With the Olympic Games behind me, I had about a month before my parents were due to arrive in London. Sandra and I had been wanting to travel Europe in the interim. However, due to London taxes, the money we thought we were earning from the Games was drastically less than what we were told. We had to start planning our Euro trip from the beginning.
At this point, I had no job and therefore no income. I was smart enough to have set aside the last few pay cheques from work into a savings account, along with the savings that would automatically slide over into that account every month. During the Games, we had a pre-paid Visa to use for any expenses we might incur. Having not really used it while working, I had pretty much the lot of it left. And, on top of it all, September would be my last month living in the flat we had in London. So the last month’s rent was already paid for in my initial deposit. All in all, money wouldn’t be an issue because my expenses would be next to nothing until we left on our Euro trip.
It’s always a good idea to have some sort of savings account that is tax-free and collects interest (even if it is a small amount). In England, knowing I wasn’t staying for forever, I set up a savings account where I’d set aside a certain amount every pay cheque. Those weekend get aways sometimes come on last minute, so it’s nice to be able to dip into the savings for spontaneous trips! Or for those must-have items for your closet 😉
So Sandra and I took some time, headed to a local cafe, sat and thought out how best to tackle our Euro trip. Our original plan had allotted four weeks of travel. Now it was only two, maybe two and a half. Hmph. Ok. No big deal! We can weed out some of the cities we just can’t miss, versus ones that we can likely do another trip.
And so we plotted. We picked five cities we absolutely both wanted to see. Then we planned a few days in each city. Before, because we had planned a jam packed four weeks of travel, we were literally dropping in one city and quickly leaving. We would barely have enough time to see a damn thing. So this time around, we decided to pick fewer cities and spend more time in each of them.
I would have thought travelling with someone would be difficult because everyone has their own opinions and wanting different things than me. But it was super easy. We were both really flexible with choices and we weren’t hard headed on getting one city in versus another. All in all, the planning part was pretty easy.
Now that we had our cities, it was time to put everything else into place. Accommodation, transportation, etc. This seemed fairly easy only because the internet is amazing. Booking through Hostel World is so simple. We based our accommodation on the pictures provided and the location. It was so important to both of us that the hostels we were staying in were clean….especially the bathrooms! If pictures were not provided of the bathroom, we passed on that hostel. There is nothing worse than getting in a mould filled bathroom and having to shower. Gross! We were very picky there, and in some cases we paid a bit more of the place we wanted to stay in. We didn’t mind staying in dorms with multiple other people. You can choose men/female dorms specifically, or mixed dorms. It didn’t matter to us. Staying in dorms with higher occupants makes things cheaper. In Prague, we stayed in a 24-bed dorm all female. It worked out to be like, $5 a night. Pretty amazing!
When booking any trip, it’s worth being frugal where you it’s possible. Be flexible in terms of your accommodations. Hostels sometimes have a bad rep as being ‘dirty’ or ‘unsafe.’ If you travel prepared and you bring your common sense with you, staying in a hostel is the best thing you can do when travelling. You meet people from all over the world by staying in a hostel. Most places have pubs and have nightly festivities for their guests. Just because a hostel is cheaper than a hotel does not mean it’s any less appealing. I’ve stayed in some pretty amazing hostels and I’ll continue to check hostels first before looking at hotel options.
With hostels quickly being booked, all we had left to do was figure out transportation. With so many options and prices, this was probably the most tasking. We wanted to be sure we weren’t spending too much on getting to these places. We knew flights were the most expensive. Now, I say expensive but in Europe, flights are relatively cheap compared to flying within Canada. With a limited budget, we didn’t mind taking an over night bus versus a flight solely on the fact that it was far cheaper. So where we could, we bused it. Trains are also a good way to travel in Europe with fares being reasonable. When we went from Berlin to Prague, we took a train and it was quite nice actually. The only time we flew was at the very end of our trip from Prague back to London. The reason why was because I had to be back in London before my parents. That was the quickest way to get home essentially.
Planning your adventures are half the fun really. I love figuring out the logistics of it all. Most people find travel, the actual time it takes getting to your destination, a hassle. I love it. I never get stressed over travel. Everything is booked in advance, and so long as you’re in the right place for the right time there is nothing to worry about. You can’t control what happens to luggage or delayed flights. So why stress over it? You’ll get to where you’re going, don’t worry!
Right now I’m in the midst of planning a big trip for Christmas 2017. It’s so nice to have something to look forward to, especially something that takes you on a new adventure. So here’s to all of you planning your next getaways! I hope your plans are coming together nicely!