The very process of how to plan a Europe trip from India can feel daunting.
From applying visas to shortlisting destinations to following a strict budget, there is a lot to plan.
When I was thinking of my first ever backpacking trip to Europe, I was quite doubtful too. I had limited money and was travelling alone. To make it even worse, I was travelling Europe for 2-month, straight, covering 8 countries in total. But then, it helped me learn how to plan a Europe trip from India.
And now that I’ve been to Europe about a dozen times since my first trip in 2017, I think it’s time that I share some useful tips and a step-by-step guide and help others in planning a Europe trip from India, the way I did. So here we go…
How To Plan A Europe Trip From India
Before I start, let’s see a quick Youtube video I have posted on my Youtube Channel. This is an overview of my 2 months Europe backpacking trip:
Now let’s start with TIP number 1 in our list of how to plan a Europe trip from India…
Know Your Budget
There is no denying the fact that Europe is an expensive destination for Indians. Even a basic meal in Mc Donalds, somewhere in Zurich, can cost over 1000 Rupees. Knowing how much you can spend always helps.
I suggest you take a pen and paper write down the approximate costs because thinking of budget figurately is a lot different than putting it on paper. Writing down your budget is the first step to plan a trip from India to Europe.
To give an idea, the day-to-day costs including accommodation, food, sightseeing, public transportation, and a few extra incidental costs come to somewhere between 60-100 EUR per day in Western Europe and 40-80 EUR per day in Eastern Europe, for a budget traveller. This is when you are not living lavishly but not making too many sacrifices either. If you’re doing activities like sky diving or visiting an adventure park, add those expenses on top.
If you are a little more careful, you can save about 20%-30% more. This includes cooking your own food than eating out, travelling on a bus than on a train, and so on and so forth.
Here’s a related article you may want to read: Top Budget Travel Tips for Europe.
Once you know your budget, the next things to do in this travel blog on how to plan a Europe trip from India is creating an itinerary.
Create An Itinerary
Once you are done with the budget part, the next thing is shortlisting destinations, creating a route-map and finalizing your itinerary.
If you’re planning a one week trip in Europe, for example, I suggest you start with deciding a base city for you, and travel around it, doing a loop. This allows you to not redo the same journey and travel only new places.
For example, during my Europe trip, I chose Zurich as my base city (or my starting and finishing point) and did a big circle around it. Here’s what I did:
The reason I chose Zurich was that flights from India to Zurich were the cheapest India. Zurich, Frankfurt, Paris, Berlin, Rome are a few popular destinations with cheapest flights from India. Consider starting your trip from one of these cities.
Additionally, ask yourself whether you are into history or art or culture? Or perhaps adventure. And choose destinations accordingly. Also, if you want to travel on a low budget, focus on Eastern Europe. Scandinavia and Western Europe are the two most expensive regions in Europe.
Once you’re done with a rough the itinerary, consider yourself halfway to their entire dilemma of how to plan a Europe trip from India.
Search A Flight
While there is no standard time to book a flight, doing it about 6 weeks prior to your trip is a good idea. Remember, it can also take up to 4 weeks to get your Schengen visa.
A round-trip flight is always cheaper than a one-way flight. But if you want to start from one destination and finish at the other, a multi-destination flight works the best.
If you have some time before you travel to Europe, it’s best to keep checking the flights from time to time. Signup for a reminder when the price for the flight you’re looking becomes the cheapest. You can do that on flight booking sites like Skyscanner, Goibibo and others.
Here’s a more detailed article to help you with more tips: Top Tips For Booking Flight Tickets.
Buy Travel Insurance
For Indians travelling to Europe, travel insurance is mandatory. There are several domestic companies like Aditya Birla, Bajaj Allianz and Bharti AXA, among others, I never bought my travel insurance from them.
Because they don’t cover every aspect of my trip.
When buying travel insurance you should know what kind of coverage your insurance policy entitles you to. Travel insurance is not just medical insurance. There are different types of coverage available based on your needs.
Since I carry a lot of expensive photography/computer gear I need something that also covers me in case I get robbed. Eg, I got robbed in Bratislava a few years ago, but my insurance plan covered my damages.
So if you are someone who travels alone, carry a lot of digital equipment, book too many hotels/flights in advance, and want to stay covered no matter what, I suggest you buy your insurance from this company called ‘SafetyWings’. I’ve been using them for a couple of years for all my international travels. It covers me for medical problems, accidents, travel delays, lost checked luggage, and even natural disasters.
