Eurotrip- A Graduation Trip Guide
by Antonella Parolini
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
For a Stress-Free trip
Even though some are beginning to do trips around Asia or America, Eurotrips are the most traditional to do as a graduation trip
They consist of going around Europe for about a month, for 3 or 4 days in each location, and getting to know what your curiosity inspires. I did my Eurotrip a year ago, and I can say it was one of the greatest and most memorable trips I have ever done. I’m here to give you some tips from my experience:
1. Be wise about the locations you choose and how you travel to them:
The locations you choose will not only determine where you go, but how you will travel. Always carry around a list of your flight and train numbers, in case there is a mix-up. Traditionally, students choose to travel by train, since it’s the cheapest and most comfortable way to go around. If you go to many locations you may want to get a Eurail pass. This consists of a single ticket that lets you travel to all types of different locations, depending on which one you buy. There are three types of Eurail, Global Pass, Select Pass, and One Country Pass. This pass can only be used by non-European citizens or residents. If you happen to an EU citizen, you can use an Interrail pass. You can check it out at Eurail (https://www.eurail.com/en/eurail-passes), Interrail (https://www.interrail.eu/en). I chose not to buy it since I traveled to some places by plan. My trip consisted of the following:
This was my trip, but there are an infinite amount of places you can visit. Some others I recommend are:
Munich, Germany (Especially in Oktoberfest!)
As you can see I’m recommending mostly very touristic locations. That’s because I believe Eurotrips are for getting to know the most important places in Europe, however, if you are planning a more niche trip there are many provinces around that you can visit.
Berliner Dom, Berlin
2. Always keep your budget in mind
Whether you are planning a luxurious trip or a backpacking adventure, you must always keep your budget in mind. My trip consisted of 3 or 2-star hotels, we didn’t stay in hostels for security measures, but we went on a limited budget. I strongly recommend avoiding hostels unless you are staying with people you know, since you want to be comfortable in your hotel and sleep without risks.
Before going to each location we did a list of the attractions we wanted to visit, the restaurants we could eat in, and the bars we could drink in. We chose these depending on our budget and the importance of each location. Europe can vary a lot in food prices. In Italy, you can have a panini and a glass of wine for 6 euros, a delicious pasta for 10, as well as an elaborate meal for 50. It all depends on what you’re looking for. I recommend eating the traditional food in every place you go to, no McDonald’s or Burger King, to live the whole experience. You can always ask in your hotel reception what restaurants they recommend. Museum restaurants are for the most part very good and some are cheap.
Budget is also important for transport. You can travel in Uber or you can go in the Metro, it all depends on how much money you carry. I would travel by metro and bus, not only because it’s cheap but also because it gives you the full experience of where you are traveling. Most countries have a package type ticket that has from 5 to 10 tickets per package. These are practical because they are typically cheaper and you don’t have to go back and forth to buy tickets.
If you are planning to go out, you MUST look up prices before going. Some night clubs in Europe are a great time but are also extremely expensive. Other bars are cheap and fun to be in, it’s mostly about what you are looking for in your experience.
If you’re planning to shop a little, you might also want to look up what stores are within your spending range. If you want to bring back souvenirs, there are always huge souvenir stores around the most touristic locations. I recommend buying souvenirs in museums since they are higher quality and original designs.
Waffles in Belgium
3. Look up your attractions before arriving at the location:
Do you ever get to the location you were waiting so long for and realize you have no idea where you can go? I would tell you to look up where you want to go before arriving, that way you have a plan as soon as you step off of the train. Some choose to go on a walking tour of the whole city, I wouldn’t recommend these since they are long, tiring, and by the time you are done you feel like you haven’t learned anything. There is nothing wrong with going to the touristic locations of the city, but do it by your own means so you enjoy them to the maximum.
For example, if you are visiting a museum, don’t worry about going to every single piece of art. It is a proven fact that after two hours, the only thing you see are shapes and colors. Look up the pieces you want to visit before hand and go only to them, that way you will enjoy it and have more time to do other things.
