Thinking of doing a Euro-trip but aren’t sure where to start?…
Four years ago I went on the adventure of a lifetime. I quit my job, packed my bags and set off on a 3 month adventure across Europe - but not before ALOT of planning! when my mate and I first spoke about it we had no idea where to start. Do we just book a flight and wing it? should we do an organised tour? should we hire a car and drive it ourselves? if we do a tour, which one should we do? if we wing it, how would we get around? if we drive, where would we go?... it's alot of money to spend and a once in a lifetime trip for most of us so there's immense pressure to get it right! the last thing you want is to return home and wish you'd done it differently.
To be honest, the best choice for you will depend on the kind of trip you want to have. For some it's one big drinking binge, for others it's a rich cultural and spiritual experience, and for others it's an epic and arduous adventure. If you're like me, it's all of the above! I'm going to break it down into the categories I've just mentioned;
You want to party your way through Europe without having to rely on yourself too much?... Do an organised tour. Contiki & Topdeck are your obvious choices, both offering long term tours across Europe for up to 8 weeks. It ain't cheap though! a long trip like that will set you back anywhere between $3000 - $5000. But then again, a Eurotrip no matter how you do it will cost a significant amount of cash. There are so many tour companies operating in Europe, if you go down this route you're spoiled for choice. Just to name a few others there's; Fanatics, Geckos Adventures, STA Travel, and On The Go Tours. The biggest positive of an organised tour is that you just turn up when and where they tell you to, no real planning is needed from your end besides booking a flight. Your accomodation and most of your meals will be included, and you don't have to worry about things like visas, how to get from place to place, which sites to see and how to get around etc as your tour guide will hold your hand and lead the way. You'll meet loads of new people and provided you get along, you'll become great mates. If you're a party animal, you'll love this kind of trip. The downside? it's expensive, you only get one or two days in each place which I don't think is nearly enough, and you're stuck with the people on your tour for the entire time so you better hope you like them! this kind of thing is also not a great choice if you're travelling to genuinely experience the culture of each place. I was at a bar in Switzerland on my travels and there was a contiki group in there, one of the girls was plastered and giggly slurred "I don't even know which country I'm in!" which was funny to her, but I honestly thought it was pretty sad. What's the point? you might as well get drunk at home and save your money! organised tours will always take you to prearranged eating spots too, which tend to be touristy and not very authentic, which is a shame because experiencing a new cuisine is one of the best aspects of travel!
You want a rugged, testing kind of experience? that raw style of travel where you go it alone, dive into the deep end and rely on no-one but yourself to navigate your way?... Then just book a flight! you can either hire a car when you get there and stay at cheap hotels or camp along the way, or just rely on buses and trains. It's Europe not Africa, there will always be public transport to get you from place to place. This kind of travel will probaly work out cheapest overall. If you budget carefully you could definately get away with spending €50.00 a day including your accomodation and meals. You won't be spending all your money on alcohol too! with an organised tour you tend to spend alot on partying. This travelling style will definitely be the most challenging, but it will also be the most rewarding.
You want a mix of both organised tour and independant travel?... Go with 'Busabout' I went with them for my 3 month trip. They run buses across central Europe throughout the season. You just buy the pass, start wherever you like on the route and hop on/hop off as you wish. The unlimited pass is just under $2000 AUD, you can jump on and off as many times as you like from May through to October. The beauty of it is that you get to choose how long you want to spend in each place, I loved the freedom of that. The buses come every 2 days, so you can stay for 2 nights, 4 nights, 6 nights etc. The pick up and drop off point is always an affiliated hostel in the area so it makes sense to stay at the 'busabout' hostel, making it easier for getting on and off the bus. You don't have to though, you can stay anywhere you like and meet them at the pick up point. It's a really great way of travelling Europe. You're not tied down, you're not with the same people all the time, it can be a drinking binge if you want it to but it's up to you how you spend your time - you're kind of obliged with an organised tour to go where they go and do as they do. You can also eat wherever you want! and you still get the benefit of a tour guide in the form of an employee who'll ride on the bus and fill you in on the points of interest, history etc of your next destination. I highly recommend Busabout! http://www.busabout.com/
So now you know which route to go down, realistically how much money will you need?... to give you an idea, I travelled across the whole of Central Europe for 12 weeks and I spent around $15,000 AUD. That was all my accomodation, partying, meals, souvenirs, excursions - including a €400.00 skydive, the busabout pass, my flight from Australia, and my flight to London. It's alot, but in hindsight it's actually pretty good. I know people who've spent double that in the sane amount of time! you definitely need to set yourself a daily budget and try not to go over it - mine was €50.00 per day. In the same breath you're probably only going to do it once so when an opportunity like skydiving over the Swiss Alps presents itself, just spend the cash and do it!
Hopefully I've given you a little insight for your Euro adventure, good luck! no matter how you do it, you're going to have the best time of your life.
Wondering what essentials to pack?... here's my tips; Pack like a pro for your Eurotrip!
Over and out x
Note; I am not affiliated with Busabout in any way, I know it sounds like I'm advertising for them but i'm not! I just really enjoyed my time travelling through Europe and Busabout played a massive role in my time there.