The not so simple task of planning a 6 week trip

With my recent trip to Europe being my first ‘big trip’ there was a lot of planning, budgeting and pre-booking required to ensure everything went smoothly. We spent over six weeks traveling twelve countries and also had to factor in 24 hours worth of flying to and from Europe (why is Australia so far away from everything…) and of course the dreaded jet lag.

thumbnail_IMG_2371.jpgWe did use a travel agent. At first I was like uh no I can do this myself I’m not paying a travel agent to do it for me. Weeeell turns out you don’t actually pay travel agents any extra (they get their commission just from booking things for you – even if they price match it!) so if you’re unsure of what you’re doing then stop being stubborn like I was and go see one. I’m not saying they are all honest and wonderful but ours was and it made things much easier for us. It also meant we had access to 24 hour emergency support over the phone while traveling and we actually used it so totally worth it.

I did rely heavily on a few websites for advice on attractions, accommodation, travel options and tours. The main websites we used were:

  • Trip Advisor – Trip Advisor is seriously great for reading reviews and sussing what attractions you want to see. It’s also great for looking at accomodation.
  • Lonely Planet – some great fairly unbiased info on the best areas to visit and the good tourist attractions you should go see.
  • Airbnb – we tentatively booked two Airbnb’s for our trip and they were both amazing!
  • Pinterest

I know what your thinking… Pinterest? Pinterest was merely a platform for finding relevant blogs and articles about the locations I was visiting. It was also a great way to catalogue ideas with photos so we could get a better idea what attractions/ areas we wanted to ensure we saw while over there.

Budgeting was tricky. We didn’t necessarily do our trip on the ‘cheap’. We stayed in hotels throughout and regularly used taxis when we didn’t feel 100% safe so you can do six weeks a lot cheaper than we did if you so wish. The following is all in AUD (Australia Dollars) so keep that in mind if you’re reading this from another country… which is likely because we aren’t exactly a huge nation.

Insurance:

Before you book ANYTHING buy some insurance. Insurance for six and a half weeks with $10,000 worth of cancellation cover cost us just over $400. Worth. Every. Penny.

No we didn’t need to use it thankfully but I know people who have needed to use their insurance and it’s extremely important. On that note we choose CoverMore after researching all the options (they were one of the only companies that covered natural disasters as well as everything else we needed) but you really need to research based on what you want to do on holidays and buy insurance based on that. Keep in mind some companies won’t cover certain sports or will charge a lot more to cover them (e.g. Snowboarding).

Flights:

We budgeted $2000 for an economy return trip from Australia to Europe and back. We did a lot of research and spoke to loads of people before deciding we wanted to fly Singapore Airlines. There are a lot of great airlines out there but with Singapore’s great record regarding on time flights and very little lost luggage we decided it was our favourite. Now because I’m OCD and trolled flight websites like Skyscanner multiple times a day we ended up nabbing a return flight for just over $1300 (whoo!). We purchased the flights in February (5 months before we actually flew out) through our travel agent at Flight Centre who was happy to price match for us.

We also flew return Edinburgh – London part way through our trip which set us back around $150 (I think) and was through British Airlines with carry on and a checked bag.

Accommodation:

We didn’t actually have to book much accommodation because it was already organised and booked through our Topdeck Travel tours and the Highland Explorer tour. When we did need to book it ourselves we used Airbnb twice (in London, England and in Sorrento, Italy) and then used accommodation we were already using through Topdeck between tours in London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland. We did also have to book just one night at a hotel near Rome Airport the night before we flew out but our travel agent helped us out there.

Here is the link to our London Airbnb if you are interested: Woodland cabin in Central London.

It’s an adorable cabin in Stoke Newington that is only a bus and train ride away from the city and all it’s big attractions. The hosts are lovely and were available if we needed them but otherwise gave us space to recover from jet lag and enjoy the area.

And this was our accommodation in Sorrento: Divinahouse

This was a room and bathroom within a large home in Sorrento. It was literally steps from the water and the hosts were so lovely. It was also just around the corner from all the markets… probably the reason I spent a lot of money towards the end of my trip!

A hotel that deserves special mention is STAY Central Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland. Seriously the best hotel with great staff in an amazing location… can’t recommend it enough!

It’s hard to put a dollar figure on what our accommodation cost us overall but most places seemed to range from $100-$200 depending on quality and location. Because there were two of us this was also split between us so it wasn’t too bad considering we were staying in relatively safe hotels with breakfast always included.

Tours:

So we booked two Topdeck Travel tours (Britain & Ireland and the European Emperor). We got a discount for booking two but it still set us back over $6500 each. I know. I can hear you gasping. But think about it… this covered our transport, accommodation, more than half our food and entry to some attractions/ optionals for more than 4 weeks (over 2/3 of our trip). We also had a wonderful trip leader/ tour guide and driver on each tour.

Our Highland Explorer tour covered some of the Scottish Higlands and the Isle of Skye (possibly one of my favourite places on earth). From memory the tour was around $300 (but that may be completely wrong… I can’t remember where I put the paperwork from that one to check it) and covered transport, accommodation and breaky which was included at our accommodation. We stayed at a beautiful hotel called the Rosedale Hotel and our room had a view right over the bay in Portree… it was amazing!

We also did a day tour to Capri, Italy (via a small but very nice boat) which cost around $120 from memory.

Spending money:

This was the hardest to budget for but after a lot of research it seemed budgeting for $100-150 a day was your best bet. This figure was about right for us in the end when I evaluated my spending but I did make a few larger purchases throughout the trip so you could definitely work with $50+ a day if you’re careful. Unexpected expenses do pop up though so better to over-budget if you can.

Overall:

So in total we spent just over $10,000 pre-booking everything before going to Europe and then roughly $100 a day while we were over there. We spent just over six weeks and traveled to over twelve countries in this period. We covered England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Wales, France, Spain, Andorra, Monaco, Switzerland, Italy and Vatican City. Not bad for a first time trip. We were more focused on seeing as much as we could of the countries we went to and not just ticking countries off by flying through a city at a time. You could do a trip like this a lot cheaper but we were two women in our early twenties and we didn’t want the stress of feeling unsafe or trying to get ourselves around in countries where many don’t speak English as their first language. We saved for over two years and worked really hard to make sure this trip was smooth and fun so we don’t regret spending that money at all.

If you’ve lasted this long thanks so much for reading and I really hope this helps in planning your travels. Please fell free to drop me a comment or send me an email if you’d like some more info or have a specific question for me.

Georgia-Rae

 

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