Some popular myths about travelling to Europe –
You need to spend at least two weeks in Europe: When my husband and I planned a one week trip to Paris and Ghent last year, the very first question we were asked by most of our friends – “only a week? Will that be sufficient?” Some of them went on to advice saying we should spend at least 2 weeks in Europe to enjoy it at its fullest. While all of them meant well, I realized it’s a very common misconception among a lot of people that Europe means – two weeks. Trust me, even a year is not sufficient to see the whole of Europe to its fullest. Let’s say you have a week of holidays – why not just pack up and head to Europe? It’s not like you can never go back there again (Europe is easily accessible from all the continents, except maybe for Australia and tickets are quite cheap as well) and it’s not like you can finish seeing Europe in two weeks. I agree ‘more time’ means you cover more places. But doesn’t that hold true for any place? I wonder why then no one says you need at least two weeks to visit Japan or Thailand or South Africa. My only point is – you have some days off, then pick any country – irrespective of how many days you have. This is the same for Europe as well. Instead of covering 5 European states in two weeks, it’s better to stick to one state in one week (even that is not enough). You can cover another state during your next holiday.
Travelling to Europe is expensive: If you know how and when to travel, Europe is not expensive at all. In fact, popular honeymoon destinations like Maldives and Mauritius are many folds more expensive than traveling to some of the European states. I have written a detailed blog on how to travel to Europe on a budget. Please click on this link to read more.
Trains are the best/cheapest way to travel through Europe: I agree trains are a more ‘beautiful’ way to travel considering the scenic European rail routes. However, it is definitely not the cheapest. At times, as surprising as it maybe, flight tickets turn out to be way cheaper than train/bus tickets. For instance, while travelling to Scotland from London, my husband and I got a one way flight ticket to Scotland for as low a 9 Pounds. It cannot get better than that! There are two things to take into consideration before booking a ticket – time to travel and total cost (cost of travelling to the station/airport from hotel + ticket cost). The reason I have mentioned total cost instead of just ticket cost is – at times, the flight costs might be low but the cost to travel to the airport from the city centre may be high. So it’s best to take the whole cost in to consideration. Sometimes, buses may be cheaper than trains but time to travel will be more. Depending on what your priority is – price or time – you should take a call. That being said, it’s good to experience at least one inter-city train travel just to enjoy the scenic rail routes.
Language is always a barrier: This could be true if you were travelling a few years back. But now, with Google translate, language is never an issue. When my husband and I traveled through Europe, not once did we have a language issue. We even lived in Budapest (extremely rare to come across someone who can understand/reciprocate in English) for three months and never had language trouble. For one, there are several tourist information centers spread across cities at your typical touristy spots and all these guys know English. Two, you have the Google translate app that can translate any language to English or your native language. Make sure you download the offline version of the language on your app before travelling.
Tip: If you have trouble communicating in English, walk in to one of the souvenir shops near tourist spots or a restaurant or a high end hotel. Most of the times, these guys know a little bit of English and can help you or point you in the right direction.
A tour operator/agency is essential to travel to Europe: Always say no to any tour operator/agency. Whatever happens, do not let your vacation plans in the hands of an agency who knows nothing about your interests/likes. Do it yourself. Main reason being – you know what you want to see more than anyone else. Most of the European States are filled with museums. What if you hated museums and your tour operator fills your itinerary with museums just because it’s what others do or because they’re famous or maybe even because he has tie-ups with these museums? And many a times, the list of places covered by your tour operators are your typical tourist places which can be covered easily in a day if planned by you. The rest of the days, you can visit ‘off the beaten path’ places that you prefer. But if you’re the kind of person who hates planning and would rather have the planning done for you, then, it’s better to let a ‘local’ plan your day (by taking a free walking tour) than a tour operator. A vacation is much more fulfilling if the planning is done by you or by someone who know the city in and out. Also, the internet is filled with travel blogs that can guide you from how to book your tickets, how to travel within a city to the best restaurants to eat at, places to see and so on. Why pay extra for a tour operator or an agency then?
It is very difficult to find vegetarian food in Europe: This is not true anymore. In fact, it’s easier finding vegan food in Europe than in India. The vegan concept is still unheard of in India, except for a few places, perhaps. In fact, in Ghent – a city in Belgium – every Thursday is veggie day when schools and public service offices serve vegetarian means to children and adult. If you’re lucky, you can even find vegetarian waffles on a Thursday (Waffles, a famous treat in Belgium, contain egg). Every major European city has at least one vegan restaurant. Even if not for vegan, you would at least have a few Indian restaurants which are always vegetarian friendly. I have written a detailed blog on how to find the best vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Europe. Please click on this link to read more.