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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Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb

Somehow in our endeavour to plan the best and timely European adventure, my best friend and I mistakenly attributed too many days of our trip to Zagreb, Croatia. Whilst Zagreb’s scenery and culture differs greatly from others around Croatia, my best friend and I respectfully felt like one day was appropriate to cover the whole city centre – rookie error, we know.

Somewhat underwhelmed by the range of activities available, at the recommendation of our bus conductor, we decided to pop into ‘The Museum of Broken Relationships’. Located on a side street just off the central shopping strip, the quaint minimalist museum turned out to be the saving grace of our Zagreb-ian encounters.

The Museum of Broken Relationships is like nothing we had ever seen. A museummuseum-of-broken-relationships-exhibit-in-zagreb-croatia-the-blonde-gypsy-1024x768 solely dedicated to the conclusion of relationships, whether they be romantic, platonic, familial, working or an intrinsic relationship. Comprising of hundreds of submissions donated from all over the world, the museum chooses from the pool of submissions and displays of people who want to share their experiences, sentiments and wisdom pertaining to broken relationships. Each submission consists of a physical object (although some submissions are multimedia presentations) accompanied by a short statement or explanation about said relationship. A relatively simple concept that can somehow impact you to the core.

My best friend and I were advised by our bus conductor that the museum was thought up by a previously married couple who had recently divorced. Whilst in the process of sorting through their home and their shared physical possessions, it became apparent that some physical items were of great sentimentality, holding memories of a better time where the couple were happy and passionately in love. Unknowing how to either dispose or split the items, they thought up the genesis of “The Museum of Broken Relationships”.

If you let it, the museum can take you on a 360-degree emotional journey. You will laugh, you will cry, you will question the depths and the depravity of humanity, you will reflect and you will thank yourself for going (and me for recommending it to you). Submissions range from childhood sweethearts aching for one another decades on, from children neglected by their parents, widows who will not allow themselves to move on, to refugees pining for their former lands and lifestyles. The museum reminds you that everyone has a story and whilst you might be in pain from any type of loss, you are not alone – hidden inside all of us are scars of the past.

Nothing in the Museum of Broken Relationships is hidden behind glass. Visitors are asked not to touch objects (too much) but it’s not the objects that are ‘sacred’; it’s the story they tell. And thus, although the facilities are great, lighting isn’t always perfect, some of the walls have cracks and the presentation isn’t always very subtle. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that the museum tells a real story. Museums of the Future

Some original images I captured at the museum:

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What I admire most is the museum’s openness to visitors contributing to the exhibition. A large black book sits upon an altar at the back of the museum with a pen beside it. There visitors are able to share their stories, their trauma, heartbreak and their second chances after their broken relationship. Considering how emotionally impactful the museum is, it was no surprise to my best friend and I that both men and women sobbed over the book, writing their stories for people from all over the world to read. We too capitalised on the experiences and shared some wisdom, wrote some profanities and walked away with a sense of relief.

Other messages we enjoyed, include:

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I honestly can not recommend the Museum of Broken Relationships enough. What was a ploy of wasting time, turned into one of the most enjoyable experiences of my euro-trip. If you find yourself in Zagreb (or any of the nations that the museum is touring in), put the museum on your ‘must see’ list!

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Honestly, Is Travelling In Your 20’s Really Worth It?

Upon my return from my first parentless grand european adventure, the most common question I have encountered from every Tom, Dick, Harry and Jane is “is travelling Europe at this age really worth it?“.

My answer has always and unreservedly been “YES!“.

Whilst this question has been posed by friends and colleagues of varying backgrounds, from those living a modest on-campus university lifestyle, to those in their late twenties wielding the newest and most luxurious handbags, my response remains unchanged.

Understandably, many would see near ten-thousand dollars for a four-week escapade as a farce. I get it. However, I actively sought to travel comfortably; staying mostly in hotels, consuming cultural foods on the streets or in restaurants and sniffing out european bags, leathers, cosmetics and sales as a past-time. I will be the first to admit that my trip was nowhere near as money savvy as it could have been. Yet, irrespective of what your bank account  does (or doesn’t) have, you can mould your trip to work for your financial situation. If you want champagne and caviar for breakfast and enticing, palatial hotel rooms – easily done. Equally, if you’re after youth hostels, cheap alcohol and wandering the street with new-found friends – power to you! Apart from the obvious deterrent for most young people wanting to travel, that being funds, other reasons you should travel are as follows:

  1. Self-enlightenment

Learning how to ‘adult’ is a terrifying, sometimes unpleasant and a humbling learning curve. No-one warns you that one day the bills will come and they won’t necessarily align with your payday. No one warns you that now you are legally fully culpable for any action you take and that now you have to call and make your own appointments and communicate on your own behalf. Adulting can suck.

In-between new-found responsibilities, work and university courses, it can be easy to lose a little piece of your identity and continue merely existing, because that’s what adults do right?