Think of travel insurance as an investment and not an expense. It covers you if something goes wrong. A wrong (or a cheap) travel insurance is just as good as having no insurance as all.
You can check Safetywing’s website by clicking here. Check different plans, and buy the one that best suits your needs.
Apply For Schengen Visa
Of course, you cannot plan a trip to Europe from India without getting a valid Schengen visa. Apply for a single-entry tourist visa, and you can use it to cross borders across the Schengen territory.
It is advised to apply for a Schengen Tourist Visa at least 4 weeks prior to the planned trip. In most cases, however, The Embassy Consulate takes only around 10 days to process the application. A tourist Schengen visa is commonly valid for stays no more than 90 days.
Though the process of applying for a Schengen visa looks complicated, it’s rather very simple. I suggest you apply for a Schengen visa on your own and save the agent fee. Here’s a detailed article on How To Apply for Schengen Visa As Indians.
Nex tip in this blog on how to plan a Europe trip from India is learning how to travel inside the continent.
How To Travel Inside Europe
Now that you are ready for the journey, let’s figure out how to best travel inside Europe. From booking hotels to buses, in Europe, everything feels so organised and orderly done — contrary to how we are accustomed to in India — making travelling in Europe fairly easy.
One thing you want to do as soon as you end up in a new town in Europe is visiting the local Tourist Information centre and collecting the free city-map and other reading material. This allows you to know the latest tourist attractions as well as get some local information not covered in guidebooks and online travel blogs.
If you’re going to be using public transport and visiting a lot of museums, invest in a City Card. Most towns across Europe have a City Card that allows unlimited free public transport and free entry to museums. For tourists who enjoy doing too much in too little time, a City Card saves them time as well as money. It is possible to buy a City Card online as well as from the local tourist information centre.
Between your arrival and departure in Europe, you won’t find any immigration checkpoints. Just catch a bus or a train and cross borders inside the Schengen zone, just like you enter from one state to the other in India.
Here’s more information on different transportation modes inside Europe:
Flights: It is possible to find a cheaper flight ticket in Europe than a train/bus ticket, so keep an eye. And it mostly happens for prominent long-distance journeys like Rome-Paris or Paris-Barcelona or Barcelona-Amsterdam. For example, I once travelled from Rome to Paris, with Ryanair, for 25 EUR. The same journey in train and bus would have cost me 80 EUR and 60 EUR, respectively. My three favorite low-cost budget airlines in Europe are Transavia, EasyJet, and Ryanair.
Buses: Buses in Europe are a lot cheaper than trains, and most budget backpackers rely on them to keep their travel costs low. Speaking of my personal experience, during my 2-month backpacking trip to Europe in 2017, I did 18 bus rides and 2 train rides in total. By doing so (and roughly speaking) I saved around 200 EUR. Where a train ride would have cost 50 EUR, the bus took 35, sometimes even lesser. Though of course buses take comparatively more travel-time, for me time was never a problem, and speaking of comfort, I personally found buses just as comfortable as trains. Megabus, Flixbus, Eurolines, Regiojet are a few international bus operators in Europe.
Trains: Trains in Europe are faster than buses, and take a more scenic route, passing through beautiful countryside. Almost every country has its own national train service that is cheaper than EuRail. But if you’re visiting a few countries and you want to travel by train, it’s best to buy a weekly pass for EuRail.
Various bus operators also have a weekly/monthly travel pass. Compare different bus/train operators and find what suits you the best.
Car-Hire: I once did a one-week road trip across Germany and totally loved the experience. It may take a couple of days to get used to, but driving in Europe has its own charm. And if you’re a group of more than 3 people, hiring a car moreover saves you a great deal of money. Read this article for more tips: Tips For Renting A Car In Europe.
How To Book Accommodation In Europe
From budget hostels to luxury hotels to b&bs, Europe has something for everyone. And the best thing is, no matter what you choose, you’re going to find it neat and clean. There will be no smelly bedsheets waiting for you in Europe.
For me, backpacker hostels are the preferred accommodation type. And this is for two reasons… 1) I travel solo and hostels allow me to meet other travellers. 2) hostels are cheap.
