The countdown is getting closer and I can’t believe it’s eight days to the D DAY!!! OH MY GOD!!!
As you guys now, I almost cancelled the trip because something bad happened last Sunday. I know I didn’t tell the detail of the story (I intended not to) but I can assure you nobody (friends and family) is hurt. I just lost some things… which can be paid by money. I must suck it up and move on.
I won’t let material things ruined my optimism for my Europe Trip! WOOHOO!
Let me update you everything. First of all, let’s talk about budget.
Total damage for the Pre-trip
Let me tell you the most important thing for planning Euro Trip: BUY MUSEUM TICKET ONLINE. Seriously, I’ve read it from any guidebooks and travel forums and everybody said the same thing. If you need to pay extra € for the booking fee, PAY IT! It’s worth saving you hours of queuing.
The pre trip budget is paid for:
- Air tickets
- Train reservation + Europass
- Lodging fee
- Any tour booking, theatre booking, excursion etc
- Visa (both UK and Schengen)
- Travel Insurance
- Museum passes, museum tickets. (Most of great museums in London are free! Horray!)
Here comes my final pre-trip budget. All in Singapore Dollars, however I put remarks for the things purchased in Euro or Poundsterling. The total budget is for one person.
|Air tickets (SIN-europe-SIN)||$ 1,372.00|
|Fare London – Paris||$ 85.00|
|Air tickets (Rome-Athens)||$ 85.00||55 Euro|
|Air tickets (Santorini-Athens)||$ 249.70||Return, 145.64 eur|
|Eurorail Pass 15 days||$ 761.00||From raileurope.com.sg|
|Train Reservations||$ 669.00||for reservation only|
|Hotels/Hostels||$ 882.00||except Parma|
|Mt Titlis||$ 185.00||Paid online (US$140)|
|UK Visa||$ 159.00|
|Schengen Visa||$ 98.00||60 Eur|
|Travel insurance||$ 116.00||NTUC income 25-27 days|
|London’s Les Mis||$ 49.00||29 Gbp|
|Van Gogh Museum||$ 24.00||14Eur|
|Anne Frank Huis||$ 16.00||9.5 Eur|
|Paris Pass Museum (2days)||$ 65.00||39 Eur|
|Neuschwenstein castle||$ 23.00||13.80 Eur|
|Academia Firenze||$ 17.00||10.50 Eur|
|Uffizi Firenze||$ 17.00||10.50 Eur|
|Villa Borghese||$ 21.00||12.5 Eur|
|Vatican +Sistine Chapel||$ 25.00||15Eur|
Kindly take note that Paris Museum Pass and Neusch-something castle are not paid yet. They accept payment on the spot. We also can’t purchase the Juventus ticket before the trip starts because the ticket opens 10 days before the game. Bandi said that he will find internet connection and buy it once the ticket opens NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS. LOL. We haven’t booked any hotel/bnb in Parma because there are none to be seen online! Hahaha. We will just try our luck going there and walk in to the Bed and Breakfast. If we can’t find any, we’ll just sleep at the station, LOL.
Bandi’s cost of course is cheaper than me because he refused to pay that much money to enter museum. He kept complaining “ohhh this one month will be the month when I visit the most museums in my life…” or “You will pay 10 Euro just to see David? That’s ridiculous! Can I wait outside?” and the blah and the blah. I was so fed up with his complains so I finally told him let’s just split up because I don’t want to hear his rants when I browse the museum.
I will post here my budget for lodging and I must say I’ve done a pretty good work because it’s surprisingly under-budget! You can see yourself which city is expensive and which is not.
|No||City||Date in||Date out||Nights||Price||Total|
|1||London||12-Oct||14-Oct||2||$ 0.00||$ 0.00|
|2||Paris||14-Oct||18-Oct||4||$ 98.00||$ 391.00|
|3||Amsterdam||18-Oct||20-Oct||2||$ 104.50||$ 209.00|
|4||Lucern||21-Oct||22-Oct||1||$ 134.00||$ 134.00|
|5||Munchen||22-Oct||23-Oct||1||$ 87.00||$ 87.00|
|6||Venice||24-Oct||25-Oct||1||$ 86.00||$ 86.00|
|7||Firenze||25-Oct||26-Oct||1||$ 60.00||$ 60.00|
|9||Turin||27-Oct||28-Oct||1||$ 67.00||$ 67.00|
|10||Cinque Terre||28-Oct||30-Oct||2||$ 115.00||$ 230.00|
|11||Rome||30-Oct||1-Nov||2||$ 57.00||$ 114.00|
|12||Athens||1-Nov||2-Nov||1||$ 96.71||$ 96.71|
|13||Oia||2-Nov||4-Nov||2||$ 144.70||$ 289.40|
*) I stay with a friend in London so I put zero and the $112 in Parma is just budgeted price.
