Budget, Europe, Travel Tips
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First Time to Europe? 10 Travel Tips to Get You Started.

Four years and several trips later, I can tell you that most first timers don’t get Europe right. I hear all the time from people who want to squeeze 3 countries in one week, hop from city to city and museum to museum, and stick to the food they know. Europe to me is about letting go off of these notions.

As with anywhere else in the world, Europe is as much about charm of its countryside villages as it is about the grandeur of its cities. It is about people-watching from small cafes serving up farm-to-table food. It is about losing yourself in the cobblestoned streets, speaking a different language for a few days, and embracing a culture that has long enticed poets and writers.

From the complexities of the Schengen visa to reliable travel resources, I’ve compiled travel tips to save you ‘basic research’ time on Google:

Get a Schengen Visa and be smart about it.

Getting a European tourist visa is perhaps the most  complicated when you hold an Indian passport, but there’s a method to the madness. If you intend to travel to two or more countries on your trip (and you should), apply for a Schengen Visa, which covers most countries in Western Europe & a few in Eastern Europe. To get a Schengen Visa, you need to show confirmed flight & hotel bookings, which is crazy because what if you pay for everything and don’t end up getting an approved visa? The best way to work around it is to book a completely refundable flight on your credit card, typically a full-fledged carrier like Lufthansa or Quantas. Similarly, book fully refundable hotels on Booking.com, the most reliable site when it comes to refunds. Soon as you get your visa, cancel your bookings and start your real research.

Also read: US Tourist Visa for Indians: Tips and Requirements

Research, research, research, then leave some things unplanned.

Everyone has a different travel style; while some like to plan to death, others like to leave it all to chance. For a trip to Europe from India, I recommend taking the middle path. Read and know enough to not burn your time at places that won’t interest you, but give yourself enough flexibility to stay longer or shorter at a place if you so choose. Below are some travel resources I swear by:

– Information on Wikitravel. Comprehensive & usually reliable travel guides.
– Inspiration on Lonely Planet. Their finesse with words can bring to life the entire globe.
– Events on What’s On When. Current & upcoming events in all major cities.
– Reviews on Travel Blogs. Travelogues that paint a realistic picture of what to expect.
– Recommendations on Twitter. There’s always someone who knows someone with a recommendation.

On my own first Euro trip, I largely had a plan for the places I wanted to cover,  but a hotel booking only for Paris where I was landing. It wasn’t peak summer season and I was travelling to smaller towns & villages, so I booked a place only while leaving the previous one. That’s the only way I could stay to my heart’s content in Gargnano and cut my stay short in Paris.

Also Read: First Time to Germany? Practical Tips to Plan Your Travels

Travel research, travel tips, travel resources

If there’s a good deal, Google shall find it. Photo by Travis Isaacs.

Start early, and Google hard for value for money deals.

A good bargain is in our Indian blood, and our pockets thank us for it. While this might not be your street shopping negotiation, there are tons of great deals & bargains if you look hard and relentlessly. Start by subscribing on Facebook to the flights that fly to parts of Europe you’d like to land in, for instance Turkish Airlines & Qatar Airways for western Europe, and broaden your search with aggregators like Make My Trip & Clear Trip. With all discounts, promotional fares, special deals & contests landing in your newsfeed, thou shalt let no opportunity go.

National and regional tourism boards often have lucrative sightseeing deals on offer in major cities, while Trip Advisor lets you “watch” destinations for hotel promotions. Google to your heart’s content, go all out with your research, and only settle for the very best deals you can find. (I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you are not rich enough to want to pay a travel agent to do your research & bookings!)

If your trip is planned last minute and you don’t have enough time to wait for better deals, flight aggregators are your best bet for flight tickets, while Booking.com can find you the best bargains for accommodation. Rely on TripAdvisor reviews for the latter; I made pretty sound accommodation choices by trusting them.

An alternate way to save money is through Couch Surfing, where you stay with a local host in a city and reciprocate though offering your own house at home to travellers for free. To be honest, I haven’t tried it because the latter is not an option with my current living arrangement, and on some level, I’m not yet comfortable with the idea of not paying for my own space.

Also read: Living With An Italian Artist in Umbria.

