Yesterday, on my Facebook page, I posted the route-map that I’ll be following during my upcoming 58-day backpacking trip in Europe. And one of the comments on the post, written by Mohit Agarwal, gave me a bright idea. The comment read “Have a great journey…. waiting to hear about your planning phase and the trip”.
I realized that I seldom talk about the planning phase of my journeys. And if I don’t talk about that, how can I consider them as journeys. Planning is, after all, just as important to a journey, as the journey itself — you plan better and you will thank yourself throughout the trip! Planning becomes even more important when you want to travel under a budget, and/or you are travelling outside of your country.
And on my upcoming 58 days backpacking trip, I’ll be doing both! Hence, I planned enough!
However it’s a different thing that I still do not know if I am going to follow the exact route-map I’ve created at the moment, or I’ll alter it and give it a new form. But it’s a different issue. My planning is more focused on the ease of travel, better experiences, and making it as cheaper as possible.
From The Beginning
You know I’m one hell of a budget backpacker. So how did I end up getting infected with the idea of travelling to western Europe and countries like Switzerland, that are considered as one of the expensive places in the world? Well, the seed of Europe travels germinated in my head, last year, when I was contacted by a hotel in France, via Twitter, asking if I plan on visiting France in the future. They wanted me to review their hotel, in return for a few days of complimentary stay and a city tour. It was in November 2016.
And I thought why not!
I created a route map, starting from Paris, and roughly calculated about 7 or 8 countries I’d like to cover. I contacted their Tourism Boards to see if I can get more sponsorships as a blogger, and I ended up lucky getting help from 7 tourism boards, including two in France (Marseille Tourism Board and Bordeaux Tourism Boar). However, I later cut France off my list (reconsidering again!) and I am now left with 8 other countries, minus France.
As of now, I will be working with the tourism boards of Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Ljubljana, Vienna, Bratislava, Hungary and Basel. Some offered city passes, some accommodation, and some – both! Where nothing worked, I decided to do Couchsurfing and even volunteer.
PS: It’s by volunteering that I’d be learning horse riding in Germany and exploring the romantics of Rome. And yet, I am spending only a fraction of what the original costs could be.
So How Cheaper Am I Travelling 58 Days For?
After humble sponsorships, a bit of volunteering and the use of hospitality networks, I managed to bring the cost of my trip to a significantly low number. I will finish my 58 months in Europe in under 100,000 Rupees, out of which 30k was sent in flights, and another 10k for Visas and other fees — after all, it was an all expenses-included trip.
This leaves me with INR 60k, including food, drinks, and transportation for 58 days. Pretty frugal, right?
But that doesn’t mean the journey will lack any action. I will be exploring Rome on horseback, Budapest in a tuk-tuk, Vienna on a Segway. I will moreover be taking many day tours exploring national parks and caves. 🙂
The Routemap I’ll Be Following
though consider a few good changes in it as I initiate the journey
Few Tips For Smart Travellers And Bloggers
Carry a travel card, issued by your personal bank to make your travel easier. I’m carrying ICICI Travel Card, which gives me Euros and Swiss Francs, at no extra cost, except for what I lose in currency conversions. And it works pretty much as your savings account does, with the facility of internet banking and mobile updates!
Don’t bleed unnecessary money for the craze of Eurorail, because Eurorail is expensive, and will make you wince twice if you’re older than 29 years of age and want to buy their railcard! Trains in Europe are expensive. If you want to make your travel cheaper, use buses (or hitchhike | I might possibly try it once or twice to share my experiences). Though don’t forget to get the experience of travelling on a train for once.
If you’re staying in a city for only a couple of days or 3 days at maximum and will be using public transport and doing city tours, invest in a City Card, that most of the popular cities in Europe offer (can be found on their tourism website). They can save you a fortune, and make your travel a hassle-free experience.
If you travel as a travel blogger, make sure you write to the national and local tourism boards of the places you’re travelling. They are pretty much always ready to work with bloggers, in exchange for some extra online exposure.
UPDATE: I’m now back from Europe and loved the trip. The 58 days went in the blink of an eye.