After 4 years of experiencing all the ups & downs of student life whilst traveling on and off around Europe, I was questioned by many friends about how I afforded time and money to travel every now and then. Thus I decided to write this post, realizing I was blessed to have such an amazing opportunity to travel to 17 European countries without spending so much.
My journey started when I decided to move from Vietnam to Finland to pursue business bachelor at the age of 18. Coming from a middle-class family, I had to save, work part-time and do my university study at the same time, especially in one of the most expensive countries in Scandinavia. Nevertheless, I took advantage of my 4-year Schengen visa and traveled as much as I could.
On 2011 I moved to Rovaniemi – the hometown of Santa Clause village located in the north of Finland, where snow, reindeer, and as low temperature as -20 degree is no surprise. Studying abroad while living far from home for the first time in a totally different culture was a huge shock and challenge for a young girl coming from a small country.
After few months, a classmate invited me to Italy together to explore the country, where spent 11 days somewhat one-third of the savings I brought to Finland for half a year of living. Though the cost was high, I enjoyed Italy so much and knew I had to travel more. Later on, I luckily figured out how to travel cheap so I can see more of Europe without cutting on my other expenses.
In 2013, I used some of the savings from my summer job to visit Estonia (Tallinn), Lithuania (Vilnius), Latvia (Riga) and Poland (Warsaw, Krakow). This trip was designed by a friend of mine who is a well-experienced traveler, thus we saved a lot by traveling by cruise, Eurolines Bus, and Baltic Airlines. We stayed overnight on boat, buses and at our friends in Warsaw to save the accommodation expense.
Fascinated by the gorgeous classic European architecture of Poland and how sweet Polish people are, I decided to go back there in summer 2014 for an internship with AIESEC – the world’s largest student organization. Working as a freelance blogger in Szczecin for SzczecinAloud enabled me to stay in a residence, eat in restaurants, and attend festivals for free. Here I’d travel to different parts of Poland and Germany (Berlin) with Polish train, buses, and airlines which offer 1-euro ticket sometimes.
The last autumn 2014, I decided to take another huge step of my student life and take the 6-month Erasmus Program in the Netherlands (Groningen), which changed my life completely and opened up my world with so many new connections with people from all over the world. Here I got supported with my home university’s Erasmus grant and worked also as a freelance blogger for GroningenLife, which helped me cover part of the expenses.
Like in Poland, it’s easy to travel within different cities of the Netherlands (Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Eindhoven, etc) with the 7-euro day ticket for a group of 10 people with NS train, which allow you to go to any part of the Netherlands within 24 hours. Here I started using Couch-surfing and Blablacar a lot to save, which I also did in Belgium (Brussels and Antwerp).
After 6 months in the Netherlands, I met amazing people from all over the world especially Germany, Spain, and France. This was why I decided to take another big challenge and designed a root to 6 different cities in 5 countries (Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic) in 2 weeks. In these places, I’d stay with friends, at hostels and move around with Ryanair, Norwegian, BlaBlacar and take free walking tours.
Through my journey, I’d worked as a volunteer, promoter, and freelancers on and off. I slowly developed different personal travel blogs, leading me to the marketing & freelance writing field which I never knew I’s enjoy this much. Since January 2015, I started working online for LittleLives – an education technology company based in Singapore. This work allowed me to travel after graduation to Greece, where I again couch-surfed in Crete & Athens.
The journey so far has been incredible, and I am looking forward to being seeing the rest of Europe before heading back to sweet home Asia!