Stick to a budget and get a Eurail Pass.

Once you have a rough idea of the going price for your flights & hotels during your travel period, think about your budget for the entire trip. Set aside the costs for your flight, visa & rail pass, and set yourself a daily budget for the duration of your stay, that includes accommodation per night, meals and sightseeing; it’s very easy to spend a fortune in a single day if you land in Europe without a number in mind! Then think about how you’ll carry the money with you; try to exchange currency in a bigger city like Delhi where exchange rates tend to be more competitive, and consider the option of traveler’s cheques.

For most of my Euro trip, I set a budget of 50 Euros for myself, and often alternated between spending miserly in some places to credit the money for relative splurging in another. I’m not a fan of living on credit, so I took my credit card only for dire emergencies and never used it. I carried some cash with me, and since I didn’t want to bother with traveler’s cheques, I withdrew money in bulk at local ATMs in Europe.

Depending on how much time you intend to spend in Europe & the number of countries on your plan, getting a Eurail pass can lead to big savings, and the train is a great way to see the European countryside. I bought a month-long pass with 10 travel days under the youth (under 25) category, which gave me enough flexibility and saved me enough money. I found that France, on one extreme, was very strict with the seats on a train allotted to Eurail pass holders and travel had to be booked a day or 2 in advance, whereas Italy, on the other extreme, was very liberal.

Also read: Incredible Ways to Experience the World of German Wines

Eurail Pass, Europe first time, trip to Europe, Europe countryside,

Seeing the European countryside on the Eurail.

Prep your vegetarian taste buds.

Before I left for Western Europe, I was warned several times about the astute lack of vegetarian food in the countries I was visiting. For everyone who thinks that way, I wrote about my vegetarian love affair with Europe, because even as someone not overly experimental with food, I loved everything from the breads in France to the pastas in Italy. What worked for me was knowing beforehand, the names of  vegetarian ingredients in the local languages (easily found online). Italian menus for instance, are half filled with vegetarian dishes, but they do not often carry a green mark next to them or fall under an explicit ‘vegetarian’ section. Servers not well acquainted with the concept of vegetarian food might not be able to offer enough recommendations to create an impression of variety.

Before you leave, learn to say I’m vegetarian, no seafood (it’s considered vegetarian by many) in the local language, and make a physical / mental note of the names of vegetables in the most used language of the country, so you can refer to them while eating out. Your taste buds will thank you!

Also read: Tasting Romania: A Vegetarian’s Guide to Romanian Food.

Europe vegetarian food, Italy pasta

One of the best pastas I’ve ever had (despite the green gooey look).

What’s in your backpack?

If you pack like my mom, you’ll probably curse yourself for having to lug around your bags on trains & buses, or worse still, while walking to the station. Europe is best seen on foot, and if you’re travelling on a budget, chances are you’ll often end up walking long distances with your luggage. Difficult as it might sound, try to limit your luggage to a single carry-on bag by planning your belongings well. Carry miniature versions of everything you can find, choose clothes that are easy to mix & match, and get rid of anything that only adds to the weight (like a hair dryer?). You can read about my self acquired wisdom on the art of packing on Women’s Web, or better still, get some inspiration from George Clooney’s An Empty Backpack speech in Up in the Air.

If I had carried anything more than a haversack on my Europe trip, I wouldn’t have survived the 3 km walk in the rain in Chamonix to our hotel, when we missed the last evening bus, and would’ve missed the train on two occasions in Italy that we made at the last minute after running up stairs and past hallways. And of course, since my backpack was always on me, there were no opportunities to lose any of my stuff!

Also read: What I’ve Learnt From Winter in Europe

See the countryside.

First Euro trips are often about seeing the maximum number of countries you can possibly squeeze in the limited number of days you have. If that floats your boat, so be it. But remember to skip the cities in some countries and escape to the countryside. Western Europe’s alpine meadows, seaside villages and lake towns are little pieces of paradise that let you indulge in slow living and experience country life. Wikitravel & Lonely Planet are good resources to find smaller towns & villages, as are local tourism offices in the cities. On my own month-long trip, I fell so hopelessly in love with the alpine countryside that I happily skipped most cities along the tourist circuit, and discovered 4 small towns in Western Europe you probably haven’t heard about.

