A tour around Europe had been on my bucket list for over four years. After lounging in indecisiveness for a bit, I finally got my visa in 2015, though I couldn’t make the trip back then. Luckily I had a one year multiple entry visa, so I travelled in the summer of 2016.
I have decided to break my vacation post into three phases so that I can delve into all the details without boring you out.
Last summer my friends and I decided to finally embark on our long-awaited and long-planned euro tour. We concluded on a visit to Paris, Rome, Milan, Venice and Madrid. These cities cut across three countries (France, Italy and Spain) It was such a lovely experience and it was worth every penny, stress, long treks and long queues.
Today, I will tell you about the general planning and build up to and after the trip.
We spent over a year planning this euro adventure and had to decide on how long we could take off work, how many countries and cities we would like to see, what we expected from our trip (shopping, adventures, sightseeing, hiking etc.), what route to take and which means of transportation (I am one of those people who enjoy the destination but not the journey, so I was adamant about taking the train), the type of accommodation we would like to opt for (hotel, BB, airbnb, hostel or homeless..lol). We also had to decide on what time of the year we would love to go, what airline to fly with (to be honest, this was not really an option…it was more about which airline was the cheapest).
We went on the trip in July, 2016 but started serious planning December, 2015. We picked July because we would have saved enough fund, my visa expired late July, 2016 and it would be summer (who winter epp). We had a lot of options as regards which countries and cities we wanted to go. We had to bring out the European maps to see which three countries are easily accessible and not too far apart. Deciding and finally picking the three countries was not an easy decision, there is just so much to see in Europe. One would think that after concluding on the countries the decision phase would be over and done with, but then you also have to decide on the cities.
We had so many options; France (Nice or/and Paris), Italy (Rome, Florence, Milan, Vince or/and Pisa) and Spain (Madrid or/and Barcelona). The first thing we did at this point was to settle on how many days we could take off work and which cities were the most/least expensive to holiday. After some research, we decided on Paris in France because it was cheaper to fly into Paris from Nigeria than Nice. Rome, Milan and Vince for Italy based on accessibility and there was so much to do in those cities and for Spain, Madrid rather than Barcelona because we wanted to shop.
We finally came to a decision of; Nigeria (Abuja) – Paris- Rome- Milan- Venice- Madrid –Nigeria (Abuja). We went by flight to the countries (Paris, Rome and Madrid) but took the train within Italy (Rome, Milan and Venice). We used emirates airline, Vueling airline and Brussels airline. Turkish airline was our first and cheapest option to and from Nigeria but we had an issue with our Turkish airline tickets (it wasn’t the airline’s fault, it was the fault of the ticket agent) so we had to opt for Emirates.
On the accommodation we had to decide between a hotel or Airbnb. We were not very comfortable with the airbnb idea so we opted for the hotel. We budgeted 10k each per night (20k per night) for our accommodation. However to be honest we didn’t really stay within our budget on some of the hotel. So at the end of the day I will say we spent an average of 25k per night (3 star hotel).
Every day, minute and second of our trip was well panned and thought out. What do you expect when you are on a budget and have little time to explore?! We had an excel sheet with all our agenda’s for each day and the prices for each tour. In-other to come up with an itinerary , a lot of work was put into researching. We had to find out the “must see places”, how many hours in a day the tours will take, how to book, which ones to pay for in advance, which days some tours/places were closed and so on.
Please note that this was not the budget for the trip, it was just the prices for tours per person. Tickets, feeding, accommodation, transport, and so many other things are not included here.
Here are some general notes;
• Start planning early. It is never too early to start planning. We had booked our hotels and bought our tickets by February.
• Euro trip is more about exploring than relaxing. Be ready to walk around, stand on long lines and so on.
• Taking the train around euro is a better option if you do not mind long journeys, you can avoid the airport hassle.
• Try to avoid changing your money with bureau de change that takes commission. It is better if you change at the bank.
• Bring comfortable shoes
On the next posts I shall be writing about each country differently and our experience. Stay tuned.
Editor: Sowumi Modupe and Ude Nnenne