It was around this time some 3 years ago that I finally made it official and started planning to travel abroad to Europe. Some thought me silly and others expected it to be yet another of my New Years resolutions that I’d never keep. But it was summer and I’d romanced the idea of exploring Europe over many a beer that to back out would have crushed me.
So if your New Years Resolution involves taking a gap year or just an extended time travelling abroad in Europe I’ve collected together some of my most useful content from the last 3 years to help you get started and make planning to travel Europe a reality.
My first big decisions was should I travel solo, with friends or book a group tour. With the luxury of having been there and done it already I can’t recommend Solo Travel enough. It allowed me to gain confidence, become more outgoing and have the freedom to travel however I wanted. It seems scary but if you’ve got the choice between a tour or going it alone with your friends or solo please pick the later.
Next it’s time to look at budgeting for your grand venture. This was the biggest issue I had when planning to travel. I’d been saving but really had no idea how much was going to be enough, the last thing you want is to run short a LONG way from home. As a guide to others following me I documented how much it cost to travel Europe. I noted down costs on:
- Museums and Attractions
- Entertainment (Beer and Partying)
- And more
Use it as a framework to your own travels, not everyone travels the same after all.
As an Australian with dreams to head abroad I’d decided to migrate to the UK like many had done before me. The VISA for the UK offers the greatest freedom to an aussie (or New Zealander and Canadian) heading to Europe to live, work and travel. Consider it your entry ticket to the biggest show you’ll ever attend. Luckily Australian’s can apply for a 2 Year Visa for the UK. The process is really straight forward so please please please don’t use an agency to do it for you, save the money for a weekend in Europe somewhere.
At some point very early on you’ll begin to plan out where you want to go and what you want to see. I started long before I finally committed to buying a plane ticket. By the time I finally did I’d mapped out places I wanted to go and things I wanted to see all over Europe. But I withheld from actually putting up money for hostels (bar my first one), tours or any other costs. I didn’t want to pre book travel when I wasn’t sure if I’d stick to my orignal plan. I wanted complete freedom to go and do whatever I wanted. I collected tips from other travellers and end up finishing my first tour around Europe along the Amalfi Coast in Italy thanks to a tip from someone I’d met. It was and still is one of my most memorable spots in all of Europe.
Having nailed down all the fun things it was time to being planning the move to London. This involved:
- Finding Accommodation
- Looking into Healthcare
- Learning the Transport System
- Getting a Bank Account
- Working out what a National Insurance number was
- And more
I was lucky in that I’d lined up work through a friend beforehand but it never made any of the above easy. I spent months just finding a place to live and navigating the bank/tax system to make sure I’d have money to pay the rent. In this area I wish I’d reached out to a few people before I left home to make the transition easier but live and learn as they say and I sure enjoyed the experience even with the bad luck.
As you sit down planning to travel abroad for the first time or maybe second and third times remember everything I write was what served me best. The above is from my experience and covers how I got the most out of travelling Europe for the first time. Use it as a guide to make your life easier and if you have questions I urge you to ask them in a comment below. I’ve the luxury of having done all the above already and while I may not be able answer all the questions, I’ve an army of friends who share the same passion for travel that I do and most likely can.
It’s hard to believe it all started a few years ago — wow! Time flies 🙂
Heather its hard to believe that much time has passed huh
Just taken the plunge solo. Best thing I’ve done!
Thanks for your stories
Just wondering if you used a data roaming or phone plan while you were over there or if you got by on wifi only?
If you did get a phone plan do you remember which one it was?
I’ll be travelling around Europe for a couple of months before settling down in London and I’d like to have the one phone number with a not hugely expensive data plan on it!
Hi Michael. When I first arrived in Europe I made do with wifi everywhere. Most hostels now provide it free and there are ample spots throughout Europe that you can get online with. I did have my aussie sim card activated for roaming if needed and to make any emergency calls i might need.
Once I moved to London I got a sim card there and have been using it for the last 2-3 years or so. Roaming in Europe with it can get expensive for internet but again lots of places to get that for free.
I just wrote a msg on one of your other blogs, but I totally support the whole “Solo” travel thing. Most Liberating thing ever!!! Are you back in Aussie now? Living somewhere else or still living in London?
My biggest challenge in the coming months is the transition back to life in Australia, as my Youth Mobility Visa is coming to an end and I’ll be heading back home to live (for the first time in 3 years). Was in Japan, as mentioned in a previous blog comment, before my two years in England.
If you are back on Aussie shores, any advice for the adjustment period when I arrive home in March?
