Solo Europe backpacking tour package?
August 5, 2011 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Is there such thing as a backpacking tour of Western Europe that ISN'T a group tour? Something where all of the arrangements are made for you but you do the tour by yourself?

I want to go to Europe by myself but having some solo travel experience I know how much pre-booking of all kinds of things is involved unless I want to spend half my time there trying to get on a computer at a hostel to book things.
The idea of having everything pre-arranged seems appealing: it may not be exactly what I want to do but having never been to Europe how could it not be awesome.
The idea of doing it with a group however is far from appealing.
posted by dino terror to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I suppose you could talk with a travel agent and have the travel agent book all your bus/train tickets and your hostel reservations ahead of time.

Or you could just call up the hostels yourself and make reservations ahead of time, and plan out your schedule that way.

What exactly do you want to pre-arrange?
posted by deanc at 12:50 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think that much pre-booking is necessary. Every time I've gone backpacking, I've just shown up in each town and checked the places the guidebook recommends or just walked around and found someplace to stay. It always worked out. Not pre-booking things allows your trip to be more flexible.
posted by pravit at 12:52 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have a look at Untours, they are not group-oriented and may be able to help you plan this out.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:58 PM on August 5, 2011

Response by poster: What exactly do you want to pre-arrange?

Flight, Shuttle to Hostel, Hostel, Rail Pass, Sightseeing Bus Tour, Car Rental, Rinse and Repeat for the next country.
posted by dino terror at 1:15 PM on August 5, 2011

Why would you need to pre-arrange any of that but the flight and possibly the hostel? In any case, it would be much easier to do those aspects yourself in advance rather than try and find a pre-organised trip.
posted by turkeyphant at 2:35 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

The overwhelming majority of this can be planned in a weekend, if that. Try Hostelworld for hostels and cheap hotels. You shouldn't need a shuttle to the hostel--there should be a bus or rail link from the airport. You can buy a rail pass online, though I admit I found the website somewhat impenetrable. It got done, though. Just about any hostel will probably tell you about multiple bus and walking tours. And so on.
posted by hoyland at 3:26 PM on August 5, 2011

I've used hostelworld in Europe and South America with much success before. It's great.

In terms of rails, you need to find the company that runs the train you're looking at. For example, traveling between Germany and France you'll want the deutsche bahn most likely. Just go to their site and book the ticket. They'll try and redirect you to a north american affiliate (looks like you're in canada) which has much more expensive prices for some reason. However, if you tell them you want to buy from the UK site you'll get the same price as everyone else buying. I believe the prices get more expensive as the tickets run out so try and buy early.

I doubt you'd be able to arrange shuttles and whatnot before time, but have no fear there'll be plenty of shuttles/tours/etc for you to take advantage of when you get to your spots. Europe is full of tourists.

Good luck!
posted by jourman2 at 3:33 PM on August 5, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses!
posted by dino terror at 4:37 PM on August 5, 2011

I'm of the pre-booking personality, and yeah, you can totally book all this sort of stuff online before you go. I've found the lonely planet forums to be quite useful.

The only problem with pre-booking is that not all places look as nice in real life as they do on their web page. Google reviews for places that you'd like to stay. Now, you will (on a budget, 100% certain) stay in 'interesting' and 'character-filled' places, but you can try and avoid the holes by doing some judicious googling before hand. Negative reviews sometimes sound like they are written by a crazy person, but if there are more than one and some of them are coherent, then it is probably best to avoid.

Book stuff on credit card so that you can charge back easily if you find somewhere is just not worth staying in. Sometimes you have to find somewhere else to stay at short notice.

Seat61 is great for train info.

I've been to the UK and Paris and Amsterdam (as well as other places around the world not relevant to this question) and YHA hostels are pretty nice, not so much 'party scene' hostels which is nice if you want to sleep. In Paris we didn't find a hostel, tried a bizarre BnB then stayed in a hotel that was a little bit like 'happiness hotel' from the Muppets near the Gare du nord. after the bizarre experience of the BnB (crazy hostess, price quoted was actually for one night rather than one week, interesting architecture) we enjoyed the personal space even though in other circumstances we would have thought it a bit dodgy.
In Amsterdam we stayed in a nice hostel. Hostels were actually some of the best budget accommodation we stayed in. We also would stay in motels and bnbs, but didn't often book ahead for these.

The strange places you stay make for the best stories anyway. :)
posted by titanium_geek at 6:47 PM on August 5, 2011

Edit: YHA = Youth Hostels Australia = Hostelling International (HI)
posted by titanium_geek at 6:50 PM on August 5, 2011

To be honest, as long as you're not travelling in peak season (June - August) you can normally just turn up without a booking. I've travelled a lot in Europe both backpacking and staying in hotels/b&bs, and other than during summer I've never needed to book in advance. It also means if you like somewhere you can stay a couple of extra days.

You should take a guide book so you have some accommodation options and aren't just flying blind - my favourite is the Rough Guide.

For travel from the airport - just get off the plane and find the information desk and they'll tell you the cheapest/best way to get into the city. And for sightseeing tours etc, just turn up the tourist information office when you arrive in each city and they will give you maps, book tours for you and so on.

In European cities you won't need a car- you'll only need one if you want to do a road trip, and then you can just go to one of the car rental companies at the airport or use a website like

If you're planning to travel any distance by train, look into getting a Eurail pass - it will be cheaper.

There are also jump-on-jump-off bus trips that will sort out the transport for you but are a bit more spontaneous than a fully organised tour. I did a few of these in the UK and you meet a lot of people, but you can go your own way if you want to.
posted by misscait at 5:51 AM on August 6, 2011

This might be more group like than you are looking for, but this tour is aimed at more independent travelers. This also sounds like a very good question for an old-fashioned travel agent.
posted by oryelle at 10:41 AM on August 6, 2011

Hostelworld is a great website, I've used it for trips to the UK, Europe and United States.
posted by stackhaus23 at 10:27 AM on August 7, 2011

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