Europe countryside, Europe secrets, discover Europe, Europe backpacking

The fairytale countryside of Europe.

Visit the local tourism board.

I’m not a big fan of seeking advise from people ‘officially’ offering it, maybe because of my many futile attempts with state tourism boards in India. I tried it first in Annecy in France, as a by the way thing, because few other locals could offer suggestions in English, and was surprised pleasantly enough to try it everywhere else. Unlike in Southeast Asia, where tourism board recommendations are very formalized, I received personal recommendations from many of the folks manning the tourism counters at train stations in various small towns. It’s how I found a delicious hand-made (nameless) pasta joint in Innsbruck and discovered the little ski resort of Seefeld.

Learn some phrases in the local language.

Cliche as it might sound, picking up phrases in the local language of some European countries you intend to visit can go a long way in making conversation with the locals and sometimes rescuing you. I learnt that the hard way. When I landed in France, I couldn’t even say I don’t speak French in French, and had atleast 3 instances of people coming to me and striking a conversation in French. I put on a dumb smile and nodded my head each time, with absolutely no clue of what they might be referring to. In fact, I soon realized that people in France were so much nicer to you when you tried to start a conversation in French and gradually switched to English (as my friend who spoke a little bit of French did), rather than delving head on into English (like I did, much like a cultural noob).

Luckily, I had brushed up my conversational Spanish for Italy, and I had a gala time. In one situation while leaving Cinque Terre, we needed to catch a train and our pizza order had taken a decade to show up. We didn’t have time to eat it, we couldn’t forego the precious money we had forked out for it, and we were starving. After many futile attempts in sign language at the counter of the food court, I strung together the words, pizza, mi casa (my house) to get the kind woman to give me a box to carry the pizza! So as respect for the local culture, or as a means to rescue yourself in sticky situations, pick up a few phrases in the local language. Better still, save them on your phone so you can make a quick reference every now & then.

Also read: Rudesheim Wine Festival: Sneak a Peek Into Germany’s Wine Culture

Stay in touch.

If you compulsively need to keep in touch with parents / family that worry themselves sick if you don’t (like I have to), going online is the most cost-effective way. Many budget hotels throw in free wifi (deliberately look for them while booking), and if you have a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop, you can iMessage, email or Skype for free. Phone cards, while available, are often country specific and expensive to use. Pay phones are usually located outside most train stations and are convenient, though you need a fair amount of small change to call India.

Also read: Life in Ibiza: A Photo Essay

Have you travelled to Europe? What other tips do you have for first timers?

For more travel stories, tips and inspiration, join The Shooting Star on Facebook and Twitter.

66 Comments

  1. Pingback: First Time to Europe From India? 10 Travel Tips to Get You Started … | Discount Travel Tips

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  4. Saurabh says

    Can you make a power point presentation of phrases needed in Europe ? Maybe you could start it and it could be completed with other travellers participating ?

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  5. I love point 8 “visit the local tourism board” the most. That, to me, is the single most important tip I find when travelling in a foreign country for the first time. With not much time to do any research before visiting Belgium last year, my friends and I perfected a little routine. We’d hop off the train, make a beeline for the tourist office, find out which walks/sights would fit in our day, get some maps and brochures and set off exploring on foot. Worked really well for small places like Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges. The office staff often give good tips on what can be avoided and where one can have a good meal. Great post!

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      • asmozonic says

        my bro and i would also always crane our necks for an ‘i’ sign after getting out of stations!

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  6. I would forget traveller’s cheques completely, most places in Europe don’t want them, and a rail pass is only good if you plan to spend a lot of time on trains. The local trains in Italy are quite cheap, but the Eurostar fast trains are becoming quite expensive.
    I absolutely agree with your luggage suggestions. It is possible to travel with just the outfit your are wearing and 2 others if you pick the right things.

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    • Agreed that you can get by with local trains in Italy without a pass, but in France where it’s only TGVs, the prices for trains without a pass is REALLY high! I’d high recommend getting a Eurail pass if you intend to go to France / Germany / Austria.

      And wow, you redefine travelling light. I shall experiment travelling that light on some trip!

