I have always been a bit timid, worried about the consequences of stepping out of my comfort zone. But after meeting my adventurous boyfriend, I was forced to fire myself out of an orange bazooka into the unknown.
So in 2016 I took the plunge and booked a three month trip to Europe with my boyfriend. For the average Aussie, it’s a right of passage to allocate a budget for a three-month adventure, but for me, it was a life-changing experience that pushed me to do discover new activities and meet new people.
I have decided to include a static page for my blog posts on Europe, in case others like me want the motivation to travel into the unknown – or just want some tips on where to go and what not to do.
I had saved enough to fund the trip, and we booked our flights through Sophie Culburt at Hello World (a bloody good agent if I do say so myself). We worked up until the day before we left to ensure we could do everything we wanted while travelling.
Best places to visit in Europe
Europe is vast and made up of several intriguing countries, with cultures so unique from one another it can be hard to believe they share borders. We explored several cities in each country – click on the links to find out more.
|UK||London||Waking myself up by snoring as I slept on a friends’ loungeroom and Harry Potter World|
|Croatia||Split to Split seven-day sail – Hvar, Dubrovnik and several other islands||€5 espresso martinis at a club in Hvar and gaining a second family|
|Italy||Rome, Venice||Hostel sangria and an open-air nightclub concluding a pub crawl in Rome (although, it was hard getting home to our Airbnb)|
|Greek Islands||Santorini, Ios, Mykonos||Partying with friends from home in a nightclub on the side of a cliff and all the cats|
|Spain||Barcelona, Madrid, and San Sebastian||The free tapas when you buy Sangria and the beaches reminiscent of Newcastle|
|France||Paris||Besides the fresh baguettes, not much.|
|Netherlands||Amsterdam, Dronten and Biddinghuizen||Watching locals drag plants to the last concert of the night, following tradition at Lowlands musical festival|
|Czech Republic||Prague||The multi-level nightclub with a kebab shop at the bottom|
|Hungary||Budapest||Losing everyone at the spa party and still having an amazing time (might be why)|
|Malta||St Julian’s, St Peter’s Pool and the whole island via car||The Maltese man and his pooch synchronise diving into the water|
|Germany||Berlin, Sachsenhausen and Munich||Oktoberfest and the concentration camp tour|
We also visited several cities/countries travelling via Busabout (see below), with pit-stops allowing for a snippet view of the landscapes and culture.
Book a tour or DIY travel in Europe
There are plenty of options when booking your adventures around Europe, including mapping out your destinations yourself and flying/training everywhere or booking a tour.
Solo travel – book a tour
If you’re travelling alone, and have the organisation skills of a pre-schooler, then we recommend looking into a tour like Contiki or Topdeck to meet people, and have your day planned out for you. You can also choose to do it for just a portion of your trip – we did a Topdeck tour to sail Croatia.
Pros: Meet new people, guided information, the day scheduled, gain a family.
Cons: Limited spontaneity, you can’t die in bed with a hangover if it’s time to go.
Busabout for the best of both worlds
If you want to meet people, but still want some control over where you go and what you do in a day (itineraries limited my quest for spontaneity), opt for BUSABOUT. The hop-on-hop-off format allows you to select a set number of destinations via their package options. Then all you have to do is book a pickup location, and get there at the designated time to travel via bus to your next destination. You do need to consider how many stopovers are needed, and factor in compulsory stopovers.
Pros: Freedom, meet new people, a place to sleep if you’re first on (grab the back seat).
Cons: You have to purchase extra stops if you need more, compulsory stopovers
Book your own European vacation
The internet has made a lot of jobs redundant, and many travellers believe they don’t need the help of travel agents or tour guides. If you fit into that category, or you want to stretch every cent and have the time to find all the best bargains without paying commission, then you can successfully travel Europe yourself.
Dedicate some time to looking for the best deals, using comparison tools such as Skyscanner to find the best flights. Book train tickets in advance, along with any events and accommodation (the earlier you book, the cheaper it will be).
We booked a few things on our own, including a music festival two hours outside of Amsterdam Lowlands, and a detour to the breathtaking island Malta (though, we had my sister who is well-travelled with us). These two adventures were up there with my favourites since I had no expectations due to going off course.
We made mistakes, and since we booked a few things via a dodgy internet connection and when our patience was low, we lost some money.
Pros: Discovering places that aren’t overwhelmed with the typical Aussie backpacker, ability to organise your schedule and the satisfaction of creating an adventure.
Cons: Can lose, harder to meet people (though we met more locals)
I’ll be padding out this page with more info as I create it – stay tuned and click on the links available on the page.