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Europe - first timers.

posts: 680
reviews: 8
Europe - first timers.

We are venturing to Europe for the first time in July 2013, for 3 months, and I'm worried about the best way to book flights between countries we wish to travel to. We will spend time in England, Scotland & Ireland, & proceed from there to Lisbon, and then try & visit as many countries as we have time for. We have our return flights from Australia to London all booked.

How far in advance do we need to book flights, should I use an agent?

We will be travelling with our ipad, but then I won't be able to print boarding passes etc if we are required to check in online.

Please help with some advice, as I feel quite overwhelmed, and we aren't exactly young, so not as savvy as other travellers!

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Bargain Travel, Food and Travel
posts: 16,744
reviews: 45
1. Re: Europe - first timers.

It's great you're planning your own holidays, and don't believe for one minute that your age will impair your ability to do it all confidently. You'll get great advice on here.

Booking internal flights within Europe is best done going directly with the airlines. I've enjoyed hassle free and economical travel using Easyjet, Ryanair, Vueling, but at the same time, don't discount special fares on larger carriers like BA and on lesser occasions such as AF and KLM.

You mentioned you're only travelling with an iPad - you won't have Internet access wherever accommodation you're staying?

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 17,472
reviews: 5
2. Re: Europe - first timers.

Don't forget that you can do a lot of travel within Europe by train. This site is UK centric (it focuses on trains from UK to Europe), but still gives a lot of great information on rail travel in Europe - http://www.seat61.com/

For air travel from the UK to Portugal you have BA, TAP and low cost carriers. As well as OLCI only low cost carriers (easyJet has just gone that route in addition to RyanAir) be aware of the LCC's baggage requirements and fees.

Of course for OLCI you can use computers in hotels or find Internet cafes. They're still around

Without knowing exactly where you plan on going after Portugal it's not easy to help much more.

Edited: 12:56 am, May 02, 2013
South Pole
posts: 15,408
reviews: 39
3. Re: Europe - first timers.

u can check in on line with an ipad.

just print out your BP when u get to the airport.

posts: 680
reviews: 8
4. Re: Europe - first timers.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond.

Can we just book a flight a few days before we wish to fly?

We thought we may go from Portugal to Spain, then Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, Germany & then back to London for our departure back to Australia.

Does this route make sense? We don't want to cram too much in & end up exhausted.

Train travel sounds like a good option, as it will give us a chance to see some of the country side.

Any suggestions are very much appreciated!

posts: 495
5. Re: Europe - first timers.

The route makes sense only if you have three months or more.

Fredericia, Denmark
Destination Expert
for Bentota, Beruwala, Sri Lanka
posts: 36,418
reviews: 7
6. Re: Europe - first timers.

Too crammed. Cut at least half of the countries.

South Pole
posts: 15,408
reviews: 39
7. Re: Europe - first timers.

"Can we just book a flight a few days before we wish to fly?"

yes u can but usually that means the fare will be the most expensive.

when travelling around Europe the train option is pretty good.

they are usually pretty fast, run regularly, u go from city centre to city centre, no airport hassles ie. security/shuttles/waiting time/baggage restrictions/comfort plus u actually get to see things on the way.

that's a pretty big itinerary....as said more than a few month's worth.

posts: 680
reviews: 8
8. Re: Europe - first timers.

Thanks everyone, we will definitley look at using the train option, avoiding airport hassles sounds great.

We do have 3 months, but I may have to look at leaving some places out!

Thank you again.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
posts: 47,094
reviews: 14
9. Re: Europe - first timers.

That is a massive amount of travelling to do, even with three months. USBT mentioned the seat61 website, but don't forget www.eurostar.com and the individual countries' rail operators' websites.

By the end of this month it will be possible to travel from London to Barcelona by train, in just 10 hours, including the change in Paris. Trainhotels have sleeper carriages as well as cars with couchettes - not quite as spacious, but a place where you can lie down and get some rest, a nice way to travel on a longer journey.

Booking flights, rail tickets and accommodation at short notice will more often than not mean paying £££ / €€€ for the privilege of doing so. Book in advance and collect tickets at rail stations; use your iPad for on line check in for filghts. If you book with an airline who asks you to come to the airport with boarding passes in hand, print them at a library or internet cafe. Some hotels may print boarding passes for you as well.

Since you plan to travel soon, you'll need to sort out an itinerary sharpish and start booking transport and hotels, if you've not done so. You've got homework aplenty to do!

Adelaide, Australia
posts: 9,682
reviews: 32
10. Re: Europe - first timers.

yes you are planning to fit in a lot but IMO its perfectly doable. We spent around 5 months in Europe in 2009 - after having spent a month in the Middle East - and then flying to North America for another month.

We went from Turkey to Greece to Slovenia to Croatia to Austria to Czech to Hungary to Russia to UK, to France to Spain, to Portugal back to France and then to Italy. In that time we did a one week bike and barge tour in the Loire Valley and a one week walk on the Camino de Santiago. We did catch trains and buses for quite a bit of our travel - and used LCC airlines as well. But you DO need to book well ahead and as July is high season you will also need to book accom well ahead too. May already be too late in some places to get the best deal.

We are going to the Cinque Terre this August and already our first choice hotels were booked up when we tried for them two months ago.

As others have said you have a number of options for printing out boarding passes -eg libraries, internet cafes and hotel receptions.

My advice will be DO NOT use an agent. Most of them are useless and have no idea of how to plan a complex holiday - unless you are interested in package tours.

BTW - we are both senior cits - certainly doesn't slow us down.

Edited: 2:08 am, May 02, 2013