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Old 07-07-07, 06:23 PM   #1
texduck88
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Reservations Needed for Europe in August?

Hello everyone. My cycling buddy and I are planning to do an ultralight 2 week tour during the last 2 weeks of August. We are starting in Amsterdam and pedaling our way through Belgium and Luxembourg and back. Considering August is the traditional holiday (vacation) time for lots of Europeans, do we need reservations at B&B's? Our hope is that we can just find a B&B each evening without the hassle of an itinerary and reservations.

Thanks!
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Old 07-07-07, 08:26 PM   #2
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There is a risk. My two Europe trips were in the Fall when there are fewer travelers but some places had closed for the season. When traveling without reservations I like to end my day early, preferably by 4:00 pm, and leave myself with enough strength to get to the next town if necessary.
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Old 07-08-07, 02:17 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texduck88
Hello everyone. My cycling buddy and I are planning to do an ultralight 2 week tour during the last 2 weeks of August. We are starting in Amsterdam and pedaling our way through Belgium and Luxembourg and back. Considering August is the traditional holiday (vacation) time for lots of Europeans, do we need reservations at B&B's? Our hope is that we can just find a B&B each evening without the hassle of an itinerary and reservations.

Thanks!
If you don't make reservations be prepared to camp if need be.
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Old 07-08-07, 03:28 AM   #4
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If you don't make reservations be prepared to camp if need be.
+1
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Old 07-08-07, 04:23 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziemas
If you don't make reservations be prepared to camp if need be.
I was afraid that might be the answer. This will be my first touring ride and the camping thing takes it to a whole new level, doesn't it? My goal is to have so little on the bikes that we can lock or check-in the bikes and be able to tote our stuff while enjoying local sightseeing opportunities. Without the camping gear, all my stuff fits in one small Arkel GT-18 pannier that converts to a daypack.

I plan to do some camping touring trips in the future but hadn't thought much about doing it this time. I guess it could be fun to see how minimalist a camping setup we could put together. There are some really good camping discussions and checklists on this touring forum I was looking at yesterday, some ultralight, some not. At the very least I would think emergency camping stuff would include shelter, a thermarest type foam pad and sleeping bag?

Thanks!
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Old 07-08-07, 04:27 AM   #6
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Sometimes when traveling in August without reservations we had to go maybe up to 100 KM before we found an open b and b. Hotels , forget it. You can possibly use b and b searches on the Net and hope by reserving ahead you might find something the day before. In fact, I recall near Toulon, when we could not find b and b's and hotels; we started searching for camp sites. Even lots of camp sites were full.
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Old 07-08-07, 06:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texduck88
I was afraid that might be the answer. This will be my first touring ride and the camping thing takes it to a whole new level, doesn't it? My goal is to have so little on the bikes that we can lock or check-in the bikes and be able to tote our stuff while enjoying local sightseeing opportunities. Without the camping gear, all my stuff fits in one small Arkel GT-18 pannier that converts to a daypack.

I plan to do some camping touring trips in the future but hadn't thought much about doing it this time. I guess it could be fun to see how minimalist a camping setup we could put together. There are some really good camping discussions and checklists on this touring forum I was looking at yesterday, some ultralight, some not. At the very least I would think emergency camping stuff would include shelter, a thermarest type foam pad and sleeping bag?

Thanks!
I hear you.
I did a couple of trips in Europe credit card touring and now take a Hennessy hammock and a sleeping bag. That opens up several options:
  • Making internet reservations every night ties you down to a rigid schedule
  • Finding a B&B each night allows you to travel at a pace most comfortable to you and stay extra time in a place you have discovered
  • Camping gives you a third option, but campsites can be full in August too

I have some suggestions. Do you HAVE to go in August? I travel on the shoulders (spring and autumn) when the weather is better than summer, but I have the place to myself as all the tourists have gone home.

Holland is a marvelous place to bike. I'm going back for a third time next autumn. If you must go in August consider taking the train at least some of the time. They welcome bikes but you will need a ticket for your bike too!

The VVV (tourist offices) are nation-wide but independently run. All will find you a reservation (locally only) and some charge you up to 10%

Prices of guest houses and B&Bs vary greatly from town to town. I've paid 21 to 45 Euros a night for a room with a toilet down the hall.

I stealth camp and travel very lightly, but stealth camping is a solitary occupation.

