Hacks to Save Money When Travelling in Europe

  1. Find a Geographical Focus

It is easy, if not natural, to get wrapped up in the excitement of endless possibilities when planning your voyage throughout Europe. When considering what historic streets and enchanted cities you want to roam, many look solely at the well-loved destinations such as Paris, London (although no longer in the European Union), Milan, Rome. Whilst some do jet-set from corner to corner of Europe to experience major cities, it is imperative to be methodical and geographically focused when planning your route.

My best friend and I ran into this issue whilst booking our voyage.

We had both visited different countries respectively and neither of us were willing to overlook unseen cities for those that were familiar. In out attempts of working around said issue, it became apparent that we would have to invest thousands upon thousands for a few weeks of travel to jet-set throughout Europe.

AUSTRIA>LODZ>WARSAW>KRAKOW>BUDAPEST>ZAGREB>SPLIT>HVAR>ZDAR>

DUBROVNIK>KORCULA>PRAGUE>AUSTRALIA

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In retrospect, our excitement and naivety led us to making inefficient decisions that lost us valuable time and wads of cash. What is painfully apparent is that you cannot see all of Europe at once, and to be frank, you probably shouldn’t either. If you are lucky enough to do so, travel at multiple stages throughout your life, when you have different passions, interests and desires.

If you, like us, have no idea where to start and how to determine what the natural route of travel is, I recommend referring to established bus and train routes to grasp the most efficient way of seeing as many cities as you can.

2. Stay Central and Travel by Foot

An ethos I have worked by throughout all my trips domestic and abroad. Whilst residing in
central city locations can be on the pricier side, savings from not using public transport, taxis and ride-sharing services should be accounted for in the price of your central location.

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3.  Continental Breakfasts 

The gift that keeps on giving.

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I am yet to stay at a hotel or hostel in Europe that does not provide a continental breakfast,complimentary or not. A sneaky penny saving tactic that I have used in the past is packing lunch on the go at the breakfast bar.

A simple ziplock bag can house a sumptuous rustic sandwich made with fresh and healthy product, too often overlooked whilst travelling.

In doing so, I am unashamed to have saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars with packed lunches.

4.  Travel with Countries not on the Euro

Exchange rates can be a make or break when travelling on a tight budget. Eastern European nation such as Poland, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania that have a favourable exchange rate in comparison to the AUD/US Dollar/Pound will not drain your pockets and accounts.

Note: Strong economies that do not adhere to the Euro currency, such as Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and the UK can be onerous on the back pocket. 

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5. Pack a Flask

No, not that type of flask.

I mean, each to their own but that’s not what I’m referring to.

A trick I recently learnt on my cruise is to take a lightweight flask that can maintain theh999bu078_t2-stainless-steel-flask-lilac_r1
warmth of tea or coffee for the duration of the day. Whilst some may see this as a ludicrous proposition, for someone like me who drinks 5+ cups of
tea daily, I can save on average $700AUD within the month of travel.

6. Beauty Maintenance 

Calling it out for what it is, beauty maintenance services in travel hubs is the equivalent of a daylight robbery.

Forget the gypsies and pick-picketers, the lay-traveller should fear the beautician and how much he/she will charge you.

Every time I return to Europe, I learn the hard way (over and over again) that shellac is not anywhere near as popular and affordable as it is in Australia.

Whilst I am consistent with my fortnightly shellac maintenance, affording that same maintenance overseas makes me feel like I’ve sold my soul for a fresh pair of non-cuticle, coloured claws. For the sake of your monobrow, nails, spirit and account – tick a pair of tweezers, a bottle of nail polish and hair treatments off your ‘to pack‘ list.

7. Be an Aware Passenger (Taxis)

Before departing for Budapest, I was advised by fellow travellers that the taxi-drivers in Eastern Europe are notoriously known for ripping tourists off. I, ever the optimist, paid little attention to the advice offered to me, being:

A. Familiarise yourself with the rate of the side of the taxi.
B. Ask the driver whether they can estimate how much the fare will come to, and/or whether they are willing to establish a set price before the meter begins.
C. If all else fails, bargain with different drivers until you are offered a reasonable price.

Even with this advice, we were ripped off and charged a ridiculous amount for a 10 minute adventure. Ironically, the driver who was perfectly competent in the english language and conversed with us throughout the whole journey, claimed there was a language barrier when we questioned the final fare cost charged.

8. Hop-on-Hop-off Buses

2016 was the year of the hop-on-hop-off adventures. The amount I crammed into a limited amount of time stands testament to how fantastic these services truly are.

The beauty of the hop-on-hop-off service is that it is tailored to facilitate the ‘go-to’ placed for tourists whilst still allowing the option to sight-see solo.

When I sit and calculate how much time, effort and money would be funnelled into catching public transport and hiring a tour guide, it is evident that these services are both efficient and economical.

9. Travel Insurance

Need I say more?

You are potentially saving yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars if one of your adventures turns pear-shaped.

In the meantime, happy travelling!

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Travel Tips & Tricks: Cruises

 

I went on a cruise.

Now there’s something I never thought I would say/write.

Whilst I have always loved travelling (if you couldn’t already tell after reading Honestly, Is Travelling In Your 20’s Really Worth It?), I never really gave crusing a second thought. For me a holidays correlated with planes, trains and everything in between, bar boats.

I suprised myself in agreeing to book a quick little getaway with my partner on the Pacific Jewel, and at the other side of the trip, and I readily await my next cruising experience (and when that time comes, I will be sure to return to this post as a refresher).

