So everything was set, although we still had to fill our car and nail down our finances.
Our humble travelling vehicle is a petrol version VW Golf. A modest four door hatchback with comfortable seating, a deceptively big boot and small enough to navigate the roads of unexplored Europe without too many problems. We took it for a service pre-trip and it turned out to be perfect for us.
We filled the boot (and some of the back seats) with a suitcase each of clothes, a carry bag full of random stuff, a bag of shoes, car travel necessities, coats and as a precautionary option, a tent, roll mats, sleeping bags, pillows and helpful (or unhelpful) extras. Due to the amount we took, I think I will add a review section as a bonus post in the next couple of days with all the stuff we took, brought back, needed or hated.
Firstly though I have to share the best things we brought on our trip.
- A card chosen to reduce exchange rate charges. It turned out that purchases (paying by card at restaurants etc) were free from a foreign transaction fee on my credit card and local currency withdrawals from (legit) ATMs were free on my debit card. (Quick Tip: Only use ATMs that are located in a bank)
- A Three sim card for the ‘feel at home’ destinations with a good helping of data.
- A Phone holder that slotted into the CD space and held our phones for navigation and music.
- And although maybe obvious; a rucksack, comfy trainers and double adaptors.
I have to stress that these aren’t the only essentials, so I will have to share the rest later.
Like I mentioned in Part 1, my girlfriend is the organised one, but I did agree with the extent of our planning. So being from a world of numbers and statistics, we made a spreadsheet. It sounds dull, but we needed to answer our financial questions before I could fully commit to our adventure.
I tend to err on the side of caution when spending a lot of money, partaking in reviewing my big purchases and making sure I am happy that I have selected the right ‘thing’ before purchasing. On top of this, I save. So parting with some savings as well, I have to make sure the decision is right.
Our pre-trip estimates turned out to be as follows. These are daily averages based on two people:
- Accommodation £50
- Food £50
- Travel, Petrol, Tolls £20
- Entertainment, Shopping £10
- Plus £5 contingency
- Total £135
After taking into consideration the exchange rates, it turned out to be:
- Accommodation £43.60
- Food £58.02
- Travel £8.88
- Petrol £11.40
- Tolls £9.60
- Entertainment £2.73
- Shopping £3.31
- Total £137.53
So overall we did go over budget, although only by what we considered to be an acceptable amount. I have to stress there are a lot of pitfalls and traps that can easily be forgotten during planning. Looking at what we spent, the biggest shock was the amount of toll charges we incurred.
As an insight, I will convey some of my disappointments about our pre-travel plans, but this something I will go into in more detail when it rears its heads in each country. Firstly I think we would have liked to have budgeted more for food and this is more down to our love for it, than our appetite.
On top of that, being under when predicting travel, tolls and petrol, impacted our entertainment costs. In hindsight, if we had predicted correctly and we knew we would have to spend more, then we could have budgeted and subsequently experienced additional ‘paid’ things, but don’t get me wrong, we didn’t let costs hinder our overall enjoyment.