|Subject: Re: 1st time solo traveler in Europe desperate for advice|
How lovely to have four weeks to putter around Europe. You will have a delightful time. In addition to Rick Steves (Rick's information is great), your local library may have Lonely Planet's Europe on a Shoestring, geared to backpackers and another book I really enjoy (I've read it at least twice and some parts more than that!), Paul Otteson's The World Awaits. In addition to the books and Rick Steves' site, you might want to check the following for information (I also highly recommend Don &Linda's -- fantastic!):
Actual condensed chapters from The World Awaits: http://www.hostels.com/worldawaits/index.html
Information on hostels and travel: http://www.hostels.com/
The Art of Travel, How to see the World: European and World Backpacking: http://www.artoftravel.com/
Backpack Europe on a Budget: http://www.backpackeurope.com/
A couple comments on clothing. Our son got married in Edinburgh last fall. Our first ever trip to Europe. I took two skirts. One dressy for the wedding and one for everyday. Plus tops and two pair of jeans (warning -- jeans are heavy and most folks don't like to tote the weight). The only time I wore a skirt was at the wedding. I did not feel out of place in my jeans, a knit top and a blouse. Same for hubby. The dress slacks went to the wedding and the rest of the time jeans and L.L.Bean Casco Bay shirts. We went to London, Edinburgh and Paris. We took walking shoes that were not white (I've always heard to avoid white shoes). Mine were Easy Spirit and a pair of Teva sandals. Hubby's were New Balance. Since you're backpacking, you'll probably wear hiking boots and they're usually a dark color. Also, if you watch any of Rick Steves' TV shows, he isn't overdressed. Just a simple shirt and slacks.
Someone mentioned phone cards. I second that! Definitely an affordable, cost savings investment. We got one in the UK and one in France and didn't use all the time on either one even calling home daily to check on our elderly parents.
Best wishes for a wonderful trip and just keep telling yourself that half the fun is in the planning (well, maybe a third: planning, doing, remembering),