18 Tips For Travelling Europe On A Budget (and throwback photos)

My 18 tips for travelling on a budget in Europe (oh and some mildly embarrassing photos of my baby-faced 18 year old self Interrailing)…

1. Save enough money plus buffer.

Self explanatory. That bit of extra buffer money may come in useful for emergencies or random fines you may encounter because you’re not used to European transport….. (hopefully this won’t happen to you). 

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2. Budget per day

Sounds obvious and boring but it’s necessary. Use websites like these to work out how much you need to budget in each country. Take a notepad to jot down how much you’re spending per day and work out how you’re doing compared to your budget per day. Obviously don’t make budgeting the main priority and dampen the fun, but having a general idea of your expenditure is great. 

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3. Plan a route.

Get a big ol’ map (or get up Google maps) and plan a route of all the places you want to visit. Even if it’s just a rough one. Then you can see if there are any places of interest in between your desired destinations. Then you can research and get an idea of transport links between each place too. 

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4. Get a guidebook.

Or just do research online and write it down. But getting a guidebook is easier. This one is great for travelling Europe on a budget.

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5. Book some hostels before you go.

Don’t book all your hostels in advance because then you will create a schedule for yourself which you may not stick to. Instead I would recommend booking 3-5 hostels before you leave, especially for places that are likely to be busy during peak season and places you really want to go. When I went Interailing we booked hostels for our first stop in Paris, our last stop in Amsterdam, and our beach stop in Croatia (because we’d heard most hostels got fully booked up here during the summer). Doing this puts the mind at rest. Hostelworld is the best sight.

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6. Book the rest of your hostels one stop before.

For the rest of our hostels, we booked them using free wifi one day before arriving at our next destination. Again, for peace of mind knowing we’d have somewhere to stay when we got to our next destination. Very easy to do. Again using Hostelworld.

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7. Don’t be afraid of staying in crazy sounding hostels.

Big rooms = big savings. In Prague we stayed in a gym turned into a 90 bed hostel. Quite the experience. Don’t be afraid to go for the cheap option where possible!

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8.Take a padlock.

For the lockers, and your bag when travelling…. oh and take ear plugs. If you remember one thing… EARPLUGS.

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10. Socialise with fellow travellers

Talk to people you’re sharing your room and people in your hostel, they’ll be able to give you tips on good places to stay and go. You might even meet some people you want to continue travelling with.

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11. Book hostels with a communal kitchen.

If you’re on a super tight budget, its a good idea to book a hostel with a kitchen so you can cook your own meals. It’s also nice to cook your own food for a change if you’ve been eating out a lot.

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12. Have a half way rest point.

It’s a good idea to have a ‘rest’ around half way through your trip. Try and stay with friends/family or book a hostel in a sleepy town or by the beach. You’ll appreciate a few days of laying in and monging.

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13. Take 1 book.

You can swap your book in hostels for new one.

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14. Download podcasts.

Of something that interests you. And music of course.

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15. Learn some card games.

Good to pass the time whilst travelling, and also good for drinking games to play with all your new hostel friends.

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16. Take normal washing tablets.

You can get these ‘travel’ washing tablets or liquid. They’re shit. Take the normal strong stuff.

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17. Interrail and buy one of these.

Having an Interrail pass means you reduce your transport costs whilst you’re away and you know how much you’ve spent on the bulk of your transport before you go away. Using the trains is a  breeze, although in some countries (France and Italy I’m looking at you) you have to book yourself onto trains before you go on them for no extra cost. Not too much of a problem as long as you remember in good time. Get the European train time book, the Bible of getting around Europe on rails.

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18. Stay East.

Cheap, hot, beautiful. What more could you want. Paris, Amsterdam and Rome are all beautiful, but on a budget you don’t want to stay there too long. The East has more to offer in terms of town, beach, lakes and mountains.

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Cake & Tea, Pizza & Pasta in Cardiff

Lots more food porn here….

If you haven’t read my first blog post of me showcasing Cardiff to my family check it out here! 

Another day of taking my aunties and sister to my favourite food spots in Cardiff promised to be another tasty one.

After a leisurely breakfast and stroll through the city centre, shopping and such, we wandered down the ornate arcades for a spot of afternoon tea and cake. Baker Tea house is my favourite in Cardiff. The interior decoration is beautiful and the range of teas and hot chocolates are to die for. On this occasion we sat outside in the arcade itself and enjoyed hot tea from the cast iron pots, milkshakes and smoothies from glass jars, and a slice of cake…..yummy!

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I enjoyed a coconut milkshake and a pot of fruit chai tea. My sister went for a mixed berry smoothie, and we shared banana and white chocolate cake! Truly indulgent.

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We spent the afternoon exploring more of Cardiff city centre, then returned home for a little rest before more food!

I booked at table at Cafe Citta for dinner – an amazing Italian restaurant I have been to once before. It’s just off St Mary’s street and is highly rated amongst locals as being an amazing Italian and one of the best places to eat in Cardiff. They serve beautiful pasta dishes, hand spun pizzas cooked in a wood burning oven, and wonderful daily specials – all cooked in a kitchen no bigger than my bedroom.

As usual we arrived to a bustling small restaurant oozing the heavenly smell of garlic.

Naturally we ordered a bottle of prosecco to start proceedings!

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For starters we shared brusheccta, olives, and (my favourite) polenta smothered in Dolce Latte cheese *drools*.

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Delicious and demolished!

As we waited for our mains to arrive, I watched (and tried to snap) the chef spinning pizzas to the ceiling…

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I had to go for pizza, and ordered one loaded with goats cheese, mozzarella, Italian meat and pepper. My sister ordered the seafood linguine which I have had before. Al dente pasta nestling sweet soft seafood…

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Stuffed to the brim we went on to order pudding.

