C4 • THE SILHOUETTE
THURSDAY, MARCH 31, 2011
Europe for the everyday traveller Pickup some tried and tested travel trips from an experienced pro
• CONT’D FROM C1 Tip #2 – Have a loose itinerary Okay you’ve got your budget, you have your arrival and departure flight booked, now sketch out a loose itinerary. Many firsttime travelers make the mistake of planning absolutely every detail of a European excursion to the “t”. From personal experience, the best times I ever had backpacking Europe were not planned - they were times where I didn’t know where I would sleep, where I would eat, what I would do. What I suggest doing is planning out your Europe trip in chapters. If you have five weeks in Europe, chapter 1 could be England, chapter 2 France, and so on. As long as you know how long you’ll be in these chapters for, who cares how you spend the time? If you meet people at your hostel who are planning a short excursion for a few days, go with them! There is no right or wrong way to travel. Try to have a “yes” mentality and go with the flow. Just make sure you don’t get carried away, and I always suggest you book your first few nights in advance when travelling to a new country. Tip #3: Campsites are your friend Everybody envisions backpacking through Europe in hostels, “is there any other way?!” Well, yes. Camping. The best places I ever stayed in my last two summers abroad have been in campsites, and don’t worry, you won’t need to bring a tent if you haven’t got the room. Most campsites have cabins or tents that they can rent you, and normally cost HALF of what hostels cost. Obviously if you’re staying in big cities like Berlin, London, or Rome, you may want to stick with hostels, but places like Spain, France, and Italy are famous for their beautiful campsites that will save you a tremendous amount of money in the long run. When traveling through Verona, Italy, I found a campsite that overlooked the entire city, a mere 5-minute walk from the historic downtown. Fig trees, apples, old stone, beautiful architecture, it had everything. And it cost me a mere nine Euros for the night!
JONATHON FAIRCLOUGH / ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR
Jonathon Fairclough photographing Athens, Greece.
also travelled by train for 6 days unlimited stops for 160 Euros. Trust me, these are all great deals. A good website for cheap flights is Ryanair.com, while a good place to start looking at European rail passes is Eurail.com. Check it out! Rail passes are the kind of thing you should be buying before you go, while cheap flights can be purchased online from any computer with internet using a credit card. Tip #6: Pack as light as you possible can This is a no-brainer. Guys and girls alike are guilty of bringing too much stuff with them, weighing down their packs and making them look quite ridiculous when they try to re-pack their back halfway through their journey. Depending on the length of your stay, you can normally get away with one pair of jeans, 5 t-shirts, a week’s worth of underwear and socks, a pair of sandals for showers and lazy days, a pair of comfortable shoes for walking and travel days, one baseball cap, one book for reading, one sweater for cold nights, a light rain jacket, a small digital camera, and a travel wallet for holding your passports, credit cards, money, and other valuables. Toiletries can be purchased on the road, so there is no point of bringing them with you. Of ALL the things I just suggested, the travel wallet is the most important. Although there are many different kinds, the one I use straps around my waste and tucks beneath my pants so it’s against my skin at all times. It WILL save your life, especially if your stuff gets stolen or you get robbed. Nobody thinks it will happen to them but it does, in more cases than you think, so be prepared.
Tip #7: Leave the computer at home There is no reason why you should be bringing a computer with you, so don’t even think about it. Computers take away from the traveling experience and make you unusually anti-social when in a hostel environment. Take it from someone who HAD to bring a laptop to edit photos, you will find an excuse to use it and you may be missing out on some pretty ridiculous experiences if you have your face in a computer all day. Tip #4: “When in Rome” Do what the locals do, eat where the Sure, it’s nice to be in contact with the world locals eat. Many European cities make a kill- back home but don’t worry, they’ll be there ing from ripping off tourists, and since you when you get back! And I’m sure they’ll understand if are NOT a tourist, don’t fall under their spell. you can’t get back to them for a few weeks. Try to find restaurants off the beaten path, buy And for your information, you can find comfresh fruit and produce from local markets, and NEVER, I repeat NEVER, eat at a fast puters with internet access at essentially 99 per cent of the hostels you visit while abroad, food chain. While living in Barcelona for two so don’t worry. weeks last summer I managed to spend 10 Now, please, feel free to disregard Euros a day on groceries and had some of the freshest and most delicious food I have any of the advice I have just given you if you ever eaten. Also, try to find local festivals to have another idea of traveling or if you’re attend! Most festivals have food and drink going somewhere else than Europe. The opinions expressed in this stands all over the place, and will only charge article are purely of my own and reflect two you what they charge the locals. So, once again, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, summers-worth of living out of a backpack and may not line up with your own travel not as the middle-aged tourists do. plans. Believe me though, there’s some helpful advice in this, but as somebody told me Tip #5: A matter of transportation Transportation in Europe can be once: “90 per cent of travel knowledge is dead-cheap, but you have to find it. Most learnt from personal experience, and not from people argue that rail-passes are the way to others.” So with that in mind, get out there! go, while others swear by flights. I’d say both Live your life! Hit that road! And always reare good, in moderation. I have flown from member: you’re young, you’ve got nothing to Rome to Brussels for 60 Euros, Brussels to Berlin and back for 100 Euros, while I have lose, so always, ALWAYS, say yes.
We’d like to thank all our readers and volunteers for keeping IO alive! Have a happy summer. Love, Natalie & Kaitlin