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  7. Great pointers Shivya! I am living in Europe for 4 years, and I have faced similar kind of issues during my initial days of travel. People usually scar others by saying we don’t find veggie food. But I’ve seen the hidden treasures of veggie delights in all the villages/cities that I travelled. They will have baked beans, breads, vegetable / ministrone soups, baked / roasted potatos, ample green veggies. And many times, If we are able to communicate that we eat only Veg food, the chef will make a customised food with vegetables if there’s nothing in the menu. But yes, as you said, we need to know to talk their language and say “no fish, no meat”.
    With regards to clothes, pack for all 4 seasons. The weather is very changeable in europe. So always take sweaters /jumpers and leggings and a raincoat/ sterdy umbrella!

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    • Excellent advice, Vaish. I’m sure you’ve indulged in much more veg food in Europe than I got the time to, and I’m so jealous for that. Can’t wait to go back there! Which part of Europe do you live in?

      I know what you mean by all 4 seasons. One that on trip, I experienced hot, humid weather along the Italian reviera, rain amid the Italian Alps, and mostly nippy weather on the rest of my trip. So that’s a great packing trip, though it doesn’t exactly help when you intend to travel light 😉

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      • I live in Scotland…Yeah..that makes packing a bit bigger. But to do a smart packing – I take leggings & stockings which doesn’t take any space. You can even stuff them in handbags.

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        • I’ve started doing that since my Euro trip too. Works wonders to save weight & have something new to wear every other day!

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  8. Europe is one of the easiest and well organised places to visit in the world. I have lived there for 8 years, we have used road trips and that was the most economic way for family trips. As a couple we have found staying in youth hostels and afterwards as a family with a small child we found home-stays more economic and they were all beautiful experiences. Every Indian traveller should try local european food and wine, they are marvellous and open to us a different than curries! As you said learning some words in local languages helps a lot to connect with local artisans, shopkeepers etc. Also cities like Paris, Rome, Vienna and Frankfurt have many Indian restaurants, in case you feel home sick. I would suggest a mixed blend of countrysides and large cities for a trip to Europe.

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    • Thanks Chandrima, some great tips there! I considered youth hostels when travelling with a friend in Europe, but the cost for a double room or 2 beds in a dorm worked to about the same as boutique hotels, so we stuck to those. I’d like to give homestays a try this time round. I agree that we should all give the local food a shot, chances are it won’t disappoint 🙂

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  9. Thanks Chandrima – some great tips here. As a vegetarian, I always struggle a bit while traveling (who knew the candy floss like stuff on pastries in most Asian bakeries was meat floss?)

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    • Been victimized and tempted by the flossy stuff too, Micki. Of the almost half a dozen years I spent in Southeast Asia, I learnt that being able to say ‘I’m vegetarian’ in the local language doesn’t help as much as being able to name a vegetarian dish, or ingredients that could make a dish!

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  10. I would say take some duct tape if you pack heavy. I’m still learning the art of light packing. On my first solo trip to Europe my backpack ripped after I got off a bus in Sevilla and duct tape would have helped! I would recommend youth hostels if you’re travelling solo because they are social places and you’ll meet tons of people, but I agree – if you’re travelling in two’s or more, sometimes boutique hotels can be the same price as a hostel.

    Oh, one other thing to remember – Europe has tons of smoky bars/restaurants and cigarette smell lingers on clothes. Gross. I ended up doing laundry at a hostel, but you may want to take your own soap and hand wash clothes at your hostel/hotel.

    -Parm

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    • Ouch, that must’ve been a sticky situation, the backpack getting ripped. How did you manage? Packing light may be a better alternative to carrying duct tape 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was the zipper on my backpack that kept coming undone because I had too much stuff. I didn’t even realize things were falling out until someone at the bus station ran over to me. I left stuff at the hostel until my backpack was able to breathe and zipper able to stay closed. Took my hairdryer, but never used it so I left it there. Naive packing on my first trip that’s for sure!

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  11. I absolutely agree with learning some local phrases. In Paris, I lost my way once walking to my hotel and asked a lady on the road. She had no idea what I was speaking about and stopped someone else and soon there were 10 people standing around me speaking French and trying to make sense out of what I was speaking. 🙂 Finally, one guy who could speak broken English helped me. They were really sweet and helpful and waved me off when I found the right road.

