For those of us who refuse to overspend on tours
We’ve all been there. You decide this year’s the year; you’re going on a Euro Trip. You’re craving the taste of fresh Italian tomato sauce on your tongue and the sweet Mediterranean water on your toes. You don’t care if your friends don’t come – you’re leaving with or without them. This will be the trip of a lifetime.
But then, you get overwhelmed. Where do you start? What hotels should you stay at? How much money should you bring? How will you get from place to place?
Typically, when this sets in we jump right to pre-set tour groups. The only issue? You’re paying at least $1000 extra for frou-frou tour guides and unnecessarily expensive hotels.
You put the Euro Trip dream away for at least another year.
Some of you may argue that tour-based vacations are the easiest way to travel, but I’m writing to prove you wrong. There’s a 7 easy-to-follow program to creating your very own customized Euro Trip that won’t leave you drowning in credit card debt.
- Getting Started
Sit that little wanderlust-ing booty down and think about all the specific cities you’d love to visit. One of the biggest issues with tour groups? You’re along for the ride, whether you’d like to see something or not. But this is your trip. From this list, group the cities closest together.
- Framing Your Time
Vacation for two months? Sounds amazing. Is it realistic? Not at all. The rule of thumb for traveling is 1-2 countries per week, depending on your level of energy and your willingness to move around. Also keep in mind your budget. With every week you’re away, tack on an additional $300-$700 of spending money. Once you choose the amount of time you’re comfortable with, and the amount of spending money you’re willing to save, we can move onto the fun part.
- Accommodating Your Accommodations
Choose your accommodation of choice – hotel, hostel, or camp-site. In Europe, the most popular way of traveling is the hostel. While hostels often get a bad name, no thanks to the 2005 self-titled film, they will be your best friend. They are inexpensive and they get the job done. Will you be waking up to clean sheets and Continental breakfast? Absolutely not. But a lot of hostels are home to great bars and great rooms. Camping is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you’re willing to do it, you can save yourself a lot of money. Hotels are the cleanest and safest way to travel, but also the most expensive. My advice to you? Do a combination of all three. You’ll have the best of every traveling world, and you’ll get to experience the true culture of Europe.
- Spreadsheets Are Your Friend
When we think spreadsheets, we think exceptionally boring and dry work. But that is not the case here. Use spreadsheets to organize each accommodation you find, this way your budget doesn’t get out of control. Once you’ve done your research and chosen how you’d like to travel, here’s where you’ll compare your prices and make the final cuts. For right now, don’t worry about how you’ll get from place to place. Focus on finding the hotels, hostels, or campsites. Websites such as hotels.ca or trivago.ca are extremely helpful; they’ll show you the lowest prices for certain websites and also the ever-important reviews.
- Getting Around
We’re in the homestretch. Here’s where you decide how you’re getting from city-to-city, or country-to-country. Intercontinental flying is generally cheap in Europe, and it will be the most time-efficient. However, take time to look into trains, busses, or ferries. Also consider renting your own car! Keep that spreadsheet going and find your best prices. Here’s where you’ll book your departing and returning flights.
- Put It All Together
Finally, the hard parts are over! Here’s where you make your calls (or in this day and age, book online). You add all of your prices together, and you have your final cost. There’s nothing more satisfying than creating something great on your own! No wonder DIY is all the craze.
Here are some tips to make your DIY Euro Trip a true trip of a lifetime:
- Pack light. The Europeans will judge you anyways
- Bring both cash and card; you always want a backup
- Don’t sweat the small stuff! Things are always going to go wrong, but sometimes mistakes lead to the best moments