#EuRopeMeIn Day Zero: Pre-Europe Preparations

2:57:00 AM


The following was written right after my Europe trip. I never got to publish it because of the many life-changing events that happened right after I landed. Since then, I have been detained for questioning by the Immigration twice, had my work visa application rejected twice, finished a Project as an SAP ABAP Developer, got extended in the Project, and finally--I also changed careers. What a wild ride! 

The entirety of this post was written during my flight back to Singapore on June 3, 2017. I chose not to edit it to retain the hyped post-travel tone. 
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*This Europe trip series is a personal account written by Jennever Pelaez of www.jenneverblogs.com, a Palaweña and a programmer based in Singapore. All photos and videos in the articles were shot and filmed by her, unless stated otherwise. Check out the #EuRopeMeIn tag on Instagram for more photos and videos.*



At least once a year, it has been my goal to travel alone. This started when I got out of a long term relationship as a form of therapy for myself. I immensely enjoyed the first one, so I made it a yearly thing. 

For this year's trip, I thought of going beyond and doing a Europe solo trip. I haven't been to Europe, nor outside Asia for that matter, so I was extra elated. It took exactly one year of pre-booking flights, train passes and accommodations, and saving up for pocket money for this trip. From here on out will be a rough timeline of my pre-trip and the total expenses I have incurred, and some tips that might help you when you plan your own Europe trip.

Timeline

**June 2016**
  • Booked Etihad Airways round trip plane tickets via Skyscanner

Flight Details
Departure: Singapore (SIN) - Abu Dhabi (AUH) - Istanbul (IST)
Return: Madrid, Spain (MAD) - Abu Dhabi (AUH) - Singapore (SIN)

Tip: Book in advance and use Skyscanner to let you see which airline can offer the best deal for you. In my case, I didn't necessarily picked the cheapest flight. I wanted a good airline and flight timings that will least affect my body clock so I can avoid jet lag.

**November 2016**
  • Booked Air France one way ticket via Skyscanner

Flight Details
Departure: Istanbul (IST) to Paris (CDG)

**December 2016**
  • Booked Turkish Airlines round trip tickets via Skyscanner

Flight Details
Departure: Istanbul (IST) to Kayseri (ASR)
Return: Kayseri (ASR) to Istanbul (IST)

**January 2017**
  • Finalized my non-negotiables (To be detailed in the succeeding articles from this series)
  • Made a rough schedule of where I will be on some dates
  • Started allotting money for the pre-bookings
  • Booked cancellable hostel accommodations

**February 2017**
  • Bought a Eurail Pass for France and Spain
  • Booked a train ticket from Paris to Luxembourg



**March 2017**
  • Booked hotel accommodation at Sultan Cave Suites in Cappadocia, Turkey
  • Reserved slot for the hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia
  • Applied for a Schengen visa at the France embassy in Singapore

**April 2017**
  • Shopped for warmer clothes, mostly Uniqlo Heat Tech
  • Booked a train ticket from Amsterdam to Lille, Europe
  • Cancelled some hostels due to change in plans, and re-adjusted dates for existing hostel accommodations

**Early May 2017**
  • Acquired pepper spray from Manila thru my best friend
  • Booked hotel accommodation at Hotel de France in Pontorson, France
  • Shopped for pretty skirts and other travel essentials
  • Booked BlaBla car, a ridesharing service from Luxembourg to Rotterdam, NL


Background

My trip was for a total of three weeks. I did my due diligence in researching how to dress for the weather and for the culture, read up on some history and got tips from people living or who once lived in the country I was visiting. I packed a ziploc bag filled with a variety of medicine and vitamins, and also prepared for the worst in that I brought with me a whistle and pepper spray, and a variety of padlocks and even a bike lock that I used mainly for my luggage.



I was prepared but also planned the trip to be very flexible by buying a Eurail pass. It meant I can just hop on and hop off a train within France and Spain whenever I wanted to. The mission statement of this trip if it had one was "Be prepared because it's your first time in Europe, but also be mostly flexible with just some non-negotiables."

Let's Talk About Budget

I didn't put this at the bottom of the post because this is probably the first thing you will look for. Since Day 0, I have diligently taken note of everything I spent, up to the tip to the waiters. (Note: All prices are in Euros.)

Pre-Trip Expenses
Etihad Round Trip Flight (SIN-AUH-IST-MAD-AUH-SIN): 791.53
Turkish Airlines Round Trip Flight (IST-ASR-IST): 73.90 
Air France Single Trip Flight (IST-CDG): 38.77
Eurail: 375

Sultan Cave Suites: 119.25
Hotel De France: 0 (pay on arrival)
Hostelworld Bookings: 0 (pay on arrival) 

Subtotal Pre-trip Expenses: 1398.45
Pocket Money: 1500

Total: 2898.45

I didn't include the clothing spend in the total because you might already have warm clothes. If you know me, my wardrobe are all skirts and short shorts so I really had to plan on how I won't freeze to my death. As a sidenote, the coldest I've experienced was only 10 deg Celsius but even that was already too cold for an island girl like me.

For the pocket money, I allotted 1500 but already knew coming in that I will need to pay a total of 470 on arrival for all the reservations I have done that didn't charge me yet. This meant my working budget per day is 51.50.

1030/20 days (My trip is 22 days but I didn't factor in the first and last day when I'll be traveling and will be eating in the plane for my meals.) I will be including a subtotal of my actual expenses when I post the legs of my trip. The detailed expenses, I will also be putting up on my blog, www.jenneverblogs.com, when I have time.

Additional Tips For You

  1. Keep all your travel-related email confirmations in one Gmail address, then download Google Trips. The app organizes your itineraries for you, it's almost scary how it does it.
  2. If your flights have in-flight meals, pre-select your preferred food while you do your booking. This means you are the first one the airline will feed serve with food come breakfast/lunch/dinner time.
  3. ZIPLOC BAGS! I cannot express enough how important these are. Everything I brought with me were organized in ziploc bags. They are great because they weigh virtually nothing, and they are transparent so it's easy to see what's in the bag. I packed my things in 6 ziploc bags and brought 2 spare ones. Bonus: If it rains, voila! Your gadgets are instantly waterproofed.
  4. If you're going to bring a laptop, backup your files in a separate HDD that you can leave at home. Better have your files and memories safe than to risk losing everything if something happens to it.
  5. Do #4 to your mobile phone too. If you haven't yet, you might also want to purchase an iCloud subscription, or its equivalent for non-Apple phones. I'm speaking from a place where I have lost a phone during a trip back to Palawan, and it took me a long time to get over it.


As Of Writing

I have an 18-hr total travel time back to Singapore and I wrote this post in the first two hours of my first flight while having my pre-selected lunch. Retelling how I planned for the trip is a bit weird and it seemed to me like my visit to Europe happened ages ago when I have just left Madrid two hours ago. So many things happened, a lot of them good, some not-so-good but I managed to turn it around.

The best thing about this trip is getting awestruck again and again. I tried to come as prepared as I can but I was not ready for the amazing people, the delicious food and the glorious scenic views.

Come, join me in this #EuRopeMeIn series as I retell my adventures during my recent solo trip!


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