Author Topic: Extended Solo European Tour on the Cheap  (Read 4523 times)

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Offline merzperson

Extended Solo European Tour on the Cheap
« on: December 23, 2010, 05:04:39 am »
I'm thinking about doing a year or so long solo tour through all of Europe sometime in the not-too-distant future, probably after I graduate from my University. I have many questions, and could also use some general tips and information from people who have experience in touring abroad.

My hope is to get to Europe and ride around and explore with a few specific places in mind where I have contacts and spots I'd really like to see. Instead of saving up a bunch of money for the trip, I'll take what I have and when I get close to running out I'll stop wherever I may be and find a simple job like working on a farm or washing dishes at a restaurant or whatever I can get. Is this idea realistic?

Since I plan on traveling inexpensively, I would prefer to camp as much as possible. And by camp, I mean really camp, not pay for a campsite. I rode the TransAm last summer and camped for free every single night of the trip with only one or two exceptions, would this even be possible in Europe and would it be enjoyable?

I have basically all the gear I'll need. What else do I need to be thinking about before I start making this trip idea a reality?

Offline tonythomson

Re: Extended Solo European Tour on the Cheap
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2010, 07:51:26 am »
Hi yes it is possible but more difficult in Europe than USA. But if you plan ahead to be in forests and open or non farming areas it can be done.  The less affluent areas I found to be much easier ie Romania, Bulgaria etc they seem to be more open to letting you put your tent up.  However, they are not the places to find casual work.

In UK find tow paths along the canals - there will often be quiet place to pitch a tent without idiots in cars bothering you.  Might be possible to earn some money offering to wash the boats down, I'll pay you to do mine!  In fact drop me an IM if in UK and I often have casual work clearing gardens/painting etc. I would guess that taking casual work is possible (many illegal immigrants do it despite heavy fines for employers) but then you would be in urban areas where it s expensive to live. 

You might explore getting a student work permit, admit I know nothing about them  Good luck and go for it.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline Radler

Re: Extended Solo European Tour on the Cheap
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2010, 07:22:53 am »
Hallo,
i´m living in europe, germany.

Working on a farm or something like this is not really realistic. Could be it´s possible in east europe, tonythomson wrote.
Putting up your tent outside of campingplace is more difficult in europe, but it depends on the route you want to ride. The easiest way is do discribe which countries you want to visit.
Ben30 want ´s to ride from Greace to Italy, following the coast of france and then finishing in spain.
If you need more details an help, send me an emal please
« Last Edit: December 28, 2010, 11:53:30 am by Radler »

Offline Radler

Re: Extended Solo European Tour on the Cheap
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2010, 11:59:41 am »
Hi admin,
hope i did it good now, so you mustn´t lock my answer.

I want fishing your us-customers, but when i was riding cross country i met a lot of young guys asking for help when they plan trips cross europe.
It´s not so easy in europe cause of the diffrent languages and maps for each country. ECF i think is not the realistic solution.
So i decide to found my startup, to support these guys to.
I´m in contact with 4-5 guys of ADA and also thinking about a non-profit company.

Offline Damian

Re: Extended Solo European Tour on the Cheap
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2010, 03:58:57 pm »
My hope is to get to Europe and ride around and explore with a few specific places in mind where I have contacts and spots I'd really like to see. Instead of saving up a bunch of money for the trip, I'll take what I have and when I get close to running out I'll stop wherever I may be and find a simple job like working on a farm or washing dishes at a restaurant or whatever I can get. Is this idea realistic?
You might want to check out http://www.helpx.net. It lists farms, small businesses, homestays, etc, that offer food and lodging in exchange for work. My daughter has been solo touring Europe and northern Africa for the last six months and uses helpx extensively. Of course, it's definitely a "caveat emptor" situation; there have been a couple places she's arrived at and couldn't leave soon enough. But overall, she's had wonderful experiences, and treasures the new friends she's made at each place.

~Damian

Offline Janus

Re: Extended Solo European Tour on the Cheap
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2010, 03:06:41 am »
I can highly recommend you biking across Scandinavia. It might seem not the best place for cheap travelling, but it is really possible. Why? Because in Sweden, Norway and Finland you have a right to camp anywhere for one or two nights, as long as you don't camp on farmlands and closer than 150 m from the nearest house. In fact it means you can put up your tent anywhere, as the population density is quite small there. And if you happen to dream about a bed or warm shower, don't hesitate to ask local people if you can camp in their gardens. I'm sure all (or almost all) people will agree and many of them will invite you inside. It's a wonderful way to make friends and get to know local people, their culture, habits etc. And Scandinavian people are really very hospitable and helpful. I could tell you many stories about amazing and generous people I met in Norway and Sweden, but there's not enough place for it here;)
And don't forget about the landscape! Sweden is really charming, and Norway is just breathtaking. If you want, you can see some photos I took during my tours there: in Sweden, bad points and great points of biking in Norway:)

Don't worry about money, start riding and you won't regret;) And if you go to Scandinavia, just remember not to go there in winter;) I think it could be best to ride in Scandinavia in summer and spend winter in the south - quite obvious, but worth remembering. And in Norway - remember to check the ferries' timetables and tunnels banned for cyclists (I can send you many useful links if you want).

