Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How To Do Europe 2011

Where do you find the travel companions for this trip of a lifetime? When I dreamed about this trip, I didn’t think much of who I should go with – I just mapped out the savings plan and focused on that.

I learned from a Singapore trip with a friend that it is also her dream to go to Europe! She planned on going with her friends. So I invited myself. Weeeee! Unfortunately, she can't push through with her trip this year. I was still very decided to pursue my Europe 2011 dream. I can’t defer it and say "I’ll do it somehow ,someday". Someday is already here! Last February, I had to sort out my other options:


1) Contiki – heard this from an officemate. It is a tour group for ages 18-35 which offers different types of tours in Europe. This is good because in a trip that long, you need to get along with your travel buddies. Contiki offers different types of tours whichever fits your type of traveling or budget. You need a travel agent to book this for you.

2) Join one of those pilgrimage tours advertised in the newspapers. – These are usually bus tours traveling around Europe. I joined some organized tours and it works for me – for a couple of days. I don’t think I can last that long for more than 3 weeks.

3) Try to find travel buddies using online forums. I can still freestyle somehow but I did not have to travel alone. Posted my offer to some forums- to no avail.

4) DIY all the way. SOLO. SCARY. What other options do I have???

I slowly evaluated each option. Again and again.

OPTION AdvantagesDisadvantages
1)Contiki – for 18-35s only
  • I will be with a youthful crowd
  • Everything is arranged for you. No need to create an itinerary.

  • There is also free time during the tour.

  • Cost-efficient: I get to stay at a hotel vs. hostel for the same budget

  • You meet a bunch of new friends
  • Organized tours can be quite tiring over a long duration

  • You go to places you are not really interested in going.

  • You have to pay for the optional tours and the other dinners.

  • You have to exert effort to get along with others even if you are in such a bad mood.

  • 2)Other group Tours/Pilgrimagesame as abovesame as above
    Find strangers as travel buddies
  • You can create and insist on your itinerary

  • You meet a bunch of new friends


  • You don’t know if your new friends are serial killers or thieves (I know, a morbid thought)

  • You may not agree on the itinerary

  • You may not have the same travel habits with your travel buddies

  • 4)Solo DIY.
  • You set your own pace.

  • You create your own itinerary.

  • You control your money. You say where the money goes.

  • You meet a lot of strangers that can be your new friends.

  • NOBODY WILL TAKE YOUR PICTURE ANYTIME YOU WANT. (yes, ALL CAPS in bold)

  • I NEVER TRAVELED SOLO BEFORE.

  • Very time consuming to create your own itinerary.



  • Some questions you need to ask yourself when deciding:
    Are you okay with whirlwind tours?
    Do you get along with a group? (Are you easy to get along with?)
    Do you have any planning experience?
    Do you have the time and the patience to plan?
    How are your street smarts skills?
    Do you like following the schedule?
    How flexible are you in changing your schedules?
    How decisive are you?

    I ditched #1 and 2 because the itineraries were like whirlwind tours. I did not even think of postponing the trip to 2012 because I think I will be very demotivated and I’ll probably spend the money elsewhere.

    Why did I think that this is possible? I met foreigners during my travels that travelled alone to the Philippines. I find it pretty amazing that they are courageous enough to travel to a third world country – laden with all the negative news on foreigners being kidnapped – . Now if they can do that in my country, why can’t I do it ???

    Even if I had no solo backpacking experience prior to this trip, I decided to go with number 4. *Gulp* The planning for the ultimate adventure begins...

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