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Interrail through Europe, tips wanted

Discussion in 'Travel' started by stiantha, May 25, 2008.

  1. stiantha

    stiantha Loaded Pockets

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    Hi, I'm going with my girlfriend around southern Europe by train for about a month this summer, and I'm looking for some tips on what to bring.

    I haven't bought a backpack yet but I'm thinking of a Bergans Trollhetta 95L

    I can't deep link into their site, but you'll find it under "Rucksack and carries" --> "Anatomic rucksacks" -->"Carrying system C-Flex" on this page. (95L is on top right)
    It costs about $500.

    Does anyone know of any good alternatives? I'd like it to be between 75 and 95 liters, and preferably sub $700. I really like that you can zip down the entire front of the Trollhetta, for easy access.
    Keep in mind that I'm in Norway, so international shipping is a must.

    I'm interested in helpful traveling tips as well, like which countries you can carry a knife in an so on.
    We will be traveling through: Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Denmark and Sweden

    Also, I'll post pictures of what I'm bringing here, so you guys can tell me if I'm missing something useful :)
     
  2. redflare

    redflare Empty Pockets

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    One way to save on hotel expenses is to take an overnight train with a sleeping compartment. Board in the evening, wake up in a new town in the morning. I think you have to reserve them in advance.

    Get Rick Steves books on travel, then you are pretty much set on what to do, what to see, where to the locals eat,etc. ...
     
  3. inthedark

    inthedark Empty Pockets

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    Sounds like a lot of fun, I did a month long trip about 5 years ago around most of Western Europe, in a lot of the same countries

    Do you plan on camping or backpacking during this trip? Do you anticipate on doing a lot of traveling in the future where you'll need a large backpack? Is this going to be a budget trip or a vacation?

    There's an old saying among travelers, "Pack half as much clothes, and twice as much money", that is almost always true. If you're not camping, my advice is to get a much smaller bag, if you need a 95L bag you're carrying way too much, that could easily end up being 50-60lbs (30 Kg). I had an Eagle Creek 65L travel bag ($140 on sale), and I thought I was packing light. But after the trip I realized i packed way too much stuff, if I were to do it again a 50L could have sufficed. The less you carry the happier you'll be. Most of the countries you are going to have major stores, so you don't want to pack the entire house with you, just buy what you need along the way.

    A full on suspension backpack really isn't necessary (unless you're planning on doing backpacking), most of the time you're only carrying it from the train to the hostel, or in the subway or on the bus. Sometimes the big thick padded hip belts and shoulder straps just get in the way. The travel bags usually have a stripped down suspension which are less bulky but still reasonably comfortable, plus they can be zipped away to cover all the straps.

    I don't know what available in Norway, but if you can find an international retailer, I'm sure you can find something much less than $700. A decent travel bag in the US cost about $200. You may consider buying a used bag unless you plan on traveling a lot in the future. A lot of people go out and buy a new bag for a trip such as this, then never use it again. I see a lot near new or only used once bags selling for less than 1/3 of the original price on craigslist.

    x2 on the overnight trains, a good way to save money on lodging and get a full day of sightseeing in.

    Don't have a set schedule, but just a general itinerary. Be flexible, plan out a general route, but dont' get boxed into following a strict schedule. You'll probably make a lot of changes along the way.

    Buy a cheap duffel bag big enough to hold your backpack. You can use it as a cover to protect your backpack, or as an extra bag to hold all your souveniers at the end of the trip.

    I don't know the knife laws in all the countries, but if nobody knows you're carrying one, then I don't think you'll run into any trouble.
     
  4. stiantha

    stiantha Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for the input :)

    I should have mentioned that I do some hiking and cross country skiing, so I want (for later use) a backpack that's not strictly a travel pack, but now that I think about it your are probably right inthedark, a 95L pack will just make me bring all sorts of crap :rolleyes:

    I already have an older pretty worn 65L pack, but it has two big side pockets so it's quite wide, not suitable for narrow train corridors, and if I don't fill them, the pack volume in only 58L.

    I want to fit any souvenirs and stuff bought on the trip in the pack, which means it must have some extra room when I leave home.

    Since we're both students it will definitely be a budget trip.
    We've booked hostels in Venice and Rome since we've heard it's hard to find vacant places there in July, other than that we'll find hostels as we go (or sleep on the train for the longer legs of the trip).

