Off the topic but how to travel cheaply in Europewithout getting bushwhacked or

Submitted: Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 15:34
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Any experience of cheap but comfortable travel in Europe for about 4 weeks would be appreciated. Somewhere between tour bus and freelancing would suit us. Has anyone driven?
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Reply By: Mike Harding - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 15:55

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 15:55
>Has anyone driven?

Just a bit :) What did you want to know? Where are you going?

There use to be a pass called something like "Euro rail pass" which was excellent value. Depending on your age there may be special rates available for students and/or under 25s.

Bus services vary from country to country but are usually pretty cheap.

These days I would have to advise against hitch-hiking :(

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 15:57

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 15:57
Rail stuff 1

Rail stuff 2

Rail stuff 3
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Follow Up By: Members - Chris/Lindsay (VIC) - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 20:39

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 20:39
Thanks Mike. We are looking at about 3 years time. Just wanting to get a feel of what has worked for others. It's a dilemma to step out of your comfort zone[toyota landcruiser with fridge etc] and convert our normal love of adventure onto foreign soil.
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 09:42

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 09:42
Hi Guys

>It's a dilemma to step out of your comfort zone

It is, indeed. But you'll always be glad you did :)

It's such a mind broadening experience to see how other cultures operate, IMO international travel is one of the best educations available. I took my sons to a number of different cultures and I've seen the benefits of that experience contribute to their confidence and maturity. Go for it!

Also consider stopping off in south east Asia for a time - a _very_ different culture to Europe and _much_ cheaper and much better food :)

An ideal opportunity to offer a quote from Ray Bradbury:
I hate a Roman named Status Quo! Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that, shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.

Ray Bradbury - 1954 - Fahrenheit 451

Mike Harding
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Reply By: Ircon - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 16:19

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 16:19
There has to be an oxymoron there somewhere!!

Cheap, comfortable, Europe.

Nice reasonably priced wine though. LOL
AnswerID: 288827

Follow Up By: Members - Chris/Lindsay (VIC) - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 20:41

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 20:41
That's why I'm asking as it does seem difficult. A good coffee is more my style but I might need my thermos.
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Kath - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 10:16

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 10:16
Can be like Ircon says, the oxymoron. The first time we went to France, we stayed in a lot of two star village hotels. They were a delight to see the way the French live and so often (though not always) fantastic food as is the culture. The chain hotels aren't anywhere so nice. We had a two star in Paris too, lash out for good food some times.

A little story near Beune, was going to a small grey two star, quite "down at heel" and walking around the viallage to find an inviting place to eat, find there was nothing. We saw people outside the hotel when we returned and the owner was in chef's whites and the villagers were there for a beautiful meal. A real lesson, and more welcoming too.

Into the charcuiterie for some nicities for lunch and perhaps some local wine. A great way to share with others.

Make sure you can have a few greeting words though in the loacal manner. Don't walk up and greet in English as you will be graded as English or American to your immediate disadvantage! The kangaroo badge can't overcome all.
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Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 16:56

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 16:56
Son was over last year for about eight weeks.

Used pensions/backpackers accomodation and local transport.
Got a 3 day and 5 day rail passes to suit travel plans.

Cost him about 50 euros a day once landed including everything , food, lodging, entry to main places of interest. But he is known to travel cheap, must have got it from somewhere :o)
Live off the local food where you can.
Sister was over in 2006 and the three of them hired a car. Petrol was the killer.
AnswerID: 288832

Follow Up By: Members - Chris/Lindsay (VIC) - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 20:44

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 20:44
I'd love to know any hints your son has for avoiding getting ripped off. Did he use a specific group of backpackers or just found them as he went? I hear that diesel is cheaper than petrol.
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Reply By: Shaker - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 17:28

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 17:28
My Daughter & Son in Law hired a motor home for a couple of months in Europe & they were very happy, I can try to get you details if you like.
AnswerID: 288836

Follow Up By: Members - Chris/Lindsay (VIC) - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 20:48

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 20:48
Perhaps a web site. I have looked at some but we are concerned about how thirsty they are.
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Reply By: Bonz (Vic) - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 19:37

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 19:37
We drove Germany for a time in 2006 and 2007 and found it great, Hostels are plentiful and cheap and comfy (saw them didn't experience them) and the trains there are excellent. Mike Europass suggestion is a good one too.