Good luck!
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Old 07-08-07, 07:56 AM   #8
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+1 on the Tourist Information offices. Not sure about Amsterdam and Belgium but Italy has official state sanctioned offices. They do not charge for their services. There are also private TI offices mainly in the large cities that either may charge or will send you to the deal best for them and not for you. The secret is to find these official offices. Italy does have a site that lists these offices. You should do some homework before you leave to see if you can find a similar site for Amsterdam and Belgium.
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Old 07-08-07, 08:00 AM   #9
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Another option is to find a place and stay there for a few days, exploring the area. You won't cover a lot of ground but it is low stress and gives you a chance to really explore an area.
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Old 07-08-07, 10:45 AM   #10
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I'll be in Europe for most of August too. We've booked accommodations in a hostel in London for our first night, and after that we'll likely wing it ... aiming to mainly camp along the way. I've camped in some rather odd places before so I'm sure it will be OK.

B&B's are nice, but don't overlook hostels and hotels either. Have you got your Hostelling International membership? That might be an idea because you can stay at one hostel and get them to call up the next one down the road to see if there is room for the next night, and so on.
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Old 07-08-07, 05:29 PM   #11
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All - thanks for so much good advice. Based on your input we are taking our camping gear. We have a tent that has muted colors that lends itself to stealth camping if necessary.

August is really our only option due to restrictions on my frequent flyer miles and my buddy's schedule at the university. The VVV sounds like a good resource, thanks for the tip. We hear from other's also that the VVV usually does a good job with accommodations as long as we stop early enough in the day (as Ken Brown suggested).

I like the idea of having a reservation for our first night. As a matter of fact it would probably be good to book something or our last night before we fly home.

Speaking of flying, any ideas on where to get our bikes boxed for the return flight home from Amsterdam?

Thanks!
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Old 07-08-07, 05:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texduck88
I like the idea of having a reservation for our first night. As a matter of fact it would probably be good to book something or our last night before we fly home.

Speaking of flying, any ideas on where to get our bikes boxed for the return flight home from Amsterdam?

Thanks!
If you book the same place for when you arrive and when you depart, you might be able to talk them into storing a box ... especially if it doesn't take up much room.

Otherwise check with your airline to see if they sell boxes ... some do, and some don't. Or look for a bicycle shop.
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Old 07-08-07, 08:38 PM   #13
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It has been a little while since I have been to Europe but I was in Scotland in August and it was filled up with mostly German tourists. I had one of the "Let's Go" books and called a day ahead of time. It reduces the stress a lot and increases your chances of getting a place. I was never put out but it does put you on a more ridgid schedule. The one time I almost had to sleep in the park was when I did not make it to my final destination where my reservations was.
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Old 07-09-07, 10:21 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texduck88
All - thanks for so much good advice. Based on your input we are taking our camping gear. We have a tent that has muted colors that lends itself to stealth camping if necessary.

August is really our only option due to restrictions on my frequent flyer miles and my buddy's schedule at the university. The VVV sounds like a good resource, thanks for the tip. We hear from other's also that the VVV usually does a good job with accommodations as long as we stop early enough in the day (as Ken Brown suggested).

I like the idea of having a reservation for our first night. As a matter of fact it would probably be good to book something or our last night before we fly home.

Speaking of flying, any ideas on where to get our bikes boxed for the return flight home from Amsterdam?

Thanks!
There are a couple of VVVs in Amsterdam, but good luck trying to find a cheap bed in August. It was bad enough in September. I had a reservation at a small (not cheap) hotel, as I stood in line at the VVV I saw many a budget traveller turned away without a room. All the VVVs I stopped at were unfailingly friendly and helpful.

You can get a bike box at Schiphol airport either at KLM (expensive) or Menzies (the baggage handlers, less expensive) -there is a good information booth at Schiphol that pointed me to these two places. Bring tape to seal the box up, they don't give you any with the box.
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Old 07-09-07, 01:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skookum
There are a couple of VVVs in Amsterdam, but good luck trying to find a cheap bed in August. It was bad enough in September. I had a reservation at a small (not cheap) hotel, as I stood in line at the VVV I saw many a budget traveller turned away without a room. All the VVVs I stopped at were unfailingly friendly and helpful.

You can get a bike box at Schiphol airport either at KLM (expensive) or Menzies (the baggage handlers, less expensive) -there is a good information booth at Schiphol that pointed me to these two places. Bring tape to seal the box up, they don't give you any with the box.

Thanks for the information. We will make reservations for that first night and the last night. Great tip on taking tape too!!
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Old 07-10-07, 01:21 PM   #16
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August is the high season for European travel, especially since it is THE month that most Germans take summer vacations. My wife and I were booking out rooms 1-2 nights in advance in The Netherlands. I highly recommend the hotel website that nearly every Dutch hotel is listed: www.hotels.nl
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