Something me and my friends loved to do on our trip was find a beautiful location and lay down, smoke, talk, and just enjoy the moment. You don’t have to be running all around the city to enjoy it, some of our best trips were the ones where we didn’t go to a museum or a touristic attraction, we just walked around and discovered new places.
The Louvre, Paris
4. Look up your night life:
Some cities are known for their night clubs (Barcelona, Berlin), others are known for their beach clubs (Mykonos, Ibiza) and others are known just for having excellent alcohol (Munich, London). You have to know what you are looking for when you arrive. My friends and I aren’t big on partying, so we mostly went to bars, (like the third best in the world in Budapest, named Szimpla Kert). However, if you’re looking for the night life experience, look up what there is around you, as well as the opening hours. Spain is known for opening their bars at around 12 or 1, however, Prague has a much earlier night life (look up Karlovy lázně, a 5-floor night club). This is important because if you arrive late, you might be waiting hours outside to get in.
Look up the prices for shots, bottles, or drinks. Some night clubs have an entering fee that you will have to pay to get in, keep that in mind when looking up where to go out. If you are looking to have a cheap, laid back night out, go out to a bar and have a beer or two. If you’re going to a night club and your plan is to get wasted, buy a bottle in a supermarket (make sure you buy it early since in most places they stop selling alcohol after a certain hour), and drink it with your friends beforehand. These are really cheap and will stop you from spending a lot at the club.
Make sure you also know the drinking ages and public drinking policies, since these vary all around Europe. One of the members of your group should be the “designated driver” in some sense. If there is one person that doesn’t drink, you will get safely to your hotel.
Szimpla Kert in Budapest
5. Be careful about packing:
It might be obvious but you should only pack the essentials. I’d recommend 3 pairs of shoes, two for walking and one for going out. If you’re going for a month, you should take only 15 outfits and wash them half way through your trip. Most of Europe has dry cleaners where you can wash a load for a couple of euros. Also keep in mind that you will probably be coming back with more things than you arrived with, so you don’t want your bag to be exploding when you arrive. As well as the fact that you will be moving around every 3 or 4 days, so you should make sure your bag or bags are practical to carry around. Some opt to take backpacking backpacks, it’s all about how you feel more comfortable.
As a lover of fashion, I strongly recommend not to walk around with exercise clothes. Not only because of the fashion faux pas, but because it is evident you’re a tourist and locals will treat you as such. It’s not a secret that Europeans aren’t very inviting towards other cultures, meaning they will sell things to you as more expensive, give you the worst tables and treat you arrogantly. It’s also true that Europeans dress well for the most part, so you want to blend in with the crowd. Most of these trips happen in the summer, so buy some shorts and short sleeves shirts, as well as lots of comfortable underwear.
Ponte Vecchio, Florence
6. Make sure you know how you’re moving around the city:
In most European locations there are metros, buses, taxis, and even Uber. Public transport in Europe is extremely safe for the most part, however, you always want to keep an eye on your belongings and place them strategically so they’re difficult to reach to. For example, if you have a backpack you might want to wear it on your front.
I also mentioned in the budget tip that most locations have a package ticket that is cheaper and contains 5 – 10 tickets. These work for the bus and the metro in most places. You will want to look up the closest metro and bus stop to your hotel, that way you will always know how to go back. There is now a feature on Google Maps that shows you exactly the routes you have to take to on public transport to arrive where you’re going.
Something that is extremely important and most people don’t do is look up how they will move from the airport or train station to their hotel. Some cities are accessible by taxi, but some others are more difficult. We had a huge problem with our hotel in Forte dei Marmi because the only way to arrive was by taxi and it cost 90 euros. We had to opt for canceling the hotel and getting another one that was closer to our location.
Metro in Prague
7. Buy tickets beforehand
Summer in Europe gets completely packed, that’s why people complain about the heat and long lines. If you buy your tickets for museums and attractions beforehand you won’t have to wait to go in, and you will be able to use your time to actually visit where you’re going. La Academia in Florence, where Michelangelo’s David is located, is always packed, especially in the summer. If you buy your ticket before, they will give you a time space in which you can go in. You will have to wait in line, but not nearly for as long (I once saw a wait that went around the block).