Experiencing the world from a new perspective can re-enlighten that fire and thirst for life, you one held dear as an idealistic teenager. You can engage your passions, fascinations and be inquisitive when travelling. You learn so much about who you are and who you want to be when removed from your menial day-to-day adult life.

My great catharsis that eventuated from my trip was how I fit into the perceived IMG_2978.jpgtwenties culture. I have always thought it a right of passage for any young Australian to have their partying phase. Before any great commitment, I thought it was necessary to go out every weekend, share affections with many and drink far too much. At twenty-one, I figured perhaps this phase of my life was bound to occur. When placed in these situations in Europe, I quickly determined that this right of passage wasn’t for me. Surrounded by beautiful people from all over the globe, who loved their drinks and party, quickly taught me that I hadn’t experienced this ‘right of passage’, as it wasnt in my disposition. Croatia Sails taught me that I much prefer a cheese platter and a few episodes of Criminal Minds with the girls on a Friday night. Travelling enlightened the faults in my perception of who I am and what I should experience as a young adult and helped me reconsider my future.

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We all have those great moments of self-reflection when removed from the security of our own cocoons. Why not self-reflect in a picturesque location?

2. Minimal responsibilities

Your early twenties signify a period of your life where it’s okay to be selfish – in fact, it’s expected.

In your selfish years, you usually don’t have a mortgage, kids, wives/husbands or others to look after. Whilst I understand that statement is a vast generalisation, I found this to be the case in my situation. Bar my monthly one-hundred dollar phone bill (thanks Virgin), my responsibilities were and are minimal. Saving money for worldly adventure is significantly easier when you don’t have recurring expenses and when you live at home. The implications that the responsibilities of the adult world can have on your adventures are evident in the multiple conversations I had with fellow travellers who imminently quit their jobs and were travelling without a return-home timeline. I humbly believe that you will get more out of a trip, if travelling when you are not bound by fiduciary relationships or steep financial situations.

3. People-watching

Commonly know as the act of spending time idly observing people in a public place… yes this is IMG_0209.jpgactually a thing (and I love it). As an admirer of all things fashion, I was captivated to hear of that Croatians (namely in Split and upon the Dalmatian Coast) are big people watchers. As a tourist from the other side of the world, and then some, it was fascinating to experience the styles, combinations and pieces people sported upon the streets. Admiring the distinct flair of European fashion and the admiration their citizens had for leathers, furs, detailed accessories and godly shoes was alluring. Walking the cafe strip of Split at night is fascinating; the equivalent of watching beautiful men and women casually strolling in their Sunday best. No longer is there a need for magazines with posed women, when the city streets are lined with the best fashions and inspirations.

4. Shopping

The shopping prowess in Europe (amongst other places in the world I hear) is mind-boggling. Following on from the people-watching culture, finding outfits to replicate/that were inspired by the glamorous women at night is highly enjoyable. Further, if your escapades take you to countries that do not adopt the Euro, or other onerous currencies, your money can go a long way. Poland, Budapest, Croatia and the Czech Republic were a godsend for my wardrobe (and my back pocket). Where else in the world will you ever find Hugo Boss shoes for one-hundred and fifty Australian dollars? (if you genuinely have an answer for that, please message me – a girl needs to know these things).

5. The unlikely friends you make and the people you meet

TIMG_2878.jpgravelling is a funny thing – you pay great sums of money to be shipped to the other side of the world, where often you know no one, where there is a language barrier and your bearings are obscured. Somewhere within the stress and experiences, you hear another person speaking English and you automatically want to become best friends with them. Irrespective of their values, beliefs or their life waiting for them at home –  humans are after all social creatures. The vast array of people you meet and befriending is enough of a reason to pack your bags and go. Often you will leave a city with new friendships and experiences under your belt – well knowing that if you ever travel to their part of the world, you wont be alone.

 

6. Magnificent views and cityscapes

The views speak for themselves. Learning the concise version of other others history, appreciating intricate architecture and trying to comprehend how people who live in these cities become so accustomed to such beauty.

(sidenote: you will never run out of social media content after a trip).

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7. That unspoken element

You return to that adult life, a little poorer, a little more tanned and with a lot less phone memory – but you return with something money can not buy. You return with experiences, memories that you can hold dear and reminisce about and your return with practical experience. You travelled to a different continent and survived. You return with beautiful images of unspoken places imprinted in your head and memories or the drunken conversations you had with people whose names you cant recall and memories of the scent in the air.Somehow you have changed but the world continues around you. Whilst I wouldn’t say no to a designer bag or a car upgrade, experience trumps every imaginable material object said money could have paid for.

I return home empowered that I am an independent adult, proud that I was frugal to enough save the funds and impatiently awaiting the next stamp of my passport.

I assure you – if you are in a position to and there is something you should do –

travel!

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P.s you should also travel because you boyfriend might surprise you…