First of all, let me start by saying Europe is a continent with 44 countries. It is a continent with a lot of history and architecture. And one cannot travel all the countries in just 5 to 6 weeks, like how the way tour agencies and tourists portray. I have been to Europe three times now and in spite of it, I have traveled only to a handful of countries, maybe around 6 to 7 countries. This is the continent that requires extensive travel planning and a travel planner. It was simple when I traveled the first two times as I was going to Europe only for a couple of weeks and only to 2 countries and many of my activities were not based on time constraints.
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The first time I visited Ireland, this was 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 was backpacking in Europe for 6 weeks and I had to plan my travel for those 6 weeks. And trust me it was not that 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 and it hurt.
Tips and Tricks for Europe Travel Planner
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 with the list of tips for Europe Travel Planner:
- 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 the 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 on which 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 to 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 a Schengen visa covers most of the countries.
- Hostels – There are plenty of hostels available in every place. I use the 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 the 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 using the Viator website.
- 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 bus or train in Europe. They are the best and economical modes of travel. For cheaper bus or train tickets, book in advance as the tickets get sold out and the ticket fares become expensive as and when it gets closer to the travel date.
- Non-Euro Rail companies – All the train providers in Europe 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. This is the best way to travel around a city if you have very limited time in that city. For example, I had just one day in Rome and hence I left my luggage at a train station and I explored the city luggage-free.
- Booking apps – The booking apps for buses are Flixbus and for the train is Trainline.
- Deal websites – Always lookout for the local deals on the deal websites. For example, there are plenty of deals on the 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.
- Cheap European countries – Another way to save money while traveling in Europe is to visit the countries that are affordable and cheap to travel. This is a good way to experience European culture without spending a lot of money. Read 10 Cheap European countries to visit from India for more details.
I do hope these tips help everyone planning to travel to Europe. As I mentioned earlier, I lost a lot of money while planning and booking for my backpacking trip. These are some of the lessons that I learned because during the trip. Europe can be better enjoyed if these tips and tricks are kept in mind and are planned well in advance.
If you know some other hack that can help travelers visiting Europe, please drop a comment or send me an email on Solopassport@gmail.com.