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1.Calculate your expenses using the cost-per-day method

When determining what cruise to book, calculate the cost per-day expenses.

Whilst it may seem daunting to shell out hundreds of dollars for a few days of excitement, when you break down the daily costs and what those funds include, the value of the cruise really speaks for itself.

Sidenote: Seems that the cost-per-wear ideology is trickling into other areas of daily life!

2. Make a standing reservation for dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant

The Waterfront Restaurant was honestly one of the highlights of the cruising experience!

My partner and I determined by the end of the trip that if we were to dine at a restaurant in Sydney for four nights in a row, our bill would amount to more than what our cruise fare was.

The Waterfront Restaurant is a gorgeous dining experience where a large selection of fine-dining meals are available and included in your cruise fare. The Waterfront to me felt like a date night every evening – with the impeccable service, food, decor and attention to detail, it was easy to forget the fact that you are actually on the high seas.

Every day our anticipation grew throughout the day, wondering what we would indulge in that evening. Needless to say my extra 2kg of weight on my frame was well worth the experience of the Waterfront Restraunt. I am happy to run on a treadmill for a few weeks for my few days of unrestricted indulgence.

If you are cruising on the Pacific Jewel, as soon as you get on the cruise liner, head to level 7 and make a standing reservation for each evening at a consistent time… thank me later!

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p.s if the images do not look appealing, blame it on the photography – in reality the food was flawless.

 3. Bring an empty flask or water bottle

My biggest concern before boarding the boat is quite possibly the most ridiculous concern anyone could ever have – I was concerned with the tea situation. My browsing history was all kinds of odd – I neurotically googled and enquired whether there was tea available onboard, whether I was required to purchase a ‘drinks package’ and whether it was humanly possible to sneak a kettle in my bag without detection.

One of the better decisions I made was taking one of my valentine’s day presents on board with me, that being a T2 tea flask that keeps drinks hot for 6-8 hours on average. I quite literally probably spent more time on level 12 where the tea dispenser was than I did in my room.

If you on the other hand are not a tea fan and you are wondering how you are to have water onboard (because let’s be real, who wants to spend copious amounts of money on water), I recommend brining an empty water bottle and filling it up onboard. Whilst it is asked that you do not directly place your water bottle under the water dispenser, I filled cups of water and poured that water into my bottle to ensure I was hygenic and respectful to other patrons and that I was not going to die of dehydration.

4. Prepay your ‘Cruise Card’

Two words – accountability and security

Call me paranoid, but I prefer to keep my card details to myself, rather than share my financial details with business and corporations. Whilst I acknowledge that there is little chance of banking details falling into the wrong hands – I will take any and every precaution I can take.

Further, why not keep yourself financially accountable and stay on-top of your onboard spending habits?!

I know that this is a tip that the cruise liner would prefer you not take, and might I note that we were not informed that there were pre-paid cruise card options onboard, but be sure to ask about the option when boarding the ship.

5. Schedule your daily activities the night before

Cruises are fantastic not only for their great service and culinary delights, but also for their on-board experiences. With the amount of comedy shows, dance classes, tournaments, trivia games and movies on offer, it can be difficult to schedule in everything that you want to experience within the hours available.

As I was travelling with my partner, we had to compromise with one another and determine what our daily activities would be the night before. P & O Cruises leave the daily schedule for the next day, ‘Good Times‘, allowing you the opportunity to pre-plan your onboard experiences.

We sat with a pen and initialled the activities we wanted to be involved in and debate why we should choose one over the other… (ladies, you know you’re onto a good thing when your partner agrees to take two dance classes at the cost of their table-tennis tournament).

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6. Get to know the cruise staff members

Cruise staff work ridiculously hard, they are always so chirpy and helpful and should be recognised for their amazing service and professionalism. Say good morning when you pass them in the hall, take the time to talk to the entertainment staff and find out about their stories – after all, that is the beauty of travel.

7. Forget about the internet (and WIFI for that matter!)

Yes, you will feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway without internet.

Yes, you will survive. No, the ‘free wifi’ will not work, even in public spaces.

8. Pre-purchase your adventure activities prior to the cruise

Moreton Island is a beautiful destination, yet given the stringent time frame allocated for activities on the Island, I am so grateful that we booked our adventures before the cruise commenced. If we were to book on the Island, the time lost in determining what adventures we wanted to take and organising the experience would have eaten away a chunk of the day that would be better spent in the water.

Note that there was no price difference in our experience between repurchased activities and those that could be bought on the day.

9. Pack a capsule wardrobe

A golden rule for any travels is organising a versatile capsule wardrobe.

Packing Rules:

1. Do not pack anything you don’t absolutely love–you won’t wear it. Like an capsule wardrobe, you wan’t to focus only on what you adore. Instead, you’ll re-wear the things you do love, and will have wasted space for nothing. (If you don’t love something, why do you own it anyway?)

2. Pick a color scheme, and stick to it. Every single item you pack must also match every other item you pack. This results in dozens of outfit combinations and virtually zero effort required to get dressed every day. Sticking to classic basics also ensures you won’t look back at photos and think, “GOD what was I wearing!?” Remember, there is nothing chicer than all-black.

3. Limit yourself to three pairs of shoes. There’s a reason most capsule wardrobes limit footwear choices, you really don’t need that many!

A Travel Capsule Wardrobe: Your Ultimate Packing List

10. Take a power-board with you

With two power ports in each room and multiple appliances to charge, packing a powerboard was an ingenious idea!

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