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Just found this website and I hope you guys can help me out.


I'm finishing my Masters (Architecture) this spring and have a job lined up starting July 1.  The job has little holiday time (2 weeks first 2 years), so I want to make a trip to Europe to explore it a little.  I've never been anywhere outside the USA except a few visits to Canada (Toronto, Montreal) and one to a resort in Mexico (Cabo).  Visiting the U.K. makes sense because we speak the same language and I know quite a lot about this history. 


Trouble is that I have little money.  I have a free ticket (gift from my uncle who works with Delta, open ended) so that's taken care of, but my budget for the rest is 4k US (4000).  This has to cover food, lodging, admissions -- everything else. 


I'd like to stay at least a month if possible.  Any suggestions on where to go, what to see,  where to see, etc.  How can I get the best experience with what I have?


Thanks everyone!

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Sadly, that $4K isn't going to go a real long way in's a pretty expensive place. You'll need to find seriously cheap lodging and really mind your pence!


If you're not really stuck on UK, you might look at other places where English will do, including Jamaica and Puerto Rico or even Guyana.


If UK is really IT, though, you should look into hostel costs, and into sharing sites like Depending on when you're going, you might find some luck with college spaces that are out for the term, and things like that. If you can keep your lodging to average $40 a night, you'd have $2800 left for the rest, or about $90 a day. Sandwiches and supermarket takeaway can help stretch it.



Hi Hank,


I've  actually found the UK a pretty reasonable destination in recent years, especially outside of London.(My budget was way under yours for a month long trip to Europe last June.)A lot of museums are free. Transportation costs within the country can be reasonable too.Not only do they have advance cheap train tickets but they have bus and budget air choices.And of course there are some good budget hotel chains as well, such as Travelodge and the Tune Hotel


Have fun and keep watching the site!       







Staying in the UK is no more expensive than being a tourist in the USA.

You wont get a month in London. Same as me travelling from the UK to New York.

Silly Prices !

So decide on what you want to do over here and start planning,

Have a look at the YHA web site. Youth Hostels Association.

Forget the Youth reference. My Kids aren't Youths anymore. And I use them too!

They are used by Travellers like yourself - and me - across Europe.

They are Family groups and Ramblers ( Countryside Walkers)

Plus you get to meet folks just like yourself !

And a chance to share and join in.

No Bums, just decent folks. Believe me.

You can get YHA in London in advance - but at twice the cost !

Most YHA have a few rules - like no booze.

And they feed you too !

You may have to help out in the Kitchen in some places.

Travel with a Backpack.

So plan your Cities and get started !

Sure you'll come back if you need more info - we'll look forward to it Hank !



Wow!  This has been very helpful, especially the tip about the Youth Hostels.  I'm definitely going to look into that.  I think staying at a hostel can help me stay within my budget. 


I'd really like to go to the UK if at all possible.  I know there are cheaper places, but there's only one England and I've always wanted to see it.


I think I'd like to spend maybe a week in London then head into the country, maybe doing a circuit to include parts of Wales and Scotland.  I need to do some thinking about it.


So it sounds like trains are the way to go from town to town to small city?

Getting around the UK is very easy using Public Transport.

Students travel around the country all the time - going to Uni and back home for the weekend.

Friends going to weddings and folks going to London.

London - like big Cities in the US - is a Traffic Nightmare !

Fortunately the UK is about the same size as a US State. Maybe Florida ?

So its only a few hours by road. Trains are much faster - but more expensive,

You're choice. So... look at 

They're really nice coaches / bus links that criss cross the UK. Reliable. Affordable.

And if you're under 26 you can get a Young Persons Travel Card (Students do) for £10 and that gets you another 33% off costs. Plus you get to see our Country out the Window !

And Megabus will get you around too - maybe into Europe if you want.

Again thanks, this is incredibly helpful!!  So I think I'll look at trains for trips from bigger cities to other cities, and fill in the gaps with bus if the pricing works out. A little more planning is needed.


Even though it's expensive, I do want to spend around a week in London.  Being an architect, there's just so much to see and do there, like seeing the Houses of Parliament and Westminister Abbey.  I plan on being on the go almost all day each day there -- can rest later, maybe in the countryside somewhere.  So the key thing here is to get a cheap place to stay and find some budget places to eat.  If they're like stores around here, you can get sandwiches and soups in grocery stores, so that will do okay.  Would like a warm meal once a day, maybe dinner in a pub?  I'll look into it more.