The on-the-trip budget
We prepare for €40 (S$65) a day for food and total of €400 for transport such as tram/subway/metro/bike/gondola. We prepare 250GBP for London (3 days). If that’s not enough, there’s a mini magic called Credit Card. LOL
Enough with the crap, how much is the Total Budget?
The total Budget would be S$7,000 per person for 26 days in Europe. If you think that’s expensive, think again. That covers 16 cities, the chosen cities. I picked every city by heart. I know the history and I know why I go there. And that also covers all the museums I want to visit and the Les Mis show I badly want to watch.
If you want to cut the expenses, you could choose to travel by airplane. Budget airplane in Europe is now so various and cheap! I personally prefer to travel by train simply because it saves time and it brings me right to the city center. And don’t forget the feeling. The feeling like you’re in the Before Sunrise movie. (pardon my dramatic side)
If you plan to visit less cities, I think plane could cover most of the big cities. But cities like La Spezia (CInque Terre), Hohenschwangau (from Fussen), Parma and Lucern are better visited by train.
The Final Itinerary
This is the most complicated itinerary I’ve ever made in my entire life! I’ve spent one year of reading books, browsing forums and calculating the best and cheapest way possible, well I admit I got carried away reading European history :p. I think I’ve invested around 200 hours doing this itinerary. I’m very well-prepared about all the infos and Europe history. Well, it’s fun so I won’t complain. The least fun thing was probably counting the budget and actually paying it. LOL.
So here it comes…
|22-Oct||Tue||Lucerne||2166, ICE 370, Eurocites 2261|
*) No RV means No reservation so we can hop on to any train. But we probably will skip Bruges, because there will be not enough time. But let’s see later.
Actually my real Itinerary looks like this:
I even browse about the weather forecast, you know just to make sure if I should cover my backpack. I will put this itinerary on my phone but if you ask me, I must say I know it by heart, every single detail. LOL.
You can also see the tabs on my excel which breakdown every details of the budget, food choices and an itinerary template for visa application. Yes, I’m a crazy planner. If you would like to have this itinerary, just let me know I would be glad to send one for you. :)
For the food choices, it looks like this:
What can I say, I don’t want to ever waste one meal with the bad one. First, it would be wasted calories, second it would be wasted Euros! LOL. But seriously my
boyfriend fiance is such an annoying food critic, his mood could change if he ate a bad food. The man can cook so I don’t blame him. Nah, just kidding, Bandi can eat anything, but we prefer to eat the good ones in Europe. Afterall not everyday you’re in Europe. :)
My mistake, your lesson
Here are the things that I’ve learned during the planning. I hope my mistakes could be your lesson.
- Buying a Europass doesn’t mean you can use the pass to take any trains you want. You still have to pay reservation fee for the inter-country train and for inter-city train in Italy, France and Swiss. The reservation for overnight train cost around €100 and the reservation for intercity train cost €8 in Italy and €20 in France (TGV or high speed). If you want to take Thalys of course it costs more. What I did was… I counted both scenarios. With and without Europass. The prices between those two are actually about the same, but with Europass you get the first class, so I chose Europass.
- Browsing every possible transportation in every city. Example: in Paris there are so many choices of Metro card and it’s quite confusing. There are Paris Visite card, carnet tickets and Navigo something… Paris also have so many metro lines which are divided into zones. Different price of the Metro card will cover different zones. What I did was… I READ A LOT. I listed out the places I will visit and find out what zone (most touristy places are covered in zone 1-3 while Versailles is on the zone 5) so I choose the carnet tickets which cover zone 1-3 and buy the individual Versailles ticket. If you’re confused, don’t be. Just read more. It’s good to know before you’re actually arrived. However I will double check by asking the metro guy again. Hahaha.
