Throughout 2015-2016 I traveled around Europe almost continuously and a lot of people have been asking me questions about how I did it.
The first thing I will say is that I worked damn hard. I moved back home after I finished my degree and worked 3 jobs saving practically all of my earnings. I am a huge party girl and love buying stuff and indulging in dinners but over my saving period I almost never left the house other than to work. When you want something big you need to make big sacrifices. I also have very supportive parents who allowed me to move back in with them, who encouraged my dreams, and who would be there to help me out if anything went wrong (although I would never want it to come to that). My European backpacking experience has been absolutely thrilling, inspiring, breathtaking, and a whole lot of fun! I know that a lot of my fellow uni students have used this past year to get a great start to their careers, and I know friends who would have put the money I saved towards building their futures but I don’t regret for a second the adventures I have had and the effects they have had on me as a person.
“Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”
-Contiki (woop woop)
If you are thinking of going on a big trip like me, here are some tips and info on what to organize before you go…
ORGANISE TO HAVE A BASE:
- I took a backpack to travel with and a large suitcase, which I left at my friend’s apartment in Lyon, France, where she was studying for the year. When the seasons changed I went back to hers to swap my stuff over and to collect everything when I had found a place to live in London (my new base). It was also so nice to have a friendly face to greet me and take me in when I had reached the other side of the world alone. I went back to hers midway through travels when I thought my world was ending because my man of the moment decided to go for my friend instead, and my funds were quickly fading. I left her beautiful French abode feeling well-rested, happy, and with a future job and accommodation set up for me in London, so off I went adventuring again.
- Let your bank know you are travelling
- I got an STA travel money card which I thought was perfect and saves you a lot of money in the long run. I love STA by the way, you can totally just walk in there and have a chat about your travel plans and get advice free of charge!
- 85 L is the max you should take or you will die. Unless you are some sort of body building champion then go ahead John Cena.
- I recommend a backpack because you will come across some ancient hostels that have 5 stories and no stairs… and you will most defiantly almost die.
- Please don’t get a bag with a detachable backpack because I have heard so many stories of people who’s clever little detachable backpack was detached and stolen while they were asleep on the train.
- Invest in a good brand because this bag is gonna go through a lot and you want it to last… I mean it is enclosing all that you will currently own.
- I bought mine from Osprey and couldn’t recommend this brand more
- AUSTRALIANS: You are only allowed to travel in the Schengen area for three months, any more and you will be in trouble. Research it. You can travel to lots of great countries in Europe that aren’t in this area but just make sure you are keeping track of it. If you stay out of the Schengen area for over 3 months, then you can start again with a clean slate- I did this by basing myself in London.
- UK WORKING VISA: I got the Tier-5 2 year youth mobility visa so I could work in the UK in case I ran out of money. Turns out I loved London so much I decided to stay and live here. Anyone with citizenship from a country part of the British Commonwealth between the ages of 18-30 is eligible and it will cost you around 600 Australian dollars all up (300 pounds). When you apply you will need to show evidence of having around 2000 pounds in your bank account (4000 AUD) and you will need someone in the UK’S address and phone number to say you will be staying at (which is completely ridiculous but whatever). If you have a British parent look into dual citizenship and if you have a British grandparent look into the ancestry visa that allows you to live and work in the UK for 5 years (then if you work in the UK for 5 years consecutively you can apply for citizenship). Find all your info at Gov Uk
- Back up phone: Bring yours or someone in your families old iphone 4 because chances are if you party hard like me you are bound to lose/drown/have stolen at least 1 phone and you don’t want it to get you down or stop you from getting to your next place. I went through 4. I also lost (then found again) my backpack at one point but that’s another story.
- Lifeproof phone case
- Camera: (don’t take all your photos on your phone in case you lose it!)
- A small backpack or a sling bag that zips up and that you can put a lock on (Pickpockets are REAL)
- LOCK LOCKS & MORE LOCKS: I literally put a lock on every part of every bag that I am capable of when I travel. You will also need a spare for Hostel lockers as most need you to provide your own. Make sure they are TSA accepted
- A travel wallet: You will need the size to fit you passport and all your tickets and papers trust me. I like the ones that zip open because they are easily accessible.
- Passport cover: You want your passport to be as protected as possible because it takes a lot of money and effort to get a new one.
Travel light! This is coming from a girl obsessed with material possessions!
- Running shoes/converse
- Birkenstocks (wore mine almost everyday for a year and they are still in almost perfect shape)
- Thongs (or flip flops as some idiots say- for disgusting hostel showers)
- 1 shorts
- 1 jeans
- A hardcore jacket
- A few t-shirts
- *DO NOT BRING YOUR GOD DAMN STRAIGHTENING IRONS