your guide to Europe off the beaten path

Category: Advice

16 Tips for Traveling Europe

This list of 16 tips for traveling Europe provides info on flights, accommodation, entertainment and other useful info that could make your trip far better. Read on! Passport and Visas…

This list of 16 tips for traveling Europe provides info on flights, accommodation, entertainment and other useful info that could make your trip far better. Read on!

Passport and Visas

Don’t be one of those people whose trip was ruined for having an expired passport. Or for not checking visa requirements. If you have an US passport you need to have validity of at least another three months. This is the rule for most European countries. For some countries it’s six months. Make sure to read the requirements on your country’s MFA website.


The best time to book flights within Europe is a month before your trip. Many airlines offer promo prices at this time trying to sell more tickets, especially in off season. For example, Turkish Airlines regularly lists special offers from its Istanbul hub to other destinations and vice versa. You can book cheaper flights to Amsterdam, Belgrade, London etc. Europe also has a plenty of low-cost airlines allowing you to travel for cheap. Momondo is a great flight search engine. For additional info on how to score a cheaper flight check out this post.


Accommodation is the biggest expense when we travel. Especially in Europe where your flight or bus ride could be 2 or even 3 times less expensive than the accommodation. However, with little research and websites such as HotelsCombined – a search engine that compares the rates, you can find a much cheaper deal. You can spend that extra money on fun activities. I usually search for cheaper deals on HotelsCombined first and then finalize my reservation on Booking. They probably have the best listing of properties worldwide.

The hotel room

Travel In Off Season

Expensive flights, high prices of accommodations and restaurants, endless lines in front of popular tourist attractions and museums, unbearable heat etc. are what characterize Europe during the season. Want to visit Berlin, Madrid, Istanbul, Rome? Consider Winter. There will be much less tourists, prices are lower and you won’t have difficulty finding accommodation. If you decide to travel in season, then make early reservation for accommodation, restaurants and entertainment. Note that it’s better to visit some places in the season to be able to get as better experience as possible. Such destinations are Scandinavia and Iceland.

Get travel insurance

This one is really important and make sure to always have one with you. If you are a non-EU citizen traveling to an EU country, border officials will almost always ask you for travel insurance. Having travel insurance is not mandatory but EU officials of any country can always ask you for supporting documents. Here are all the documents you need for travel in Europe.

Have Copies of Your Documents

You should make copies of important documents such as: passport, visas, accommodation etc. Put them on a Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox or whatever else you use, as that’s the quickest and easiest way to access them from anywhere.

Student Card

As a student you are entitled to many discounts and in some places even free deals. Most popular student identification card is ISIC. For a price of 23 EUR per year, you’ll be able to score discounts on transportation, hotels, restaurants, museums and other attractions.

Take The Train

Train travel in Europe is a wonderful experience. Just sit back, relax and enjoy beautiful European scenery without stressing about bathroom stops, getting to and from the airport or driving.

tips for traveling europe Belgrade Bar train


Use Public Transportation

The best way to get around European cities is by using public transportation which is efficient and fast. You won’t need to look for parking space and it will keep you stress free. Sometimes subways can be a wonderful examples of art which is the case with Swedish capital Stockholm. Don’t believe me? Take a look.

Get a Guidebook/Map

I love using Lonely Planet’s Guides. Nowadays many of us try to use as much space in our carry-ons as possible, so a physical copy is probably not the best solution. You can download an eBook directly to your phone, tablet or laptop. Lonely Planet’s free mobile app is another option. If you prefer something that’s free check out WikiTravel. You can get free maps at tourist information points.


Apps can be so useful before and during the trip! One of my favorites are FourSquare – for finding things to do, AccuWeather, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp – for keeping in touch, Google Maps, Oanda currency converter etc.

Travel Solo

Don’t be afraid to travel solo. It works wonders for your self-development, creativity and patience. You’ll also meet many people on the road and might even become friends with some! Meetup and Couchsurfing are great websites for hanging out with the locals and other travelers.

Tourism Boards

Every country has its own tourism organization. You can get plenty of free advice on their website, download apps and itineraries etc. My first stop in a new destination is usually a tourist information point. Here you can get free maps, brochures and practical information. Also the tourist information officers will be more than happy to answer your questions.


