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Help needed planning my trip!

Redmond, Washington
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Help needed planning my trip!

Hi everyone!

Phew, I was to be in London in Feb which got pushed to April which now finally got pushed to May. But this time seems confirmed. I've got holiday approved for 13 days in May in which I'm planning in coming to London. I'm booking a direct filght from Dallas to London.

Seeing as I was in London for 10 days last Aug, I don't want to spend all 13 days in London. (I know and agree with the comment to this stmt already - you can never see enough of London).

I wanted to branch out to a bit of continental Europe this time. To be VERY specific, these are the countries I want to see -

1. Netherlands OR

2. Belgium OR

3. Iceland

I'd like to see only one country, unless there's a touristy one that combines Holland and Belgium.

Any ideas? Like, any good travel companies that have nice 4-5 day organised trips for independent travellers. I'm not looking for anything too fancy or hi price which attracts families. I'd feel left out! <g>

To those that don't know me, I'm 29 yrs old Male and single. I usually like the whole backpacking thing - staying in hostels and meeting other like minded independent travellers.



PS - to all the regulars in the London forum, greetings everyone! :) Hope you're all doing safe.

Redmond, Washington
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1. Re: Help needed planning my trip!

Anyone? :)

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Help needed planning my trip!

Is that 13 days total, or 13 working days (almost three weeks!)?

I'll guess that you've got just under two weeks to have a fab trip. I'll jump in at the deep end and say go to Iceland, even though you just got back from NZ.

It's such a fab place, and even if you don't get much past the south and west, you can see things like no place else on earth.

BA are starting flights LGW-KEF in March, and I suspect that'll mean fare wars with Icelandair (FI), who fly out of wretched T2 to KEF. If you book at icelandair.co.uk, you'll find LHR-KEF fares for about half the price quoted at icelandair.com (don't know why, but that's how it goes). Icelandair also offer deals on hotels, but you'd probably get a kick out of staying at the HI hostel (near a wonderful swimming complex) or the Salvataion Army Guesthouse. Iceland Express are a LCC offering flights from STN, if you want to have a look there, too.

A day to tour RKV, a day to do the Golden Circle, one day to head north for a whale watching trip (check www.saeferdir.is), and another to go for a SuperJeep or snowmobile ride on a glacier, and there's your time.

You can fly out of LHR on the FI flight at 2130, arriving KEF 2310, and be ready to go the next morning. Head out on an 0745 back to LHR -it's a blast to get on the Flybus from central RKV at 0430 on a Sunday morning and have the streets heaving with people who've just finished clubbing for the night - the difference between them and the half-asleep tourists is fun to see.

It's expensive (I take it back, it's very expensive), but worth every penny.

Not that I want to make up your mind for you, you know...

www.re.is and www.this.is/iceland for some ideas, esp the latter, as it's a booking agency operated by young people, and I think the activities might suit you just fine. When in May are you going?

Lichfield, United...
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3. Re: Help needed planning my trip!

Hi Vikram

Have you thought about giving the rest of the UK a look? About an hour's train journey will get you to Brighton. A nice seaside town. 3/4 hours will get you down to Cornwall or into Wales.

If you fancy cities then what about Birmingham, Manchester or Glasgow?

You have plenty of parks to explore if that is your thing. The Peak Distict, The Lake District or Snowdonia to mention a few.

Stratford-upon Avon for a bit of culture. In fact if you stopped off in Birmingham you could get to Stratford in about 1/2 an hour. Same with Warwick - big castle there and lots of Tudor buildings. Pop up to Lichfield for a beautiful building in the form of a cathedral.

There is plenty to do and see around the rest of the UK. It doesn't start and end with London.

Just a few thoughts for you.


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4. Re: Help needed planning my trip!

As a London dweller i suppose I ought to defend the capital, but while I prefer to live here I tend to agree with Alice that there are some lovely other parts to see, what about York opr Oxford and/or cambridge, both very easily accessible. You could add on a trip via Bruges and Ghent to Amsterdam which is very user friendly,not too expensive and very close, you could see all that for a fraction of the Iceland costs. Iceland is spectacular in parts but it just seems a bit too much to cram in especially if cost is an issue.

Washington DC...
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5. Re: Help needed planning my trip!

Hi Vikram,

Yeah, for only 13 days, it might be best to stay in the UK. Especially if you like to really take in where you're staying and not feel rushed.

Bath is a nice combo w/London. You could also include Bristol which is not far from Bath.

Can't remember - did you and your parents visit Bath last Summer?

I hope your plans include a canalboat ride on the Regent's Canal this time 'round!


Colorado, USA
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6. Re: Help needed planning my trip!

I've never been to Iceland, but want to go some day, so can't comment on that. I would pick the Netherlands over Belgium. If you do decide on Belgium, I would pick Brugge over Brussels....it's much nicer in my opinion. You could do a day trip from Amsterdam to Brugge. Since you're an independent traveler, you could easily do all this on your own without an organized group...unless you're looking for that. I'm the one who posted the Thornton's Chocolate suggestion, so I hope you were able to get food later in the day!!! (BTW, I used to live in Dallas years ago:-)

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7. Re: Help needed planning my trip!

hi you could take the eurostar and go to brussels in belgium. or if you can find a hire car company which will let u travel abroad you could take the ferry or eurotunnel to calais and then drive round northern france, holland and belgium for a few days. i just got back from brugge in belgium which was great. we drove there using the euro tunnel to calais and it took about an hour to get there from claias. u could then go to amsterdam which is prob another 2-3 hours from brugge so maybe stop at another town on the way. im 22 and my bf is 24 and we had a great time in both cities.