Anyway, good luck wherever you decide to go!

Offline Damian

Re: Extended Solo European Tour on the Cheap
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2010, 04:21:54 pm »
Thanks for sharing your Norway and Sweden albums, Janus. Wonderful pictures! I think I have a new touring destination now :)

Offline Janus

Re: Extended Solo European Tour on the Cheap
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2010, 04:48:10 pm »
I'm glad you like my photos:) But believe me, in Scandinavia, especially in Norway, you can take beautiful photos with your eyes closed:) During one day you can swim in the ocean (at least if you like cold water;), pick up strawberries growing in the valleys, climb some 1500 m, see a Moon-like landscape, walk on a glacier and ride downhill again to the bottom of a fjord. The landscape is really differential, so it's impossible to get bored. Really, if only weather is nice, it's heaven for cyclists:)
And one more thing - cars. There are almost no highways in Norway, so you can ride on almost all roads, even the main ones. But even then you don't have to worry about traffic - it's NONE in comparison to other European countries. If you choose local roads, you can see more animals than cars;) And even when the traffic is heavier (in cities etc.), they really watch out for cyclists, never drive too close to them, always slow down etc. Generally, I've never felt unsafe in Norway - when you go shopping or sleeping, you can leave your bike and stuff unprotected, being 99.999% sure no one will steal it.
If only you have a chance to go there, do it - and I'm sure you won't regret:)

P.S. Have a look on this website: www.turistveg.no. It's about National Tourist Routes in Norway - the most charming roads going across the most beautiful landscape. Really really worth going there:)

Offline merzperson

Re: Extended Solo European Tour on the Cheap
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2011, 05:57:36 pm »
Thanks everyone for your help! Some really good input, I appreciate it.

Janus: I'll definitely have to ride through Scandinavia, those pictures and your description make it sound amazing. I am of Norwegian descent so it would be interesting to experience the culture as well. However, I am curious what you mean when you say "don't worry about money". Do you mean that it would be easy for me to find an informal job there?

I'd still love to check out other parts of Europe by bicycle. Any more suggestions are appreciated!

Offline tallybicyclecamping

  • Tourist
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  • Posts: 9
  • Commuter, long distance touring
Re: Extended Solo European Tour on the Cheap
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2011, 04:55:00 pm »
Hi,

Biketouringpro has a whole lot of free and some not free info.

Lee R. Stork

Offline Ladyworldcyclist

Re: Extended Solo European Tour on the Cheap
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2011, 08:28:33 pm »
One thing most folks don't mention are the visa requirements.  Most of western Europe is now in the Shengen group.  While that means you don't need to worry about passport inspections at each country border it does mean that it's far more difficult to stay for a long period.  The rule is you can stay within the Shengen region for no more than 90 days out of a 6 month period.  You can go in and out all you want, but your stay in that 6 months cannot total to over 90 days.  Shengen countries now include all the way from Portugal to Scandanavia to Hungary, Italy and even Greece.  Croatia is one exception.

Pratically speaking, it's very rare that you'll get caught especially if you've been in and out a lot.  Each time you enter you get a passport stamp that shows where you entered and how; i.e. plane, boat, or car.  It's not likely that even when departing that the border guard will go back and look for any more than your last stamp nor will they add up all your time if you have a lot of enter and leave stamps.  As yet it doesn't appear that it's all computer linked.  I expect someday that will change.  But in theory you cannot restart the clock simply by going out of the Shengen region for a few hours or days and then coming back in.

If you get caught it means a very big fine, we've heard something like 500 euros, and you may be barred from going back for many years.  Different countries are more or less picky about this issue.  In some cases you can get a temporary residence permit allowing you to stay longer, but it can be a pain to get, again depending on what country you want to get it from.  We did it last year and aren't sure it was worth it.

One thing that can help is England is not in Shengen and US citizens can enter and stay for up to 6 months.  So in theory you can spend 3 months on the mainland, 6 months in the UK, and then return to the mainland for another 3 months.  Or you need to head toward east Europe into countries that are not as yet in Shengen such as Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, etc.  But these countries aren't quite as bike friendly as those further west.

Just make sure you're fully aware of your visa requirements before buying your tickets.