnic in a public park. This is a popular thing to do in Europe and especially in London you will find great prepared foods in the grocery store and places like Hyde Park where you can lunch and people watch. In Italy and France, you don’t get as much prepared food but you can get a feast of bread, cheese, olives and salami for a very reasonable price. 

Post # 12
Member
349 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2008

Yay travel! I love Italy but I wasn’t too impressed with Rome outside of the main tourist attractions like the Coloseum, Trevi Fountain, Vatican City etc. And I agree with PP that Venice is a bit overrated, though if you go, taking a glass blowing class was the highlight of our trip! My favorite places in Italy are Florence, Naples, Amalfi Coast and Sorrento, Pompeii, and Bologna. Can’t go wrong with any of these cities, and for us we loving doing tastings of the local cuisine-but I don’t know if you’re a foody? It kind of depends on what you like to give advice on what types of things you should plan for. Food, historical sights, clubs, nightlife?

Post # 13
Member
240 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

Re: the passport issue – in some places visitors are required by law to carry around photo ID with them. If you are caught without ID you could be fined. The odds of being caught are small, but something to consider.

 

Be very aware of your purse when you’re in the big cities. I’ve never actually been pickpocketed but I’ve had some close calls. 

Post # 14
Member
169 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

I love Venice!! You could walk around all day and see different things every time!

Each to their own I guess!

I deff reccomend like others have said the hop on hop off tours, we did them in about 3 places (Dublin being one) Make sure you have time! doing the tours opens you up to thnigs you might not have seen while researching on the net

Post # 15
Member
4495 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I would take the Eurostar from London to Paris, rather than flying. Italy is FABULOUS. I’ve been to all of the countries you’re going to (love them all) and nothing ever tops Italy, for me. Venice is a love/hate city for most people so I’d avoid it on your first trip. Rome, Cinque Terre, Florence, and Amalfi are all wonderful. Our last trip we went to Tuscany for a week and it was absolutely gorgeous and one of my favorite places ever. We rented a car (arrived in Pisa, drove through Tuscany for the week and then dropped the car off before taking a train to Rome) and drove everywhere there (super easy – same way of driving as in the States). We took a hot air balloon ride over Siena which was breathtaking and I highly recommend it – kinda pricey though. I know an ahh-mazing B&B in Tuscany if you decide to go there and are interested in lodging suggestions. Ohh… also I would avoid Naples. I hardly EVER meet anyone who likes it. Its so dirty and full of trash.

*In Rome you must eat at Al Duello one night. Seriously one of my favorite restaurants in all of Europe. We’re honeymooning in Florence in October and we plan to take a train to Rome for one day just to eat there again.

In France I recommend the Cote D’Azur. We stayed in Nice a few times and it was so relaxing – especially when being so busy in a lot of big cities, its nice to have some down time. Paris seems to be another love/hate city. I always love it, but I know more people who go and dislike it than like it. I think as long as you have realistic expectations and don’t over romanticize anything then you’ll like it.

Another cheap airline to look into for inner-European travel is Vueling. We flew from Barcelona to Pisa for next to nothing (I think like $60 pp). I was expecting a crappy airplane with awful service. Honestly, it was great! I was shocked.

Post # 16
Member
5273 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2009

You have some good overall advice here so far. As far as travel, like others said you will have to fly from Dublin to London, from there take the chunnel to Paris, and then use the Eurostar to travel from there to your destinations in Italy.

Since you are there for 3 weeks this is what I would do as far as itinerary:

– 3 days in Dubliln, then rent a car and drive to Galway

– 2 days in Galway (with 1 to drive and see the Cliffs of Moher)

– Fly to London, 3 days in London (personally I don’t like London, but I am one of the few who doesn’t.) 

– Chunnel to Paris & stay for 3-4 days

– Train to Venice & stay for 2 days ( I liked Venice, but you can see everything in 2 days.)

– Train to Florence & stay 2 days

– Train to Rome & stay 3-4 days (LOVE Rome, so much to see & IMO the best food in Italy) then I would fly from Rome to Dublin (which may route back through Heathrow.) 

Now in Ireland, there are so many great small towns, but it sounds like for your first trip that you want to hit up more major cities, so I would save that for another trip. If you don’t want to see the Cliffs in Ireland I would honestly throw in another country in Western Europe like Germany, Amsterdam, even Spain. Also, depending on how old you are, you can totally go the hostel route (I say age because most guests are in their 20s and if you are in your 30s you will feel out of place and probably expect better accommodations then a hostel can offer.) If you are a student (or recent graduate) take your student ID to all the museums, you will get a discount. 

My first time to Europe we stayed for 6 weeks and were on a BUDGET as broke college students. We ate ALOT of sandwiches, which was actually pretty great because the bread and cheese is delicious! We only went to sit down restaurants a handful of times, but when you want to treat yourself you can find great deals like 3 course meals for 30 euro (many restaurants will have a regular menu, then their flat rate 2/3 course menu, this is the best deal IMO.) 

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