Redmond, Washington
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8. Re: Help needed planning my trip!

I love you guys! Thanks so much for the informative responses.

A couple of clarifications first before I go on to asking more questions based on your answers ...

1. This is 13 days total. Dates are Thurs May 18th to Tues May 30th (the day after Memorial Day wknd). If I get a good headstart and plan early, I could perhaps add 2-3 days more although I'd like to keep it to 13 days.

2. This will probably be my 5th (or 6th?) trip to the UK. I've visited Scotland already (luv it!) and except for St.Andrews I've seen pretty much everything in Scotland. I don't want to go there this time. In England, I've been to London, Bath, Lake District, Statford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle and 2 hrs at Oxford (not enough!).

3. My "ideal" holiday (like my previous trips) would be a combination of self-travel and group-travel. I spend a few days on my own (random city walks, museums and shopping, hop-on hop-off bus, etc) and a few days around the country on tours with fellow bkpkers (companies like Haggis Adventures) where you're free to do your own thing but at the same time you have ppl to talk to on the bus, in the hostel, go out for a drink with, etc. I'd feel too bored doing just self-travel or group-travel.

TravellerPlus - You remember my NZ trip! Please be honest (as you're well travelled), do you think that Iceland will be similar to NZ? Or put it this way, do you think I'd get more value for money if I visited Holland and Belgium instead of Iceland (seeing as Iceland is more similar to NZ than Hol or Bel?). I'm not particular that I have to do physical stuff. Even a trip with plenty of Kodak moments is enough for me.

About the travel, I'm getting a ridiculously cheap fare on icelandair.com. Inclusive of tax, around 700$ for a multicity trip that goes DFW -> NYC -> Rejyavik -> LHR and back. AA is costing 703$ just for DFW-LGW return!! I'll "worry" about the route later though, I first want to nail down my destinations so that I can start working for my visa (Remember I'm an Indian citizen which means every $^%2#ing country asks for a visa before I leave the US).

I put in a dummy itn last night which gives me 7 full days in Iceland and 6 days in the UK.

Next, you write "It's expensive (I take it back, it's very expensive), but worth every penny" ---> what is expensive? Is it just the activity you mentioned or Iceland in general? (acco, food, trips, etc).

I'll check that website you gave, thanks. I'll also check with them if they have any trips that go for 4-5 days rather than 4 or 5 one-day trips. It's so hard finding tours for backpackers/budget travellers in Iceland unlike the UK where you have 100s of operators.

AliceInHerPartyDress - Nice username! <g> Thanks for those tips. No, I've not visited B'ham or Man. I've been to Lake District and most of the other places you mentioned. But seeing I'm travelling so 'far' from TX, I don't want every trip of mine to become a be-all end-all UK. I'm Indian which means we have that mandatory trip back to India every yr as well, so I can't travel that often to other places, and I'd like to cover some other countries in Europe this time as well ;-)

andreaski18 - YOu repeat the same comment TPlus made about Iceland being a cost. So I take it, that you people are trying to imply to me is that no use paying all that money and cramming your trip to 6 days in Iceland?

offtolondon - Yep, been to Bath. And yep, hoping for "Little Venice" this time ;-) As I was telling Alice, I'd really like to go see a bit of Europe.

This is what I was hoping to do in/around London this time -

a. 1 day Kensington Palace, 1 day just random London roaming

b. 2 evenings free for 2 diff museums (I'm not a museum/art fan and I got a bit bored with Saatchi tbh).

c. A day each @ Cambridge and another town (Canterbury? St.Albans? Dover?) Perhaps a 1 day trip that clubs 2 or 3 places although I know you don't get quality time in each.

So it comes down again to the basic questions -

a) which of the above 3 countries would best give me a bang-for-a-buck?

b) Like TPlus suggested that this.is/iceland website, do you guys know of any 3-4 days trip organisers in Hol and Bel for independent travellers? (check out Haggisadventures.com to get an idea of the kind of tour organisers I'm looking for)

Thanks again for replying guys! Waiting for your responses again...



Redmond, Washington
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9. Re: Help needed planning my trip!

More replies...thanks!

cologuy - I love Thorntons'! Shame we don't get it in Dallas. The truth is, I am looking for an organised group b'cos even though being an independent traveller has its advantages in terms of flexibility, I don't want to get bored being by myself all the time! But that sounds good.. a day trip to Bruge. I'll keep that in mind, thx. Do let me know however if you can find any tour companies that you know of, FOR inde. travellers vs for families. Cheers!

bex1983 - Thx for your reply mate! I prefer not to drive on my own as I'll be so busy driving I won't get time to enjoy the beauty. My travel manthra has always been - let someone else drive. that way you either enjoy the beauty or have time to nap! :)

Cape Town, South...
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10. Re: Help needed planning my trip!

Hi Vikram, missed your post the first time. Just wanted to say hi and I'm JEALOUS!!!! you lucky thing you, going again so soon. <g>

My sister-in-law and husband did the eurostar to Brussels and then caught a train to Amsterdam and had a good time, but I don;t think money was a problem for them (unlike me :( )

I must say, if I had a choice I would go to Iceland, seems so different to anywhere else. I did research of Norway though and found everything much more expensive than England!

Look forward to see what you decide, good luck and stay well!