As if it wasn’t already obvious; I did some travelling around Europe in May! For anyone interested in my travels, or anyone thinking of going travelling, I have pulled together 5 of the most important things to consider, with top tips for each.
1 ) TRAVEL
If you are planning on travelling around Europe via train, then you will need an inter-rail pass. There are loads of different types of passes so make sure you get the right one for your trip type!
We bought a two-week continuous ticket; meaning we could use our tickets every day for two weeks around Europe. It’s worth noting that not all trains are included in the pass (e.g. night trains or high speed trains) and we had to pay extra to pre-book seats (which is sometimes compulsory).
Depending on how you wish to book the interail journey, you can either do it through a company who will work out a route for you and book your trains, or you can do it yourself. We chose to work out our own route and book it ourselves; mainly because it works out much cheaper, but also it means you can visit your preferred cities for as long as you want to.
You’ll need to check the train times in advance, as not all trains run regularly. We opted to get most of our trains in the evening as it meant we could have all day in the city before catching a train to the next one. We also got one over night train from Milan to Paris, and I would not opt for an over night train again. Ever. If possible, avoid over night trains!
When you are abroad it’s also worth noting that you will need to allow extra budget for the local metro systems if you don’t want to walk everywhere. The cost varies from city to city, but most offer 24-48 hour tickets for as little as 10 – 15 euros.
My top tip regarding public transport would be to use the over ground bus or tram systems rather than the underground, as you get to see more of the city along the way.
2 ) HOSTELS
Hostels definitely aren’t for everyone, as they are one of the most basic forms of accommodation for any one going on holiday. The only up side to staying in a hostel is the price. Depending on the location and facilities available at a hostel, you can pay as little as £15 per night for accommodation.
During my trip I stayed in 10 hostels, with ranging facilities and number of beds per room. Most people opt to stay in a shared room with around 5-7 other people as this is the cheapest and most sociable option. BUT, be reminded that this can have a negative impact on your travels if you experience sleepless nights due to snorers…
Check out the facilities at the hostels as well, as a kitchen comes in handy when you are trying to save money, and washing facilities are a must if you are traveling for an extended period of time.
Most hostels give you the option to stay either in a single sex dorm or a mixed sex dorm. (It’s usually cheaper to stay in a mixed sex dorm) But it’s completely up to you what type of room you wish to stay in! We stayed in all female dorms apart from one hostel where we had 5 boys and 3 girls inclusive of us, which actually had a better atmosphere than the rest!
My top tip for hostels would be to check how far away it is from the train station. You need to remember you’ll have a heavy backpack so getting from the station to the hostel needs to be a quick process.
3 ) TOURIST ACTIVITIES
We looked into each place before we started our travels and made a short list of things we wanted to do in each city because when you have limited time in one place you don’t want to waste any time deciding where to go and what to do. It didn’t hurt to be organised!
We used Tripomatic to build a basic itinerary for each day, which helped us massively as it recommended popular tourist activities as well as restaurants and bars.
You’ll also be given lots of ideas for activities when you get to the hostels as they normally give you a tourist map which has highlighted on it the best places to visit. Depending on the type of hostel you stay in, the map will also have lots of useful information for backpackers such as cheap eats, popular bars and tourist hot spots. Some hostels even offer free walking tours of the city.
My top tip for tourist activities would be to plan in advance especially because some activities do have to be booked before you visit. Places such as the Vatican Museums and the Eiffel Tower are recommended to be booked in advance as the queues on the day can be up to two hours long.
4 ) FOOD
When you are on holiday you generally love to eat good food and lots of it, but when you are travelling you don’t usually have the funds to do this. As mentioned before, if your hostel has a kitchen then you have the opportunity to cheap out and make your own food. It’s also worth checking if your hostel gives free breakfast, as that saves you money as well.
When we were away we tried most days to grab a sandwich for lunch but it soon became apparent that the standard Tesco meal deal hadn’t been migrated over to the rest of Europe just yet… Luckily we were able to grab easy lunches most days, and on other days we had our big meal of the day for lunch, and grabbed a quick meal to eat on the trains in the evening.
It was usually quite cheap to get street food along the way and eat in the parks, but this was only good for us because we were quite lucky with the weather. In other seasons it can be quite hard to save money if you are eating in restaurants every day for both lunch and dinner.Some places for lunch are just as expensive, and all restaurants like to add service charge or ask for tips.
You also need to be aware that tap water doesn’t seem to be such a thing abroad as what it is in England. Almost all of the restaurants we went to didn’t serve tap water, and bottled still water was around 3 euros.
My top tip for food would be to use the facilities available at the hostel, such as the kitchen or free breakfast, as much as possible as this will drive the overall cost of food down.
5 ) PACKING
The size of my backpack was ridiculous; it was the same size as me. It was insanely heavy and I could barely lift it on the first day of my travels. Luckily, I became accustomed to the backpack life and by the end of my trip I felt at one with the bag.
The key to packing for a trip around Europe is to pack light and stick to the essentials. Of which, I did neither. I packed a lot more than I needed and I still felt like I didn’t have enough choice. I ended up taking two pairs of jeans, a pair of shorts, a pair of leggings, three dresses, two short sleeved tops, two long sleeved tops, three jumpers, two pairs of shoes and flip flops.
On top of all the clothes you need to consider other things such as toiletries and makeup, and various other things that aren’t necessary such as the selfie stick, a pack of playing cards and a mini first aid kit…
I came to the conclusion that travelling for a boy must be SO much easier. And, that travelling in the summer is much better as you only need lightweight clothing and the weather is less likely to be so unpredictable.
You may also want to consider taking a small lightweight towel with you as we found out along the way that not all hostels provide towels.
My top tip for packing would be to organise your bag and fold things up properly as this is the only way you can actually fit everything in!
So, there’s my 5 key areas to consider for travelling around Europe! Think I’ve missed anything off? Let me know in the comments!