Before we start with travel accounts, a short note on how to prepare to travel across Europe. How to travel, where to stay and some other trips! Europe is generally easy to figure out, you will find tourist information booths in almost every city. All streets are named and marked. Buses and metros are easy to figure out. Language can be a barrier in most places but you will definitely find someone who speaks English and willing to help. Now, having said that let us get to business.
How to travel?
All major destinations in Europe are well connected by Road, Rail and Air. All the water bodies can be traversed by cruise or ferries. If you have an international driving license renting a car can be wise but for those who are in habit of right hand driving can have some serious issues.
For long distance travel there are three options: trains, buses and low cost flights.
Eurolines Buses connect 48 cities in Europe and stops in between. Passes can be bought for number of cities, days and combination thereof. It is one of the cheapest ways to travel in Europe but there are few issues: number of places, number of buses between destination, frequency and if you are travelling continuously you would want your ride between cities to be home comfortable. Buses generally are not all that. For more details Eurolines website can be checked.
Eurail passes for non – Europeans and Interrail passes for Europeans is a way to travel Europe through trains. Train tickets in Europe can get really expensive so if you are planning to travel a lot, one of these passes is a must. If you are staying long, there are different offers by individual rail companies of each country, but they won’t be too handy while travelling cross country. Eurail passes also like Eurolines passes come for different countries, days and their combination thereof. They also give traveler a lot of offers in different countries on museum tickets, bus rides, ferry rides and a lot of other such things. I am travelling on Eurail pass and I would not have traveled so much if I have not had my 3 month global pass. Details about Eurail pass can be found on Eurail website. There is also a very good Eurail app to plan your travels. For all the train details, passes and offers another good place to look in to is RailEurope website. If you have a Eurail pass remember that all your journeys are not free, on high speed trains you might need to get reservations done and those seats are limited for pass holders.
Ryan Air and Easy Jets are a couple of famous low cost domestic airlines. But to get the best deal you will have to either plan well in advance or keep a keen eye in price changes. But since airline, they obviously do not go to every city. But, also there are some places for which taking a short place can be better option than really long trains.
Travelling within a city in Europe is pretty easy. A lot of cities are quite small and you can go about on foot. In others you will find a good network of metro, buses and trams. You can find out at any station; all of them have a daily pass which gives you unlimited rides on complete network. There passes are way cheaper than buying single journey ticket.
Where to Stay?
In every city of Europe you will find a lot of backpacker’s hostels. They are the cheapest way to stay while you are travelling. It is recommended to book before you arrive. Online prices are generally less than in hostel rates. These hostels mostly have safe lockers but do travel with a padlock on you, at some places they might just give you a cabinet and you need your own lock. Some hostels give linen and blankets but others might ask you to get one. So find that out before picking your hostel. Most hostels do not give free towels. But all these things can be rented or bought at reception for a charge. Hostelbookers.com and hostel.com are a couple of websites which give good deals, but there are many. You can directly book on hostel’s website also. St. Christopher Inn is one of the most reputed hostel chains in Europe but they can also be a little more expensive than others in the area. Some hostels even give you a common kitchen to cook food.
Airbnb is also an option to find lodging across Europe. But, you will do yourselves a great favor and save a lot of money if you get hooked on to Couchsurfing. There are two advantages of being on it, free stay and meeting amazing people. It is a great way of travelling in my opinion; you get to stay with local people, they often offer you to show around or at least tell you amazing stories about the place and its culture. If you are lucky you might also get a host you want to hold on to for long. Both airbnb and couchsurfing are pretty safe and you can always pick people of your choice by looking at profiles.
Internet – Wherever you will stay you are likely to get free internet. All stations, public area, supermarket etc. has some corner with wifi hotspot. But yes there are times when you can find yourself in a complete black zone. All phone services offer 3G internet, but remember that internet package doesn’t work on international roaming. There are offers for hotspot internet access by most service provider through a prepaid access code. But they can be little expensive. In all possibility in every 12 hours you will find yourself at least once in a place which offers free wifi.
Mobile – You will have to look up different networks based on country you want to call most. They all have different offers with country specific rates. Most typical mobile companies are SFR, Lycamobile, Free etc. They all offer free calling and message on their own network. I have been using lycamobile. The lycamobile sim can be acquired for free or €5 but you will get that money as balance. A typical roaming call rate for lycamobile to all EU countries is 28 cents per minute and incoming is 9 cents. You can get phone recharges online or at TABAC stores. But you will generally find offers if you get online recharge.
Bank Account and Cash Card – Travel with at least a EURO card if not with multi-currency card. Your back home credit/debit card is going to loot a lot of money from you in exchange if it is not a corporate international card. If you are staying for long in Europe you can get a bank account open. It is easy and they also give a lot of offer to students under 26 years. Having a bank account can also reduce the cost of your housing insurance and in city travel pass if you are in need of it.
Supermarket– I can tell only about France, LeaderPrice and Carrefour are the one with best price. You will also get good deals at Monoprix and Casino. The trick is to buy their own brand in their shop. Each of these supermarkets sells everything under their own brand along with popular brands. Their brands are likely to be 30% cheaper than other brands.
Phew! That was long. But look who is all set to travel in Europe. Soon, we will start soon!