Rome keep your money in your bodybelt but everywhere else (in 2006 we did Germany Italy, Austria, Lichtenstein was wonderful, Oh we did Switzerland too.
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Follow Up By: Members - Chris/Lindsay (VIC) - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 20:50

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 20:50
We may not have any money in those money belts! How did you find fuel costs?
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Follow Up By: Spider - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 22:21

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 22:21
I got pick-pocketed in Florence, Italy last April. My mistake, leaving a nightclub very intoxicated and with my wallet in my back pocket .... very stupid thing to do.
Had no problem in Rome, although around the Coleseum I saw some dodgy looking characters looking at passers-by at waist level. But be sensible and don't be too paranoid. Enjoy yourself, but expect to shell out and feel ripped off on everything !!
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 09:51

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 09:51
Spider has it in one Chris and Linsday, dont put your wallet in your pocket at all, I carried in in my money belt and had a few 10 and 20 euro notes in my pockets for a quick coffe or whatever. If I needed to pay more, I found a loo and remoived the money from my wallet out of sight. Its just being careful.

Fuel costs were around the same as here same dollar value I mean, so $1.49 diesel here $1.49 euro dollars there, and thats a difference BUT everything seemed the same except for a few staples. Once I learnt not to convert to aussie dollars, (or not to worry about the high prices) I was fine. Got a VERY cheap Swiss Army knife in Swiss Francs in a small Swiss town. Overall though it was a great place to be.
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Kath - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 10:33

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 10:33
Tend to agree with Bonz but it doesn't always work out like that. Try to dress local. Don't dress like a tourist was what we found in Barcelona.

So many of the tennis Fanatics, that we were with had stories. They were identified with tee-shirts but identified as targets. In the evenings, the locals dressed in smart fashionable clothes to parade on La Rambla, and people watch. Try to do the same. Match in.

I am a big guy, and met another Victorian who had been rolled, he was as big as me but identified as a tourist.
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Reply By: Member - Stuart W (NSW) - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 19:59

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 19:59
Trains are excellent.On time, fast plenty of scenery. I rode a motorbike in 99 and even then the petrol price was a killer.Most affordable accom. is camping (difficult if travelling by train) followed by hostels (clean and comfortable ). Better still is relatives and friends. Also remember the further north you go the more expensive everything gets. If you're only going for 4 wks perhaps a 2 wk tour then go back to somewhere you liked. My advice is don't try to see too much.It becomes a merry go round of castles and cathedrals
Happy travels Stuart
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Follow Up By: Members - Chris/Lindsay (VIC) - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 20:47

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 20:47
yes we are thinking of mixing it up a bit and are actually looking at motorcycling through the alps as well. Any advice with bike hire would be of interest.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stuart W (NSW) - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 21:16

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 21:16
We bought our bike in the UK, BMW R100 GS. Still have it. I read the bike mags and hiring is fairly common.Try a net search or some bike mags.Most people hire from UK I think. As for riding through the Alps do it. Nearly all the riding we did in North west Europe was great.Excellent roads sensible drivers.The sensible driver are like the prices, more in the northern parts.But you'll never forget it.
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Reply By: mattd - Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 22:17

Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 22:17
Hi, Wife and i did it in 2002. 28 years old at the time. Hired a car for 7 weeks, just make sure it is a diesel. Stayed mainly in caravan parks in a tent or cabin. Did alot of cooking in a trangia stove(Very good when you get familiar with it). Ate out a bit. The menu of the day in France(mainly countryside) 25 euros each for 5 courses including wine. Driving is very easy in europe. Just make sure when turning right, turn tight.
AnswerID: 288898

Reply By: chook2706 - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 01:52

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 01:52
Hi. Myself and the wife did it for 6 months in 2005. We tried most forms of transport, hire car, train, bus, ferry and aircraft.

There are pros and cons for each, but with the time period that you have I would go train. (Unless you are going long distance, ie from anywhere to England, mind you the ferry trip was pretty good.)

The public transport in Europe is many times better than what you will get here in Oz. Trains go just about everywhere, at all hours of the day. Can also spend overnight on the train, costs a bit more but then you dont have to worry about accomm.

We spent some time in car (leased it through Renault Eurodrive, much better rates over a long period and less hassle than renting.) Personally I found a car to be a pain in the a$#, unless you want to get right out into the boondocks. Most accomm dont have parking, which means you have to find parking on the street, drive on the wrong side of the road, directions in foreign languages, maps which were wrong, price of fuel, tolls, wrong directions etc etc. City driving and parking each night was the most hassle.

Other benefits include, food service (buy before you travel if you can, much cheaper), no arguments with the missus when she or you misread the map, want to sleep just lean your head over and fall asleep, less stress, arrive safely, enjoy the scenery while you travel.

