Pushing Limits of Travel Sadie Hagen

When people think about going to Europe on a vacation, their minds automatically go into a panic as they think their destination choices will be limited by the cost of the trip and the possibility of language barriers. By following these simple steps and planning ahead, things like cost and language barriers do not have to limit your traveling experience. The truth is, money will never be a legitimate reason why you cannot travel. If you are not willing to make traveling a top priority, then you will always find other things to spend your money on. Those who are truly passionate about it, however, will find a way to save the money. As for learning a new language, all you need to know are a few basic words and carry a translation app or book. Starting anything last minute causes you to be stressed and unprepared, and the end result is a mess. Planning a trip to Europe may take a little extra work, but it is not unbearable once you break it down into four main categories: finding ways to start saving money, figuring out when and where you would like to go, booking transportation and housing, and finally, preparing your mind for the trip.

Traveling abroad cannot be a spontaneous thing- it needs time and preparation so it can be a smooth, enjoyable adventure. As soon as you know that a trip to Europe is in your future, figure out a budget to stick to while planning and traveling. Considering what kind of necessities you will require while traveling is key so that you do not go over budget once you start booking transportation, activities, and housing. Knowing that you do not have to travel first class or stay in fancy hotels will save you money and will make a difference in the amount of money you need to set aside for the trip. To make sure that you do not go over budget while booking, pre-book as much as you can before you leave on the trip. This is beneficial for two reasons: first, because the earlier you book, the cheaper things are, and second, because then you will know how much money is left in your budget before you leave on the trip. If for some reason you are already close to going over your budget, you can look into cancelling parts of your trip or find cheaper alternatives.

Even if you do not know exactly where you are going to be traveling, look into the cost of transportation and housing in countries that interest you. Some countries cost much more to visit than others, and if your budget is tight, make sure to look at this information before you get your heart set on a certain place. When it comes to this part of planning, no one can tell you what is right or wrong because it is all personal opinion. As long as you choose a city that you are interested in and that is within your budget, you will be in good shape.

Each person saves money in different ways. Some people like to save little bits of money over a long period of time, while others prefer to save a larger amount over a short span of time. It all depends on your income and whether or not you can afford to live off of a small amount of money at a time. Ever since high school I knew I would be going on a trip to Europe after I graduated from college. In the back of my mind, I have been thinking about what I want to do in Europe and how much I should save. As soon as I found out my graduation date a year ago, I started putting twenty dollars a month into a savings account throughout the school year. Once I returned home for the summer I started my co-op, which is when I really started to save by putting most of my paycheck into the account. By the end of the summer, I had saved $5,000 plus an extra $1,000 as a backup fund to spend on my trip.

I will be spending five week trip to Europe, for three weeks I will travel with my boyfriend and he will be splitting all expenses with me. After that, I will be traveling with my parents for the next two weeks and they will be paying for that part of the trip. My boyfriend and I booked all of our transportation, housing, and some museum tickets four months before we are planning to leave. So far, it is only costing us $2,146 per person for three weeks of travel. The rest of the money we have saved should be plenty for food, taxis, extra train tickets, museum tickets, or souvenirs.

For travel enthusiasts like myself, who want to go everywhere and experience everything, figuring out where you want to go is the hardest part of a trip. Start off with setting the dates of your trip to help narrow down where you want to go. Some places are busier at certain times of the year and some parts are even closed, which might mean you have to scratch some destinations off your list. Understanding a city’s high or low seasons can be a very important factor for travel plans. Some people love to be surrounded by other tourists while others find this to be a hassle, so make sure to check the tourist seasons for countries that you want to visit. Keep in mind that prices of housing and transportation tend to go up during peak tourism times.

The weather and different seasons can play a big role in time of year that you want to travel. If you like rain, sun, cold, or warm weather, it is good to be aware of the temperatures and seasons of the cities you would like to visit. After figuring out what time of the year you want to travel in, look into certain cities or countries that you would like to visit and see if they have attractions that would interest you. When I started planning out where I wanted to go on my trip, there were so many cities that I wanted to visit. I knew that I would be traveling after spring graduation which is right before the summer tourist season and I knew that I would not have enough time to visit all of the cities that I wanted. I had to start picking countries that were somewhat close to each other to make traveling in-between cities easier. It would not make sense to travel from Iceland, to Greece, to Spain, and then to Poland because you will be spending a good amount of time traveling to each country. If you wanted to visit these countries it might make more sense to travel to Iceland, then Poland, Greece, and then Spain. Another thing to take into account when mapping out your travel plans, is that some cities are cheaper to fly into than others.

My travel companions and I spent about a week narrowing down which cities we wanted to visit. We decided on traveling to London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Venice, Rome, and Paris, spending about five days in each city. We also took into account that we might have time for daytrips to other cities or even other countries, if we have the energy and time to.

It is important to remember that you do not have to plan every single day of the trip before you leave – as long as you know where you are going to sleep and how you are going to get there, that is all that matters. Making sure that you have a place to sleep and a way to get to each city is key. Housing and transportation from one city to the next is usually the most expensive part of a trip and is the foundation of how the trip will go. Housing that is centrally located to the attractions you would like to see is a smart choice as you will be able to walk instead of spending money on taxis to get to the destination. Some people prefer being close to the train station or airport, others want to be out in the countryside, or in the heart of the city. Find a location that you feel is safe and can call home for a period of time.

Booking your housing and transportation can be the most overwhelming part of planning your trip; especially if you are visiting multiple cities. To make the process less overwhelming I have found it best to do two things- stay organized and use the same traveling websites to book your housing and transportation. Keeping a master document of all of your travel plans, expenses, and locations of the places you are staying will help you remember what you have already planned, what you have paid for, and where you need to go. By using the same website to book all of your housing and then one website to book all of your transportation the websites will collect all of your travel plans to form an itinerary.

We decided to book all of our housing through Airbnb instead of staying in cheaper places like hostels. In all of the flats that we have chosen to rent, we will have the whole home to ourselves. This way, we will not have to share a living space with others whom we do not know and we have room to spread out. We knew that having this luxury was going to cost a little more, but we also knew that it would make us more comfortable while abroad. All of the flats that we rented are also located in-between attractions that we would like to see in the center of the city.

As for transportation, we decided that we would use both train and plane transportation which gave us more to keep track of, but we did not want to be limited to one way of traveling. By using Expedia to book our plane tickets and Eurail to book our train tickets we were able to still remain organized. Traveling by train takes a little bit longer than flying, which is something that you will have to think about when planning your trip. Personally, I am fine with spending a little extra time traveling to the city, because traveling by train allows us to see the countryside and save money.

Once the trip is planned, you need to start preparing yourself for the adventure it will be. Learning new languages sounds like a lot of work, especially if you are traveling to multiple countries. It will be hard to understand native speakers, but do not let that stop you from trying. Even if you only understand the basic words or phrases of each language, you should be able to communicate with native speakers just fine. Through past experiences traveling in other countries, I have learned that as long as you can say, “Where is…?,” “How much does it cost?,” “Excuse me,” “Please,” “Thank you,” “Help me,” “Where is the bathroom?,” “Do you speak English?,” and then you are able understand the answer to each question, you have a good start. Luckily, most people will be able to tell that you do not speak the native language and will work with you, using hand signs and broken English to help you figure out the answers to your questions.

Money is not going to limit my traveling, planning is not going to restrict my traveling, and language barriers are not going to stand in my way. Traveling to other countries can be limitless; you just need to make sure that you are prepared to make it happen. Do not let money, time, or planning ruin the chance for you to have the adventure of a life time.

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