How to plan a Euro trip, on a Budget.
Eurotrip Movie Trailor
For anyone who's seen the movie Euro Trip, you'll know that travelling around the continent on a small budget can be a massive adventure!
It might seem a little daunting especially for a first time traveller but plan ahead, use a bit of common sense, keep an open mind and it'll be an experience you'll never forget.
So find your friends, get into 'Monica Geller' mode and plan some organised fun!
There are six things you'll need to plan for:
Destination, time, accommodation, transport, budget and luggage.
Once you’ve decided where you’re going, find out what kind of paperwork you need to enter the countries you’ve chosen, being deported is never fun!
When you've got the top ten places you want to visit, you’ve figured out if you’ll need a VISA and how to go about applying, break them down individually into must-see sights and activities.
There are so many festivals, big concerts and events happening all over Europe, all the time so doing a bit of research might be useful here to make sure you're not missing out on anything, check out 'Things to do in Europe' on Trip Advisor http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g4-Activities-Europe.html
If any of those are going to be out of your budget, ask your host or hostel staff about free local entertainment, you could find the next big band playing a small live gig in a local pub down the road from you!
Euro Trip Poll
What would you rather do?
Obviously the amount of places you visit, will depend on the amount of time you have. If you try doing ten countries in five days, you might come home with a bunch of rushed selfies of you and your crew in front of blurred indistinct landmarks, rushing to see the sights on your way to a connecting flight. Leave enough time to be able to enjoy your trip, it’s a voyage of discovery, not the Amazing Race! If there's a festival, show, event or tour you'd like to catch, make sure that you plan your arrival and departure times around whatever you'd like to see.
You’ll also need to decide whether you'll be travelling during peak season or out of season. Europe is most active and exciting in the height of summer, which is peak season. Unfortunately it’s also the most expensive. Deciding if you’ll forgo frolicking in the sun for making angels in the snow is a tough decision, but if you’re travelling on a tight budget it’s something you may have to consider. Luckily most places in Europe can be just as much fun in winter, you’ll have the added options of: skiing, snowboarding, snowmen and strong mulled wine.
There are three ways to stay in Europe on a budget: Couch surfing, hostels or imposing on a friend.
Be prepared to rough it a little, keep an open mind and realise that half of the adventure is in the experience!
Couch surfing has become increasingly popular. People all over Europe are willing to give up a spot on their sofa for you to crash for a few nights for free! Some nice folk will even act as a tour guide and take you around their city. Although they don’t charge, it's common practice to offer your host a gift, take them out or cook a meal as a gesture of kindness to show your appreciation for their hospitality.
If you're lucky enough to have friends dotted all over the world why not pick up the phone, or better yet Skype them and ask a favour. Staying with a friend is a more familiar method of couch surfing, so you may want to extend the same courtesy to show your appreciation.
Hostels seem to conjure up a negative image in the minds of most people, but for the traveller on a budget, a nice comfy hostel is the perfect place to land yourself. It’s a great way to meet other travellers and travel buddies are a must on any good Euro trip. Hostel staff are usually very friendly and more than willing to help wherever they can, but like anywhere, if you’re sharing a room with strangers, just be sure to be smart about where you leave your belongings.
Hostel world is one of the more popular budget accommodation sites, most well-travelled folk would have gone through them at some point.
Thanks to their brilliant infrastructure, Europe is one of the easiest places to get around. With a world class rail and bus service, you shouldn't have a problem getting to where you need to be.
Euro lines (Buses)
Euro Rail (Trains)
Whether you're taking a train, bus, taxi or cycling, the options are always available. It’s a good idea to have a reliable taxi service number to hand (ask your host or hostel staff), but consider it as a last resort after a night out rather than an everyday means of travel, as they're usually more expensive and there's almost always a bus or train service that will get you there.
Cycling is very popular in Amsterdam, it's a great way to see the sites and get a bit of exercise in between filling up on foreign delicacies and it's fairly cheap! Depending on how long you’re going to be here, look into getting yourself an IAmsterdam card. It gives you unlimited access to the city's public transport system for 24, 48 or 72 hours, plus discounts and free entry to some of what the city has on offer. Visit IAmsterdam
London is an expensive town to visit for most currencies, but if you're going to be there for any amount of time, it's worth getting yourself an Oyster card and topping it up with a few pounds to last your stay. An Oyster card will save you the hassle of having to buy tickets each time you travel and allows you access to any bus, over ground or underground train (tube) service as long as you have money on your card. You can top up and check your balance at any Tube or railway station. Check out the Oyster Card
Now that you know what you’re going to be doing, you can plan an accurate budget for your trip from start to finish. Make sure you include an allowance for spending money, food, drinks (I'd keep this cash separate from everything else as it's the easiest to lose track of), entertainment, accommodation, transport (including plane tickets and local transport - buses, trains etc.), travel insurance (vitally important, in case of an accident or if you just have to see a doctor - you could end up saving a lot of money!) and any VISA costs you may have to pay.
No matter how well you budget, it’s a good idea to travel with an ATM debit or credit card as back up. Those extra little costs will always crop up, you never know when you may need to book another flight or reroute yourself depending on weather and other circumstances. Make sure you've saved enough cash to account for any surprise expenses.
Although you'll have your plastic with you, try to make sure it's kept as back up only.
Plan so that you should have enough cash for everyday things. This way you can be sure you don't go over budget and you won’t have to worry about the interest rate costs you’d stack up if you were spending exclusively on card, making your trip unnecessarily expensive. Keep in mind that pickpockets are rife all over Europe, so make sure your money is hidden, especially on crowded trains and in busy cities.
Check international transaction fees with your bank before you leave, but remember; cash is king.
Mr Bean turbulence
Try to leave with your bag as light as possible, so you can come back heaving it out of the airport, driving friends and family wild with excitement at the prospect of presents. They might also be happy to see you.
Try to keep souvenirs down to one collection of items; a set of postcards, magnets, badges etc. to avoid cluttering your bag with a bicycle helmet from Amsterdam, a mini double decker bus from London and a replica leaning tower of Pisa from Italy.
Besides saving valuable bag space, you’ll have more options when it comes to displaying your souvenirs when you get home. People have created travel walls and stuck posters or postcards on one wall documenting their travels, others have bought a hat from home and pinned badges from each country they’ve visited onto it or have stuck a world map to their fridge with magnets of everywhere they’ve been.
Once you've covered all the basics of the planning, get excited! I'd recommend a good night’s sleep before you take off. Farewell parties the night before you leave are never a good idea. A turbulent flight is rarely fun, unless you're Mr Bean, and doing it with a hangover is guaranteed to start your trip off badly. Save it for the foreign beers, wine tasting and exotic cocktails!
- Try learning a few basic phrases of the language for the countries you're going to, it’ll make life easier and entertain the locals.
- Leave a copy of your photo ID and a detailed itinerary of where you’re going and what times you’ll be there with someone at home.
- Don’t be afraid to ask locals and make friends. Most people in Europe have been a tourist at some point, so they’ll understand - embrace it! You’re new here no question is stupid and if it is, you’ll probably laugh about it over drinks later.
- Keep your wits about you and stay safe!
- Even London heats up in summer, if you’re heading out in the heat be sure you know how to prevent, treat and deal with holiday sunburns
- The Jetstream Team