I don’t have much to say besides: use common sense. This holds true because unlike what you may believe, most places are relatively safe, and most cities are fundamentally the same.
Google and TripAdvisor will be your best friends. Couple these two sites with a sense of curiosity, resourcefulness, and inventiveness and you shouldn’t face any serious problems on your journey.
That being said, however, there are still some tips that I want to share to make anyone’s potential trip that much easier and enjoyable! These tips are in addition to the planning I had already done pre-trip.
- Don’t overpack! Most places and hostels will have towels and soap, and if they don’t, just buy some soap from the local supermarket and rent a towel from the hostel instead. Whatever you do, don’t bring a full-sized body towel: it’ll never dry completely, it’ll get musky in your bag, and half the time you’ll never need it anyway.
- Book your accommodation in advance! Don’t be afraid to book accommodation in advance according to a reasonably planned schedule. I encountered no major delays during this trip, and I arrived in each city on the day I was supposed to arrive. So, don’t worry about being delayed and arriving at a hostel late: most times, the transportation companies are reliable enough and bring you to your destination within a reasonable flexibility. In any case, the money you save by booking earlier will offset any money spent on changing your booking dates.
- Change your money in advance, or better yet, use your ATM card overseas to withdraw local currency. Currency exchange rates tend to be pretty bad, and in many cases, European exchanges charge a steep commission fee, so withdrawing local currency at an ATM is cheaper overall. Do take note that many ATM’s charge a transaction fee per withdrawal, so make sure you withdraw as much as you think you’ll need for your time in a city. Or, better yet, go cashless with a credit card: most stores in Europe accept contactless payment, and this will save you the hassle of handling notes or fiddling with loose change.
- You will definitely need a data connection throughout your journey. Don’t think you can survive on free Wi-Fi at cafes: you’ll really regret not having access to Google Maps when you’re lost in a foreign city alone. And also, try getting SIM cards for the regions you’ll be visiting before you begin your trip: the EU wide SIM cards sold online are going to be significantly cheaper than buying a new country-locked SIM card in each EU country you visit.
Most train/bus/ferry tickets can be bought online, and often, these tickets are e-tickets that can be used for boarding without needing to print anything out. Here are some of the sites where you can purchase tickets for different regions:
Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia
Mekong Express (Bus)
Larryta Express (Bus)
United Kingdom, France, The Netherlands, Belgium