I do know that I want to get to Stonehenge and the Roman ruins in the city of Bath.  I've heard the city of Chester has interesting architecture, so I think that will be on my list.  My mom was a HUGE Beatles fan, so maybe a day or two in Liverpool just to make her jealous.  I've heard Wales has nice castles, so if that's not too far out of the way, I see about heading there for a few days.  I don't know much about Edinboroughs but that would get me into Scotland. 


I know I need to do a lot of research and between my classes and all I'm going to start some planning.


Does anyone out there have other "must see" suggestions that I can use into planning this trip?  I'm very excited about this!!  Especially great places in the English countryside that would help me stay in budget?

Starting to get things planned now Hank !

You have the choice of flying into Edinburgh in Scotland. Manchester in the North of England. Or Gatwick / Heathrow which both serve the London area in the South of England. You can get a Train to Paris to end your tour with a few days of Culture in a foreign language ! Fly back to the US from Paris will save you hundreds of Dollars because you wont pay the UK "Departure Tax" but not vital !

Liverpool is less than an hour on the Train from Manchester.

Chester is less than an hour from Liverpool on the Train.

Conway Castle is less than an hour from Chester on the Train.

All are local Commuter Trains and no pre-booking. 30 minute service all day. £2 each.





Chester is filled with Roman and Tudor Architecture. Art and Historic Buildings. Great for a day with plenty of Pub Food ! Street entertainers and Boat Rides on the River Dee.

Even my local Church here in Liverpool has been doing Sunday Services since 1100 AD. So you'll see examples of Architecture everywhere. Liverpool Cathedral was the biggest in the World, Then St Johns in NY went slightly bigger. You can even do Dublin - Ireland for a day with Ryanair. Out early and back late on at 9 pm. Good prices when booked in advance - maybe £20 each way ! May and June gives you long sunlit days. Light from 4am until around 10pm.


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Wow, this is turning into a real education!!


I checked with my uncle and yes, I can fly Chicago to Manchester and return from either London or Paris to Chicago.  The ticket is free to him and he said he would cover any fees as a "graduation gift to me" (he's a pretty cool dude!), but I don't want to burden him with a heavy departure fee, so maybe Paris would be the way to go.


I'd like to leave about Friday, May 9th and return 4 weeks later, June 6th.  A few days later and returning a few days later would also work.  That gives me time to deal with stuff surrounding the new job when I get back.


GarryRF, you've convinced me that I need to spend a few days in Liverpool (imagine having dinner in the Rubber Soul??  Mom will flip with jealousy).  I like your suggestions about trains to Chester and Conway Castle.


If I go to Paris a few days, then I think I should skip Scotland this trip.  Don't want to spend all my time in trains and am trying to economize on travel as much as I can.  So I'll focus on England, Wales and Paris, I think.


So maybe start in Manchester (anything worthwhile there, don't know much about it sorry), several days in Liverpool, then to Chester and Conway Castle for a day each.


After that my inclination would be to head south in Wales or on England's east side towards Cardiff, then over to Bath, Stonehenge and London. 


Any idea how much a train London to Paris would be?  If that saves a large departure tax, that would be worth doing, I think.  I thought I'd save gay-parriee for a future trip but 3 days in Paris might be a great way to end my journey.  Again, as an architect I would love to see the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral, among many others.


I can't thank you all enough for your help!  I'm enjoying this planning, though I may have to wait to iron out some of the details until my Christmas break.

Hi Hank, In my opinion Manchester is really worthwhile to see and I loved it.Two libraries are really cool there,John Rylands and Chetham Library, in the School of Music.Also the Manchester Art Gallery and the Museum of Science and Industry are well done and free. Manchester has an area of town,the Northern Quarter,that has independant stores and cafes with no chains allowed that's also worth a walk around Liverpool has some excellent sights as well ,but I'll let the expert GarryRF tell you all about them since I followed his advice both visits.

That's helpful too, Rob.  So with your guys advice, I'm thinking of the following plan, which still has holes I need to fill.  I actually like the idea of Paris more than Scotland for this trip, plus I worry about the cost of travel to Scotland back so unless I can get a really cheap plane ticket or train ticket to Edinburgh, I think I'll drop that and focus on eastern UK and then on to Paris.


