How to visit two countries with less than 125€ / 150$

One of the best traveling advice that I can give you is to subscribe to airline companies newsletters, especially the low-cost ones. Example giving: Ryanair, Vueling, Easyjet.

Click here to read a full list of low-cost companies

Same applies to hostels engines. This is my favorite.
Around twice a week and sometimes, even more, low-cost companies send deals directly to your email address and some of them are extremely good deals. Of course, the negative aspect is that the lower the price, the more uncomfortable the departure time will be, but this is just a small aspect. Also, it will happen when you can’t plan your days off from work or when you still have lessons at university. But sometimes you can be lucky enough to find the perfect deal. That’s what happened to me.
I was still in Stockholm during my 7-month-long experience there, when I got a deal for the winter sales. I couldn’t travel for too many days because I was working as a babysitter almost every day and I was living on a budget. Except for the weekend, where I was busy exploring Stockholm. But the deal was incredible and I wanted to go elsewhere for 2 days, but still, I wanted to challenge myself and travel as much as possible and as cheap as possible. But thanks to that newsletter, I booked two plane tickets for 9,99€ each. Yes, you heard me, basically 10€ per ticket. The available destinations weren’t many, but I picked a city smaller than the capital where I had never been. So I picked Düsseldorf. I still had 105€ to cover 2 nights in a hostel, food, major attractions and transportations and less than 5 days to get all those things done.

Budget: 125€ – 20€ = 105€

The first thing I had to do after booking the flight, was to plan my itinerary quite carefully so that I could watch the most things with the fewer time. The nearest city to Düsseldorf was Eindhoven, in the Netherlands. Some people had told me that it is a small cute city that you can visit in less than 12 hours. After that, I thought about going to Germany again by bus, Köln this time. That’s where I spent two more days before going back to Düsseldorf by train and then back to Stockholm again.

From Airport Weeze to Eindhoven I should have taken the bus, which cost 18€ per person per run. Well, it was so late that there were no buses, but since we had booked the ticket and there were just 2 more people with me, the company sent a private driver. Just for the three of us, a stroke of luck! Anyway, the bus is the cheapest and 18€ are just fair if you think about the fact that you’re basically crossing international borders. Well, Germany-The Netherlands, but still.

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Budget: 105€ – 18€ = 87€

So again, subscribing to websites or search engines can be a life-saver or, better, a wallet-saver. Hostel world is a great search engine for hostels and in Germany and the Netherlands, you can get a bed in a dormitory for 20-30€. Also, Airbnb could be a great opportunity, you can get a room for 15€ if you’re alone, otherwise if you are with other people you can share a room and pay like 8€ per night per person. That’s what I did. I was with three crazy friends that I met in Stockholm, an Italian and a Chinese (two of the best travel partners ever found) who were off school and shared an Airbnb room for 9€ per person (27€ in total). I think that Airbnb can give you more of an insight into how to live like a local could be.

Budget: 87€ – 9€ = 78€

I visited the city center (in particular the beautiful St. Catherina’s Church) and the famous flying pins. I also wasted 1 hour at Primark because I really wanted to try all those cute outfits on, but still didn’t buy anything because of my budget. Yes, I know,  life is made of sacrifices, pain, and sadness.

 

I spent around 7€ for breakfast and lunch (the first consisted of a coffee and a bagel, the latter in a sandwich with unidentified objects). Anyway, Eindhoven is a nice town and I wish I had more time to visit it!

 

Budget: 78€ – 7€ = 71€

After visiting Eindhoven in a couple of hours, I took the train from the central station to Düsseldorf. I wanted to go straight to Köln but it was more expensive than going to Düsseldorf first and then get another train to Köln. The ticket had a cost of 16€. The cheapest way though is car sharing, it’s a great way to move around Europe driving a couple of hours. I don’t drive though, I have no driving license (yet). With car-sharing, you can pay 8€ instead of 16€.

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Budget: 71€ – 16€ = 55€
The bus from Düsseldorf to Köln cost 4€ with DB Bus (https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml)
Budget: 55€ – 4€ = 51€

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Again, also in this case airbnb was a life-saver, I paid 15€ for a night in Köln. I visited the city in two days and let me say it: it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. The Cathedral is probably the major attraction in Köln, it’s the tallest Gothic cathedral in Germany with a height of 157 mt.

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Visiting Köln in late November was a great idea, because of the Christmas markets all over the town. The largest was probably right next to the Cathedral and walking through the market you could smell a real Christmas atmosphere that I had never felt for years. Let me say it, the food is magical there and the Glühwein was the best way to keep your body warm in spite of the cold. I spent around 25-30€ on those markets for 1 lunch, 1 dinner, 1 breakfast and 1 lunch for the next day. It may sound a lot, but I love food and that’s the best way to explore a culture, right? And anyway you need to eat, so…

The Christmas market offers live music and great friends too! I managed to meet a friend from Bonn who was also in Köln. Christmas is magic, apparently!

 

I’d really recommend Sauerkraut, Bratkartoffeln, Backfisch, Bratwurst… I’m hungry again, you can literally find any kind of typical German food. Try as much food as you can. I wanted to take pictures of the food I tried, but it disappeared before I could take the camera.  This is the only one that I took.

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Budget: 51€ – 30€ = 21€

Around 16:00 I took the bus from the Hauptbahnhof to the Airport in Dusseldorf. It took a couple of hours and the price for the ticket was 20€, probably the cheapest way.

