Yesterday, on my Facebook page, I posted the route-map for my 58-day backpacking trip in Europe. And one of the comments on the post written by someone gave me a bright idea. The comment read “Have a great journey…. waiting to hear more on how you plan a Europe trip from India and what all you’re going to do in Europe”.
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, as the journey itself! It becomes even more important to plan when you want to travel under a budget, that too, to a place you have never been to before!
It’s a different thing though 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 later. But that a different issue. My planning is more focused on experiences than the destination themselves. Making it as cheaper as possible is moreover the focus!
You know I’m one hell of a budget backpacker. So how did I end up getting attracted to the idea of travelling to western Europe and countries like Switzerland and Germany, that are considered as some of the most expensive places in Europe? Well, the travel bug germinated in my head last year when I was contacted by a hotel in France, via Twitter, asking if I ever plan on visiting France in future, I can stay with them for free. They wanted me to review their hotel, in return for a few days of complimentary stay and a city tour.
And I thought why not!
I created a route map, starting from Paris, and roughly shortlisted 7 or 8 countries I would like to cover. I contacted their Tourism Boards to see if any of them would like to work with me for same terms — free stay/free tours/free travel against promotion on my blog, and I ended up getting lucky as 7 tourism boards agreed.
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 offered accommodation, and some offered an all-inclusive itinerary! Where nothing worked, I will Couchsurf and volunteer.
PS: It’s by volunteering that I will be learning horse riding in Germany and staying with a family in Rome. And yet, I am spending only a fraction of what the original costs could be.
So What My 58-Day Europe Trip Is (Tentatively) Going To Cost?
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 for 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 on a tuk-tuk, Rome on a Segway. I will moreover be taking many day tours exploring national parks and caves, including a VIP Tour to Vatican City that costs a whopping 250 EUR.
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.
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 hassle-free.
If you travel as a travel blogger, make sure you write to the national and local tourism boards. Tourism boards are always ready to work with bloggers, in exchange for some extra online exposure.
Update: I’m now back from Europe and totally loved the experience. The destinations I travelled to were all equally amazing. I met an uncountable number of people during this time, out of which some are going to remain lifelong friends. And speaking of the most memorable experience of the trip, this is what is going to remain with me for a long time: Getting Robbed In Bratislava!