I finish school this year and hopefully will have the opportunity to travel next year! I am planning to go to France and England for a month and if I have enough time maybe Germany or Scotland. I was just wondering if you could give me some tips on how much I should pack when going traveling for a month? And what are some of the best places to see in these countries? How much do you think I will be able to do in one month?
(MY LONG) ANSWER:
Travelling after you finish school sounds fantastic and no doubt you will have an amazing time doing so! 🙂 I think you can do France, England, Germany and Scotland in one month. You can probably add a couple more cities to the itinerary too (I’ve had friends who’ve done 7 countries in 2 weeks – 2 weeks because that’s all the time they could get off work) however to cram all of this in, you would need to plan and prioritise. Planning helps as you can cinch good travel deals (which can help save travelling money that can be better spent trying out Haggis in Scotland or eating croissants in Paris – sorry for the food references, it’s one of my favourite things about travelling! Hehehe!). If you book in advance, you can get really cheap deals on places like Ryan Air or Easy Jet (Sky Scanner is great for searching for low fares) – I’ve found return flights to Gothenburg (Sweden) for £8 on Ryan Air (it cost more to get to the airport in London than the flight itself!). These deals are however only available if you book in advance so plan, plan plan! 🙂 And you can use the Travel Planner here to help plan the practicalities of your itinerary (e.g. travel times, local airports, stop over cities…etc)
With prioritising, you just need to realise that unless you have unlimited time and resources, you can never see every single thing in all of these countries (and in truth, you probably wouldn’t want to anyway) so you need to figure out what matters more to you. Do the main attractions (you know, the ones you can brag about when you get back home) but then add in any extra stuff that really matters to you. For instance, when we were up in Boston (USA), I really wanted to see other states like Rhode Island and Maine which isn’t really why people go to Boston but I added this to my itinerary, bought cheap train tickets and did a mini New England states tour – all of this in addition to seeing the main sights in Boston – including eating some very cheap and tasty Lobster which Boston is amazing for! That way, I was able to cover the mainstream sights in Boston and do something that was important and kinda special to me. Planning comes into play here of course but you effectively make a list of the things you’d like to see (preferably on a map) so you can rule some less interesting ones out and focus on the main ones. If you’re done in good time, you can always add on the lesser priority sites to your list or reward yourself with some indulgent down time (did someone say Tea at the Ritz?).
Down to specifics, packing for a month, apologies for being blunt/direct but the biggest priority is probably underwear. The rest you can get away with taking smaller quantities off e.g. 3 pairs of shoes (get something nice for going out, something practical for walking and other stuff like flip flops/sandals for parks or really hot days). You can pack a few jeans, perhaps some lighter items too but all in all, if you pack a week’s (and an extra day’s) worth of clothes, you can always do laundry once a week and still be fine.What you’re packing absolutely depends on where you’ll be staying and how you’re travelling. On a road trip across America, we all had large suitcases as we had a car and were staying in hotels throughout but on Euro-trips where we would be travelling by bus/train/plane, one piece of Hand Luggage Only despite staying in hotels. 🙂 The biggest problem typically arises when you have to check out of anywhere and still have hours to kill before checking in somewhere else or catching a train/bus/flight. In those moments, you will not appreciate having a huge suitcase! 🙂 Don’t forget to pack essentials like your camera, phone, iPad..etc – essentially, things you can’t easily buy on your travels however there’s no need to bring stuff like toothpaste, conditioner or other toiletries. These place will have loads of them available in supermarkets! Of course, if you have any specific medication, pack them with you too.
With regards to places to see, that list a bit too large to cover in one email and truly depends on what cities appeal to you and what your personal tastes are. I would recommend starting off with the capital cities (London in England, Edinburgh in Scotland, Berlin in Germany, Paris in France, Brussels in Belgium… you get my drift). In Europe, unlike say the USA, the capital cities are arguably the biggest and most exciting cities so you’re bound to see a lot of great sights in these places and they’re definitely worth having on your list, after that, you can then play around with other options e.g. Visiting Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland (absolutely breath-taking!). In your instance, I would look for two places to visit – somewhere really rural and the capital city – everything else is fair game once that’s done. Decide on how long to spend in each place to maximise your travel time (e.g. the main sights in Edinburgh can be seen in a day – a long day but definitely in a day).
This has been a rather long response and I hope I’ve covered most things to some extent but if you do have any follow up questions, do let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them! Have a nice day and a fantastic week ahead!