Final Budget: 21€ – 20€ = 1€

You can save much more money and therefore travel as cheaper as possible by following these tricks:

  • Hostels and Airbnb are cheap, but not free. If you want to sleep for free, then try couch-surfing. https://www.couchsurfing.com/ is the best way to save money but also to get to know many people around the world! It’s easy to use and you can easily make friends with locals. Trust me, you won’t regret it and it’s safe! So go ahead!
  • Public transportation can be cheap, but not if you book a few days before. Try car sharing, you can share the cost with other people that are going towards the same place as you.
  • Even though a sandwich is way cheaper than a restaurant, it might be a bad idea to buy things at the supermarket and eat as cheaply as possible. Remember that a great part of a trip is to try the local food at least once. After that, you can live with just some bread and coffee. Tons of coffee. I’m not telling you to try the fanciest restaurant ever, but almost every country has its street food tradition, which is usually cheap.

I came back to Sweden with just 1€ in my pocket, but with much more energy in my body after visiting Eindhoven (The Netherlands) and Cologne (Germany).

Stockholm

Let’s start with the first Scandinavian city I’ve ever visited, where I spent nearly one year exploring the archipelago, breathing the freezing air during the winter and enjoying the sun in summer. Living its traditions both in winter and summer (because –let’s say it- there are only two seasons in Sweden if you compare this amazing country to Italy – where I come from). I got to know people who gave me a lot, with whom I bonded as if we were sisters.

WHAT’S EMBLEMATIC?

Probably one of the most photographed spots in Stockholm is in Gamla Stan (literally “Old Town”): Stortorget. It’s a square from the Middle Age surrounded by old merchant’s houses. During Christmas time this square hosts a typical Christmas market where you can eat, drink, buy presents and live a true winter wonder. Especially if you eat pepparkakor (cookies) and glögg (mulled wine).

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CLIMATE

When people think about Sweden the first thing that comes to their mind is… COLD! Yes, of course, Sweden is cold, but it can get worse, you know. I will (or at least I’ll try to) list all the GOOD things about the cold depressing Swedish winter. First thing: no mosquitoes. Sounds like a good reason, right? Going back to being serious, what’s really amazing about winter is that you can be lucky enough to get to see the Northern lights.
Well, to enjoy this incredibly overwhelming phenomenon you need to be extremely patient, especially in a city like Stockholm, where it’s even rarer since it’s not in the North. It took me almost two months to finally see the northern lights. I checked the Aurora forecast every single day, I watched the weather forecast too because you need a clear sky and grabbing just a blanket and my camera, I walked to the nearest forest and sat on a rock right in front of the lake. This happened for almost two months straight and finally in October, I saw the lights dancing and enchanting the night. It was one of the most magical experiences ever. Another phenomenon which I personally never had experienced before was the so-called light pillars. This happens when light reflects from ice crystals suspended in the air, thus creating pillars in the sky. That is magical too, even though I must admit that I thought I was having hallucinations the first time I saw those huge pillars. So… yes, Stockholm might be cold during the winter, but its cold creates magic.

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Summer is brief, fresh and bright. It feels like a neverending day, with around 17-19 hours of daylight. Everything and everyone looks happy during the summer.

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FOOD AND TRADITIONS

Everyone who has been in Sweden or at least at Ikea must have tried the famous köttbullar (meatballs) or kanelbullar (cinnamon buns). Well, I want to talk about something else this time, a food related to a tradition usually celebrated in August: kräftskiva, crayfish party. People gather and eat crayfish (something I had not tried before), drink snaps (a shot of alcohol so strong that the only thing I remember is how delicious it was). Before drinking Swedes sing and make eye contact before yelling SKÅL (the first word I learned in Swedish). Oh and… I swear, they do make eye contact. After this, they get wasted so badly. Or at least, that’s what happened to me.

THINGS I LEARNED AFTER MY 7-MONTH-LONG EXPERIENCE

  • Swedes are kind, open-minded and precise. They’re usually described as cold distant people, but once you earn a Swedish friend, just be sure that you’ll keep him/her for life.
  • To live on a budget, because -as you may already know- Stockholm is quite expensive. I worked as a babysitter for a few months in Stockholm, but living with less than 5000 SEK (510€) per month can be challenging.
  • To give more importance to time. Usually, when I have to do something, it happens that I feel too lazy and therefore I procrastinate. I had the impression that Swedes live the day and they consider commitment very important. If you meet a Swede, say a few things, chit-chat and before leaving you say “we should hang out sometime” (wow, nice Italian cliché) be sure that he/she will call you the next day and ask if on May, 25th 2019 at 15:00 you’re up for a fika Be also sure that he/she will be there on May, 25th 2019 at 14:50 wondering why you’re so late.

MY OPINION ABOUT STOCKHOLM IN THE LOCAL LANGUAGE:
(please correct me if you find mistakes)

Nu tänkte jag att skriva lite på svenska för jag tror att varje resa måste ge dig någonting mer. Vad kan vara bättre än att lära sig ett nytt språk för att leva sig i en kultur? Språket är en direktare uttryck av kulturen och jag har lärt mig svenska för någon tid nu. Stockholm och Sverige i allmänhet har så mycket att erbjuda men tar också någonting från dig själv: hjärtet. Du ska lämna ett styck hjärtet i Stockholm, mitt  i vatten eller i stan. De där 7 månader var en av de bästa jag har alltid levde. Tack Stockholm.

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