Travelling around Europe with my best friends was an incredible experience that I would do again in a heartbeat, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t make some pretty catastrophic mistakes along the way. Here is my advice for you to avoid making the same ones yourself and feel free to laugh at our pain along the way.
1. Don’t book a trip 8 months in advance for a group containing a couple (yes, I know it seems obvious). If they break up before the trip, it will put a massive spanner in the works of the whole thing, such as the emotional drama that comes with living with your ex for 3 weeks, and who should now share the double beds.
2. Drinking by the side of a canal may seem like a fun way to soak up the atmosphere of Amsterdam, but when the need to go to the toilet hits and you have no idea where to find one, you may all end up very close to wetting yourself. And, if you’re a lightweight like me, you could end up deciding that the best way to get back to the hostel is to ditch your friends and pay to take a tram for 2 stops by yourself, while vlogging on your phone & sending those very embarrassing videos to your friends at home.
3. Don’t listen to all the hostel horror stories. The two hostels we stayed in were really clean, everyone was friendly to us, and they felt much safer than the Airbnbs we stayed in. Those apartments tended to be in busy areas and had all sorts of problems: difficult to work ovens, no hot water, and a leaky / resonating tap which led to a very upset neighbour screaming at us in French. Although it was nice to have our own space, if you’re only staying somewhere for one or two nights, the effort involved in getting the place clean and tidy for check out when you’re rushing to get a train is just not worth it.
4. Don’t wander down a train with nothing on you. If you’re unlucky enough (which of course we were), the train will separate and one of you will end up stranded without your phone, ticket, or even shoes in a tiny village in the Czech Republic for 5 hours before the next train to Prague.
5. If you’re staying in Airbnbs, request more than one key. This means that when one of you desperately wants to go to sleep and the rest are out, they won’t end up wandering the streets of Prague looking for a hostel at 3am on a Saturday night. Being part of a real-life nativity is less fun than it seems – #noroomintheinn.
6. Don’t think the price of the Interrail pass is your only travel expense – compulsory reservation fees or tickets not covered by Interrail may actually cost around the same amount, depending on how many places you plan to go to. Therefore, it’s definitely better to figure out how many / which places you can afford to travel to before you book your accommodation, and make sure to check that you can’t just take a slightly longer train to avoid the fees.