Thanks muchly…an Aussie with a soul for travel, Kate.
Hi Kate, solo travelling was the best think I’ve ever done in my life. Completely changed my outlook on life and boosted my confidence no end.
I’ll be back in OZ in a months time but only for 3 months. Still staying as much as possible in Europe and other parts of the world. Not ready to go home and live just yet. I was home for 4 months last year (first time in almost 2 years) and it was strangely nice. Home is comfortable and friendly but as I knew I was leaving again Im not faced with your situation just yet.
I’m not sure I’d say I am ready to leave just yet. Just bad timing with my Visa finishing. So unfortunately it’s back to one ( possibly two) overseas jaunts a year, though I have definitely decided some more “backyard” travel is in order. I have barely scratched the surface of Aussie travel destinations, so must remedy that in between my adventures overseas. Really want to visit Western Australia as I hear it is utterly breathtaking!!! Cannot wait to reaquaint myself with Mooloolaba either, love that place.
Am also planning my next overseas sojourn, (in my head at least), for later this year/beginning 2014. Back for a visit to my 2nd home Japan, to see Fuji San (Mt Fuji) and then hopefully to Vietnam as well, cause it’s a part of Asia I haven’t yet seen. I know you’ve been to Korea, which must have been incredible, it has recently been added to my list. I recommend seeing Japan if the opportunity ever presents itself. While it is rather homogenous in it’s people at times, most of them are a friendly bunch and the character of the country is one of cheeky, if slightly hidden fun!!! Especially when at a Karaoke Bar till all hours of the morning 😉
Ok, I’ll leave it there, now that I’ve written a novella’s worth for you to read. I am so passionate about travel and could talk about it forever 🙂
Love and Bubbles, the travelling soul Kate.
FYI: Japanese food is to die for, particularly if you already have a taste for other Asian cuisine. Enjoy your travels Mr Nomad and a bit of Aussie home time in the near future.
More travel in OZ is a must and something I’m planning to do as well. WA is beautiful and think I’ll be over there this trip again to sample a bit more.
As for Japan I’ve not been and don’t think I’ll get there till I base myself in OZ again. My brother did make a stop there and loved it especially the assortment of vending machines and what can be bought from them.
Solo is definitely the way to go. Much more rewarding.
I appreciate this post. I know it sounds simple to make a list when you plan things but these days there’s this ordered chaos in my mind that’s managed to juggle things without lists. But this year, I think I need to start making lists again. I like the way you diced things down simply. Seeing them in written word helps reinstate a sense of grounding and structure.
Wow! You seem to have been pretty resolute and made a lot of difference at the horizons of your life. Congrats for the decision and perseverance to get it done. I hope to see you one day in Iran where I recently see more Australians travel here. All the best!
I recently moved to italy for 6 months, as this is the start of my gap year ( probably more than a year) haha and i have been getting really into your posts!
And after i have finished here i would like to spend maybe a year in the uk, I was just wondering if you can apply for a london working visa whilst overseas (im australian)
I’m absolutely petrified about travelling by myself. I have little panic attacks every time I think about it.
Anyway, I do have a question…
I am set to arrive in the UK on September 10th of this year. I have bulk family there, and I know that they’ll offer my assistance in every way imaginable. The offers have already begun. This is where my conern is:
I’m worried about starting out my trip staying with family. Like I’ll miss out on the whole staying in a hostel thing, making contacts through other travellers, the struggle to find more permanent accommodation etc… it seems like that is an integral part of the whole experience from all the accounts I’ve read of other people.
But I don’t know, I haven’t done it… so I’m asking you or any of your friends, as seasoned travellers… should I accept the favours where they are offered?
Hi i am already planning my travels for next year. Ive researched the main places i want to travel and got a list and everything. I am planning on traveling in May/June/July 2014 for 3 months. I am thinking of doing a 2 week contiki tour so I can meet people and then travel for about 3 months after around Europe so at least I would have met people in case they can meet up overseas.
I was just wondering I have a fair few mates traveling overseas next year as well and I want to travel with them as I am worried about meeting people when I am overseas, but reading through peoples posts it seems like traveling by yourself is an eye-opening experience. I am 22, I want to go over and check out the beaches, clubs/party scene but also I want to indulge in the culture as well.
I just want to know is the experience really different traveling with one or two friends, rather than traveling by yourself and secondly I love being around people and bouncing off friends, my whole life I have been around familiar faces, so will I get lonely if i travel by myself, like not having a familiar face to just hang around with?