Michelangelo’s David, Florence
8. Reserve or arrive early to famous restaurants
There are some restaurants that are unmissable (like L’Entrecote in Paris or Il Mercato di San Lorenzo in Florence), so you will want to arrive early or reserve to make sure you have a nice seat. I don’t recommend going to famous restaurants all your trip, in fact, I recommend going on local websites and seeing what they recommend. These will normally be cheaper and much tastier. Famous restaurants normally take advantage of the fact that people will pay anything to visit and have really expensive menus, with medium quality food. Look up the underground parts of the city, there you will have a unique experience.
Lucio in Madrid
9. Be careful about your money
Europe is filled with pickpocketers, especially in touristic places or public transport. Don’t carry all of your money in the same place, that way if you lose your wallet or bag you will always have a backup. Also, most of Europe accepts Euros but some places such as London or Prague use other coins. Make sure you always know the type of change you will need, that way you can change it where you will get the most for your cash.
Beach in Forte dei Marmi, Italy
10. Have a great time!
Most of these trips are to celebrate a high school graduation, so celebrate! If you are prepared before you arrive, this will be one of the greatest experiences of your life. Enjoy every single second of it, since it will mark you forever.
1. Be wise about the locations you choose and how you travel to them
- Travel by train if possible.
- Check out Eurail for non-EU citizens and Interail for EU citizens.
- Always carry around a list of your flight and train numbers, in case there is a mix-up.
- Keep your budget in mind.
- Avoid hostels unless you are staying with people you know.
- For limited budget travel, I recommend 3 or 2-star hotels.
2. Make a list of restaurants, attractions, and bars depending on your budget.
- Eat the locals food, not in big food chains.
- Museum restaurants are good and cheap.
- If you’re planning to move around in public transport, check out ticket packages for the metro and bus.
- Look up prices for nightlife. Beer and bars are cheaper than hard liquor and clubs.
- You can usually find cheap souvenir shops in touristic locations.
- Museum souvenirs are higher quality and prettier designs.
3. Look up your attractions before arriving at the location
- Don’t take a walking tour, go to the same locations but on your own and at your own pace.
- Go only to the important pieces of art or the ones you care about.
- Stay in the museum for maximum two hours, if you go for more time you won’t enjoy it.
- Don’t feel forced to go to every single important location in the city. It’s sometimes much more enjoyable to go to places that aren’t of worldwide significance.
4. Look up your night life
- Search for bars and clubs around you.
- Arrive on time so you won’t be waiting for a long time outside.
- Look up prices and see what’s in your budget.
- Keep in mind some night clubs have an entering fee.
- Liquor in supermarkets is particularly cheap. Consider drinking before so you won’t have to spend as much in the club.
- Supermarkets stop selling liquor after a certain hour, make sure you buy it before.
- Make sure you know the drinking ages and public drinking policies.
- One of the members of your group should stay sober so you will get safely to your hotel.
5. Be careful about packing
- Only pack the essentials.
- Wash your clothes halfway through so you will only take half of the outfits you need.
- There are many dry cleaners in Europe where you can wash a load for a couple of euros.
- Take a comfortable bag you can move around with, some choose to take backpacking backpacks.
- Don’t use exercise clothes to avoid locals from treating you like a tourist.
6. Make sure you know how you’re moving around the city
- Most European locations have metro, bus, taxi or Uber.
- Public transport is cheap and safe, but make sure you keep an eye on your belongings.
- Look up package deals for tickets on public transport.
- Make sure you know the closest metro and bus station to your hotel.
- Use Google Maps to see the routes you need to take to get somewhere.
- Look up how you will move from the airport or train station to your hotel before arriving.
7. Buy tickets beforehand
- Buy tickets for museums and attractions before arriving to avoid long lines.
8. Reserve or arrive early to famous restaurants
- If you want to go to a restaurant with a renowned name, make sure you reserve or arrive early.
- Look up local websites and recommendations for cheaper and higher quality restaurants.
9. Be careful about your money
- Separate your money into different pockets or bags.
- Watch out for pickpocketers.
- Make sure you know what type of change you need in each country you’re visiting.