If you want luxury and high-standard, and you are travelling in a pair, choose to stay in a hotel. If you want luxury and high-standard, and you’re three or more people, consider renting an apartment (apartments come with a kitchen too, allowing you to cook your own food). Airbnbs are good if you want a more local experience.
If you’re a long-term backpacker, or local experiences attract you, I suggest you try Couchsurfing as well. I have personally tried Couchsurfing in Europe and loved the experience. It is also possible to volunteer in Europe as an Indian. Use websites like WorldNomds and workaway.info to find volunteering options. Read: my horse riding experience In Germany. If you’re planning to volunteer and travel, you only need to apply for a tourist visa.
Best Months For To Plan A Europe Trip From India
Honestly speaking, any time is a good time for Europe.
If you want more backpackers around and want to enjoy open/street cafes, summer is the best time. But remember that summer is the peak season for most countries in Europe, so expect more crowd and high prices wherever you go.
If you want to experience Christmas markets in Europe and cosy indoor cafes, visit during winter. Daylight remains fairly limited during winter, but that doesn’t stop locals and tourists to enjoy the charms of Europe. Winter makes for a romantic time to travel in Europe.
If you want to visit Europe in the off-season (though there’s nothing like an off-season for Europe, but only fewer tourists around) visit during monsoon. Unlike in India, it only drizzles in Europe. The rain never stops any movement in Europe.
What To Carry From India For A Europe Trip
Wondering what to carry for your Europe trip? My advice: Not too many things.
Taxis are expensive in Europe. You may have to walk. Chances are, you are moreover going to shop in Europe, so don’t carry too much.
For a trip lasting one week or more, this is what I suggest you carry:
- 3-6 pairs of T-shirts
- 2-3 Paris of party wear shirts
- 4 bottoms or pants
- Ankle boots
- 1 sweater/fleece (for all seasons)
- Thermals and a heavy jacket (for winter)
- Sunglasses (for summer and spring)
- Waterproof jacket (for monsoon)
- 5-6 pairs of socks
- Medications and first-aid kit
- Basic Toiletry
9 Tips For How To Plan A Europe Trip From India
- Use websites like Musement, GetYourGuide, Klool and Viator to book group tours in Europe.
- Don’t try to explore too many destinations in a short frame of time. You will end up missing the essence of the place.
- Learn some local phrases. Eg. people in France will behave much nicely if you start the conversation in French and then gradually switch to English. Same with Germans or Italians or Czech.
- The standard voltage in Europe is 230V and the frequency is 50HZ which is the same in India but the socket type varies. I advise you to buy an international converter to be able to use it worldwide. You can buy a converter in most airports around the world.
- Your Indian sim card is either not going to work or charge you hefty amounts for international roaming. Solution? Buy a local sim-card, or get an international sim-card. Matrix, UniConnect and WorldSIM are some of the top international sim-card providers.
- Almost all tourist towns in Europe organise a free-walking tour. Ask the local tourist information center about the timing and the starting point. Walking tours are great to get to know about a city and even make some friends if you’re travelling solo.
- I understand that the first Euro trip is always about seeing the maximum number of countries, so be it. The only advice is don’t just stick to visiting big towns, rather, explore a bit of countryside too. It is the countryside in Europe that makes it more romantic and beautiful.
- Though most people say the contrary, I find tipping in Europe isn’t mandatory — especially in Western Europe. If you do not have the money or don’t like the service, it’s okay to not tip at a restaurant or at a bar. The waiters are not going to frown upon you, as they otherwise do in India.
- Euro is the standard currency across all Schengen countries. Rather than carrying cash, I suggest you carry a travel card. An International travel card works similar to your Bank Debit Card in India — just transfer funds from your bank account to your travel card, and voila. Refill when the funds are exhausted. Countries that have their own currency like Hungary and the Czech Republic happily accept Euros everywhere.
I understand the process of how to plan a Europe trip from India can feel daunting, especially for the first-timers. But after a few trips, you automatically start understanding the continent better. Which bus service is the cheapest? How to find a free walking tour? How to survive in Europe as a vegan. All these learning come to you naturally. But whether you travel Europe as a rookie or as a savvy traveller, any time spent in Europe makes for a beautiful memory.
Also read: How To Travel World Without Money
That’s all in this blog on how to plan a Europe trip from India. If you have more questions, ask me in the comments below.