First of all, let me start by saying Europe is a continent with 44 countries. And one cannot travel all the countries in just 5 to 6 weeks, like how people portray. I have been to Europe three times now and in spite of it I have traveled only to 6 to 7 countries.
This is the continent that requires extensive travel planning. It was simple when I traveled the first two times. The first time I visited Ireland, this was a travel combined with work. The second time I visited Norway and Iceland, so the planning was easy. The third time was the difficult one. I had 4 to 5 weeks and I had to plan my travel and it was not easy. Plans changed so much because of so many factors like flights, tickets not being available on the days I wanted, sudden change of plans and many other things. I did lose about AUD 2000 in this whole confusion.
Since it was a lot of money to lose for a budgeted traveler like me, I decided to write this post to help others and to help myself the next time I plan other countries again in Europe. Note: This is a complete list which also includes the tips given by other travelers as well. So, let’s start.
- Detailed planning – As I said before, this is one of the continents that require detailed planning. At some places, one can go with the flow but if one wishes to avoid long queues then planning ahead of time is required.
- Check weather – The itinerary is driven by the weather as well. It maps out the countries that one can visit based on the weather. This does not apply to me as I just travel, irrespective of what weather.
- Flight tickets – Always research the days activities are available and then book the flight tickets. For example, I had to cancel and re-book my flight tickets to different destinations as my volunteering program which I had planned for changed their dates and could not cater for my available dates.
- Visas – I have been lucky here, Australians do not need visas for traveling to any European country for less than 90 days. For Indian passport holders, getting Schengen visa covers most of the countries.
- Hostels – There are plenty of hostels available in every place. I use HostelWorld website to book for hostels and I always sort the list based on the distance from the city. Even though they are a little pricey than the others, but it is always better to stay closer to the city.
- Book in advance – The entrance and museum tickets have to be bought well in advance. For example, I booked Anne Frank Museum ticket for 2 October in the first week of August and there was only one ticket available when I selected the date.
- Free days – European countries do have free days where one can visit some touristy places for free. For example, museums in some of the countries are free on Sundays.
- Day tours – For day tours, it is better to book via Google on the actual operator website than use Viator website. Viator is expensive.
- Walking tours – There are plenty of walking tours for cheaper prices and that is a great way to explore any city. The walking tour is generally for 3 hours and the guide provides history/insight into a place.
- Buses/Trains – It is better to travel by buses or trains in Europe. They are the best and economical modes of travel. For cheaper bus or train tickets, book in advance.
- Non-Euro Rail companies – All the train providers that are not Euro Rail works out cheaper for backpackers and budgeted travelers.
- Storage for the luggage – There are storage areas in the train stations where luggage can be locked and left behind if one is doing only a day tour to a place.
- Booking apps – The booking apps for buses is Flixbus and for train is Trainline.
- Deal websites – Always look out for the local deals on the deal websites. For example, There are plenty of deals on LivingSocial website to find cheaper things to do in London.
- Meetups – A great way to meet locals and do things together (like hikes) with locals. Some of the meetups are totally free as well.
- Rome2Rio – This is a useful website for booking any transportation between cities. It is similar to Skyscanner where it provides the list of all the options available.
- Get your guide – A great app to get tickets for the museums at a place.
I will keep adding to the above list as and when I learn more things during my travel in Europe.
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