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    • How sweet 🙂 I’ve heard lots of stories about kind strangers in Paris. Think I was the only one not bestowed with such kindness, or maybe I was just too fast to judge the city.

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  12. Wow, such a great post. I am also hoping to visit Europe again. I have only been to Poland as my husband is Polish. But this time, we want to visit other European countries. For those who are looking for budget travel, Poland is great to visit as it is not as expensive as other countries. And if you dig cold chills, try going there in December when it is -10 degrees or less. Polish history is very rich and if you are interested, Auschwitz, which is World war II memorial is highly significant. Please keep the words of advice flowing, http://typicalindiangirl.wordpress.com/

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    • Poland’s been on my list for a long time! Have you stayed there awhile in the winter ever? I’m convinced that Europe must feel so much more romantic in the snow, though some people say it’s only gloomy. Would love to see some pictures if you’ve put them on your blog, of Poland in winter =)

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      • ohh, great idea. I will do that, my father-in-law is a great photographer and I will take some pics from him and upload. I will write a bit about Poland in my blog. After all, Warsaw is my sasuraal. It sure feels romantic and with Christmas and New Year celebrations, it is electrifying! Fanaa, the Amir Khan movie is actually shot in Southern Poland as there were security issues in Kashmir. Let me know when you visit Poland. And winter is not the tourist season, so things are comparatively cheaper, I especially loved Krakow and Gdansk.

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  13. Adding to your and Chandni’s point on visiting local tourist office, it often happens that they (and sometimes hostels as well) have information they you wouldn’t usually find in guidebooks. When I was travelling around Belgium, I found these ‘Maps by the locals’ (http://www.use-it.be/) which were absolutely brilliant in their recommendations and youthful style. Do try them if you ever go to Belgium!

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  16. Shivya, you’ve got it bang on! Specially loved the references to Booking.com (easily my favourite hotel booking site) and pt. 8 about the local tourism centre. I’ve found them to be particularly helpful even in small cities in Europe. One thing I’d like to add is, try and stay in a “pension” rather than a “hotel” – they are much better value for money, usually well-located and pretty, personal attention from the owners – beats an impersonal hotel anyday! My experiences (helped by Tripadvisor) have always been positive across Europe.
    Check out my “travel tales” when you get the time…after reading this post I can bet you’ll enjoy it 😀

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  17. Great tips, Shivya! Don’t forget that you also need to get travel medical insurance as a requirement for your Schengen visa.

    You mentioned cancelling your hotel bookins once you’ve gotten your visa, but I wouldn’t be as quick to cancel the travel medical insurance policy since a) some insurance companies report cancelled policies to the embassy and b) you never know when an accident or illness will occur and you’ll need the coverage.

    Safe travels,
    Sharon from RoamRight
    @roamright

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      • 🙂 Yes agreed, for cancellations I was only referring to hotel bookings and not travel insurance. From experience, I’ve realized it’s worthwhile buying travel insurance every since time too!

        Also, welcome to The Shooting Star!

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  19. I liked your list. I traveled in Europe this summer for the first time and found all of them to be true (though I didn’t make much use of no. 3 because I stayed in hostels). The only experience I had that was different was with the Eurail pass. I found that if you are traveling in Eastern Europe it doesn’t save money because the tickets are so cheap, it’s better to buy them individually. In Western Europe it can help if you travel long distances, especially in countries like France and Switzerland where they’re so expensive.

    But you still have to plan your travel days wisely. Unless you buy the continuous pass where you can ride every day, but I think that takes so much of the adventure out of it!

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  23. Avirup Ghatak says

    is it mandatory to book all the hotels priorly to get a schengen visa?? I mean suppose i plan to visit 7 different cities in a span of 16 days……do i have any other alternative??

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  24. Shoba says

    Hi,

    I am visiting your site after my sister recommended it. She loved her Europe vacation and she specially always mentions Annecy, which she fell in love with! We live in the US and plan to visit Paris, Interlaken, Jungfrau, Rome. Venice, and Austria. Do you think its too much for 2 weeks? Are there any other places you recommend in Southern France? Also do you even recommend driving in a rental car? I have loads of hertz miles that I have earned here. Do you have a post on Italy? Austria?

