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3 replies
Travel alone or with a tour
jess1
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Hi, I’m debating whether or not to tour on my own or with a tour group like Contiki. The tour itself is $1900 for 14 days and we see about 8 countries and I share a room with someone. I’ve heard mixed reviews on Contiki but do the pros of having everything&nbsplanned, out way the cons of having everything planned and being potentially stuck with a bunch of drunk kids? I’m a pretty good planner so I think I could plan it all myself but just looking up hotels myself and their at least $100 a night! Any thoughts, insight? TIA!
 
Jessica

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I would look at doing this on your own.  You should be able to tour quite comfortably for the same amount of money.  You probably can’t “see” as many places because you have to work out the travel logistics of getting around, but on an “8 countries in 14 days” tour a lot of your “seeing” is going to be through the window of a moving bus anyway.

As for Contiki, I don’t think I’ve ever read about anybody really having a bad time on a Contiki tour.  However, beware of the rave reviews — we’ve found that many of them are written by marketing interns working for Contiki or others who got free or reduced price trips in return for posting about their wonderful experiences on Contiki.  We dealt with a bunch of them here about a year ago.

You certainly don’t need to stay in $100 a night hotels.  One person should be able to sleep in comfortable hotels for $50 a night and you can usually stay in hostels for $20 or 30.  Do some reading in the “hostels” forum and look at some guidebooks like Let’s Go, Rough Guide or Lonely Planet that are designed for budget travelers at your local library and book store. 

jess1
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Ya, I definitely don’t want to see 80% of Europe through the windows of a bus!!
 
Thanks for the advice! I did pick up a general Europe book yesterday and I saw the budget ones so I’m definitely going to pick one of those up!
 
As for being alone the whole time, part of me is okay with that and part of me is worried that I’m going to be in bed at 8 every night because it won’t be safe to go out by myself and I won’t meet anyone! Do you meet people? Can you trust people?
 
If I wanted to see London, Netherlands, France and at least Italy would you recommend a rail pass or would the individual cost be cheaper? I think the 15 day pass was $675 which seemed pretty pricey since it didn’t include getting out of London.
 
Thanks again for your help!
 
Jessica

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I would definitely stay in hostels.  You’ll meet tons of other travelers and can hook up with them for an evening, a day or two or even the entire trip.

How old are you?  You’ve listed the price for an adult pass (age 26 and over).  I don’t think you’ll want a 15 day railpass — you won’t be taking enough long and expensive train trips to make it pay.  This is particularly  true if you’re 26 and must buy a 1st class pass — all the locals and all the other budget travelers will be in 2nd class besides the fact that the pass is pretty pricy.  Look at a 5 day (5 days of train travel as opposed to 15 consecutive days) select pass for France, Benelux and Italy, or maybe a France/Benelux pass and then point to point tickets in Italy.  Also, look for cheap flights between London, Paris or Amsterdam and “anywhere in Italy.”  Look for another to get back from somewhere in Italy to another of the cities.  Flights on budget airlines can save both time and money over train tickets.  Just be sure to add the time and cost to get from city center to and from the airports and the time needed for check-in and airport security to your calculations — it takes a minimum of about 5 hours to fly anywhere.  www.whichbudget.com will tell you which budget airlines fly which routes.  Take the train between London, Paris and Amsterdam and throughout Italy.

You’ll find more help on the “transport” “favorite places” and “cheap flights” forums.  Look around at a couple of weeks worth of old posts.