Don’t Fear The Schengen Visa: For first-time applicants, the Schengen Visa can sound quite complicated and annoying but remember the more you travel the more you’ll just learn to take these visas in your stride. As long as you have return tickets, bank statements and hotel bookings you’re ticking all the boxes. If you’d like your travels to be less planned to the T, you can always make tentative bookings for the visa process and cancel them once your visa is in your hand. We can’t be expected to plan every single day now, can we? There are lots of travel agents in India who’ll do this for you if it all feels too overwhelming. Soon enough, you’ll be a pro and won’t even need the agents. If you plan to go to more than one country then apply either in your first country of landing or the one that you’re spending the most time in. I’ve found France to be one of the easiest and most hassle-free countries for a Schengen Visa.
|Have no fear of the Schengen!|
Europe is best enjoyed on a whim and overplanning each and every single day really ruins it. You want to be in a position where if you fall in love with the alleys of Paris, the beaches of Spain or the villages of Italy you can decide spontaneously to stay an extra two days instead of being forced to move on because everything is paid for at your next destination.
|Make sure extending your stay is a possibility. Photo taken in: Noirmoutier, France|
Don’t Jump Straight To The Euro Rail Pass: I know a lot of people recommend the Euro Rail pass but flights and buses in Europe are VERY cheap and when I say cheap I mean as low as $20 USD one way for a flight and even lower for buses. They are also mega sales around Spring and Autumn. Euro Rail passes limits you to a certain time frame and again are not very whim and spontaneity friendly. The budget airlines in Europe are Ryan Air, Easy Jet, Monarch and Budget Air. I recommend http://www.skyscanner.net for a fantastic comparative search.
|There are lots of different ways to see Europe and the Euro Rail is only one of them. Photo taken in: Lake District|
Hostel Dorms And Hotels Aren’t Your Only Options: If you’re on a budget and are uncomfortable about hostel dormitories then a lot of European hostels have excellent private rooms too at reasonable prices. If not hostels then instead of staying in staid and mundane hotels try using AirBnB or Roomorama where you can stay in a variety of accommodation from castles to studios to wilderness retreats. I use AirBnB all the time and it always ends up being more than just a place to sleep. It adds an altogether extra special dimension to my travel experience.
On a side note, a lot of us tend to be dubious about websites like Couchsurfing, I’ve used the site extensively for the past 7 years now and not only is it a great site for staying with locals it’s also a great site for meeting people and checking out local events.
|You’ll find extremely unique accommodation on AirBnB from retreats to cottages to treehouses. Photo Source: AirBnB|
Don’t be afraid to explore: Europe’s charm lies in its little villages, little heard of towns and secret suburbs. Don’t be overly cautious by sticking to an itinerary all the time. Speak to locals and if you’re invited don’t say no unless every inch of your body is saying “he/she appears to be completely psychotic and murderous”. At the end of the day, you’re not going to remember every painting you saw at the Louvre but you will remember all the times you got a lost, discovered a little restaurant or an empty nameless beach.
|Somewhere out there is an empty beach that’s got your name on it. Photo taken in: Noirmoutier, France|
Got any tips of your own to add? Share away in the comments section!