Europe has so many different cultures squeezed into one continent that going abroad and staying in just your host country would be a huge waste of your opportunity. With all the money that you are already spending to get over there, you might as well make the most of you stay.
For me, seeing it all was my goal from the beginning, which helped me to plan my finances better. That being said, I was still booking a few flights or buses the week of some trips, which means I paid more than I would have if I planned things ahead of time. I was lucky enough to see 14 countries and 33 cities throughout Europe in my 4.5 month stay. They included Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Scotland, Ireland, England, Netherlands, France, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Hungry, Switzerland, and Italy.
For booking travel, I used GoEuro a lot, especially around Spain and Portugal. Then, when I knew that I was flying I used SkyScanner to help narrow down to my best flights from my time constrictions. I could only travel on weekends from Friday to Sunday and had a couple long weekends spread throughout where I could hop from country to the next. Twice I had to layover in the airport because my flight landed around 1 AM and my connecting flight didn’t leave till around 6/7 AM, which I highly discourage anyone from doing if at all possible to avoid.
Picking out your hotel or hostel is your next step. If you have the points or the money, pay for the hotel because it will be nicer than the hostel guaranteed. However, most hostels are good too if you know what to look for on the websites. I used HostelWorld to look up places. They also have an app that you can download and have your confirmations on your phone. Firstly, put in your parameters like the dates that you are traveling, where you are traveling, the number of beds needed, private room or not, needs for WIFI, included breakfast, and many other accommodations that you can select to your liking. Then, you’ll get a list of all the matches. Typically, the closer you get to the city center the closer you get to the main sites and the more expensive your hostel will cost. European cities for the most part have excellent city-center transportation, so go for a mid-range distance from the center so you don’t pay the expensive hostel prices. Finally, look through the reviews. I only stayed at hostels that had 1,000 or more reviews and an overall rating of 7/10 or higher.
Next, you need to figure out what sites you want to see. I took a two-pronged approach to this. First, before I arrived, I Googled the places where I was going and looked for top touristic places and best food. Then, I saved the places that I was interested in visiting to my Google Map by either starring the place after finding it on Chrome or labeling it as a place that I “Want to Go” in Google Maps. Second, after arriving at the hostel where I would be staying, I asked the Hostel front desk people what the best sites to see and eat were. Typically, they have a map that they provide you from a local tourism company, but their advice was always genuine and almost always the most incredible things to see and do.
Finally, the most important advice when traveling anywhere. Stay flexible and adaptable because inevitably things will go wrong, and you will have to adjust to your new situation. Be sure not to take things too seriously and laugh about all of it because before you know it you’ll be back home planning your next trip.