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Go Back   REVscene Automotive Forum > Vancouver LifeStyles (VLS) > Vacations and World Travel

Vacations and World Travel Visiting our beautiful city? Come stay at the Arbutus Vista - Vancouver's Bed & Breakfast.
How was your trip? Which tour packages would you recommend/avoid? Must do's and must eats? Share tips, photos and experiences with other senior RS members who just want to get away..

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Old 05-07-2011, 06:17 PM   #1
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backpacking in europe

Hi guys, I did a search on RS and I couldn't find exact answers to some amateur questions that I have.

Hopefully some of you can shed some light on this as this is my first time backpacking europe (france/czech/poland/hungary/austria/germany) for a month.

1) I'm planning on getting a really nice backpacking bag (no luggage), would MEC do? I'm quite sure no one brings a rolling luggage...I don't want to.

2) Is it absolutely essential to book hostels before flying over? Would it make more sense to just buy a nice guide book and plan as we're heading to the next city? I don' tknow where i'm getting with this question lol, but I'm just wondering if getting into hostels are difficult or not (fully booked often)

4) any guide books that any of you can personally recommend? I was reading some threads and Frommer's is apparently decent? Michelin? I guess the emphasis would be on a good map of hostels/hotels/attractions/foods, wait I just mentioned pretty much everything.psh..

3) random tips? Some of the sites I've looked at to find tips have just sent me a crap load of generic tips with a lot of ads...

Again, thanks guys
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Last edited by akalic; 05-07-2011 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 05-07-2011, 08:52 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akalic View Post
Hopefully some of you can shed some light on this as this is my first time backpacking europe (france/czech/poland/hungary/austria/germany) for a month.
I've been to all the countries in your list with the exception of Poland and Hungary. That's an awesome, solid list, in my opinion.

Quote:
1) I'm planning on getting a really nice backpacking bag (no luggage), would MEC do? I'm quite sure no one brings a rolling luggage...I don't want to.
Yes. I went to Europe three times with a MEC bag. It was more than sufficient. Wish I had brought over a bigger bag in order to lug around some souvenirs but I somehow managed.

Quote:
2) Is it absolutely essential to book hostels before flying over? Would it make more sense to just buy a nice guide book and plan as we're heading to the next city? I don' tknow where i'm getting with this question lol, but I'm just wondering if getting into hostels are difficult or not (fully booked often)
In my experience, only because I went for short periods of time, I booked my hostels/hotels in advance. If you do not have a set itinerary, you can always book your accommodations on the fly, pending you have a small netbook or stop by net cafes often.

I would suggest doing some preliminary research of each country/city just so you know what you're getting yourself in to but otherwise, pick up a Lonely Planet guide or what have you. There is no right or wrong in how to do this.

Some hostels can be difficult to book depending on its popularity and time of year. Again, I highly recommend and urge you to do some preliminary research first. It never hurts.

Quote:
4) any guide books that any of you can personally recommend? I was reading some threads and Frommer's is apparently decent? Michelin? I guess the emphasis would be on a good map of hostels/hotels/attractions/foods, wait I just mentioned pretty much everything.psh..
I've had good experience with Lonely Planet (for Prague. You can borrow mine if you want.) I found their guides to be up to date and quite accurate to some extent. I did browse through Frommer's and Michelin guides but I was more so interested in the overall layout and format. Spend some time at Chapters and just browse around. Otherwise, I've always relied on WikiTravel.

Quote:
3) random tips? Some of the sites I've looked at to find tips have just sent me a crap load of generic tips with a lot of ads...

Again, thanks guys
As I mentioned, check out WikiTravel.org.

You're welcome and enjoy your trip!
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Old 05-08-2011, 05:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akalic View Post
Hi guys, I did a search on RS and I couldn't find exact answers to some amateur questions that I have.

1) I'm planning on getting a really nice backpacking bag (no luggage), would MEC do? I'm quite sure no one brings a rolling luggage...I don't want to.
some people do the rolling luggage thing, if you're only going to larger cities with a lot of pavement, then yeah it could be to your advantage. backpacks are always going to be more versatile of course, like if you have to run to catch that train or whatever you do when you're in a hurry. my buddy traveled with an MEC bag, it was fine. there's other companies also just hit up the travel stores along broadway and take a look and try them out. just remember, bigger bags are great because you can carry more and buy more, but then you have to lug it around and if it's 45C out, it's not so fun.

