How Two 25 year old Girls Backpacked Europe for 20 Days on a Shoestring Budget | Itinerary & Tips! 

4th Jul 2018
Photo of How Two 25 year old Girls Backpacked Europe for 20 Days on a Shoestring Budget | Itinerary & Tips! by Ria Govila
Photo of How Two 25 year old Girls Backpacked Europe for 20 Days on a Shoestring Budget | Itinerary & Tips!  1/1 by Ria Govila

At first travel leaves you speechless and then turns you into a story teller! My travel buddy and best friend, Rajita and I backpacked 6 Countries covering 7 cities in a little less than 20 days. This post is about how we saved a LOT of Euros by not falling for touristy gimmicks the internet has to offer. This post is what we wished we had for reference when we started out planning and when we actually physically reached the respective cities. If you are willing to explore a city on foot/using local transportation and do not mind living in hostel bunkers, this post is for you!

Pre-Travel Gear, Expenses and Tips

Luggage : We DIDNOT carry rucksacks, instead got trolleys the size of hand luggage on flights. Yes, this seems less of space but this approach saved us a lot of money while booking intercity flights that allow rucksacks to ONLY be checked in. And for check in, these flights charge a bomb! And why carry when you can simply drag ;)

Safety Gear : Paris and Rome in particular are known to be full of pick pocketers so we each had a travel belt (RFID belt) under our clothes every time we went to an extremely touristy spot. They are big enough to contain the passport and money and flat enough to not be seen. We were lucky no attempt of pick pocketing happened with us anywhere but better safe than sorry!

Travel : FlixBus is hands down the cheapest and fastest mode of inter city or inter country travel in Europe. We saw a lot of advertisements for a month pass of the euro rail, but for our travel itinerary it didn't feel worth the money. FlixBuses are neat, have an attached bathroom, enough luggage space (they do not care how much luggage you carry) and leg space and have on board charging and WiFi facility. If booked in advance they can save you a lot of euros plus they are fully refundable before a certain date from booking.

Accommodation : We did all our bookings from HostelWorld, it is the cheapest option available in comparison to everything else. We used this to find hostels that are as close as possible to the city center and have the best price for the number of people sharing the room. Reviews for every hostel, before booking, should be read because they give you a first hand experience of the hostel. For each hostel we paid between 1500-2500 rupees a night, which appears to be the standard cost. Most follow the same policy of a 3 PM check in and an 11AM checkout. But fret not, most agree to keep your luggage (at no extra cost) if you arrive early or leave late. Most are equipped with a kitchen so you can cook,eat and store in their fridge. Some come with complementary breakfast and some with a eat-all-you-can breakfast spread for around 7 Euros. Another great option to explore for accommodation is the concept of Couch Surfing; sounds a lot of fun but neither of us was interested in that. Make sure all your bookings are refundable, our visa issues were only sorted out a day before our travel, phew!

Flight Cancellation : In case your flight out is cancelled and their customer service is not helping, go to the airport. The flight is responsible for giving you food, lounge access and stay (if the delay is more than 4 hours). It isn't mentioned anywhere on their terms and conditions (at least we couldn't find it) but it does apply. Also, you may use AirHelp to claim compensation if you face any delay. If eligible, they can help you claim up to 250 euros for the inconvenience caused.

Student Discount : Most tourist attractions specially Museums have less than half priced tickets for students (from anywhere in the world)! So if you are studying in the year of your travel CARRY YOUR STUDENT ID CARD to avail all of this discount!

Free Walking Tour : Almost every city has a free walking tour covering all the main tourist attractions. They're a great way to understand and explore a city's culture and historical relevance and meet people at the same time! Obviously sparing change/couple of bucks as tip is common courtesy :)

Our Complete Itinerary

4th July - London to Paris - Overnight Bus Journey - FlixBus

Stay : Absolute Paris Boutique Hostel (+complimentary breakfast)

Transportation : To get around the city we DIDNOT get any of the easily available options like the Hop in Hop Off buses or tourist passes of any kind. We reached the nearest tube station and got a set of carnet tickets. These cost 10 Euros for 12 tickets. These 12 can be used for all journeys by as many different people. Paris underground is well connected and if you have GPS on your phone and are willing to explore the city on foot at your own pace, there isn't a cheaper option.

Our Favorite Three-Free:

1. Our favorite was the Eiffel Tower light show. Its a 5 minute light show where the Eiffel twinkles across the Paris skyline. This happens every hour on the clock after sunset. You can grab a spot on the park opposite it, drink some wine or beer and immerse yourself in this grand concrete beauty.