    Thanks

    Shobha

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    to check out your website on mmy iphone during lunch break.
    I love the knowledge you present here aand can’t wait too take a look when I get home.
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  26. Ana says

    Hey! Thoughtful insights, really helped. I am planning to travel a few countries in the month of June. While I was completely happy about the big save-up and my dream of satiating my wanderlust turning to reality, I completely got turned down by the number of people who told me this -“24, female and ALONE? Bro, you’re so not getting a Visa!” Hell! I still have sent in the papers to the embassy today, but, did you have problems the first time you went out to travel in the Schengen? I mean, is it that difficult? (Will I be turned down – a nightmare for the next 10 days!!!)

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  27. great post! Thanks Shivya! But all said and done how do we get a schengen visa????? I seriously worry about paying up for tickits, insurance, accomodation etc. and not getting the visa itself! Nightmarish 😦

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  28. shubhangi says

    Hello shivya..what a nice post was that.. I am planning for a small European trip with my husband for 10 days..my favorite is Switzerland as I love nature..mountains.. Snow.. But on the other hand he loves art n historical places so he choose Italy.. Will you suggest us which places to visit in Italy and Switzerland in 10 days so as to cover the good enough places in required time limit.. Thanks in advance.

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  29. Akash Jain says

    I am planning to go for football UEFA Champions League Final Match, which is on 6th of June in Berlin. Since I will be spending a lot in airfare, I thought of visiting other places in Europe as well.
    It would be good if you can provide some info regarding which city to land in Europe first to make your travel less expensive from India. Your blog gave a lot of courage to me and I am looking forward to visit Europe Solo.

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  30. How much would it cost for a two month long backpack trip to Europe ? (Meaning with a cheap fare in mind, excluding the flight from India and back to India)

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  31. Absolute must for an Indian to take to Europe is a plastic mug or cup for use in loo or toilet , as you cant find water in toilet ,no handspray or any source of water , just dry toilet rolls !!! and if you think you can use your water bottle ..NO you cant fill water in it from a wash basin.

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  33. Jayesh says

    How to decide the countries to visit? I am planning to visit but highly confused about the countries to be visited?

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  34. yash verma says

    Hi there.. Me and my wife are Planning to visit europe. As per google map we planned to visit like the following:
    Delhi –> Zurich —-> Paris—> Brussels —>Amsterdam —-> Prague ——> delhi
    So I want to know what all things i need to get like ( Euro rail pass, Schengen Visa ,budget hotel booking etc ) and from where i can get these ?

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  35. Soham Roy Chaudhuri says

    I, with my wife, am planning an Europe tour for 7-9 days. Would like to get glimpses of few cities and walk inside them. May be 3-4 cities we can cover. Any suggestions where to start from? We are people who are not too indulged in European arts/paintings but mostly interested in knowing a place with its people, food, roads, transports, architecture etc.

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  36. Sayak Boral says

    I’m Indian and have extensively traveled all around Europe by myself twice – 11 countries in total. While package tour companies are a good option for families with kids and when you’re traveling with several companions, I’d really recommend traveling solo and planning your own itinerary. That way you really open up more to a whole world of possibilities and the sights and sounds of so many different cultures within Europe, those memories stay with you for life. In fact, your chances of getting a Schengen visa are higher if you bothered to do your own research about accommodation, transportation and destinations. Internet and Google are your best friend while researching budget-friendly options. Don’t be a tightwad, it’s important to stretch your money frugally but always keep an open mind. On some days, you might spend a lot more than you anticipated. Don’t grumble about small things and try to enjoy yourself even when you’re feeling miserable due to bad weather, unfriendly people and other unpredictable aspects of travel. It’s just like being back home, not every day is going to be a great experience. Enjoy the highs with the lows.