So this is where I'm at now:


1)  Arrive in Manchester.  Maybe ??2 days

2)  Travel Liverpool.   3 days

3)   Travel to Chester ?1-2 nights

4)   Visit Conway Castle (for the day or part of larger journey?)


5) Cardiff (?2 nights)

6) Bath (1-2 nights)

7) Stonehenge (1 night)

8) London (7 nights)

9) Train to Paris.   3-4 nights.

10) Fly back to Chicago.

I think that sounds like something I could handle, and without lots of time on the train or bus.  I'll really need to look for cheap places to stay, but I think I should be able to manage.  Need to do some research to see what between Chester and Cardiff is worth stopping at, or if I should head over to other places in England like Nottingham.  I'm open to that.


Everyone has been so helpful and I'm excited about this trip!  Any advice to help me fill in the gaps and save some cash along the way would be really appreciated!



Here's a link to the current rates:

The rates are based on distance from London to capital of the other country; for U.S., that's 3661 miles and the rate converts to about $108, twice that for any class above cattle class.


The APD particularly bites for Caribbean people living in UK; they're in the next band up and that means a family of 4 visiting home pay about $750 round trip on top of the tickets!


Hank, While you're in London you can get a Coach (Bus) Tour that will show you Stonehenge and Bath and The Cotswold Villages - very pretty and very old.

Leeds Castle (not in Leeds, close to London).

Stonehenge is not an overnight stop - remember what I said about distances in the UK being smaller?

If you need to fill a gap take the Train (or Bus) to York.

Very old - lots of History and a Museum that will take you back 150 years walking the streets of Victorian England. Go into Old Shops and see people dressed in the 19th Century style.  Fascinating. York Minster. Massive Railway Museum. Google them!

Its a Tourist Hotspot for good reason. I love it !

Remember Chester and Conway are just a short distance from Liverpool by Train. You can have a full day at each one and return to Liverpool in the evening.

They'll both be much more expensive than sleeping in Liverpool.


Last edited by GarryRF

Everyone's been very helpful!  I can't tell you what a great welcoming and helpful group of people you are.


My uncle is an employee of Delta, so he has some kind of free ticket that requires me to fly on Delta only (no partners).  I will have him check into the dates.  I like the idea of flying up to Manchester, slowly working my way to London then returning from Paris.  I think going to Amsterdam is more than I can bite off now, plus I want to spend the time seeing stuff, not traveling all the time.  But I hope to get there someday.


There's been some wonderful advice on how to fill up the time in England.  I like the idea of York.


I've got a big project to finish at University right now, so I think I can't do much more on this until the Thanksgiving break.  I will get my Uncle to get the reservations made, though.  I can see that's important.  Will sketch this out more during Thanksgiving, the hopefully make some final plans over the Christmas holidays.


So, I'll check in to the website from time to time but my degree beckons.


Again, you've all been wonderful and I'll tap your know-how again soon.  I like this idea of doing it myself (but with, as mom kept singing in the kitchen "A little help from my friends") 



Hi everyone!  I'm back.


Just arrived at my parents home for Thanksgiving.  Not had a lot of time to work on this trip since I last visited TravelGumbo, but some progress to report.  I have a firm ticket reservation for Manchester, returning from Paris, though a few days off the dates we talked about.  But 29 days in Europe!  Whooppeee!!


I have a guidebook from the Library which I'm going to go through this long weekend (one by Fodors).  I think this will help.  Anyone know of a good pocket size book of Eastern England/Wales that I can pack along with me. 


I've looked at the blog TravelRob did on Liverpool and lots of good info there!  I can see that Liverpool will be a highlight of my trip.


Still need to focus on structuring the time after Liverpool to London, but imagine we can do that. 


And Garry, thanks for the great photos of the Cuban cars!  I just saw them on the website.  Love old cars!!

England is only as big as Florida ! I haven't seen a Guide book that sub-divides us!

Wales is full of Castles, Mountains and Lakes.

Tourists often divide England between the North and South.

The North is often cooler and wetter than further South.

But your Dollar will go twice as far up here in the North!

And we're much friendlier.

Have a look at places you'd like to visit.

York (the old one) will keep you busy for 2 days.

Train or Bus from Liverpool.

Or a day or two in Europe from Liverpool Airport to anywhere Ryanair or Easyjet fly to.

