The big problem: money. We are obviously travelling on a budget, so finding accommodation was difficult. At first we just wanted to go there and find somewhere to stay on site. But after doing a little bit of research we realised that would cost us way more and would prove extremely time-consuming. So we thought - hostels. They should be cheap right? Nope. For whatever reason they're really quite expensive, even if you share a room with 6 strangers and a bathroom with the whole hostel. It's actually ridiculous. So for most cities we either booked a bed and breakfast or a cheaper hotel. When looking for accommodation make sure you read reviews of the place on different websites. Also if ANYONE says they had bedbugs - stay far away from that place!
Good websites for accommodation are http://www.hostelbookers.com (they don't just feature hostels) and http://tripadvisor.co.uk/ (they often have the most useful reviews).
There are plenty of things to see in every big city, so write down the sights you most want to visit in advance. It will save time and stop you from being stuck in the middle of the city with no idea what to do next. Also, in cities like Berlin, there are many, many places worthy visiting. If you only have a limited time there (like we will), you WON'T be able to see it all. So go onto different websites/blogs and see what people say you cannot miss in that city. Make a list of the things you most want to see and add some extras in case you have some spare time.
Start planning your budget way in advance. Maybe ask relatives for a bit of financial help or wish for money/backpacks/tour guides for Christmas or your birthday. We did, and it proved to be essential for us to be able to afford the trip. Also think about getting a part-time job or selling cupcakes or something. The last thing you want is stand in front of an amazing attraction and not be able to get in due to money (or lack of).
Know how to get from city to city in advance. I highly recommend buying an Interrailing ticket (here) but note that it doesn't count for the country you live in. So since we live in the UK, we had to buy an extra ticket for the Eurostar in order to get to France. Also there are several trains that you might have to reserve if you want to travel the quickest route. This can cost extra but saves you up to 10 hours!!
Pick the right companion. This might sound stupid but make sure you travel with someone you know well and trust. You will be stuck with them for a while and only have each other in countries where you mostly don't speak the language! Falling out could ruin the whole trip.
Big cities are never 100% safe, but when you have never been there and don't speak the language (again), it is so much more dangerous. Take Rome - it is known that there are several groups of children that will run around you trying to distract you while someone else steals your valuables. Therefore keep the in a money belt or hidden underneath your clothes! In case you get robbed or loose your passport or something, know who to contact. Your first call should be the embassy of your country (for me the British) and if you have travel insurance, call them. Stolen or lost passports can be replaced by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Also immediately report to the police. This is not meant to scare you, but it is important everyone is aware of what could happen.
What to take
This is completely up to you, but obviously the essentials such as cosmetics, money, suncream, passport, etc. Make sure you pack light. I'd highly recommend using a backpack as it will be easy to carry around on a daily basis and also make storing a whole lot easier. Also take a smaller bag to use in case you find somewhere save to store your big luggage. DO NOT ever leave it somewhere you aren't completely sure it'll be safe.
So I hope this was helpful to you or maybe inspired you to go Interrailing yourself ;) I am really looking forward to it and will keep you updated on how it goes. Wish me luck!
P.S. There will be lots of travel posts coming up as well as (hopefully) beautiful photos.
Leave a comment telling me a city in Europe you really want to visit!
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