2. Sacre Coeur- is the most beautiful cathedral in all of Paris and you get a panoramic view of the whole of Paris from it.

Photo of Sacre Coeur Cathedral, Parvis du Sacré-Cœur, Paris, France by Ria Govila

3. We ditched the Louvre museum where we have the famed MonaLisa as it is apparently one of the most overrated things in Paris according to a lot of vlogs we saw. So we skipped entering the hot mess of tourists and simply enjoyed the summer sun and wind out side and loved it! We went to Jardin de Luxembourg instead; a beautiful garden where you can sail small boats with children in a pond or choose to lay down on the grass and soak the sun under the shade of trees.

Photo of Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, France by Ria Govila

Food to Try : Crepes, Gelato, Flan, Apple Pie and lots of croissants!

Missed Out On : We really wanted to see a cabaret show because of all that we'd heard about it! Though more on the elite and expensive side the experience apparently leaves you spellbound.

7th July - Paris to Amsterdam - Overnight Bus Journey - FlixBus

Stay : Meininger Amsterdam Amstel (all you can eat breakfast buffet for 7.5 Euros)

Transportation : We purchased the 2 day GVK pass (covers all buses,trams, ferries) operated by them. Cost = 7.5 Euros per day.

Our Favorite Three:

1. A trip to Amsterdam without a visit to the Red Light District, De Wallen is for sure incomplete. Make sure to visit past sunset and kindly adhere to the rules followed in the area. It is closely guarded and any attempt of photo taking, staring or slurring can have serious consequences. You can have pee (Yes!) thrown at you or you can get seriously beaten up.

2. We got away from the busy city hustle and did a day tour to the Amsterdam Country side. Tour and Tickets- Countryside and Windmills + Free Canal Cruise = 69 Euros per person.

This was definitely worth the expense as we toured (guided tour) 3 different towns visiting windmills, cheese tasting (more that 25 varieties with dips) and clog shoe making (wooden shoes worn by farmers). It gives you a flavor of traditional European lifestyle and is not to be missed!

3. We redeemed our free Canal Cruise the next day and explored Amsterdam from water. It is a fully guided tour and we loved the occasional hilarious commentary from the Captain on board!

Photo of Lovers Canal Cruises, Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Ria Govila

Food : Pancakes, Stroopwafel and Heineken (the local brew)!

Missed Out On : Although seemingly fun, we chose not to cycle around the city as it would be time consuming and would require constant navigation. Maybe on another visit :)

11th July - Amsterdam to Prague - Overnight Bus Journey - FlixBus

Stay : Czech Inn (our favorite hostel of all!)

Transportation : 3 day travel pass for 310 CZK

Money Conversion : Prague is one of the few European countries where the Euro is not the official currency, which makes it extremely pocket friendly! Make sure to convert before hand because finding places that accept euros and travel cards may be difficult. Beware of zero commission currency exchange stores on the streets which may give you non-czech currency or offer a very bad exchange rate.

Our Favorite Three-Free:

1. A more local place, the view point is beautiful as you see the whole of Prague and the surrounding water-body. Make sure to go during sunset. A great picnic spot as well, you can just lay listening to the church bells and enjoy the breeze.

2. Free Walking Tour : It began at our hostel and took us to Old Town and the Jewish Quarters. We learnt about Czech history and the historical significance of structures. Our guide was young and peppy and made sure to give us fun facts and humor every step of the way. We learnt tips and tricks to get around the city and what we should do, eat and what we should not. For example in Prague, the beer capital of the world, a 14 euro Pub Crawl may seem like a tempting offer. But our guide warned us against it saying the alcohol quality and a 3 day hangover may not be worth it.

3. Walk down Charles Bridge after sunset into Old Town. It is hand downs the most beautiful view we ever saw. Its grandness and magnificence is not to be missed! We stumbled upon Jazz Republic, a place we loved so much we went there 2 nights in a row! A live jazz band plays everyday 930 PM on wards and there is no cover charge. In fact if you do not want to sit and order food/alcohol you are still welcome to visit. Plus, if you are a blues fan, BB King himself has played here!

Photo of St.Charles Bridge, Old Town, Czechia by Ria Govila
Photo of St.Charles Bridge, Old Town, Czechia by Ria Govila

Food : Fried Cheese, Trdelnik, Beer (everywhere)!

Missed Out On : Prague was our favorite city and is extremely pocket friendly in comparison to other cities of Europe. We wished we had an extra couple of days here to bask in its simplicity and beauty!

