Travel Memories

March 19, 2009

Going to Europe may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, so I want to make sure that I remember everything and take in everything.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I will be purchasing a new camera, there are other ways that I will be documenting my trip as I go.

1. My Journal
I have been writing in a journal every night for five years. I have not missed a night and I love to write about my days, the good, the bad and the ugly. I know my journal will be full of exciting stories from my travels. we have a lot of time on trains and I will devote some of that time to writing in my journal.

2. My Blog
One of my friends recently brought to my attention how much easier it would be to do blog posts about my stories instead of individual emails. This will allow people to give me suggestions while I am in Europe. The only problem with this is I don’t know how often I will have access to a computer.

3.Postcards and Souvenirs
I would like to get a few mementos of the countries that I will go to. I may send some friends a few postcards, or if I find really nice ones, pic them up for myself.

When I get back I will make a photo album bringing all of these things together. Other than the photos, I will have quotes from my journal, suggestions that people have made on my blog and postcards that I bought in each country. This will make my photo album more of a memory book for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

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The Budget Spreadsheet

March 15, 2009

This week I sat down in front of my computer and tried to budget out what the whole trip would cost me. I used the skills I learned in Paul Dayboll’s spreadsheet class, to input and add the data.

I did this because I was panicing. I felt like I was just spending money left, right and centre without knowing how much money I was going to have left. I had three separte sheets one was for the totals (i.e. food, attractions, transportation, hostels). Next I made more specific sheets. What exactly would the hostels cost us, and what would the attractions that we wanted to do cost us?

I found that making the spreadsheet not only made me feel more comfortable with my money, but also made me feel comfortable with where my money is going.

I would reccomend this method of budgeting to anyone who is thinking of taking a major trip. It will ease your mind, and you can send it to your travel partner so they will also have a budget to work from. When you make your buget spreadsheet don’t forget to include a miscellaneous section as there will definitely be items you forget to include. I made my miscellaneous section $1000.

Budgeting may sound like a boring, tedious task, but it will help you out in the long run.

Important Travel Tools

March 8, 2009

As my trip is approaching I am learning about other expenses that I will need to buy in order to have a successful trip.

1. Camera
Buying a camera is hard to do when you don’t know much about cameras. I usually go for the one that looks nicest, but that hasn’t worked for me in the past. So I decided to look online at consumer reports to find some information. I want something easy to use that is good value. I don’t want a cheap camera that is going to break down in two months, but I can’t afford a really fancy one either. I think that I have decided to go with a Canon because they are mid priced and are good quality. I just need to find a good one on sale now.

2. Footwear
My travel partner and I realize that we will be walking everywhere with 40 lbs backpacks on our backs. I need to find appropriate footwear. I talked to a friend that went to Europe a couple of years ago and she purchased Privo shoes. She said they were amazing for walking all over Europe. Below is a picture of the shoe I am looking for. I found similar Privo shoes for $49.99.womensshoes-privoprivobyclarksjobapeargreennubuck_large_image1_10955

3. Backpack
I thought about renting a backpack, but I found out that I would be better off to buy one. Since I move around a lot anyway, and I always need extra storage space, I think that it will be a good investment. For this I plan on making a trip to Mountain Equipment Co-op. I trust their products and this way i will be able to go and try on backpacks for comfort. I don’t want too big of one, because I am going to pack really light. I want some room for souvenirs.

There you have it, three more things to add on to my trip. Not to mention travel clothing that can be worn in all kinds of weather. There are a lot more expenses than I initially thought of when I decided to take this trip. But all of the expenses are worth it, because I will have the time of my life.

Finding Deals

February 27, 2009

Yesterday my travel partner and I booked our plane tickets. We leave on April 28, 2009 and we return May 26, 2009. In two months from now, I will be on my way to Europe.

I feel like we have a lot to do before we go, and the way time flies I don’t know when we will get it all done. I think our next step will be to book hostels because then we will know we have a place to stay when we are there. Then we will have to book our train passes.

The good thing about travelling during this economic crisis is that many companies are offering reduced rates. The big expenses are a little less than they would be in a thriving economy.

Being a student also has its benefits. Right now my travel partner and I will be able to get into museums in Paris for free with our student card. Listening to a presentation done in my class about travelling I learned that many places will give you a deal for being a student.

When I’m purchasing and planning the next steps of my trip I will have to remember to look for deals. Being a student and being in the recession, there will be a lot of deals. I just have to find them.

