I recently returned from two months travelling Europe. I know, cue jealousy. Its become almost a rite of passage for every single young person in Australia to escape winter and flee to the European summer. However, there were quite a few things I wish I had done differently. Whilst I had an amazing time, I did come back in quite a bit of debt, with quite a few more kilos stacked onto my tummy. Here are my 5 top tips to maximise the fun you have on your trip and hopefully stop you from making my mistakes.
1 – Book as much as you can before you leave
It’s fun just ‘going with the flow’ but it is also very stressful and very expensive. Unless you have endless amounts of money and are immune to stress, I suggest you pre plan most of your trip, especially flights. Internal travel around Europe is pretty easy thanks to their amazing train system. If you book your trains in advance, they are usually pretty cheap and sometimes they have deals where you can get first class tickets for the same price as second class!
2 – Think practically about accomodation
I used Airbnb for most of my trip, which was really great. However, I chose my apartments based on their appearance, rather than practicality. A rooftop terrace in Paris sounds amazing, right? Yeah, until you realise you have to carry your 26kg suitcase up 9 flights of stairs to get to that beautiful rooftop terrace. Whilst I enjoyed the view, I did not enjoy passing out at the door of my apartment, lying in a puddle of sweat and tears. Nobody tells you that there are no lifts in most apartment blocks in Europe. So either work out before you go and get super fit and strong or don’t book a rooftop terrace. Trust me.
3 – Budget. Budget. Budget.
Pick an amount of money you can afford to spend per day and stick to it. I think I originally planned on spending $110 AUD per day. That lasted about two weeks before I said ‘Fuck it, who cares? I’m in Europe and I have a magic card with magic money.’ I am deeply regretting that decision now. And for the love of god, do not spend your money on stupid souvenirs that mean nothing. Thats right, do not buy a key chain with a mini eiffel tower on it. Do. Not. Do. It.
4 – Don’t overpack
Thats right, ladies. There is no need for all three of your favourite black stilettos to come with you to Europe. I was forced to leave a pair of very uncomfortable nice black heels in my hotel room in Madrid because I could no longer fit them in my suitcase and I had only worn them once. I’ll always remember them. Be smart and pack smart. Besides, if you forget anything you can just buy it over there (very contradicting to point number 3 but lets just go with it). You’re going to Europe, not Ethiopia.
5 – Learn to be on time
I did a Contiki tour of the Mediterranean which I highly recommend. However, there were many early starts and set times of arrival and departure. If you’re like me, someone who is terminally late to EVERYTHING, I suggest you change your tardy ways before you go, unless you want to spend 9 hours on a train from Nice to Pisa because you missed your Contiki bus. Yes, that is something that I did (sorry mum). I had plenty of time on the train to think about my life choices and I swore to myself that I would never be late again. Much like my budget, that lasted about five minutes.