15th July - Prague to Rome - Flight - Ryanair

Stay : Meininger Romatermini (all you can eat breakfast buffet for 7.5 Euros)

Transportation : After a lot of thought and research we found the 72 hour Roma Pass (38.5 Euros) best fitted our needs. It gave us free transportation access all over Rome and skip the line entry to two main attraction in Rome. We chose to go to the Colosseum and the Borghese Museum. This pass does not cover the Vatican Museum.

Our Favorite Three: 3 days in Rome can be broken down into 3 different areas that can be covered individually only on foot. Please find below the order in which we did it :

Day 1 - Galleria Borghese - Borghese Gardens - Spanish Steps - Piazza di Spagna - Trevi Fountain - Piazza Navona

Photo of Villa Borghese, Piazzale Napoleone I, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Ria Govila

Day 2 - The Colosseum - Roman Forum - Palantine Hill

Day 3 - The Vatican is the smallest country in the world. Though barely a travel from Rome, we did the following : Vatican Gardens - Vatican Museum - The Sistine Chapel - St Peter's Basilica

Photo of St. Peter's Basilica, Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City by Ria Govila

Tip and Tricks for Museum Visits : Do not fall for internet gimmicks and purchase your visit tickets before and from the official government website only! They do not advertise, so you have scroll down your explorer page to locate it. You can choose to go for a group tour or an audio guided one. An audio guided tour is always advisable so you learn on the go at your own pace and avoid getting mixed up in a large group of tourist. Each audio guide has ear phone plug ins that can be shared with TWO people! So get one instead of two! This trick saves you 5 euros or more for every museum tour! Also, use your student discounts as mentioned before, it'll cost you half the actual ticket cost.

Day 4 - Anzio

Our flight out to Barcelona was cancelled and we were put on a flight for the next day. This gave us one extra day to explore Rome so my travel mate convinced me to explore a near by beach and we did not regret it!A half hour train ride from Rome, Anzio, is very local and full of families, children and elderly alike. We had an amazing couple of hours sunbathing in the crystal clear water.

Food : Pizza by the slice, Gelato, Pasta, Spaghetti Carbonara, Spaghetti Bolognese

Missed Out On : We wanted to do a day tour to Florence (3 hours from Rome by train) however, because of the heat we decided against it.

19th July - Rome to Barcelona - Flight - Vueling Airlines

Stay : Rodamon Hostel (all you can eat breakfast buffet for 4.5 Euros)

Transportation : T10 Tickets (Zone 1)

Our Favorite Three-Free:

1. The fountain show is for an hour and a half starting 9PM everyday. The extravagant light and dance of the fountains is perfectly coordinated with the latest song hits with the likes of Maroon 5, Coldplay, Lady Gaga etc. Thousands of people gather every day to witness this delight!

Photo of The Magic Fountain, Plaça de Carles Buïgas, Barcelona, Spain by Ria Govila

2. Park Guelle and La Sagrada Familia are creations by Gaudi and are a must visit in Barcelona. They are quirky, larger than life and look right out of a cartoon or comic. We didn't have time to enter any but did manage to explore the park and check out the Sagrada church from outside.

Photo of Sagrada Família, Barcelona, Spain by Ria Govila

3. We wanted to visit a less crowded and cleaner beach than the Barcelona city beach given we had only one evening. So we went to Badalona, a town 20 minutes from Barcelona with mostly locals. And it didn't let us down! Clean water and relatively empty we jumped in without a second thought!

Photo of Badalona, Spain by Ria Govila

With this we wrapped up our Europe Travel. We did not sign up for a group tour and chose to plan the entire trip ourselves (quite a tedious task!). The internet and a couple of friends and family were Rajita and mine's only source of reference to plan out everything. And as solo girl travelers from India, we believe we did a pretty good job! And finally concluding our experience in Rajita's wise words:

"All it took was an year of savings, another year of daydreaming & 3 months of serious hours long planning to pull this off! We experienced an incredible slice of history, nature, culture, architecture & landscape in each.But most importantly, it was the immense sense of self-reliance that it instilled. Not only could we plan the itinerary to execution but could also pull it off by our own savings. For this sense of independence alone, I cannot wait to get back to work...". Trust us, if we can do it so can You :)

2 Comment(s)
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How much does it approximation would be great for savings
Wed 08 15 18, 08:30 · Reply · Report
Great itinerary. How much did it cost for one for the whole trip?
Tue 08 14 18, 16:14 · Reply · Report
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