Overcoming Travel Fears

February 21, 2009

This week I have not progressed too far in the planning stages. Instead of planning, I have been thinking about fears that I have about travelling.

1. How much do I pack?

After reading Lauren M’s blog I started to worry about packing. I know I don’t have to worry about it for a while, but how big should my backpack be, and how full should I fill it? Searching tips I found that my backpack should only carry 20-30 pounds. Another interesting tip is to pack all similar colours so that my clothes will all mix and match.

2. Should I bring cash, travellers cheques or credit cards?

I worry about running out of cash, carrying too much cash and being charged crazy exchange rates on my credit card. I found out that most people use ATM’s while bringing a small amount of cash and some travellors cheques. One tip I found is to make sure that I have a chequing account because a lot of ATM’s in Europe do not have a “savings” option.

3. Theft on trains.

Because we are taking the train to many places, how can I ensure that my backpack does get stolen? I will have to purchase a lock for my backpack and try to have it near me, or sleep with it on trains as much as possible. I will need to have a “carry-on” bag with essentials in case something happens to my backpack, and I will have to keep all of my personal belongings on me. The tips I read were to be as safe as you can, but ultimately if someone is going to rob me, they will.

I feel a little more at ease about some of my worries. I still can’t wait to go.

The Budget

February 14, 2009

The most challenging part of planning a trip to Europe is the budget. Our budget for the trip is very cheap. Booking flights, hostels and trains are all major costs to the trip. 

With this blog I would like to give tips on how we plan to travel on a small budget, and I invite you to post any requests.

Booking Flights
I have been searching for flights since September. I want to fly with Air Canada so I can get Aeroplan points and have a free trip within Canada after I get home. AirCanada does offer specials every now and then. I get emails from them every week or two and I check out their rates. The lowest I found for a round trip to Paris, France was around $790. I was even more successful with finding cheap AirCanada flights at www.cheapoair.com where the flights were around $700.

Hostels
The only website that I know of for searching hostels is www.hostelworld.com . I like this site because it offers a lot of travellers input about all the hostels, and it allows you to book them online. We will stay in mixed dorms with 8-10 people because those ones are the best deals.

Trains
My travel partner and I have decided to get a train pass and use the train as our primary mode of transportation. Because we are going to so many country’s we will take as many over night trains as possible to save on hostel costs.

There are a lot more costs to think about such as food, attractions and souvenirs. There is also costs before we go on insurance, backpacks and other travel supplies.

Travelling on a budget is a challenge. If you have any tips, please let me know.

What to do in Europe?

February 7, 2009

I think that the most difficult thing about planning a trip is deciding what to see in each city. I have limited time in the cities and I want to get as much as I can out of all of them.

I talked with my travel partner this weekend and we decided where we would go. I won’t tell you all of the places that we plan to see, but I will mention the things I am most excited for.

The thing I am most excited to do is the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg. The Sound of Music has been my favourite movie since I was in grade two. I can’t believe I will be climbing the same hills as Julie Andrews.

The next thing I am really excited for is Auschwitz. I am very interested in history, and I took a Holocaust course in University. After taking that class and learning about the atrocities of the Holocaust, I wanted to learn more. I think that the day we go to Auschwitz will be very emotional, but will also be life changing.

The third thing I am excited for is Santorini in Greece. I have many friends that have been there, and their pictures are gorgeous. The city is beautiful. I know it is a tourist island but I can’t wait to relax on the beach and hike through the city. Who knows? I may even ride a donkey.

Those three things are what I look forward to most. If anyone has any other cool places I should see let me know.

Ciao for now.

Trip Planning Begins

January 31, 2009

I started planning my trip to Europe in September.  The first thing I did was discuss with my travel partner where we should go. Our final decision came to this:

  • Paris, France
  • Lake Garda, Italy
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Warsaw, Poland
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Athens, Greece
  • Santorini, Greece
  • Rome, Italy

As you can tell, we have quite the journey ahead of us. Because of our budget we knew that we could only travel for a month.

The next thing we had to figure out was how we wanted to travel. We researched many different ways, but decided that a combination of trains, ferries and one flight within Europe would be our best modes of transportation.

As of right now, we have a schedule mapped out, when we will get to our destinations, and when we will leave them. I am lucky to be traveling with a friend who has already been in Europe and is familiar with Euro Rail.

Next week I will update you on the attractions that we plan to see in each city.

The trip planning begins.