Have a look at their routes from Liverpool.

Chester and North Wales are local trains -or bus - for a day.

There are many Hotels in Liverpool. Basic is still good quality. Bed , Shave and a Shower is all I need. They're all recent additions. Plenty of places to eat on a budget in the City Centre. We don't use the term "Downtown"

Prices for a night are from $40. Café Meals about $5 - 10. McDonalds and BK and Pizza places too. Or dine in the oldest Chinatown in Europe.

So decide what you want to see. Mountains. Train Museum. Art Gallery. Free stuff.

Architecture (Liverpool Cathedral) Old England. York Victorian Museum. Day trip to Amsterdam or Poland or Spain or North Africa !

You decide what you want to see !




Hi guys, hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  It was good to be with my family again.  Visiting and catching up with everyone took longer than I'd thought, but did do a little research into the trip and came out with this plan.
Basically, with GarryRF's advice, I think I'll focus my time in the north to save money cause my budget is limited.  After that I'll finish my vacation in London and Paris.  I need to find places to stay but more important now just to frame the trip.  The details I figure can be filled in later.
TravelandNature, I'd rather keep my exact trip dates private as I registered here with my name and the last thing I need is some nut to track me down to a hotel in a city on a certain day.  I'm not paranoid about privacy, but think it better to be cautious.  My timeframe is off some from what I'd originally thought, but it should all work out okay.
That said, I have 29 days, arriving day 1, leaving day 29.  This is what I've come up with so far:
Day 1.  Fly into Manchester. 
Days 2 and 3.  Explore Manchester
Day 4.  Transit to York (probably train). 
Days 5-6.  Visit York.
Day 7.  Transit to Liverpool (probably train)
Days 8-15.  Visit Liverpool and surrounding sites
- Day trip to Chester
- Day trip to Conway Castle.
? Day trip to Snowdonia National Park.  Not sure how to best access it,  Advice anyone??
Day 16.  Fly to London Ryanair or take train.
Day 17-24.  London, with day trips to
- Stonehenge
- Bath
Day 25:  Travel to Paris.
Days 26-28.  Visit Paris
Day 29.  Return home.
I think this has the makings of the trip of a lifetime!  
At this point I appreciate your take on the outline of the trip.  I realize I can't see everything but this gives me the chance to explore a lot.

Hi Everyone!  Hope you had a good Christmas.  I spent mine with my parents, which was nice.


I've been busy planning this trip that you've helped me with and I think I'm making good progress.  Largely starting to arrange places to stay and developing a list of "must see" things for myself.


Using the hostels and airB&B I've been able to get decent looking and affordable places for me.  I still need to find something for London and Paris, but the rest of the trip is mostly worked out.  Might need to go to couchsurfing in those capitals, though I do like a little more privacy than this.  I'm still pretty sure with a little more work I can find a simple place to stay in these two great cities.


Garry, I have a question for you as you are a local.  Is it worth making the day trip to Snowdonia for a hike (assuming the weather is nice)?  Hard to find much info on getting there for the day and what I could do on that day using only train or bus transportation.


I might have a few other questions as the trip date approaches.  Back home with the folks, who are happy to see me making the plans for this trip.  Flying back to school on Thursday.


Happy 2014 everyone!

Summer months are best - between May and September.

Snowdon is 3,560 feet high. Temperature drops 5.4 F per 1,000 feet of elevation.

This winter has been very warm so far.

So the snow will clear early if it continues to be warmer than usual.

You'll see the current Temps before you go up clearly displayed.

The weather can change suddenly so pack for wind, rain, sun and snow !

The Mountain doesn't warm up. It depends on which way the wind blows.

From the South = warm

From the North =cold


or if you're a serious Mountain Climber




Last edited by GarryRF

Thanks for the info on Snowdonia, GarryRF.  Sounds like just the place I'd like to be heading towards the end of my stay in Liverpool, to clear my head a little in nautre after all that history and culture I'll be absorbing.


Trip planning is coming along fine.  I  think I've got most everything I squared away right now that needs doing, and need to focus on completing my last months of university and my thesis.


Will post again if I have any questions before I go and will give some feedback when I get back from the trip.    Thanks everyone!   Don't have tons of time to visit this website, but it's got a lot of interesting stuff on it.  I need to get into it more when I've more free time.

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