Most of the hotels/hostels were close to public transport, might have to catch a train or a bus, but believe me it was a lot less hassle.

Tours are great if you want to see a lot of sights in a short amount of time, but dont expect a lot of time at each place and too bad if you see something you want to have a look at but cant. It is also a full day, on the bus by 7am and not at the hotel until 7pm.

Euro pass, do your homework prior to leaving. Sometimes it is worth it, sometimes not. We did a Europass, but my missus was a travel agent so we got it fairly cheap. If we didnt, we did the sums afterwards and it wouldnt have been worth the money. Remember, you will have to pay reservation fees and other fees. If you are doing a lot of trips in a very short time frame it may be worth it.

Airfares are pretty cheap but beware of the pitfalls. Most of the airports are quite a way from the citys etc, which means train fares, long time travelling etc. Trains may be a bit more expensive initially, but saves the transfer. Most train stations are in the middle of the city, so you dont have to worry about getting to the airport, checking in, hanging around, getting on the plane, travelling, getting, getting your baggage, getting out and then travelling by train to the city.

For accomm, depends on what you want but accomm over there is a lot more expensive than here, along with everything else. We stayed in hostels mainly and were pretty happy. Check out a couple of websites,, We found them pretty good.

Expect to pay a lot more over there than what you will pay over here.

Probably babbling on here, but it isnt helped by the few bourbons that are in the belly at the moment.

We had a ball when we did it.
Spent heaps, (could have bought a new 100 series) but would we do it again, without doubt, even if it cost us half again.



AnswerID: 288923

Reply By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 07:12

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 07:12
Try and stay away from the hostels in brataslavia no matter how good looking and plentifull the women are
AnswerID: 288929

Reply By: ooze - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 09:15

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 09:15
Hi, on top of what's already been said, a mate and i started our three month trip in the uk and hired a car. No probs there with driving/parking etc as before. One thing which took getting used to was our bearings, sun is on the other side of you (north-south type of thing) although it only led us the long way a couple of times!! and also we were there in summer and headed up to Scootland and found ourselves a couple of times driving at 9pm and not realising it was so late because the sun was still well and truly up and going 'crap! we'd better find somewhere to sleep!'. When this happened we would usually be ages away from anywhere.(lol) Deffinately had no probs driving through England, Scotland ane Ireland, and would do that part of europe the same again. We did a bus tour thru continental Eu as well as backpacked, be we tavelled by cheap airflights and train. With the eurorail pass the seats can sometimes be limited on particular trips also. But the trains were good, spent 7 weeks on a bus,was good. Europe is good!!!! Also check out bus-a-bout. buy a ticket and get on get off type of thing. YHA offer discounts on some of these things, worth a look. Have fun, Paul. We stayed at hostels and some b&b's, and they were fine. A money belt/pouch is a good way to go. I wore my pouch around my waist hanging in front of my groin(under my shorts). If there was anyone trying to pinch my gear i would certainly know about it!!!!
AnswerID: 288943

Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 16:24

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 16:24

1. We toured UK & Europe way back in the 60s. We purchased a small motor home (pre arranged ready for us to pick up on arrival) in London. Apart from when doing the important cities, we did the 'bush camping' thing, although a little harder to find good spots than in Australia, and we did stay in some unusual spots. Someone recently did a similar thing, and still found adequate free camping. We brought the vehicle back home with us by ship.

2. On of my work colleagues, who was originally from England and his wife was French, toured with their young family in an old car they purchased in UK cheaply. I think they stayed mainly at B&Bs. When leaving from Paris airport, he GAVE the car to the rather astonished luggage boy. The purchase and give away worked out much cheaper than a hire car.

3. A caution on Rome. My boss and his wife went to Italy last year, and when they got to Rome, used their ATM/Credit cards. Within a matter of hours, their cards had been copied ('skimmed' when used in the ATM) and all their credit limit gone in a number of quick transactions, and they were left with no access to money at all. Others have said yes, Rome is bad for crime.


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Reply By: heldus - Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 02:20

Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 02:20

it´s hard to say do this do that. Europe has a size like Oz but it has a lot of different countries, civilisations, customs, conventions, big differences between prices etc. and it is absolutely not incomparable with Oz. A cheap but comfortable travel for about 4 weeks is in my eyes a hard work. It´s better you say what countries do you prefer and what do you like to do. The best way for travelling in Europe is to hire a mobil home. Yes indeed, the fuel here in Europe is very expensive, diesel too but it varies for country to country. The costs in Germany e.g. are like in Oz but in Euro.

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