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Old 19th July 2010, 02:12   #1
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Thumbs up Europe on a Budget - 5 weeks trip with family on a backpack!

Preface:

In the year 2008, we as a family of 3, were looking for a vocation abroad. Europe was unanimously selected, since it gives us the most diversified experience.

As usual, the budget was limited and we wanted the trip to be exciting - So, we stayed away from the conducted tours. We planned all our activities ourselves and also decided to cook our own food so that we save cost and also avoid tasteless food (food not to our liking). Therefore, we needed serviced apartments to stay.

Total Budget of Rs.5,00,000/- INR - 2 Adults & a child of 10 years - Bangalore to Bangalore - 33 days in Europe!

We decided on Eurail and Britrail - to travel between cities. To travel inside city, we decided to use local public transport. Strictly no Taxi's - to save cost.

One of the books we used as reference was "Europe on a Shoestring" - published by Lonely Planet.

I will divide the entire posting in to 5 parts, to make it easier for me. Please pardon me, if I keep you waiting in between postings!

Part 1: Arrangements and Itinerary.

To begin with, we planned for a 3 weeks trip to Europe, but ended up with almost 5 weeks! Since Switzerland needed a separate VISA, we decided to stick to Austria instead. We had a membership with RGBC - Goa and therefore, thought of deciding on the places depending on the available accommodations.

The exercise was started in the beginning of Jan - 2008. Finally, by the beginning of March - 2008, we were ready with accommodation, Air-ticket, Train-tickets and VISA. We were to cover France, Germany, Austria and England.

From RGBC, we could get accommodation for 3 weeks. 2 weeks in England & 1 week in Austria. We arranged for a 5 night accommodation in Paris and a 3 night accommodation in Heidelberg, on our own. Except Heidelberg, all other accommodation was of the serviced apartment type. At Heidelberg, we had B&B accommodation.

Our flight ticket was booked from Bangalore to London and Back, with a stop-over at Paris, by Air France. We left Bangalore on 10th of April and came back on 13th of May. 33 Great Days!



Europe on a Budget - 5 weeks trip with family on a backpack!-itinerary-1.jpg


Europe on a Budget - 5 weeks trip with family on a backpack!-eurail-pass.jpg


Europe on a Budget - 5 weeks trip with family on a backpack!-brit-rail-pass.jpg



Action with Pictures starts from the next post!! lol

Last edited by Chethan B G : 19th July 2010 at 02:19.
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Old 19th July 2010, 02:16   #2
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Quote:
Europe was unanimously selected, since it gives us the most diversified experience
Very true
I like to get some additional info about the passes, hope you don't mind sharing the details. I'm surprised to see passes being valid for 9 days & 15 days, makes me think you can do unlimited trips. Also I was expecting to see pounds on BritRail, but read USD, is little surprise.
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Old 19th July 2010, 02:31   #3
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Originally Posted by aargee View Post
Very true
I like to get some additional info about the passes, hope you don't mind sharing the details. I'm surprised to see passes being valid for 9 days & 15 days, makes me think you can do unlimited trips. Also I was expecting to see pounds on BritRail, but read USD, is little surprise.
Yes. You are right. You can do unlimited trips! Great VFM!!

If you carefully go through the Itinerary, you will know how well it was utilized.

Train pases are to be purchased in India - Before the journey starts. We can pay in Pounds or USD. Choice is ours.

You can ask any additional info. I can definitely share. It is my pleasure. But my reply may be delayed. Mainly because, the terms and spellings are so peculiar - I need to refer back and post! Please do not mind!!
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Old 19th July 2010, 03:39   #4
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Train pases are to be purchased in India - Before the journey starts
WHAAT??? ; True that world is shrinking.

Yes, I'll go through the itinerary.

Quote:
the terms and spellings are so peculiar - I need to refer back and post
Yes, I noticed them in your first post; its very neat, with good punctuations & a good mix of capital letters. I liked it.

