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is it possible to "just wing it" when it comes to Europe?


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Tags: Europe, wing it
  • Added on: April 1st, 2013
2wanderers wrote:DaveHZ may have some extra trouble because of his aversion to hostels

xDD i'm waaay too socially awkward for hostels, so it's more like fear than aversion, still it's awesome to read your comment on the availability of accomodations. I expect i'll have to start using hostels at some point during my trip, specially if i feel like saving some money towards the end. Another of my fears with "truly winging it" was that i would not find accomodations if i looked for them on the spot (and be forced to book out of my budget or sleep on the street), specially in July. It's nice to know that doesn't happen.


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  • Added on: April 2nd, 2013
DaveHz wrote:Another of my fears with "truly winging it" was that i would not find accomodations if i looked for them on the spot (and be forced to book out of my budget or sleep on the street), specially in July. It's nice to know that doesn't happen.

Actually, it can and does happen although infrequently. One can't always find reasonably priced accommodation on the spot during high season. Booking in the morning can certainly eliminate much of that. Worst case, one can always catch an overnight train.

That said, one can pretty much "wing" most any country. It's just the more expensive the country one "wings" the more expensive ones mistakes are going to cost.


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  • Added on: April 2nd, 2013
cool, i can really get a feel for how much i would actually need to plan, which is what i wanted. I am now much more relaxed and look at the time i have left in a relative way. A month is not a lot, but it certainly is in terms of planning and booking the essentials.


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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Location: Istanbul

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  • Added on: April 3rd, 2013

You say that you are unemployed and you worry about planning. Here is my advice: go with no plans and live life however you feel like it.

I did this last year, hoping to explore Europe for 1 month. Five months later, I found that I had hitchhiked through 24 countries and learnt to spend almost no money on anything, be it food, accommodation, or beautiful sights. It was one of the best things that I have ever done.

So yes, just go. Jump!

PS. After this trip, I decided to share the ideas with other people and tell them how they can do this as well. If you want links to this information, please PM me and I will provide you with them.
Adventure blog. Be inspired.


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Joined: April 30th, 2007

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  • Added on: April 3rd, 2013
I just wanted to let you know that YES you can totally WING IT! I did, for the most part. I only booked a hostel in Dublin for the first week and I only bought a 1 way ticket. I caught grief from immigrations because i did not have bank statements to show I had the financial means of being there for the 2 weeks I requested. Because I had proof of the pre-paid 1 week reservation he granted me 1 week. Not sure what would have happened if I stayed longer but I left on time. I missed the Cliffs of Moher due to 'last minute' travel planning. The bus for the cliffs returned an hour after my train. Probably poor planning at the 'last minute' thing, on my part(aka bad reading skills). I still went to Galway and walked around all day. A train caught fire down the tracks and people were taken by bus to another station for departure.

Anyway... I only planned/booked the first week of travel and the cities i wanted to visit. I put a 'halfway' point in at Frankfurt to reflect on my trip, how i felt, and make a decision to go home or continue south. I budgeted for the increased price of a return ticket home purchased only a week in advance. It was no problem for me. I prefer to pay more than be restricted by time.

When I hit London, It was an absolute MAD HOUSE. Every hotel within 10 soaking wet blocks of Euston station was booked and I had done 0 previous research on hostels. Thankfully I was pre-warned by some lovely Irishmen on the ferry to just take the train to Hammersmith and stay in a hotel there. It cost me $200 a night but whatever... That was my only saving grace.

When I left London, I took a train to Dover, why? Because, I was tired of the city and I picked a spec on the map that had ferry service. Ended up being the best choice of my entire trip. For reasons I could ramble on about for frickin hours! Leaving Dover headed to Amsterdam (passing through France) all I had was a ferry ticket. I was unaware that the French were too good to learn english and I had to pee soo frickin badly those f'n pay toilets just kept eating my money. Anyway, i had no idea how I was going to get to amsterdam. I hopped off the ferry and rolled with the punches. Got to a train station and couldn't get a ticket without the kindness of a young man playing translator for me.

I WANTED to be the idiot abroad, I wanted to fly by the seat of my pants. I did it. I had quite a few snags and alot of issues. But it wouldn't have been an adventure without them. I wanted the snags, I wanted the stories. It was amazing. I can't imagine being time restricted and having a 'plan' for something like that. My plan:

Only travel by land or sea.
Ireland (booked 1 way plane ticket, booked 1 week accommodation with intentions of staying for 2 weeks(somewhere else for the last week; whatever I discovered)
Dover - Added because London is too much city for me for too long.
Frankfurt - Rented motorcycle for autobahn. HALF WAY POINT. International airport available. Want to go home?
Paris - Cheapo return flight possibilities.

I ended up going home at the halfway point. I'm also leaving again for round 2 in September. I quite possibly might tear up, now. Words. Cannot. Describe.


