There is a lot to learn on a trip around Europe. The consistent dynamic cultural experience and immersive natural beauties are inspiring. Every travel experience is a learning curve. You realize the good and bad of each decision, the best and worst of every choice. Even as you go, in your mind you develop a list of things to do differently next time. Well here is my list. Some of them are personal preferences, but most are standard – general and relatable to any traveler.
Spend less on the next trip around Europe
Cheap travel is always a condition you can continually work on. The budget can always get smaller, and experience will develop tricks to keep spending costs low. Money is an essential feature of travel, even if you are not spending much of it.
Cheap travel is always at least worth a try. It can enhance any experience, show the potential of exploring a place in a non-commercialized way. It encourages you to be creative in your adventures and reduces the financial guilt of trips.
The practices of cheap travel are unlimited. By camping and hiking, you embrace life outside of expensive cities. Work Away and Couch Surfing are great ways to spend less money on accommodation. Buying cheap food and cooking in rather than eating out are affordable options also.
All of these have the added bonus of enhancing an experience – often more sociable and depending on the generosity of others. Cheap travel is an ongoing experiment you can always improve on your next trip around Europe.
On an initial trip around Europe, you might feel the urge to plan as much as possible. New experiences can be daunting, and planning helps ease the pressure. However, of course, deciding everything in advance can be restrictive, and actually cause more stress later on. Rushing to reach a pre-planned destination is time is far more stressful than slowly wandering in that direction. Being spontaneous is most the fun of travel. Especially in well-connected Europe, spontaneity is very feasible.
If you are inter-railing, most tickets accommodate the impulsive traveler. You can jump a train to a random spot on the map. Or, follow some new friends in a fresh direction. Either way, plan less on your next trip around Europe and embrace the fun and adaptable spirit of travel.
Bring an iPhone
Next time traveling Europe, I would be sure to bring a smartphone. The internet is a global phenomenon for a reason – all about connection. Connecting is important when traveling. Connecting to home, connecting with friends, connecting to the culture, the people, the experience. Along with the right mindset, the internet can aid these fundamental connections.
The importance of contacting people you miss should not be underestimated. Similarly, the ability to interact with places and fellow travelers is significant. A smartphone allows you to book hostels as you go, or find a place to stay at the last minute. It lets you know which new friends are nearby and gives you the tools to find a fresh place, people, and perspectives.
So, bringing a smartphone is on my list of things to do differently. But on other people’s ‘use iPhone less’ might be a resolution. It is a tricky debate – ultimately, you should just find the right balance for you.
Listen to music only on journeys
Especially while traveling alone, it can be easy to get into the habit of listening to music. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Music is great – both entertaining and relaxing. It can provide great chilled company on a long journey. It can make a moment seem epic and engaging. However, it can also prevent complete immersion in an experience.
In my opinion, music is best as background noise for a beautiful view. However, when you are exploring a new place, it can merely be distracting and restrictive. On your next trip around Europe, try reducing music only to journeys. Treat it as a luxury rather than a necessity. Enjoy and appreciate music. Do not let it control your travel experience.
On my last trip around Europe, I wish I had given, not just less weight to my bag, but more space. A small, light bag makes travel so much easier. You can move more freely, and the prospect of packing up and going from A to B is far less daunting. More than this, light travel gives space, and this means flexibility.
Some bags open up like a suitcase. This design is much easier to handle as you can see what you need and easily get to it. However, if you go for the big classic backpack, it can be a lot trickier. You end up only wearing the clothes at the top of the bag because it is too much hassle to rummage deep to the bottom. Light travel means a more organized bag. You can navigate through it easier, as there is space to search about without constantly having to unpack and pack again.
Next time, I would simply bring less stuff. It is easy to forget that you do not need to carry with you everything – that there are shops to buy whatever you don’t have at the time. Travel light for more space, flexibility, and freedom. It also gives you room to collect souvenirs throughout your journey.
Bring a book you love
For me, one of the greatest aspects of traveling is the infinite time to read. Long train journeys, night buses, non-Wi-Fi hostels; all of these provide perfect book time. With no home comfort distractions, like TV and internet, we prioritize reading while traveling. One easy trap to fall into is using this time for that tough, hard read you usually avoid. With fewer distractions, you think you are bound to finish it finally.
Some people can struggle through a classic and find some sense of reward at the end. Personally, I do not see the point. If I am not enjoying a book, the joy of reading it lost on me. Again, this is probably a personal preference. Some people love the challenge. But I would rather read my favorites repeatedly, knowing that I love them and enjoy the experience.
Last time traveling, I bought a book I had tried and failed to read before. It sank to the bottom of my bag, untouched after the first chapter, and abandoned. My advice would be to bring a story you know you will enjoy, and let it happily fill those long journeys.
One of the joys of traveling it is unlimited potential. There is always a place you’ve never been. There is always an experience you haven’t grasped. And there is always a lesson you haven’t learned –always something to do differently next time. It’s worth writing a list so these realizations don’t slip you by. This is mine. What is on your list of things to do differently on your next trip around Europe?