Ok one more question. What do you think about these European tours conducted by some of the leading reliable tour operators? Don't they give a better package for a very good & affordable price? My intention is not to compare your trip with them; I've a feeling that you should've done that homework before your expedition to Europe, so, as an experienced person, I would like to have your opinion on that.

Last edited by aargee : 19th July 2010 at 03:43.
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Old 19th July 2010, 06:50   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
Ok one more question. What do you think about these European tours conducted by some of the leading reliable tour operators? Don't they give a better package for a very good & affordable price? My intention is not to compare your trip with them; I've a feeling that you should've done that homework before your expedition to Europe, so, as an experienced person, I would like to have your opinion on that.
I think that is mainly because of the price paid for hotel accommodations. That is where one ends up paying more,
compared to the hotels one plans on his own. Also the tour operators may be able to work out a group discount
on flight tickets also.

Some folks dont like their vacation to conducted military style! Hence they plan on their own.
But yes some of the lesser known tour operators (provided one knows they are reliable) are pretty
efficient in terms of keeping the budgets down.
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Old 19th July 2010, 07:12   #6
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@Chethan: I'm certainly hooked to your thread. This is going to be so helpful for people like me who keep envying backpackers but don't have the courage to travel that way.
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Old 19th July 2010, 08:16   #7
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Problem with conducted tours are:
  • Cost: It would have costed me that much for a 3 week trip.
  • We just go with them and come back - not bothering about anything - no interaction with the locals - will forget everything soon - No charm.
  • In our case - We plan everything - Planning itself takes 3 months, when it is for the first time - An experience which is totally refreshing - will never forget things we did, in our life time!
  • Just imagine the thrill when we go to a new Country - with nobody to turn to - all by ourselves - Great!!
  • Europe is a very well organised and a safe place. We can execute our plans - 100%
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Old 19th July 2010, 09:04   #8
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Thats a wonderful log. I like the beginning. 33 days in Europe in 500k! Its great planning. I just want to go there for two weeks from here and family strength same as yours. It could well be half of your cost. Man you motivated me thoroughly.

I would be following this thread closely. You will find a lot of questions lined up for you. I hope you wont mind.
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Old 19th July 2010, 10:05   #9
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Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
Thats a wonderful log. I like the beginning. 33 days in Europe in 500k! Its great planning. I just want to go there for two weeks from here and family strength same as yours. It could well be half of your cost. Man you motivated me thoroughly.

I would be following this thread closely. You will find a lot of questions lined up for you. I hope you wont mind.
My pleasure! You are welcome to ask me any thing.

Half the time does not mean half the price! You may save 25% max. This is because, your Air ticket, VISA charges will be the same. Train tickets will not offer much discount either. 3-4 weeks will be ideal!

Today by night, I will cover these base prices - in detail. That will give you some idea!
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Old 19th July 2010, 10:13   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chethan B G View Post
Problem with conducted tours are:
  • Cost: It would have costed me that much for a 3 week trip.
  • We just go with them and come back - not bothering about anything - no interaction with the locals - will forget everything soon - No charm.
  • In our case - We plan everything - Planning itself takes 3 months, when it is for the first time - An experience which is totally refreshing - will never forget things we did, in our life time!
  • Just imagine the thrill when we go to a new Country - with nobody to turn to - all by ourselves - Great!!
  • Europe is a very well organised and a safe place. We can execute our plans - 100%
Aha,
this is the travelogue i was looking for.
I planned and executed trip to Malaysia for 15 guys with shoestring budget and it was huge success.
My folks are demanding trip to Europe and here is your travelogue to guide me.
Looking forward.

Last edited by ASHISHPALLOD : 19th July 2010 at 10:28.
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Old 19th July 2010, 10:29   #11
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This is interesting, i want to do a backpack trip to Europe some time next year. your log would be a bible.

thanks for sharing, look forward to more details.
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Old 19th July 2010, 10:32   #12
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We went for a similar conducted tour by Thomas Cook in the same year. Three of us including my 6 yr old daughter. THe duration was 15 days and it cost me about 3 lacs altogether, including all food (Indian veg or local), accommodation in 4 star hotels, local travels, visit tickets etc. I dont think it was too high considering the convenience. It covered Italy, Switzerland ( 3 days), Austria, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and UK. It was organized extremely well and we are planning another tour next year through the same company.