Blogs are also a fantastic resource and can provide info on less-known aspects of destinations. They’re also more humane as they’re lead by ordinary people and not organizations. I love reading eTramping and Travels of Adam lately.

MacBook Air

Visit Festivals

Europe hosts many fantastic festivals in different fields. Love music? Check out Sziget and Exit festival. Film? Berlinale. Beer? Oktoberfest. Carnivals? Check out the one in Venice. LGBT? Amsterdam Pride.

Go on a tour

Sure, you can discover things on your own but tours can offer a fascinating insight into a culture and provide information that is difficult to find elsewhere. Most of the time tour leaders are experts in their field and tours can really become one of the most memorable things you did during the journey.

What are your favorite and most useful tips for traveling Europe? Let us know in the comments below.

Photos: 2, 4


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How To Up Your Mobile Photography Game In a Few Easy Steps

The beauty of photography lies in capturing a moment. A photograph takes you back to some of your most cherished memories and sometimes allows you to notice things that you…

The beauty of photography lies in capturing a moment.

A photograph takes you back to some of your most cherished memories and sometimes allows you to notice things that you might’ve missed in the moment picture was being taken.

Photographs can transpire moments of intimacy, happiness, sadness to beautiful little details of everyday mundane life.

Whilst traveling I always carry my Nikon camera with me. Although I am accustomed to carrying a bulky camera, sometimes its size and weight can be tiring if I’m going on a long hiking tour, or it can attract unwanted attention. So with all these cellphone cameras upraise, I’ve become interested in just how much I can do with my phone camera.

I used to detest taking photographs with my phone and always swore true to my Nikon but nowadays, you can find phones with really good cameras. It is amazing how much cellphone cameras have progressed in the last couple of years and phones just becoming more lightweight and compact with each newer model.

If you’re not interested in photography enough then maybe, it’s not worthwhile to invest in a good camera. Buying a cellphone with a quality camera can go a long way.

I’m not going to advise which cellphone to pick. Everybody has their favorite. Some people swear by iPhones and some prefer their Androids. I will say that I’ve seen amazing pictures being taken with both cellphones. Samsung S7 edge and iPhone 6 are great phones if you wanna get serious with mobile photography. Of course, you can find a fantastic phone for much lower price and still take great photos.

There are two things I bought that I feel like they upped my whole mobile photography game.

First one was buying camera lenses. I bought Aukey camera lenses. They were on sale on Amazon, and I got them for about 15$. I got 3 types of lenses, a wide angle, fisheye and macro lens. They came in a small case with a mini clip-on to attach to any phone’s camera.

You can have a lot of fun experimenting with all those lenses and make for some creative photos.

For a finishing touch you can add an Instagram filter.

mobile photography lenses

Second one that I really loved was investing into a Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer. They are a little bit on the pricier side (about 130$) but I really do think it pays off. You can check out the reviews here.

The reason why I didn’t get a polaroid camera is, because every picture that you take with it, is going to print – but with my Polaroid ZIP printer, I can make as many photos I choose with my phone (or a regular camera) and then select the ones I wish to print. One of the other benefits is that I can also edit it in Photoshop on my phone or add an Instagram filter etc. before printing.

You can edit all of your photos and get them developed and as you travel and meet a lot of new people you can also leave them a token of your new friendship. I love that I’m able to give them a physical reminder of some fun moments spent together.

The Polaroid ZIP Mobile printer came with a USB cable that you use for charging purposes, one Zip pack of photo paper (10 per pack) and a “Quick Start Guide”. It’s really easy to use.

I’ve downloaded their app ‘Polaroid ZIP’ and just used Bluetooth to connect my phone with the printer. It takes about a minute for one photo to print out.

The photo paper is not so expensive; I’ve bought 9 packs (so 90 photo paper) for less than 30$ on Amazon (I think that it’s more than obvious that I have an Amazon shopping addiction).

To make your photos less blurry you can also invest in a mobile tripod. You won’t need to worry of keeping your camera steady all the time and this is particularly helpful when taking photos in low light.

And what about the apps? There are hundreds of mobile photography apps nowadays so it might be little bit difficult to make a choice. I use Instagram and VSCO Cam. I’ve heard great comments about Camera+ for iPhone but this is a paid app.

