Travel is the most suppressed passion as it entails a cost which takes a sizable portion of the savings which may have been utilized somewhere else nonetheless each one of us craves to see the world, live the life like others, savor the unknown delicacies, experience the mother nature, explore the paradigm of historical events and still be left with the money for the necessities.
The Mystic attraction of the European Nations makes them a favored destination for early travelers, however the unfavorable exchange rate, higher per capita income and well developed infrastructure have made them expensive destinations for Asians. This is no way implies that bank deposits need to be broken or you need to please your employer for on site opportunities to fund these trips.
First time travelers tend to rely on experienced agents, for they are skeptical of the unknown, ending up paying much more than required and being on the road at all times in the rush to cover the maximum. Europe needs to be covered at a slow pace or you will miss its subtlety. I based on my experience of travelling a number of times have compiled a list of a few basics you should adhere to to have a memorable trip without pinching your pocket.
Airlines do not really matter
Irrespective of the airline, an 8 hour cattle class (oops Economy class) journey to Europe will be tiring hence, ditch the tantrums and opt for an airline which reaches your destination in the least time and at the lowest price.
** The average cost of a ticket should not exceed Rs 35000 – Rs 40000 from India
** Landing in one city and departure from the other will cost the same provided they are serviced by the same airline, so do not make the effort to return to your point of entry and save that extra day
** Rs 6000 is the approx cost for a Schengen Visa which can be applied at the nearest VFS center.
One ticket works across all Public Transport
A single ticket works across networks i.e metro, trams and buses and if you plan to stay in a city, opt for a 24 hour or 72 hour public transport pass for unlimited access. The public transport system is well connected and easy to understand.
If you are travelling in a group of 3 or more, self drive car is a reasonably priced alternative, though parking slots can be very expensive
** A 24 hour ticket on transport network is priced in the range of 5-8 Euros
** Self Drive Car can be arranged at an average per day cost of 30 Euros ++ fuel costs and parking costs (which can go up to 20 Euros per day). Book an accomodation which offers free parking even if it is slightly outside of the city
** BlaBla car is well established in Europe and a fun way of driving with a local
Hostels and B&B’s are the way to go
A solo traveller need not think beyond a hostel, the hostels in Europe are fun, centrally located, offer a host of activities, light on the pocket and present an opportunity to make new friends.
Couples or group of friends wanting to avoid hostels, can search for an accommodation at B&B’s or Airbnb. Read the reviews and opt for a place closer to center of the city. It is a nice experience of staying like a local.
** A room in a dorm will set you back by 20-25 Euros per person per day
** B&B’s and Airbnb options vary as per the city, however a good accommodation can be managed in 50-60 Euros per day
** Want to save money, experiment with couch-surfing and you may fall for it
Explore the Internet before you plan
Internet has more information than can be imagined hence should be thoroughly researched to save the extra bucks. Online travel guides, blogs, TripAdvisor shall give you practically all that is required on how to reach a place, moving around, eating out, accommodations, tourist attractions and things to avoid.
Say No to Eurorail Pass
The pass sounds as a fascinating choice, however it is suggested only for tourists willing to meaninglessly touch maximum countries in the minimum time. It is exorbitantly priced, moreover point to point tickets cost less and are recommended in case train travel is the only option.
Fly with the Low Cost Airlines and avoid the trains
Easyjet, Ryanair, Vueling, Jetairfly, etc are among low cost airlines which cover maximum destinations in Europe and are cheaper compared to trains. Search for low cost flights and head to your next destination in the fastest time.
Eat and Drink like the Locals
Travel guides and food experts suggest exclusive fine dine restaurants which neither capture the essence of the place nor offer any unique experience. When you are in Europe you must eat and drink like the locals in their cafes and bars. Visit their local festivals and fairs. These present an authentic feel and are affordable.
City Passes are value for money
Interested in visiting museums, local attractions and a lot more ? Most places have their bargain city cards (like Barcelona Card, Berlin Card, Iamsterdam Card) which gives free access to major tourist attractions and even public transport. It is an excellent option if used to the fullest
Avoid Summers ..Go for Shoulder Season
Europeans make most of their short summer, causing the rates to shoot up for all accommodations and tourist activities. All locals are on their vacations during this of the year and places are dismally overcrowded. Avoid these 3 months and the trip shall be entertaining and easy on the pocket.
Ride on the Inter City Buses
There are a number of low cost bus companies like Flix bus, Eurolines, Megabus, Student Agency, Oui buses which have come up in the recent years and are an excellent option for travel between cities for journeys extending to a few hours. They offer free wifi, comfortable seats and on board entertainment. Book online and you may get very good deals.
International Roaming Cards are a strict No
Calling cards and international roaming cards are things of the past. Accommodation is usually accompanied with free Wifi, make the best of it and use Whatsapp, Skype or Facetime to connect back home. If you want to remain connected at all times, purchase an easily available local Sim card.
East is cheaper than West and South is cheaper than North
Scandinavian countries are the most expensive places to be on a Euro Trip and should be avoided if on a shoestring budget. Eastern European cities are much economical compared to their western counterparts, but are equally beautiful and are low priced.
Second Class is as good as the first class
Second Class compartments in European Trains are not much different from the first class compartments and offer similar comfort, thus pick the lower priced tickets without getting appalled and you will be treated to the same views during the journey.
Pick your breakfast from Departmental Stores
A breakfast if not included in your accommodation can cost upwards of 10 Euros for the same basics everyday. Visit a local departmental store and pick up anything that you choose to eat. The departmental stores are well stocked and the language is never a problem.
Europe comprises of approximately 50 countries and each country has its own character which needs to be lived through at its own pace. Focus on a few cities that you feel you must see and plan your trip around it.
My travel tips are to make you avoid common mistakes which first time travelers do on their trip to Europe by overspending and to encourage you to travel again and again to different parts of Europe.
Need help planning your trip ? drop me a note at email@example.com and I ll be happy to help you !