I need help tp plan my one year trip around Europe...
Hi, I'm planning to use one year to travel around in Europe. I've already been checking out a few forum posts here, and I see several people giving advice like "Don't plan too much ahead, see where the road takes you". This is exactly how I want my trip to be: never knowing where I will end up next.
That being said, I've never done anything on a massive scale like this, and I might be jumping into a lion's cave here, but that's really what excites me about the whole thing. However, I would like to hear from people who have done something similar. Where did you go, how did you get from one place to another, how much money did you have to spend (I want to spend as little as possible), and then how did you manage in terms of food and accomodation?
I have a list of very specific questions:
1. Couchsurfing - how long in advance should one contact potential hosts for accomodation?
2. Same question for WWOOF-ing, if anyone has done this?
3. If I need to earn money along the way, what kind of jobs will be available?
4. What are the essentials to bring along in my backpack? How big a backpack will I need?
5. How does one wash ones clothes? In the home of a potential host?
6. One more about Couchsurfing: is it difficult to get accomodation the first time, when I haven't received any rewievs or ratings?
I think that's what I have for now. I'll welcome anyone who has any tips, either regarding my questions or other things, to give me a reply :-) Thank you!
I have not done any Couchsurfing, but Follow Kristins Adventures in Wanderland
who has hosted and stayed with Couchsurfers. You can try contacting her for answers. She is about to Couchsurf across Europe herself. As for WOOFing, you can check their website at http://www.wwoofinternational.org/.
Welcome to TravelBlog!
Re Couchsurfing, it is possible to get last minute couches, but as a courtesy to potential hosts I wouldn't leave it that late if you can avoid it.
I'd suggest getting in touch with some when you know your rough itinerary, as they'll be a great source of general info as well. You could start a thread in the relevant destination's forum asking about places / attractions you're interested in also.
I recommend getting involved in your local CS chapter - the Auckland one meets at a bar each week, just a casual event. You'll probably make friends from some of the countries you'll be travelling to.
When we were hosting in a popular city, I always appreciated being contacted at least two-three weeks in advance. Every host has a different style - you'll find that that matches you own - but as it was important to us that we had ample time to spend with our surfers, advanced noticed enabled us to plan them into our schedule. Certainly you can find last minute hosts as well, but during popular seasons and with popular hosts, if might be more difficult.
Acting as a host and/or guide in your own city is a great way to receive references before you go, and help you figure out how to get the most out of your experiences while on the road. What worked, what didn't, etc. We hosted numerous individuals who were first-timers; the one thing they all had in common was that they wrote us a personalized request, had photos in their completed profile and seemed genuinely interested in more than just free-accomodation.
2 years ago we were in the exact same situation as you - trying couchsurfing without any recommendations etc. We linked with our friends and got them to vouch for us and write us recommendations so try that. We also found that some hosts don't mind you being 'new' as long as your request is properly written and you introduce yourself with an effort.
We would send the request around 2 weeks before with flexible dates to give our potential hosts an idea when we would arrive and it worked very well for us.
Yes, majority of people will let you use their washing machine - just suggest contributing to the cost of liquid etc. It is always nice to help around the house, people appreciate it very much:-) We had this rule, that we would cook for our hosts - something Polish - so that they could also get an international experience when we stayed with them:-)
I enjoyed 7 months traveling around Europe last year and blogging all the way. I stayed in hostels for the first time and found the experience while not always free of annoyances no more annoying than staying in motels in the US with neighbors who played their TV loudly or had kids running up and down the halls stomping and shouting as they go.
I found the vast majority of my roommates to be considerate but the same as in any other situation there are those who aren’t.
Generally I found 4 room dorm beds to be the best bet. Most people opted for the cheaper 6 bed rooms which meant they were usually full. Many times I only had 1 other dorm mate and several times I had a room to myself as most people travel in pairs and want to be in the same rooms. I found the hostels I stayed at by using hostelbookers.com, or hostelworld.com and occasionally tripadvisor.com. I always looked up a place I would stay and read the reviews. Therefore I usually found a pretty good match for me (who wanted quiet and clean) and those who wanted to party could find a good match. I didn’t do reservations till the day or so before I went somewhere and never had a problem finding a room. Most hostels have an email address for contacting them and it is a good idea to do so and let them know when you are arriving and any preferences you may have.
Most hostels had a common area for meeting people or eating and a kitchen for preparing food. This saved a great deal of money on eating out as I usually had breakfast and supper at the hostel. I could sample the local fare for lunch.
Many hostels provide a continental breakfast for free as well.
As far as washing clothes I could usually wash them once a week at one of the hostels I stayed at or pay them to wash the clothes for me for a nominal fee.
I never considered couch surfing because the supposed purpose of couch surfing is to meet people but I am traveling to see the sights of the country and beautiful vistas. So I would be couch surfing under false pretenses.
I do think that the cheapest way to travel is to go somewhere and stay a week or so or more, and then go to the next place I want to visit.
Public transportation in Europe is very good and metro maps and bus schedules are easily obtained off the internet. STUDY these at the hostel and figure out your routes before you head out.
WIFI is generally available at hostels and usually free.
My travel budget is usually about $2500 a month depending on how much I move around or stay put.
Hostel is a Hostel, hotel is a hotel and, whatever you choose you will always have at least one thing that would like to change. So, my advice is that you choose carefully your route, which countries, cities, activities, among the things you would like to see.