    I've been thinking of getting a Nokia N810 since I am a geek and it will be hard to go for a month without my precious internets, plus it has gps...
    Don't think I can afford one right now though... Found a couple on eBay, but none of the reasonably priced ones is shipping overseas.

    I've been reading on some travel sites and most people suggest you bring a universal sink stopper (flat rubber thingy) to do laundry in your room. Anyone know if this in necessary? We're only going to big cities, so I imagine we can find laundry places. Also, doesn't most sinks already have stoppers?
     
  5. greenLED

    greenLED Empty Pockets

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    Deuter makes extremely comfortable packs.

    You can always plug the sink with a tightly rolled-up sock.
     
  6. Crocodilo

    Crocodilo Loaded Pockets

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    Best tip I can give: on an interrail through southern Europe, if you decide to come to Portugal (and you really should), drop me a line! I can give you some pointers, depending on what you're after.
     
  7. MedusaOblongata

    MedusaOblongata Loaded Pockets

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    If you can find a good backpack with a retractable handle and wheels your back and shoulders will thank you for it. There's nothing like a backpack when you have to carry your gear, but on streets it's much easier to drag a wheeled bag.

    I went to Spain, Switzerland, and France last year and I brought a 55 Lb. bag, which was more than I really needed to drag all over the place. There's not much you'll need that you can't buy, so try to bring less.

    The little bit of research I was able to do on knife laws suggested that a tool is okay, but a weapon is not. So I settled on a Swiss Rescue Tool and a Leatherman Charge TTI (both have one hand opening blades, but easy to explain as tools). I never got searched, though, so I can't make any guarantees. (there are metal detectors at the Prado Museum in Madrid, but I knew about that in advance so didn't bring a knife. The Prado is the only museum I've ever been to that sucked - nothing but hundreds of paintings of jesus). A cane would be the best legal weapon, but a pain to carry around; if you can devise a sheath to attach it to your bag, though, it would be a good idea.

    If you haven't been to Switzerland and there's any way you can fit it in, see Z├╝rich. It was by far the best city I visited.

    Lots of good travel info available from Rick Steves, Tripadvisor.com, and Booking.com.

    Everything was more expensive than I had anticipated. Bring more money than you think you'll need.

    I brought a chain and a padlock which I used a few times to lock all of our bags together. Would make it a lot harder for someone to run off with a bag. (And when my GF's 2 bag set, which are designed to strap together, broke, the chain is what I used to reattach them.)
     
  8. inthedark

    inthedark Empty Pockets

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    Due to getting old and lazy, I've slowly become a convert to rolling luggage, they're great for business travel. But for travel throughout Europe I would still recommend using a backpack. Too many stairs, steps, curbs, platforms, and buses that you're constanly stepping up and down, I think a rolling luggage would just be more trouble.

    Here's a pretty good site for travelling light. If you're thinking of getting a large backpack for other travel, then this trip would be a good excuse to get it now. You just have to be very careful to avoid overpacking. Since you'll have so much space, there is a really strong tempatation to just pack in extra items "just in case". Pretty soon all those extras add up to a lot of weight.How wide is your older 65L pack? You could always use the main compartment for your stuff,then only put souveniers in the side pockets as you buy them. 58L should be enough for one month in Europe. Another thing you can do is just bring older clothes on the trip, and when you no longer need them you can throw them away or donate them along the way.

    I think those rubber sink stoppers are worth buying. They're cheap, and they don't weight much, and they're useful for washing clothes. A rolled up sock works, but not very well sometimes. Even though there might be laundromats in the cities, you probably don't wanna waste your vacation time sitting waiting for clothes to dry. Just pack quick drying clothes, then just wash your clothes at night, then hang them up to dry. Bring some cord for a clothes line, and usually you can find a wire hangar or two to hang shirts. A packtowel is also a good item if you don't already have one. Not only does it make a great shower towel, You can roll up your wet clothes in them to soak up most of the water whicht makes drying quicker.

    Most of the tourist places will have internet cafe's, they're pretty cheap so I don't know if it's worth it to bring along your own electronics unless you really need to surf the web. When I went, I usually went online a day before we left and booked reservations for the next city, it worked out pretty well. Amsterdam and Venice were the only citites that we booked a few days in advance because of the difficulty of finding places.

    A bicycle lock is also a good idea for the backpacks. Instead of a chain, I had one of those cheap combination (you don't want a key that'll get lost) coil locks, at night on the train I'd lock them to the luggage racks or to the beds at night. We never had a problem with the main bags, but I did see a girl get robbed in Spain and also saw pickpockets at work, so you have to be careful.
     
