Episode 0: Prologue [Europe 2017 series]

My first trip of 2017 was a 2week ‘citybreak’ in Europe.

I’ve been wanting to go to some European cities for a while but didn’t want to just book city breaks every other weekend. I wanted to be away for 2 weeks, try to save as much money as possible and do as much as I could in one go.

The plan started to come together in January for the trip in April, but realistically I started to plan it in November. I’ve had a lot of help from bloggers/websites such as https://www.nomadicmatt.com/https://www.seat61.com/, and https://www.rome2rio.com. They’re absolutely fantastic resources when you’re planning everything yourself. (so if any of you ever reads this blog, thank you!!!).

I currently live in London, so after looking into what I wanted to do in each place, I decided my route would be: Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg and Zurich.

I travelled by train mainly but I took a flight from Brussels to Berlin (for some reason it was cheaper than taking the train) and then from Zurich back to London. In the different cities I walked everywhere, except in Berlin and Vienna where I used the train once.

Since I wanted to do different things in each city, I decided to stay for different amounts of time in each.

Brussels: 1 Day/1night

Berlin: 2and a half days / 2 nights

Prague: 2 days / 2 nights

Vienna: 2 and a half days / 3 nights

Salzburg: 1 and a half day / 1 night

Zurich: 2 days / 2 nights

I promised myself that regardless of how much I was trying to save I would try a tradicional meal and drink in every single one of these places. I can tell you now that it was very entertaining. I might have had beer for breakfast at a certain point. *facepalm*

That was more or less 11 days during the Easter period, give or take. It was the first time I went travelling alone for such a long period of time and it was the best thing ever.

I met incredible people along the way and I learnt a lot about myself and how to deal with different situations. I’m actually very unsure if I’ll ever be able to travel for a long period of time with someone else, since this trip really showed me how incredible it is to be able to plan everything alone and make all the decisions myself. It really made me push my fears aside and talk to everyone, ask for help and feel comfortable in countries where I didn’t speak or understood the language.

So again…advice from this unicorn girl:

  • If you’re undecided about going travelling alone…just do it. Don’t overthink it. Book the flights, trains etc. Book it now. Everything else can follow.
  • Not knowing the language is not an issue. I asked too many times everywhere if ‘they spoke english’ and people actually looked at me weirdly. Almost like: ‘Do you think we’re aliens or something? Of course we speak english!’
  • Being a girl travelling alone ended up not being an issue at all. I did have some people asking me where my partner or friends where, but in the end everyone was happy to help me with anything I needed.

 

My own way of travelling… [MOWT]

Before I start describing my travelling adventures, there’s something you need to know.

I’m a planner. I’m a project manager and I plan. That’s what I do. I also read a ridiculous amount of blogs, social media advice pages, books, street signs, maps, cereal labels…. pardon, I digress.

I believe that people travel differently and all of us have different ways of doing things. Some of us prefer to book a flight somewhere and figure it out as they go. Others prefer to partially book their trip, some will call a travel company and have it all planned for them etc.

I’m a different type of traveller. I work full time and my time for travelling is limited, which means that when I do travel I will always try to make the most of it. In order to make the most of it and reduce stress levels on the go, I research beforehand and I plan it in advance.

One of the most common things I saw while travelling in Europe this April was people on their laptops in the hostel trying to figure out what they wanted to do that day, which means they were already missing out because they were not enjoying the city.

I’m slowly finding my own method of doing things and you will see me talking a lot about spreadsheets…. I’m proud of them (a bit too proud =p) and they contain a lot of information.

My method:

  • Research and write it down. 
    • Everything and anything. Just write it in a notebook, a word document, on your phone etc. Any information, blog, reference, bloggers names, websites… if you think they might be useful when you’re thinking about your next trip, keep a record. (below is my ‘chrome ‘travel window’. Some of these things will become irrelevant, but until I decide that, they shall remain open….) 

chrome window tab - blog

  • Draft plans
    • These are the beginning of your final trip plan. I usually have a spreadsheet where I’ve got different tabs for schedules, budgets and ideas. It’s always work in progress until I start booking stuff.  (below is my 2017 travel spreadsheet)

spreadsheet tabs

  • Set it and book it!
    • After your research and the provisional plans you should have a more clear idea of how your trip will pan out. Time to book it all, keep records of what you need and don’t forget to take it with you. (below is my Europe 2017 budget and schedule for 2weeks)

final europe 2017 spreadsheet

Yes…it takes time and it’s hard work but honestly….half the fun is in planning it all, at least for me.

Having said that….I’ve always given myself some time in each place to improvise and be spontaneous. It just meant that I didn’t have to spend hours stuck in the hostels looking for stuff to do! I got to do everything I wanted and had tons of free time to meet new people and do things I had not planned at all!

If you’ve made it through the entire thing…. the last bit of advice.

Crazy Unicorn girl advice:

  • Ask for advice and read read read!
  • Try different ways and find Your own way of travelling (YOWT)
  • We are all looking for different things, so don’t allow anyone to tell you you’re silly for planning it all yourself or for preferring to book it all directly with an agency

The beginning….

Just to explain the reasoning behind writing this blog.

I’ve always been passionate about travelling, exercising and having a healthy lifestyle! Thankfully my parents where pretty amazing and not only took me to some cool places but have also given me a lot of opportunities to experience different things (sports etc.).

As you grow old, move out, go to uni, find a job etc. it’s a lot more difficult to travel, specially if you don’t want to quit your job. I am very career focussed and I believe in keeping a job I love full time. You might see how that interferes with my plans of travelling regularly.

So after years of not focussing on what was really important for me, and losing my closest family members I decided it was time to really invest in myself and what I love….so…travelling, exercising and overall being healthy !

This blog will be very diverse, but it will mainly be about some of the travelling I’ve been doing and will be doing in the future and insight into how I plan it all on my own.

Hope it’s useful for someone out there. =p