Europe on a shoestring budget seems like mission impossible but with a little bit of smart planning, 4 months of Solo Budget Travel in Europe is completely doable. And, that’s exactly what I am aiming to achieve with my upcoming 4 months of solo travel in Offbeat Europe. A solo trip across Europe – mainly Central, Southern, Western, and Eastern Europe. Here is what I am planning to do in the upcoming 4 months of Solo Budget Travel in Europe:
WHY I CHOSE TO TRAVEL FOR 4-MONTH INSTEAD OF 7 TO 15 DAYS
1. Slow travel is soulful travel
When you travel with a super tight deadline you are forced to do the touristy stuff and there is nothing wrong with that. However, I am over that phase. Now my travel goals have changed. I no more travel to tick mark destinations or fulfil bucket lists. I travel with a purpose – to explore and promote offbeat places through sustainable tourism practices. The fun lies in being a local than being a foreigner. That is when you become a part of the social fabric and connect with the soul of a place.
2. TBEX Conference in Ostrava
I am invited as a guest speaker at TBEX Ostrava, Czech Republic where I’ll be sharing my experience of working in emerging markets and how to pitch successfully. Since I’ll be in the region, it makes sense to explore the neighbouring countries instead of planning separate trips.
3. Best time to explore Europe
July to October are the best months to explore Europe as the days are long, the weather is pleasant, people are in an upbeat mood and lots of festivals are held during these months.
4. Reduce carbon footprint
Instead of making multiple trips to Europe with several long-haul flights throughout the year, I prefer one mega trip, flying just once. Also, I chose Eurail over shorter flights as trains
5. Excruciating heat in Asia
Summers are unbearable in Asia, especially in Delhi. It’s a good time to escape the heat and enjoy the European sojourns.
WHAT PLACES WILL I COVER DURING MY 4–MONTH JOURNEY
1. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
Explore the interiors of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Bulgaria to connect the past with the present.
1. Czech Republic (4 weeks)
The land of stories is going to be my center point. I’ll begin and end my first leg of travel here. I’ll be spending over three weeks in the Czech Republic exploring popular and offbeat places. Don’t forget to read about the five fantastic Czech Republic
- Prague: This time I’ll be exploring the offbeat side of the town following the footsteps of notable people like Franz Kafka, Charni, Sigmund Freud etc. If you are looking where to stay in Prague, check out Boutique Hotel Seven Days
- Plzeň: The home of Pilsner Urquell, the world’s first and finest lager beer
- Olomouc: The fairly unknown city outside the country has the second-highest number of UNESCO World heritage sites after Prague
- Zlin: The city developed by the Bata family
- Brno: The second-largest city in the Czech Republic which has everything you can ask for – architecture, culture, nightlife, and food
- Mikulov: a beautiful pint-sized town set amidst vineyards
- Lednice-Valtice: One of the most beautiful chateaus in the Czech Republic and a Wine Salon showcasing the best 100 wines in the country
- Ostrava: The industrial town with a great music festival – Colours of Ostrava
- South Bohemia: A region full of beautiful landscapes and world-famous heritage towns like Cesky Krumlov, Ceske Budejovice
2. Slovakia (7 days)
The allure of Tatra mountains and rustic castles invites me again to Slovakia. I’ll be exploring off-the-radar regions of Banska Bystrica and Región Banská Štiavnica in one of the most beautiful parts of Slovakia – Central Slovakia.
3. Poland (7 days)
I’ll be travelling to three main cities – Krakow, Auschwitz, and Katowice to see World War II sites.
4. Bulgaria (6 days)
2. WESTERN EUROPE
There’s more to Western Europe than uber-popular cities like Paris, Berlin, and Vienna. I’ll be exploring Northern France, Northern Germany and various regions of Austria to uncover their hidden gems and unique cultures.
1. Germany (4 days)
The Vogelball music festival will be my primary reason to visit the vibrant city of Hamburg.
2) Austria (10 days):
Although Austria is not really a budget destination to explore in Europe a little bit of splurge is okay at times. This beautiful country will beckon twice – once to explore the Cafe culture of Vienna and next time to explore the adventure and cultural sights of Tyrol, Salzburg and Vienna regions.
3) France (7 days)
French Riviera and Paris might not fall under my plan of doing budget travel in Europe but I have a solution for that too – I’ll take a detour from Paris to visit the charming cities and vibrant villages of Northern France to understand why the Hauts-de-France region is known as “France’s best-kept secret”.
3. SOUTHERN EUROPE
1) Slovenia (7 days):
The postcard country renowned for its green cover will be my home for 10 days where I’ll be visiting Ljubljana, Lake Bled and Big Berry Kolpa River resort.
2) Croatia (9 days):
Going off the grid in search of offbeat fun activities to do in the Plitvice National Park and the Croatian capital, Zagreb. Read more about my experience and plan a trip with these two highly detailed and insightful posts: Plitvice Lakes: 10 reasons why this is a must-visit Croatia National Park and Things to do in and around Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia Don’t forget to see the video about my experience.
3) Bosnia and Herzegovina (1 day)
4) Serbia (9 days)
Being a die-hard fan of Novak Djokovic, Serbia has been high on my list for a long. Besides visiting my idol’s hometown (which has been bombed 36 times), I’ll be visiting the Eastern and Western sides of Serbia renowned for archaeological, natural and cultural treasures.
5) Italy (15 days)
I had been to Italy before but this time I’ll be exploring it in a different way as I’ll be attending my first ever ‘Adventure Travel World Summit’ in Tuscany, Italy. The Tuscan countryside is like the Chianti produced there – meant to be
HOW I AM PLANNING TO MAKE THIS TRIP A SUCCESS
1. WELL PLANNED ITINERARY
All the places in my journey are well thought off and have been planned almost six to eight months in advance. I’ll be working with the National and Regional Tourism Boards in most of the countries I am planning to visit. All the activities, places and experiences are carefully chosen as per my interests. While 80% of my trip is planned, 20% is left open to serendipity.
It is the biggest hurdle for long-term solo travellers like me whose passport is a week passport. Therefore, I focused on securing a Schengen visa first, which is valid for all European countries I plan to visit. Since I’ll be in the region for 110 days I have planned my travel in a way that I don’t exhaust all my 90 days in the Schengen region. I’ll be visiting non-Schengen countries to stay within the limits of my visa.
Here is a list of documents I submitted for my Schengen visa:
- Filled Visa Application form
- Covering letter stating my purpose
- Original Passport with photocopy
- 2 photos as per prescribed specifications
- Return flight tickets
- Travel Insurance for the entire travel period
- Local transport booking – Eurail Global Pass
- Day-to-day itinerary for the complete period
- Hotel bookings for the entire period
- Invitation letters from all the tourist boards/hotels/partners
- Last 6 months Bank statement
- Credit card statement
- ITR for last three years
- Company profile and work samples
Tip: please apply at least three weeks in advance. My case was directly handled by the Tourism Board yet I almost gave up on my trip.
The best way to explore Europe is through the comfort of a Eurail. And, that’s why I have taken a continuous 2-month Eurail Global Pass that allows me to travel across 28 European countries on any train/bus/ferry listed in the pass. I can board any train anytime from anywhere. Now isn’t that cool? And, wherever Eurail is not available I’ll be using private transport. I’ll also be taking a few flights to save time.
I am super excited about my solo Europe budget travel and I can’t wait to TRAVEL, SEE and WRITE for you. Have you ever done budget travel in Europe? if yes, please do share your stories in the comment section below.