By the way your tour looks an interesting option. Bu I think you missed out the "Jewel of the Crown", Switzerland in your trip. May be you can plan another exclusive Swiss trip later. It is worth spending 4-5 days there.
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Old 19th July 2010, 12:32   #13
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I had 4 forays in to Europe. All arranged by myself and planned to the minute details. I too enjoy doing it that way than going through the tour operators. This also helps going through off beat areas and spending the time we want at places of our interest.
Great trip CBG. Waiting for the photos to unfold.
I missed out on Swiss. My brother went to swiss driving all around and he wasn't too impressed. It's got SRK posters at key areas
So I decided to skip Swiss and rather went to remote places of Netherlands. Different kind of fun. Ofcourse, I missed out on Italy, but then it's a world by itself and needs a lot of time!
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Old 19th July 2010, 15:28   #14
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Originally Posted by vasoo View Post
By the way your tour looks an interesting option. Bu I think you missed out the "Jewel of the Crown", Switzerland in your trip. May be you can plan another exclusive Swiss trip later. It is worth spending 4-5 days there.
Swiss is definitely good - but highly commercialized. Austria is the same as Swiss, but not yet commercialized. Austria is a very beautiful country - with the advantage of preserved nature. Once we are close to Alpine mountains, it does not matter where we are. It could be northern Italy, Western Austria, Southern Germany, Eastern France or Switzerland.

Now - Switzerland is also included in Schengen group. So, separate VISA is not required. May-be, next time!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
I had 4 forays in to Europe. All arranged by myself and planned to the minute details. I too enjoy doing it that way than going through the tour operators. This also helps going through off beat areas and spending the time we want at places of our interest.
Great trip CBG. Waiting for the photos to unfold.
I missed out on Swiss. My brother went to swiss driving all around and he wasn't too impressed. It's got SRK posters at key areas
So I decided to skip Swiss and rather went to remote places of Netherlands. Different kind of fun. Ofcourse, I missed out on Italy, but then it's a world by itself and needs a lot of time!
Exactly. Usual places are generally boring. If you visit Austria, you will enjoy more then visiting Swiss. Italy, as you said - is the master piece.

Last edited by Chethan B G : 19th July 2010 at 15:47.
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Old 19th July 2010, 18:21   #15
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RGBC - Goa:

Membership here is similar to Club-Mahendra. I have a week per year (points based time shared properties) in their resort in Goa. I can utilize that or exchange it with any other resort in the world. They have a tie up with around 3000 resorts worldwide along with the tie up with RCI. Getting accomodation is not very easy - But possible. Since we planned in the month of April / May, it was better. After May, summer starts and it becomes too crowded.

A member can carry forward the current year's points to the next year. And also prepone the points of the future 2 years. I have used up all the points until 2010. We get excellent accomodation. Single bed room serviced apartments, with fully furnished kitchen, swimming pool ... etc.

In Europe, double bedroom with attached bathroom is termed as 4 star! The accomodation we got can be termed as 7 star!


Devon Court in England

Europe on a Budget - 5 weeks trip with family on a backpack!-devon-court.jpg

Europe on a Budget - 5 weeks trip with family on a backpack!-p4280705.jpg


Alpine Centre in Austria


Europe on a Budget - 5 weeks trip with family on a backpack!-p4260498.jpg

Europe on a Budget - 5 weeks trip with family on a backpack!-p4260496.jpg


Eurail Details:

Eurorail Tickets, Europe Train Tickets & Europe Rail Ticket | Eurail


Europe on a Budget - 5 weeks trip with family on a backpack!-p4160184.jpg


Britrail Details:

Official BritRail Pass - British Rail, England Train Tickets

Last edited by Chethan B G : 19th July 2010 at 18:26.
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