Quote:
2) Is it absolutely essential to book hostels before flying over? Would it make more sense to just buy a nice guide book and plan as we're heading to the next city? I don' tknow where i'm getting with this question lol, but I'm just wondering if getting into hostels are difficult or not (fully booked often)
I would book the first hostel you go to after flying over. if you're itinerary is solid and all set then sure whatever why not book all in advanced. when i went over, i just booked the day before or even just showed up day of (don't recommend that one). rarely were we shut out and if we were, we just found another place. the popular hostels will be filled up early day of or won't be able to accommodate you for all nights or might split your party up. especially during peak season, (july to mid-august)

i just hit up hostelworld.com or hostels.com the day before and booked or at did some recon before heading out. i remember the guide books being pretty spotty on the hostels section.

Quote:
4) any guide books that any of you can personally recommend? I was reading some threads and Frommer's is apparently decent? Michelin? I guess the emphasis would be on a good map of hostels/hotels/attractions/foods, wait I just mentioned pretty much everything.psh..
frommer's, lonely planet and fodors, are all pretty standard, they all cover the same stuff. fodors had colour pictures which was nice when you are deciding where to go next and you've never heard of the place. when you get to the hostel just ask the front desk for recommendations.

Quote:
3) random tips? Some of the sites I've looked at to find tips have just sent me a crap load of generic tips with a lot of ads...

Again, thanks guys
travelpod.com might help, has other people's experiences.
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Old 05-08-2011, 06:11 PM   #4
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I haven't had the opportunity to make it to Europe yet but from my experiences trekking through the Americas and Asia I can at least comment on the luggage situation.

If you plan on really never leaving the cities and the tourist traps rolling luggage is fine for you but it's really not my style. I love to get off the beaten path and explore so for me it's backpacks all the way. Be sure to try on several different packs of different sizes, styles and brands - with 20 pounds or more of weight in them. MEC is a good place to start, try on several there and make sure you get the right fit for your frame (most larger packs have several frame/hipbelt sizes available). Don't be afraid to purchase the "cheap" MEC or REI branded backpacks, as they're some of the best valued products on the market, durable and well-thought out. I personally don't find the suspension on their larger packs to be all that comfortable (your mileage may vary - several of my friends adore them), and swear by Arc'teryx and Osprey backpacks.

I do try to get out in the wild wherever I travel and the types of packs that I own reflect that. Almost all of my backpacks have alpine specific features, tons of attachments outside for poles, ice axes, etc except for my Arc'teryx Altra 65. I love that pack and if it fits you well and you have the cash for it/plan on using it for years to come, I highly recommend it. No unnecessary addons, full frontal U-zipper so you aren't stuck with just a top loading option, highly adjustable suspension and fit. No removable adjustable lumbar pack but it's a real winner in my books.

Even in sketchy urban environments I don't go to the degree of locking my bag's accessable zippers or anything like that when I'm travelling around or sightseeing, as some people would. I do however put a small double gated S-biner through the zippers to dissuade a potential pickpocket or even just to help prevent an accidental opening, dumping your possessions everywhere. Obviously also useful to clip a small whatever to your pack.. I also always make sure that I have a lightweight pack cover, as I've been caught out in rain many times and some of the best experiences I've ever had have been when many other tourists stay in and hide from the weather.

TLDR: comfort > all when selecting a pack, have fun in Europe!
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Old 05-08-2011, 11:15 PM   #5
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thank you so much for all the replies you guys.

I've got my eyes set on this bag: http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...34374302699867

I'm trying to convince my partner to get a bag but i'm guessing a luggage isn't all that bad, given we drop things off at the hostel in the morning and hang around the city until the evening. It's not like i'd be lugging my bag around town anyways, I think it's in my best interest to drop the load regardless if i'm using a bag or not (right?)

I know i don't have much to say regarding the comments you guys made but i've taken everything that you guys have said into consideration! I'm sure i'll have some questions here in a weeks time...i'm leaving at the end of this month.
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Old 05-08-2011, 11:40 PM   #6
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Oh man. That bag should be more than enough. I went to Europe the first time with a similar bag, if not, one with the same capacity.

Just remember to bring a good lock and always lock your stuff up at the hostel. Don't let anything go out of your sight because otherwise - it'll be gone forever.
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