First-Timer Traveling Tips

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This is my step-by step process to plan my four-month holiday to Europe!

If you’re anything like me, the thought of travelling without an adult or parent overseas is absolutely petrifying.

Just thinking about the “what-ifs” and all of the possible dangers makes travelling independently seem daunting. As much as I’d like to say that I am excited to travel alone, it’s not the truth. I am nervous and frightened to say the least.

At the beginning of 2017, I decided that I wanted to travel the world with my boyfriend. I was young, restless and wanted to spread my wings. That was when I got a full-time job (while studying part-time) and began to save. For me, saving was easy but had its hard times. I was lucky as I had a steady income, still lived at home, and I was completely financially independent.

I now understand how hard the beginning stages of planning a holiday are. After I was certain on visiting Europe, I had no idea what to do next. Where should I go? For how long? What order do I visit these places in? These were a few of the many questions that ran through my head.

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My first instinct was to visit a professional, a travel agent, someone who can lead me in the right direction. Visiting a travel agent was somewhat helpful, however not necessary. They gave me brochures and pamphlets about Europe, but didn’t guide me through it, which is what I was expecting. That is when I realised that travelling is incredibly personal and is not a “one-size-fits-all” situation. Each person has different interests and it would be impossible for that local travel agent to plan an entire holiday for me.

The agent organised my travel insurance for me, however I planned everything else myself. The flights and accommodation that were suggested to me by the agent were more expensive than the ones I found myself. Just some research and comparing websites are the tricks to everything. Google is your best friend. I’m serious! Google is your saviour. The key to deciding where you want to visit and in what order, is Googling it!

Firstly, I looked at a map of Europe and agreed that it would be smarter for me to start north and to travel down to the west as I was starting my travelling in late July and finishing in November. I made this decision according to the weather. Then, I planned out what the logical order of visiting the countries would be. Again, this is pretty simple as you can look at a map and decide which order you’d prefer.

I decided to make a rough itinerary, which included a table made in Word that replicated a calendar. I typed in all the dates of the months and added when I wanted to visit the different countries. Once again, this was very rough and changed significantly along the way.

Then the long process of picking cities. Once again, Google was my saviour and I spent hours scrolling through websites and picking which places I wanted to visit. Being only 20-years-old and having no experience with travelling to Europe, I decided that visiting the main cities would be the best option for me. I added the cities that I wanted to visit, and then organised how long I wanted to stay there. For example, I decided to stay in London for six days because I have family there and there were many activities that I was keen to do. However, in a place like the Czech Republic, I decided to only visit Prague for three days after researching reviews.

Once I finished planning what cities I wanted to visit, and in what order, I started booking accommodation. From an Australian perspective, I found that and Expedia offered the best variety of accommodation. I used Airbnb once or twice, however it was quite pricey.

Photo by Franciele Cunha on Unsplash

As I wanted to save as much money as possible, my price range was under around $75AUD a night. Obviously, some countries were more expensive than others, which was when I made some exceptions. Something that helped me keep track of my travel expenses was Excel. Creating a spreadsheet and documenting each expense helped significantly with the organising process.

When it comes to transport, I had some issues with organising a hire car. As my boyfriend and I are both 20, we are not permitted to hire a car in the UK. This was incredibly frustrating for us as we wanted to be able to drive around and sight-see. However, this is where busses and trains come in handy. For us, this wasn’t ideal, but it’s cheaper and it gets you from point A to point B just fine.

Lastly, there is one App that I downloaded that I am sure will help me when I arrive in late July.

The App is called TripIt and you just enter all of the accommodation, flights and transport you have booked. The app sets up a timeline of everything and will save you having to open your Word or Excel documents every couple of hours.

This was my process to plan my four-month holiday to Europe!

I leave in late July and still have many things to organise and plan. I will make sure to keep track of everything I found handy and will be creating more articles that include travel tips and tricks!

I am a 20-year-old Australian university student studying Journalism. I have a passion for writing and travelling and would love to share this passion with everyone. Find more from Isabella on Instagram @BellaHaigh.

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