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  • Added on: April 4th, 2013

first, jamierbw, that is an excellent point, i do have a deadline though, 90 days in the Schengen area, so i wanted to plan because i kinda feared overstaying and whatever penalties that would ensue, but now that i think about it... my time in Istanbul wouldn't count, and i think my time in the UK wouldn't either right? So i definitely want your advice. You have planted the seed man.

and second, lonelywanderer, you totally have me excited about doing what you did, with the help of jamie's travel tips (so the trip doesn't go super crazy on the money side) and an attitude like yours i feel there is just no wrong way of doing this.

I have a rough itinerary already, but I have decided that i will only use it as reference for the places i wanna visit, i will forget about the timeframe.
I have Paris and London booked already and I will keep on booking through Edinburgh and Amsterdam, which are my next two destinations, only because i want to see the Game of Thrones Exhibition in Amsterdam (i'm gonna catch it on its last day actually). But after Amsterdam i'll just go with the flow.
These first 4 cities will constitute my first month in Europe (May) but half of that will be spent in the UK, so after that i will have 2 and a half months for the rest of the Schengen area which won't include time I want to spend on Istanbul and the Ukraine along the trip.
I'm already more excited because I don't have to plan much more.

I am so much better at managing than planning, which is why i started this topic in the first place, all the feedback I have gotten has been great, each comment has been giving me more and more confidence to finally decide to truly wing it, while at the same time showing me the value of planning if even just a week ahead in some cases.


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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  • Added on: April 9th, 2013
Hey DaveHz

Just wanted to add my two cents here in relation to hostels - when I first left Melbourne with my UK working VISA in tow, and plans to travel around a bit of France and Italy, I was petrified of staying in a hostel! The thought of having to share a room or a bathroom with total strangers just did not sit right with me.

Unfortunately (but in the end, fortunately....!) in some places staying anywhere other than a hotel was just out of the question financially so I slowly learnt to love staying in hostels - one of the great tips I learnt is that some hostels offer private rooms - just like a regular hotel room with no shared bunks and a private bathroom - but a fraction of the cost.

I rented a private hostel room in Athens later on in the trip and was able to take advantage of the free walking tours that the hostel offered, which ended up being the highlight of my 2 and a half year trip! I wouldn't have been able to do as much as I did in Athens had it not been for staying at a hostel - not to mention I met some interesting people staying there who gave me some great tips for my next stop in Turkey (another big highlight)

As I said, just my two cents but I wanted to share with you that a hostel doesn't always have to be a big party house shared among strangers, and can be a really useful way of learning more along the way.

Your trip sounds great - Enjoy!


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  • Added on: April 9th, 2013
Dave - you are correct that time in UK, Istanbul and Ukraine don't count towards your 90 days in the Schengen Zone.


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  • Added on: April 24th, 2013
First of all, all the best with your trip.

When I don't have a fixed plan, I still try to book some of my flights because booking on short notice is always more expensive than booking ahead. Even the budget airliners are not cheap then. There is always the bus company Eurolines which connect most large cities. They can be a bit of an adventure though.

When you have you flight booked, just check which places lie in between and when you arrive there then you can decide how long to stay or when to move on.


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Lost in Place
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  • Added on: April 25th, 2013
DaveHz wrote:
2wanderers wrote:DaveHZ may have some extra trouble because of his aversion to hostels

....fears with "truly winging it" was that i would not find accomodations if i looked for them on the spot (and be forced to book out of my budget or sleep on the street), specially in July. It's nice to know that doesn't happen.

When I was young, my father and I were travelling through France and could not find accomodations. We simply went to a train station and explained to the attendant that we didn't care where we went, as long as the trip was at least 5 hours so we could get some sleep. It definitely added some excitement to the trip and spiced things up. I too used to enjoy everything being planned and layed out infront of me(coming from a military background), but the sense of freedom that comes with not planning a thing can be very nice. Waking up every morning knowing you have the freedom to go as you please is very liberating.

Although you may not be comfortable doing this, sleeping on the street/beach/forest/where ever is an exciting experience. On a recent trip to Hawaii I spent several nights sleeping under the stars. It's interesting to watch people look down on you as if you lived on the streets. Opens your eyes a bit, and little did they know, that the 23 year old unshaven "kid" on the street was making 70K a year :lol:
It is better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way. - Alan Watts.

Mokka Tres

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  • Added on: August 6th, 2013
If you're going during the high season still, then yay! You can meet lots of people regardless of whether you decide to stay in a hostel or not. Most tourist sites are open, and the good weather entices a lot of festivals and events outdoors (though you may still have to pay a fee...)

Downside - prices for airlines and hostels can get expensive. I would book transportation early. There are a couple smartphone apps that will help you find last minute bookings for accommodations, but cheap last minute flights are a bit harder to find. You'll also be stuck with crowds of tourists during the high if you dont like crowds...In the end a little bit of planning on this end may help with budgeting as transportation usually is the $$$$ that will drain your bank accounts. Also enter a country with an idea of how much you are willing to spend there - and try to spend under it. Those little expenses can add up! Even when you're traveling in Eastern Europe.

Going in the fall can be nicer since you'll be with the last of the tourists, though some sites may already/start closing for renovation work or they're simply closed since high season is over. Opening times may be shorter after the high season too due shorter days and such.


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