I was planning for my European adventure; a trip I have wanted to go on since my college days, but never found the right time. Last year I decided to go for it, and the summer of 2018 was my year to travel to Europe. After a lot of research of places I wanted to see, mixed with affordable flights, I decided on Ireland, Czech, Poland, Hungary, and a 10 hour layover in Portugal which I thought was enough time to go sightseeing for the day.
The first order of business was to figure out how long we (my boyfriend and I) were going to stay in each country, then figure out what we wanted to see. After writing down the itinerary, we booked all our accommodations (a mix of hotels and Airbnb's). I’m quite the planner, so I not only wrote down what we were seeing, where we were staying but also the directions by car, on foot and public transportation.
I realized with hopping from country to country it would be a lot easier and more efficient to only bring a carry-on. My boyfriend who was accompanying me on my Euro adventure suggested to purchase backpacks. We found exactly what we needed on Amazon and I used my Amazon Cash to purchase both backpacks which arrived in two days. Picking out what outfits was easy. I chose a pair of comfortable running shoes, a pair of flats and sandals. I brought two pairs of shorts, one skirt, two dresses, 2 jeggings (they pack easier than jeans), 6 tops to mix and match with my shorts, skirts and jeggings, and two sweaters. Then I packed all my essentials like my toothpaste and toothbrush, comb, dry shampoo (lifesaver), towel, iPad, phone (also used as my camera), tripod (also purchased off Amazon), and all the chargers necessary for my electronics. I decided to exchange currency here in Canada, but was really uncomfortable with carrying so much cash with me, so I decided to get the Canada Post Cash Passport Prepaid Mastercard. It’s a one stop shop at any Canada Post and I can load it with the currency I need right then and there. It’s also a prepaid card with no links to my bank account, and I felt really secure because of the Chip and Pin feature. This was by far the best decision as it took up absolutely no space, unlike the cash of different currencies that I had on me.
Our trip in Europe was amazing, we saw tons of beautiful places. Ireland was quite the adventure with my boyfriend driving on the opposite side of the road. I will be honest, I never got used to it and was quite terrified most of the time, but I would do it all over again. In Czech, we stayed in Prague and it definitely lived up to its reputation, it was absolutely beautiful and very expensive. Krakow, Poland was more of a family and bar hopping affair since that is where I am from, so we had a lot of people to see. In Hungary we stayed in the Budapest, and I never realized how beautiful it was, the culture, atmosphere and architecture was incredible… if you are travelling you need to add it to your bucket list!
As amazing as my trip was, here are a few things I would have done differently:
- Plan time for just relaxing. Being on the go non-stop for 17 days is really exhausting.
- Avoid the overnight train, unless there is WIFI, AC and private bathroom accommodations. Otherwise what you think you are saving on flights and accommodation will take a toll on your sleep.
- Bringing cash in different currencies was a nuisance. It was a lot to carry around and had to count it on a daily basis to check how much I had. Next time I would just stick with that Cash Passport, every place that I used it at accepted it. It covers up to 7 currencies and you can load more money onto it with a simple email money transfer using the Zenwallet app. I also used the Zenwallet app to check my balance and transactions easily.
- Pay the extra money to avoid a long layover especially on the way back home. At this point you are exhausted, and just want to get home. We never ended up sightseeing in Portugal because it was 40 degrees outside and we were exhausted. We opted to upgrade to Portugal lounge with our Cash Passport and we spent our 10 hour layover in full comfort.
- If you are planning any tour trips, make sure you book well in advance. We missed out on some great places like the Budapest Parliament building because we did not book a few weeks in advance.
- Spend the extra money to stay in the city centre. You may think you're saving money by staying in the outskirts, but you will be paying for it with transportation costs. Plus it’s always more convenient to have your accommodations just a walk away.
And most important… understand that not everything will go as planned. Do not let it ruin your trip, you need to be adaptable when travelling wherever the adventure takes you.