James Baldwin, a famous writer has rightly said, "I met a lot of people in Europe, I even encountered myself".
I always had this preconceived notion that travelling Europe was for the very rich, until I started planning for the trip.
Packages or Self Booking - A Dilemma
We explored lots of online available packages from Makemytrip, Yatra, Thomascook etc. Not only were the prices somewhat high, the packages did not cover all the places we wanted to visit. Also, they do not cover all the places you might want to explore in a particular city.
We then started doing our own research on the cities to visit, the places that can be explored, and thus started planing our own itinerary.
GoogleMaps is very helpful in deciding the route and flow that you can take for your travel. Also, checking the flight tickets to and fro from India helped us in setting our budget expectations. We also explored intercity travel options - like flight/train/bus, taking minimum amount of time and money. Also, checking the average price of accommodation in various cities helped us eliminate the countries which seemed too costly (eg. We chose Paris and eliminated Switzerland, we excluded Milan...). Since we had just 2 weeks including our travel, we researched how many days we would need to stay in each city to visited.
We traveled through Mumbai to Venice and came back to Mumbai from Amsterdam. The roundtrip flight per person came to 40K (Emirates). The sooner you book, the cheaper the flights are.
To and fro flight tickets from Mumbai per person : INR 40K
There are multiple options available for stay - Hotels, Airbnb, Hostels. Hotels tend to be pricier and Hostels offer less privacy. We found Airbnb as the most convenient as well as cost effective option.
While booking the places we made sure that it was nearer to metro station. Generally places near to city center are quite costly. So we booked places which were 20-30 mins away from city center, and about 5 mins walk from metro station. Try to go through the reviews listed by travelers who stayed at the place earlier. Also make sure you do the booking well in advance, since good places get booked early. We tried to book places that had breakfast option too and avoided places with Security deposit.
Our experiences across all our booking accommodations were quite good. The hosts were quite friendly and helped us throughout our stay.
Total Accommodation cost for both of us : INR 48K
Buses are the cheapest option to travel in Europe. Prices for Trains and flights are quite comparable. Wherever time to travel by land was more than 7-8 hrs we booked flights.
For travelling across Italy we booked Thalys train tickets which are quite cheap and fast too.
We went by flight from Rome to Barcelona (Ryanair) and from Barcelona to Paris (Vueling).
Our Paris to Brussels travel was by bus and from Brussels to Amsterdam, we took a train.
We did all the bookings beforehand while planning our trip. Like flights, the train tickets get costlier as the travel date approaches. Also, intercity flights in Europe don't have baggage allowance. We bought the baggage while booking the tickets since the baggage charges at the airport are quiet high.
Total Intercity Travel Cost for both of us : INR 32K
It's always better to book the tickets for touristic attractions well in advance, else you might waste a lot of time waiting in hour long queues. Also, many sights have discounts for booking online.
Some of the websites we found helpful for booking online are Viator, Musement, 365tickets and tickitaly. These are authentic websites, and you can also book from the official websites of the main attractions.
Total Attractions Cost for both of us : INR 60K