As the final post of my European trip, I thought I would share some things I learnt, both planning the trip and actually travelling!
Hostels aren’t always the cheapest option
Generally, people tend to think that hostels are always the cheapest option but I didn’t find that this was the case travelling with another person. If you’re travelling solo I think hostels work the best but when travelling with another or in a group, I found that it was generally cheaper to split an Airbnb instead.
Central accommodation is preferable
When you’re booking your accommodation, it’s really important that you research where you want to stay in a city. While you may be able to book nicer looking accommodation further outside the city, you will appreciate it more if you book more centrally, even if it doesn’t look as good.
The first thing to keep in mind is that your accommodation will likely not look like the picture anyway. You will also be out exploring for most of your time and the nice looking apartment won’t be used. When you’re out all day, it is so much nicer to be able to walk or take a short trip to your accommodation instead of taking a long train ride or paying for a taxi.
If you’re staying in a city that’s far too expensive to stay centrally, look for accommodation that’s on or close to public transport to make your life easier.
If you’re staying in Europe in the Schengen area for more than three months, you will likely need a visa. The visa can be quite pricey. I paid around $70 Australian for the visa application but was caught out in Italy where I had to pay an extra $300 for someone to assist me in submitting the documents as they were very complicated and all in Italian.
This is something to keep in mind and maybe consider travelling outside the Schengen area if you want to avoid paying for the visa and are travelling for more than 3 months.
Look at Skyscanner
Skyscanner is a fantastic place to start looking for flights. They compare a range of different airlines and provide many different sites to purchase from. Just beware of the site you choose to buy from and look at the reviews if you haven’t heard of it before.
It’s also a good idea to look into flights as it might be cheaper than taking a bus or train.
Italo in Italy
If you’re travelling through Italy, the train service Italo has fantastic deals they post regularly so keep an eye out for great prices.
Water is expensive
Many countries in Europe recommend that you don’t drink the water. First step is to look into this applies to the countries you’re visiting. The next thing to keep in mind is that water can be very expensive to buy – especially in busy areas or tourist site. If you need to buy water, first buy in bulk and fill up smaller water bottles to walk around with. Also buy from smaller convenience stores outside of the tourist areas – they usually have the best prices.
Think about purchasing a Sim Card
Getting a sim card is something you should consider if you’re spending a good deal of time in Europe. Many of the cities’ free wifi is not reliable and a sim card for maps, Google and general communication is very important.
Search for the best deal online to begin with. I purchased a sim card from Vodafone which was all data and limited international calls. This was perfect as any communication to home was done through Facebook and Whatsapp anyway.
Just keep in mind before you purchase that some sim cards don’t cover certain countries. For example, my sim card didn’t work in Switzerland. There can also be extra charges if you aren’t careful so just keep on top of exactly what your sim card allows.
Keep exchange rates in mind
If you’re travelling all around Europe, you may encounter different currencies, or just deal with Euros, but either way it’s important to keep the exchange rate in mind with every purchase. This is especially important to keep in mind when buying from markets, purchasing water, or taking taxis.
‘Travel day’ isn’t a day
One of the main things I learnt travelling is to not count your ‘travel day’ as a day in the city. By the time you go to the airport/train station, travel to your next destination, actually arrive at your accommodation, and check in, you probably have half a day at best, or a night. This is really important to keep in mind so you can leave yourself enough time to actually enjoy the city you’re visiting!
Back up budget
While it’s really important to budget your trip, it’s also important to be able to be a bit flexible sometimes. It’s vital to not be too stuck on having to pay a bit extra – whether it turns out that your accommodation isn’t what you thought it would be, you missed a train, or it’s just unsafe to walk and you really need a taxi. Always budget a bit extra for emergencies. You just have to keep in mind that things happen and don’t always go exactly to plan and that’s OK!
What are your top tips for planning and travelling?