Before I forgot. Here are some factor that one’s must consider before purchasing your travel ticket. Please read on…
- Trying to see too many places. Think quality, not quantity. Less is more. You will have more time to actually see things if you spend 2 days in Paris rather than 1 day in Paris, half a day in a train, and half a day in Amsterdam. Even if the second option covers 2 instead of 1 cities you have less time to see things.
- Trying to see everything. (Also known as ‘We want to see as much as we can’) You will have to make choices. Europe has 1000s of places worth visiting. Accept that you can’t see everything on a trip (or in a lifetime for that matter!) Plan like you’ll come back one day as there is no way you can see it all.
- Underestimating travel time. Even if the train ride between London and Paris takes just over 2 hours, from hotel-door-to-hotel-door you will spend closer to six hours. (checking out of the hotel, getting to the station/airport in time, waiting, sometimes security (for flights), getting to your new hotel, etc.) That’s half a day every time you move.
- Thinking in terms of ‘countries’ and not of ‘places’. People who say things like ‘Can I see 3 countries in 10 days?’ are mixing up countries and places. Most countries have so much to offer, you can’t see/do/cover them, even
if you had a month to travel. You can, however, visit 3 places in 10 days. Whether those 3 places are all in the same country or in 3 different ones usually doesn’t matter that much in terms of travel time. What is a ‘place’? A city or an area with several smaller attractions. E.g. Paris is a place. Or Tuscany. Or a Greek island. How many places should you plan to visit? As a rule of thumb, take the number of days you have and divide by 3.5. That’s the number of places you should build into an itinerary. Why 3.5? Because a place that’s worth visiting is generally worth 3 days, and you lose half a day each time you travel. It’s just a rule of thumb- there will be exceptions. But it’s a good starting point to check if you’re cramming too much into an itinerary.
- Focusing on the big cities only. Europe is not just capitals, What makes countries unique and different is often more easily found in the countryside than in cities. The best itineraries combine capital cities with provincial towns and countryside.
Please discuss budgets in Euro as that is the currency in use in most of Western Europe.The consensus on this board is that you need about €50 a day as a minimum to survive.This covers:
€ 20 for a dorm bed or cheap shared double room (If you’re budget traveller)
€15 for 3 self-catering meals (supermarkets and street/fast food)
€3-5 for local transport within a city
€8-10 for one activity per day. This could be laundry, or a museum, or a few coffees …
Not included are: getting to Europe, inter-city travel, full-on sit down meals, and alcohol (for those who drink).
Given that this doesn’t leave much room for fun activities, a budget of €70/day is more realistic. Of course, as you spend more on accommodation or meals, the sky is the limit.
Keep in mind that these are averages for Europe. Individual countries may be more or less expensive. Switzerland and Norway are significantly more expensive than Bulgaria or Portugal.
How to keep costs down?
The amount of moving around you do has a huge impact on budget. If you want to save money, the trick is to move less. If you spend 7 days in Paris you will spend less than if you spend 3 days in Paris, 2 days in Brussels and 2 days in Amsterdam. Not just because you save on transport but also because you get economies of scale (more days means more time to figure out how things work, including the cheapest way to do things)
It will also be cheaper if you spend 5 days in Paris and then 2 in a small town near Paris, because transport will be cheaper (local trains and buses rather than high speed trains or planes) and because smaller towns/villages are often cheaper than capitals (and as said they also give you a different impression of the country).
In terms of exchanging money, in 99% of cases the cheapest and safest way to get local currency is using ATMs with a debit card issued by your local bank. Period. A credit card is complementary and reduces the amount of cash needed.