- Sort out your museums! This is important! Except London, most of museums in Europe costs a lot of money. You could buy museum pass if you want to visit a lot of museums but if you only want to visit one or two per day, I advise you to buy individual ticket. The only city where I buy a museum pass is Paris, simply because I want to visit a lot of places! But I already sort out my priorities by highlighting the paintings’ location. So I won’t waste time wandering around in Lourve which can be explored the whole day and won’t even finished. It’s also best to browse the museum’s website to know more and to really think about if it’s worth your money. Make sure you know what do you want to see in each museum. And to save up some $$$ download the museum guide app on your smartphone (I did!) so you don’t need to pay extra €5 for the multimedia guide.
The airbnb experience
I booked all my lodging in airbnb, except hotels in Greece. I must tell you that airbnb has the best customer service ever! So here’s the case… 3 weeks before my departure date, my host in Amsterdam cancelled the reservation because he needs to be out of town. I have paid total of $147 for the reservation and thankfully it’s refundable. The problem was… it was so hard to find the cheap and available place so close to the departure, so I booked the more expensive place which costed me $209. Later on airbnb emailed me with an apology that my host cancelled the reservation. Actually it wasn’t even airbnb’s fault but I guess they’re feeling responsible. To compensate that, airbnb gave me $65 extra to cover the difference cost of my previous host and my current host. WOW! I didn’t see that coming! Isn’t it a very sweet gesture? So basically I didn’t pay anything else anymore.
I emailed back to airbnb and said that it’s the best customer service I’ve ever received and the fact that they wanted to go extra mile just to make sure everyone has a great travel experience. That’s very kind and sweet. I promised them to write something sweet on my blog so everyone will know that AIRBNB IS AWESOME!
KUDOS for Airbnb customer service team! =)
Shopping for Not-so-cold Wear
Not only I was good at cutting budget for the trip, I’m also good at saving as much money as I could for this trip. LOL, so shameless, but seriously, I know where to shop cheap and good in Singapore. That’s the other reason why you should bribe me Syomai the next time you come to Spore. LOL.
So here’s what I shopped for our trip:
Of course I bring another jacket and a shawl but actually I don’t bring so many clothes. How many I can bring with that backpack, huh? Darn it!
And for the fiance…
Bandi actually bought another pair of shoes which are hiking boots but I ddin’t put on the tab because it would ruin the cheap price I try to achieve. Haha :p
Where did I shop, you ask?
Well, if you want to shop cheap, go to EXPO on the weekend. But before you go, make sure you check their schedule of warehouse sale first. If there is “John Little” or “Robinson” on the schedule, then it’s a shopping paradise! All items could be discounted until 80%! Some FOX shirt/pants were $5 each!
Then for the cheap Crocs and Charles and Keith, you just cross over the road from EXPO to Changi City Point, a mall that has so many outlets inside. I can guarantee all the items are super cheap! Hahaha.
The everyone’s trip
This trip is my childhood dream which honestly still feels surreal right now. I remembered people kept saying I dreamed too much (because I grew up in a middle class family so traveling is not so common) but I kept saying that I believe in dreams. Dreams are what keeps us alive. People change, I change too, but the only thing that remains the same and forever is that… I ALWAYS TELL EVERYONE THAT DREAMS DO COME TRUE. Have faith because faith can move mountains.
And I feel so overwhelmed by all my friends’ sweet words about my European dreams. They are looking forward to this trip as much as I am. I know I won’t have any free time to play with my smartphone, I’m a socmed whore in my normal life but I usually ignore my phone when I travel, however I will try to spare half hour a day before I sleep to blog or post pictures/videos in instagram. I will bring everyone to my trip, with me, with my stories, with this “Dream Comes True Adventure” =)
If you follow my European journey on my instagram (@jaunemai please do follow!), please please don’t comment “Envy” or “jealous” because I don’t like that. My mission is to spread happiness and show everyone that dreams do come true. I don’t spread jealousy.
Come to Europe with me and my dreams! Hang tight and enjoy the ride!
May, packing her backpack.
P.S: Was thinking to make a giveaway, to send something from Europe. But let’s see how high the excitement for this post first, ok? =)