If you would have told my younger self that one day I would be frolicking around Europe by myself, I would have laughed at you. But in 2018 (after graduating from college), I did just that. 10 countries in three weeks, chileeeee I was ambitious. It was quite an experience to say the least, but if I had to do it over again, I still would. So let’s get into this trip: where did I go, how did I choose, how much did it cost (spoiler alert, it was $640 lol), all of that. This post will just cover flights, but I will definitely be dropping some follow-ups soon to share where I stayed and what activities I did!
So first, where did I go. I visited one major city in each country:
1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
2. Brussels, Belgium
3. Berlín, Germany
4. Rome, Italy
5. Athens, Greece
6. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
7. Paris, France
8. Barcelona, Spain
9. London, United Kingdom
10. Reykjavik, Iceland
I know some might say only one city isn't enough to really see a country, and I only partially agree. For someone like me who had only seen a couple countries (and none on the continent of Europe), this was a major milestone. I was able to see the Berlin Wall, Eiffel Tour, Buckingham Palace, Colosseum, and more. Really I was able to see things that I had only seen in history books and never thought I would ever actually see in person. Some of these things were even more awesome than I imagined, and some were overrated — but the entire experience was quite life changing.
Next up, how did I choose these places. If you’re new to my blog or following me on social media, then you may not know my motto; but for all of you who have been here awhile, you know “I go where the deals are!” When I started planning my trip back in October 2017, there were a few places I definitely wanted to visit (Paris, Barcelona, Rome, and London to be exact). And besides that, all I knew was I wanted to go to Europe and I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg.
So, I used StudentUniverse Black Friday and Cyber Monday promo codes to book two one-way flights to and from Europe. I found a ticket from DC-Amsterdam for $115, so I booked it! And I found a flight from Iceland-NYC for $200. So bam, at this point all I know is I’m officially going to Europe! Didn’t know where else I would visit or anything, but booking the flight was the first major milestone. And this was truly *major* because i didn’t really know many people (especially black people) that had backpacked across Europe. To be honest, it was known as a “white person thing” where I grew up. But I wasn’t going to let that or anything else for that matter (including not having anyone to go with me), stop me from experiencing something new. After booking my flight, I was both nervous and excited. But I had a few other trips to plan in between (like my first solo trip to Australia, my last undergrad spring break to Costa Rica, and a host of other domestic trips), so I put this aside for a few months.
Now fast forward to March of 2018, it’s now time to actually put some planning together. I began by creating my Google Spreadsheet with details like date, time, etc of the two flights I had booked. Then I looked at a map of Europe (which I would do A LOT between then and the trip LOL). At this point, I had no frame of reference for the different cities/countries in Europe. At first glance, I noticed that Iceland was closer to London than any of the other countries I wanted to visit. So I worked backwards and looked for flights from London to Iceland. I was able to find a flight for $50. So bet, booked it. And now it’s really starting to feel real! Omg I’m really about to backpack across Europe. Of course, that’s only three countries and my goal was to visit 10, so there was still a bunch of work to do. But still, it was a start and was really happening.
Now, back to the map I go. I see that Brussels is the closest city I had heard of to Amsterdam. Yes, you read that right. So I looked at all modes of transportation, and found out that the bus ride was only about 3 hours. That was perfect. Looked at bus schedules and ultimately decided on a bus ticket that was only $20. Booked it. So at this point, I have four countries down and I’m getting more and more excited to decide the next country.
Then I went straight to Google Flights to see where I could go from Brussels for cheap. And I came across the airline that became the star of my trip: RyanAir. They had some questionable reviews online, but hey I was just happy to be traveling to Europe so I didn’t care. Plus, since I was only planning to have a backpack anyways, them being a budget airline didn’t really phase me. Google Flights showed me a flight from Brussels to Berlin for only $21. I honestly could not believe my eyes. Going to a completely different COUNTRY for only a dub. Are y’all serious?! I had only really heard of people getting through cheaply on train, but this cheap of a flight was mind-blowing to me. I booked that flight, and then stayed on the RyanAir site for a while.
I found out that they have (maybe had? not sure if they still do) a low fare finder option. You could put in the place you were traveling from and the date, and it would show you the fares to go to different places. I would of course cross check this with Google Flights to make sure I was getting the best deals, but it was great for helping me think of other cities I hadn’t known/thought of before. So I spent some time browsing those deals to see what else I could find.
I booked RyanAir for the next few one-way flights, to Rome, Athens, and then back to Brussels. I bet you're wondering, "Deja you just came from Brussels, why are you going back" And this is a really good question, honestly. Once the flight to Athens was booked, I was kinda stuck. Flights from Athens to the other places I wanted to visit (like Paris and Barcelona) were super high. I'm not sure if it was the day I was looking for or what, but it had me stuck for a few days.
After thinking more through it, and spending hours looking at other modes of transportation (buses, trains, ferries, everything), I came up with a plan. I would fly back to Brussels and then take the bus to Luxembourg. I had NEVER heard of this country, but I was open minded, so I went with it. It actually ended up being one of my favorite countries during the whole experience, especially since my personal tour guide was a history major in university and really made sure I was set. The round trip bus ticket was less than $30. So while it was a bit of a round-a-bout way to visit, it worked. And flights to my other destinations from Brussels were more affordable.
So I booked flights to Barcelona and Paris, and I thought I booked my flight to London too... butttttt, yeah that never happened. Booked a last minute overnight bus ride to London for $23, and that was the final puzzle piece. I was officially going to 10 European countries for my backpacking trip!!
Last but not least, how much did this all cost. My transportation total for getting to all 10 countries only cost $640!! And if you don't believe me, here's the proof:
Soon, I'll release the story about how I almost got stranded in Paris. But that's for another day. If you're planning a trip soon and you're not sure where to start, book me! If this trip only being $640 tells you nothing, it should tell you I can always find you a deal :).
Let me know if y'all have any other questions about this trip. Until then..
Ciao for now,