    A Warning: many Indian first-timers to Europe tend to drink a lot of alcohol since it’s so cheap over there. That will only make you sick and ruin your enjoyment. In order to keep your stamina high, eat like the Europeans do. Plenty of fruits, milk and cereal. Who said Europe is not friendly for vegetarians, I’m not one but there were days I didn’t have to even look for meat-free food – IMHO, Europe is a lot more vegetarian-friendly than South-East Asia. The idea is to carry light and don’t be obsessed with fixed meals. That will blow your budget big time. Also Indian restaurants in Europe happen to be much more expensive compared to local food. Most Europeans (and Westerners in general) do not have proper sit-down meals every time. They just like to grab something on the move and save time. I did that routine myself and I could save so much time that was successfully utilized for traveling. Also get rid of your obsession with bottled water.

    Other TIPS: Learn how to use the GPS functionality in your smartphone. I met a lot of clueless Indian tourists asking me for directions because they couldn’t be bothered to navigate their destinations on Google Maps (probably they haven’t learned it). Nowadays, most people in Europe get irritated when someone asks them for directions. That’s because Western countries insist on self-reliance.

    Some Indian tourists told me that Europeans behaved very rudely with them and didn’t smile etc., possibly racist? I think people’s friendliness in any country depends a lot on the behavior of the tourist. Your average Indian has some irritating habits like talking loudly on cellphones, staring a lot at strangers and huddling together in small spaces, which prevents others from moving around freely. Always YIELD when someone is walking in your direction and don’t cling too close when you’re asking someone for help/information. There are unspoken norms in Western society such as not big-noting yourself (no-one’s really interested to know that your marriage cost 50 lakh rupees and that you drive a Mercedes back home in India). Use words like “please”, “thank you”, “sorry” much more often than you did in India. You don’t have to learn local languages, in my experience almost all Europeans nowadays are fluent in English, especially the younger generation.

    If you’re a male Indian visiting nightclubs in Europe, be very aware that Indian men don’t exactly enjoy a nice reputation because of their uncouth behavior and may be not allowed inside some clubs. This is not racism but the experience those nightclub owners had with several generations of spoiled Indian brats, especially our over-pampered rich and upper middle-class kids who get drunk quickly, flash money like they own the place and leer at women. You may think you used to be very cool back home in India where it’s acceptable to be too forward with girls. Over there in Europe, however, if you act too cocky around girls, they’ll immediately stop talking to you. Remember these are gender-equal societies and Europeans do not see much difference between men and women. While a man and a woman may travel together, sleep in the same room – it’s perfectly possible for them not to share any bond – they may be just co-travelers. Also, marriage rates are pretty low in Europe. Most of the time it’s rude to ask people whether they are married, unless of course you get to know them. For Indian guys, it’s acceptable to FLIRT with the beautiful European girls you meet during your travels. Chances are she might be interested in you too. But, DO NOT stalk them once they show disinterest. In Europe, it’s considered absolute low-class behavior to follow women around when they have hinted they don’t want to talk to you any further. The Laila-Majnu, Bollywood style romancing that worked in India, won’t fly in Europe. People will just think you lack basic etiquette and are stupid. There’s no concept of the jilted lover in Europe. People are very clear, honest and straightforward about what they want. Don’t take things personally.

    Feel free to add me on Facebook if any of you need further information. I have a lot of rich experiences to share about Europe.

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    • Shely says

      Hi Sayak. So I am planning a backpacking trip to Europe (solo or with my young uncle).. I would appreciate if you can help us planning our itinerary. I would be having a few basic/ specific questions. Please let me know if you would be. I would prefer to keep the interaction through this blog or mail. Either ways, Thanks !

      Like

  37. Chaitali sheth says

    Hi Shivya,

    I am going backpacking to europe but have been called for an interview for schengen visa… Can you tell me what kind of questions are asked?

    Like

  38. Pingback: Srilankan Airlines: For A Safe And Reliable Traveling Experience! – Manoj Vacation

  39. Hi ,

    We are planning a trip to Europe (a family of 4), and we are looking forward to staying in homestays instead of hotels. What’s your take on it? Would it be safe enough?

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  40. A need of the hour blog Shivya. Found your blog while I was on research research research about Europe travel. This makes me follow your blog for many many travel updates.
    Sims

    Like

  41. Pavan says

    Shivya, I m planning for eurotripby this year. This blog gave me a good kick start to my planning and savings on my pocket….

    Like

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