Cheese cake with some sort of fruit compote on top (wine=vague memory loss) and tiramisu for them….

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And creme brulee for meeee!

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All rounded off with a round of Lemoncello. Dreamy.

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And with that last meal it was time to say goodbye to my sister and aunties. It had been a great weekend with great company! I’m so glad I managed to show them all my favourite spots in Cardiff – places that I would highly recommend to you all too!

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for more posts – I upload every Monday and Friday.

Nicole x

Veggy Feastings in Cardiff

Last weekend my sister and aunties came to visit me in my current home and favourite place; Cardiff.

My sister visits me quite a lot, however my aunties have never been here and I was keen to show them my adopted home city and all it had to offer – mainly my favourite food spots!

On our first day, we spent the afternoon wandering the quiet halls of the National Museum of Art gazing at Monet, Derain & Turner to name but a few..

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All that gallery gazing meant we had worked up an appetite, and the first restaurant I decided to take us to was my favourite vegetarian spot in Cardiff – Milgi.

They do glorious vegetarian food using local organic ingredients, serve organic wine, and do killer cocktails.

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Me and my aunty (excuse newly threaded and red eyebrows)…

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The cocktail menu – I decided to go for a delicious sounding Watermelon Collins.

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Choosing food here is a struggle because everything sounds so good!

For starter we all shared nachos with bean chilli, veggies, sour cream, jalapeños and salsa, and Mexican quesadillas with mango salsa. All spicey heaven.

Oh and mixed berry bellinis and more cocktails of course.

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And onto the main courses.

Tortilla stack with crispy tortillas, refried beans, spiced potatoes, melted cheese, mango salsa, toasted quiona and seedy green salad &

Chickpea and sesame burger with tomato, gem lettuce, whipped feta, pickled red onion, alfala sprouts, wedges and slaw.

Courgette and potato curry with pickled onion, rice, aubergine and tomato pakora and cucumber raita.

All absolutely delicioussss.

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Even though we were stuffed we couldn’t resist trying the puddings too!

I went for (the biggest portion) of Cinnamon Doughnuts with spiced chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream and my sister went for Lemon and Almond trifle with sherry raspberries, custard and cream.

You’re drooling at just the description right?…

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Another fabulous meal in Milgi.

And I won’t embarrass myself by putting up the clubbing photos taken after this meal………

Stayed tuned for part 2 of my Cardiff weekend on Friday! Thanks for reading!

(Oh and if anyone has any foody recommendations in Cardiff please comment 🙂 )

‘In an English country garden….’ a day at Bressingham Gardens

A few weeks ago I headed home to Norfolk to visit my parents, and my sister who is on summer break from university. My parents have moved there recently and this was only my third visit and third time to explore the area! 

The weather has been (until recently) great in the UK so we decided to go to Bressingham Gardens for the day to enjoy the warm weather.

The gardens a join to Bressingham Hall, and were established by Alan Bloom after he moved there in 1946 – a quite a good job he did too.

I was overwhelmed with the vast display of flowers and other planting – according to their website there are over 8000 species and cultivars of perennials, grasses, shrubs, trees, conifers, ferns and bulbs. Wowsers. I don’t really have a particular interest in plants, but do in the design and landscaping so enjoy going to botanical gardens and such.

Naturally I took the opportunity to get my Lumix GF5 out and take some snaps. Hope you enjoy…

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Budapest Part 3

Check out part 1 and part 2 of my trip if you haven’t already!

Our last day in Budapest was a beautiful, sunny one which made leaving even harder.

We headed to our usual market and enjoyed a serenaded breakfast in the park…

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We decided to spend our morning venturing over to the Buda side of the city and hike up to Gellert – a woodland green park on a big hill with a huge statue at the top, which would no doubt be good for some final snaps.

We crossed a very windy bridge in the south of the city at the start of our exploration….

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And looked up to where we would be walking!

A Jurassic looking waterfall at the bottom gave us a nice cool spray before the long hike up to Gellert.

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And up we trekked!

Always a good time for a selfie..

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The statue at the top reflected our mood of reaching the top..victoryy.

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As we’d expected the views were incredible of the city and the bridge we had just crossed.

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Me and my new found favourite city.

After a potter at the top and looking at the city from all angles, we trotted back down again under the cool shade of the trees.

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We headed back to the city centre to chill in the water pool in Erzsebet Square and look up at the Budapest Eye – a super expensive temporary attraction we avoided.

We sat here for ages paddling in the water and catching the suns rays……before heading to a beer festival conveniently only a few steps away!

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We had chocolate beer which was uhmazinggg. Cold, creamy and rich. Nothing beats a good European beer festival in the summer!

And before we knew it it was time for our last meal before heading back home. We found a great, cheap Italian place in the shadows of the Opera House (surprisingly) on Hajos Utca which served mammoth pizzas and pasta dishes – just what we needed before heading to the airport.

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Simply deliciously carb heaven.

After that went to the most amazing ice cream parlour that we’d heard was the best in Budapest, and it sure lived up to our expectations. It’s called Fragola and you must go if you visit Pest! I was too busy eating and gawping at the flavours to remember to take photos.

So that marks the end of my trio of Hungarian blog posts. I can easily say Budapest is the best European city I have been to so far! Great sights, food, bars, people, weather and prices. I cannot recommend it enough to any city lover of any age.

Stayed tuned and follow for more posts coming your way soon – I upload every Monday and Friday! Thanks for reading!