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Old 08-06-2006, 02:14 AM   #1
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gday all. being a newbie i dont know much but wat i do is that im backpacking one of these days. i plan to travel in 2008 after school. i will leave that australian winter behind to meet the european winter so im aware that i will need to book a lot in advance due to the busier times. im worried that if i do plan every night in advance with the appropriate transport, that my schedule will be unflexable though. however, if i only plan the occassional night in a hostel im worried i will not hav somewhere to stay sooner or later. what should i do? and also where do i stay if absolutely everywhere is full?

any advice is appreciated, thanks all!
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Old 08-06-2006, 04:18 AM   #2
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Most major towns will have something available, even at the height of summer - it might be nasty, or it might be costly, but there'll be somewhere. If you're planning on visiting during a major event (Running of the Bulls, a big music festival or sporting event), you probably won't find anywhere if you leave it to the last minute, but for just random places you should be alright. There are often campgrounds outside major cities, which can be a good cheap alternative if the hostel's full, and if you even can't get in there, you might be able to share with someone who has already got a spot (in Biarritz I once shared a tent with a couple of guys I met on the train, because the hostel was full. Had to use my towel as a sleeping bag, but it was only for one night.)

A lot of places, there will be people at the station promoting rooms - either in hostels or in private homes, so you should have quite a selection even at the height of summer. But another useful option to know about are two budget hotel chains, Etap and Formule 1, which rent very basic rooms for very basic prices - Formule 1s are generally in the 20 - 30 Euro range (and feature shared loos in the hall), while Etaps are in the 30 - 50 Euro range, depending on location. We stayed in one in Paris for 43 Euro/night, while the one in Salzburg was about 35. They do have en suite bathrooms, and the rooms can accommodate up to three people (if two don't mind sharing a double bed), though sometimes there is a supplement for a third person. Generally it's only a couple of Euro, so these can be a good option if you wind up meeting a couple of other travelers with no place to stay. Split three ways, the rooms can even be cheaper than some hostels.

It's probably a good idea to book accommodations for the first few nights, so you don't have that to worry about when you first arrive. If you can plan to stay in the same place for a couple of days when you first land, that'll give you a bit of time to recover from the jet lag and acclimatize to your new surroundings before your trip starts in earnest. But you don't have to book every night - I'd suggest just the beginning, possibly the end, if you have a fixed departure date, and if there's anywhere that you particularly want to be on a particular night (for a concert, festival or other special event that you decide you absolutely cannot miss), you could book there to be sure to have a place.

One other thing to remember - even if you can't find a place to stay right in a big city, there are tons of smaller communities all around them, generally with excellent public transit links, where you might be able to stay. For instance, if you wanted to visit Cologne, but couldn't find room, Bonn is less than an hour away and less popular with tourists. Or, if Bruges was on your must-see list, you could find accommodations in Brussels (about an hour away), or Ostend (even less) and travel in for the day. A lot of times when we travel, we pick one, smallish town as our base and daytrip to all the tourist sites around, without having to move our gear every couple of days, or pay the big city prices. You could stay at a lovely little guesthouse in the village next to ours, for 25 Euro/night (including breakfast), and daytrip to Cologne, Trier, Luxembourg, Dusseldorf, Bonn, Frankfurt in about two hours, but if you stayed in a similar hotel in any of those cities, you'd be paying at least twice as much. True, the smaller towns often don't have youth hostels, but there are still plenty dotted around.

Good luck with the planning, and welcome to the boards.

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Old 08-06-2006, 12:42 PM   #3
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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(tumblezweedz @ Aug 6 2006, 06:18 AM) [snapback]133836[/snapback]</div>
Quote:
One other thing to remember - even if you can't find a place to stay right in a big city, there are tons of smaller communities all around them, generally with excellent public transit links, where you might be able to stay. For instance, if you wanted to visit Cologne, but couldn't find room, Bonn is less than an hour away and less popular with tourists. Or, if Bruges was on your must-see list, you could find accommodations in Brussels (about an hour away), or Ostend (even less) and travel in for the day. A lot of times when we travel, we pick one, smallish town as our base and daytrip to all the tourist sites around, without having to move our gear every couple of days, or pay the big city prices. You could stay at a lovely little guesthouse in the village next to ours, for 25 Euro/night (including breakfast), and daytrip to Cologne, Trier, Luxembourg, Dusseldorf, Bonn, Frankfurt in about two hours, but if you stayed in a similar hotel in any of those cities, you'd be paying at least twice as much. True, the smaller towns often don't have youth hostels, but there are still plenty dotted around.
[/b]

That is a great idea!! I will definitly use that on my trip!
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Old 08-06-2006, 01:15 PM   #4
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I agree with tumble and also say that I book as I go in Europe unless I have set dates for flights and such. So when I am in one place I book for the next and usually staying longer (or shorter) is not an issue.

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Old 08-06-2006, 07:32 PM   #5
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thanks for the detailed and generous reply tumble!!
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