Lessons learned so far…

Not a complete list but these comes to mind at the moment…

– I need two pairs of pants. One pair is inconvenient because when you wash one pair, you gotta wear something else if you want to go out instead of say, my board shorts, which is all I have now that I lost one pair of pants in Cork. I would look silly wearing it in the streets so I’m sitting in my hostel typing this while laundry is being done.

– Wearing sports sandals only sucks. My feet are calloused and black after 3 weeks, I had to buy a pumice bar and scrub the dirt/hard skin off. I am looking into getting a pair of hiking shoes, wear them with socks.

– Screw doing laundry in the sink. Unless you absolutely have to, just take it to the laundromat. At least your clothes will be washed/dried properly and smell fresher. Or maybe I just did it wrong. But whatever, I hate damp clothes dripping in my hostel room anyway. Plus, have you seen hostel sinks? Not the cleanest thing out there.

– I don’t like old overnight trains. Much prefer buses to travel long distances. Maybe I just need to get on a nice overnight train.

– It is not easy to get away from anything touristy in Europe, especially during the summer. Even the small places have quite a few tourists. Next time I hit up a small town to “get away”, I’m getting a single room, maybe at a B&B place, so I can be as anti-social (private, alone) as I want. Sometimes, with all the people I meet on the road, I can appreciate alone time to relax, sleep, shit in peace.

– Get a guide book (Lonely Planet, Rough Guide etc.) It helps. I can thank Kiera for this one. Of course, sometimes it’s good not to always have your nose in it but it helps.

– Tours aren’t just for tourists. I am beginning to stop thinking that way. I just can’t learn everything on my own or I will miss out on lots of things.

– Czech beer is just bloody awesome and cheap.

Transportation/Hostels/Misc Costs

I’ve been traveling primarily by bus from city to city (Eurolines). Costs vary depending on distance, cheapest have been €15 from Irish city to Irish city and as much as €50 from Amsterdam to Berlin. It’s a lot cheaper than train but much slower (and not as comfortable to sleep in over great distances).

Within a city, in Ireland, I used the buses or walked. In France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, it’s all about the metro lines (subways). I biked around for a day in Amsterdam, that’s how everyone gets around there but big countries like France and Germany require the use of metros or you will be walking a lot. In France/Belgium/Germany, you can buy tickets at the stations but in Netherlands, everyone uses a pre-loaded access card to scan in/out of terminals. Once you get the hang of the metro system in one country, it’s pretty much similar to the others (at least from my experiences so far). Know what line you need to get on, know your stop, know what direction to go (read: know the name of the end of each line).

Hostels vary from €10-25 for dorms (4-10 beds in a dorm, fewer beds usually mean more costly but also depends on how nice the hostel is, how popular the area is, how reputable the hostel is etc.)

I think for the most part, transportation and hostel fees are a bulk of the cost. Cost of eating/drinking will depend on you. For me, I mix eating street food (€2-4) with the occasional sit-down restaurant (€10-20) and also hostel cooking (€3-6). I don’t drink much so I save there (pint of beer can cost €3-5, cheapest I’ve bought was €1.50 for a bottle of Jupiler).

Museums (€5-15) , tours (€10-20) cost money but I’ve recently discovered the wonderful Sandeman’s Free Walking Tours (Kiera told me about it actually). They are the best thing to happen to a budget traveller. I also enjoy wandering and getting lost and taking out the guidebook to find my way home. Or go sit in some park that all the locals love to hang out at.