  9. MedusaOblongata

    MedusaOblongata Loaded Pockets

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    I agree. But a backpack that can also roll would be the best of both worlds.

    A chain and padlock would probably make a better weapon than a bike lock, but either should be good to secure your luggage.

    Re: pickpockets in Barcelona~ see this site: http://www.jones.tc/barna/scams.html for dozens of actual stories of this happening. If you know how they operate, you'll be better able to avoid or deal with them.
     
  10. Harald

    Harald Loaded Pockets

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    As for the backpack:
    I think 95 l sounds like a very big pack. If you intend to fill it up, I think you might have problems when stowing it away in the overhead compartments on the train. :bricks:

    As for the knives:
    In Denmark you should be very careful what you bring. Legislation is very strict and fines are very high.
    News media has focused a lot on a number of stabbing incidents in city night life, and media has "proved" an increase in knife carry among young people in nightclubs etc. This has created a political force against knife carry, and police are taking it very seriously. :armor:

    Added news: Today I heard on the news that the Danish Parliament is currently discussing a bill that will send people 7 days to jail if caught with illegal knives!!! :green:

    Since you will need to visit places accessible by public, be it museums or just a cafe on the street, restrictions are even tighter. Please note that I use the term "accessible by public" rather than "public places", because I think it should be stressed that even at privately owned and operated places that are open to public, such as malls, bars, discos and so on these rules apply. Maybe even special rules apply in certain places, I don't have any details though.

    In places accessible by public, you can carry a folder with a blade no longer than 7 cm, locking blades and one-hand opening folders are illegal in places accessible by public (one-hand opened folders are allways illegal, in your house as well...).
    Fixed blades are normally not allowed, except for professional usage, say you are a cook or a carpenter on your way to work.
    Fixed blades of less than 12 cm blade length are allowed for special leisure activities, such as scouts while wearing their uniform, whereas blade lengths over 12 cm are normally illegal (special conditions apply).

    Police are allowed to search people for knives in certain public places without any explicit reason! :police:

    Some examples of people getting in trouble:
    A Danish high school student bought an LM tool (Wave, surge or whatever, one of the bigger ones anyway) on the internet, i.e. one-hand opened and locking blades, and carried it everyday to school. The police held a razzia at his school. Penalty: Confiscation, fine and criminal record registration. (newspaper story)

    A carpenter carried one of those box cutters in his work pants. One day right after work he went to the local pub for a drink still wearing his working outfit and parking his van just outside. The police patrolling the area noticed the van, went in to the pub and searched him (basically they just asked him). Fine, criminal record registration, 2 years of abandonment from the pub. (TV news)

    A guy ordered a LM Charge from a non-Danish website, i.e. one-handed opening and locking blades. He was called by customs and asked if he had ordered this knife. He confirmed and the knife was confiscated, he received a fine, and criminal record registration. (a friend of a guy I know)

    A guy driving his car was pulled over for some other reason. The police found a fixed blade knife in the glove compartment, blade length 14 cm. The guy claimed he was on his way to a meeting with other staff members at his scout group, but was not wearing his uniform. Confiscation, fine and criminal record registration. (something I read on the internet, while investigating this topic...)

    My personal advice:
    • You can bring any folder with a blade less than 7 cm, if it does not have locking blades and is not one-hand opened. I.e. a SAK or the LM Juice would probably be fine.
    • Don't bring a fixed blade.
    • Don't bring any knife to the pub or the disco at night.
    • Some places they may have a metal detector, such as in Parliament (Folketinget), but they are rare.

    Other advice
    If you plan to visit Tivoli in Copenhagen, please observe that it is very busy during Friday-Sunday.

    I wish you both a great trip! :giddyup:

    /Harald
     
  11. bravo

    bravo Empty Pockets

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    i can answer you about Italy.
    in Italy switch or double edged blades and bayonets are considered like guns, except these there's not a real law about what you can carry or not. the law says that you can carry a knife only if you have a justified reason.... :shrug:
    "beacause a knife is useful"....is not a justified reason...
    what happens if a policeman stop you and sees that you're carrying a knife? you are foreign so he could tell you to put it in the rucksack but it depends on him....he could also take you to the policestation. there's not a fixed rule about knives size or type, by the way SAKs or LMs aren't the same as a big tactical folder.... ;)
    if you want to be sure bring your knives in a sheath in your pack and leave at home fixed knives, tactical and AO folders.


    regards