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Monday, August 19, 2013

Who Wants To Go To Europe With Me?

Hey guys! I don't know about you, but I absolutely love to travel. I have all these big dreams of travelling, and going everywhere. "I'm gonna shake the dust of this crummy little town off my feet, and I'm gonna see the world!" (Ten points to you if you know what AWESOME movie I just quoted.) But, as well all know, travel is expensive, and can get complicated, so I often get overwhelmed just at the thought of trying to plan something. Thankfully, the blogging community has lots of travelers, so I can get a lot of great ideas from them about where to go and how to do it!

To that end, I am really excited to introduce you all to Patricia. She is a super-sweet little blogger who packed up and moved to France for true love right after college. Apart from being sweet, hilarious, and totally down to earth despite her extreme popularity in the blogging world, and a fantastic storyteller (this girl has the best bad-date stories ever), this pretty little lady is also chock full of fabulous and helpful advice.

Today, she is taking over my blog and sharing some awesome advice about how to travel through Europe! Take note of her little tips and tricks, and I'm sure you'll be confidently traveling abroad in no time. And hey, maybe you'll even find someone to date while you're in a foreign country, too! I hear it's good for you.

Hi there All the Small Things friends.

I'm Patricia and I blog over at Kisses & Croissants. Jordan is one of my very kindest new blogging friends, and she was nice enough to give me the opportunity to guest post. I'm an American girl who studied abroad in college, fell madly in love with a man who barely spoke English my first week there, and moved to France after graduation to marry that hunk. I sound kind of corny already, don't I?

Before I settled down with Monsieur Right, I was just a happy, stupid adventurous 19 year old, who dreamed of seeing the world beyond Po-dunk, Nevada. Naturally, while studying abroad, I decided that I would blaze a new trail by doing exactly what every other college aged student does while studying abroad - Backpacking through Europe. I know. I should win a prize for my originality.

Nowadays, Monsieur Right (he gets the honor of this corny nickname for privacy reasons), is totally freaked out by the idea of me traveling like this. Which I guess is a legitimate fear, since I did almost get kidnapped once.

That's Us!
I was so excited about running around Europe and sleeping in crappy hotels! The only problem is that you need quite a bit of money to just "take off" around Europe.  I was living off scholarships at the time. FYI: If you're leaving one country to visit another, you can expect the train ticket to be at least $150. Then when you get there you need to pay for hostels and food. It's not nearly as cheap as they make it seem in the movies. There is no way that some kid with 20 bucks, no credit card, and a passport is just going to be able to hop around 10 different countries with nothing but his backpack.

However, if there's a will, there's a way. Let me tell you how I traveled around Europe as a student for cheap! Feel free to take these tips with a grain of salt and travel at your risk.

1. I faithfully scanned those European discount flight websites almost everyday... 

... and just happened to stumble across plane tickets from my city to London for 5€ from Ryan Air! It was fate, so I signed my awesome Polish roommate and I up right away. I also got a flight from Paris to Rome for about $40 from Easy Jet. It helps if you check often and are willing to go anywhere.

2. I accepted the first offer that came via Couchsurfing. 

I was too poor to stay in a hostel every night. So somehow both my roommate and I decided that it would be okay to sleep in some random 50 year old man's flat in downtown London. We'd never met him, but he had great reviews and we were cheap. Turns out he was awesome and bought us real American-style blueberry pancakes in the morning.

3. I always book my hostels ahead of time.

I've heard of people paying $30 a night or more for a hostel, and that's just ridiculous. If you book ahead of time you can usually find hostels right down town, or right next to a major train station for about 5€ a night. I should warn you though that hostels can get pretty crammed and/or crummy. I once slept in a hostel, in a room with 20 other girls. No kidding. The beds were stacked three high. See photo. It was fun. But you really have to have the patience and the personality to travel like this. You also can't be a light sleeper.

Tip: I always made sure that all my important belongs fit inside a pillow case. That way I could wrap them up in clothing, stick them in my pillow case, and sleep on them. Unfortunately, not every hostel comes with lockers, even if they say they do on their website.

Looks safe, doesn't it?

3. I searched online for "Free Stuff to Do in [Insert City's Name Here]"

You'll find tons of things to do! Heck, I almost always ended up doing the free stuff. I preferred splurging on one or two activities, than wasting my money on a lot of random little things. I promise, there is so much fun stuff to do and see for free in Europe. You just have to know where to look.

Like checking out The Beatles' recording studio.
Or getting your picture taken at King's Cross Station - Platform 9 & 3/4, if you're a Harry Potter nerd like me.

In France there are certain days of the month where all monuments and museums are free. Plus, there are some cities like London where public museums are always free!

See? You can still travel cheap and have a lot of fun!

A big thanks to Jordan for letting me guest post today! She's awesome!

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