These are just some of the gadgets that I’ve tried out and liked best so far. I’m always on the lookout for new creative add-ons for my mobile photography travelling kit.

Even though I am still going to carry my Nikon everywhere with me, because the quality of photos being taken with an actual camera is still, no doubt about it, way better than any phone’s camera, it’s nice to know that if my battery dies – I have another option.

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How To Kill Time During Long Journeys

Some people roll their eyes on the thought they have to spend several hours in a bus or train but that time doesn’t have to be spent in pain and…

Some people roll their eyes on the thought they have to spend several hours in a bus or train but that time doesn’t have to be spent in pain and agony. Here I’ll list some ways on how to kill time during long journeys which hopefully you’ll find interesting.


One of the best ways to kill time during long journeys is to read. I prefer to have a physical copy in my hand but I also use Amazon kindle app on my phone. Amazon Kindle store has thousands of free and cheap e-books that you can download and read on the go. Magazines, newspapers, blogs are another source of inspiration. If you are a student you can also bring your studying material with you and make your time a more productive one.

how to kill time during long journeys - books

Listen to music

This really is a no-brainer. Looking through the window and enjoying scenery whilst listening to a music is a must. If I have more free time before the trip I like to read the guidebook of the place I’ll be visiting and research their music scene. In this way you can make your trip a more thematic one eg. Oriental Express Playlist or Swedish Electro/Pop. I use Sony Walkman Music Player for travel because of its long battery and space.

itunes screenshot

Crosswords and sudoku

I love crosswords and sudoku! I can’t stress this enough. Crosswords are really fun to do, especially if you’re doing it with your traveling companion. To make things more interesting you can make it a competition. The one who has more correct guesses win. Rules are simple: if you guess the correct answer you get 10 points, but if you guess the answer that already has some letters written in – you get 5 points. Sudoku is my personal favorite because I love spending my free time not just playing games but exercising my brain cells as well. Doing sudoku everyday is scientifically proven to reduce your chances of getting Alzeheimer!


This is never my first choice to do for one reason only, it drains my cellphone battery really fast. But if you have a portable charger or an outlet near you, make sure to download some of the many free (and really fun) games from Google or Apple store. Some of them are really addicting (READ: Minion rush) so be careful not to miss your stop.

how to kill time during long journeys - games

Do Important Work

Again if I have a portable charger or an outlet nearby plugging in my laptop would usually be my first choice. Good things are worth the wait. Because I know that whatever I do I’m going to be miserable for the next couple of hours, I might as well be productive. This way I feel better because I’m able to crunch up a few more extra hours of work/studying and I’m more stress free while I’m on my trip.


I have a list (sometimes it seems like it’s endless) of movies that I still haven’t seen. Yes, I get asked a lot if I live under a rock. And no, I do not. This is a great time to catch up and see that one movie that you have been talking about for ages. Just be careful not to pick a drama (like any movie with Hilary Swank ever). I’ve made that mistake and “They took my leg, boss.” resulted with me shaking and using up all of my Kleenex. Trust me nobody wants a sobbing mess next to them.

Enjoy the scenery

If you travel by train you can enjoy the wonderful landscapes of Europe. You can see the transition from green meadows to rocky mountains. These railroads remember many big historic moments, same roads that have taken so many iconic artists across the continent and inspired many famous works. You can’t help but gaze out the window and think about the history heritage and not somehow feel a part of it. It’s all oh-so-romantic.

how to kill time during long journeys

Start a conversation

Start a conversation with your fellow travelers. You’re going to the same destination so you can share ideas about what to see and do, and if you’re lucky you might meet a native (who’ll disclose all the musts in his city). For the love of God, just don’t be boring or pushy. Read the signals because not everyone is interested in talking.

Plan your activities

I always say that I’m going to work out my itinerary before my trip but I never get around to it. Thus this is the perfect time, no excuses, no procrastination. Take out your map, your travel guide and a notebook. Read up about the major sights and mark them on your map. This way you can already devise a route to do all the major attractions. In your notebook jolt down all the interesting and lesser known jewels of the city that you’re going to include into your route if you have some extra time. I really love Lonely Planet guides and I sincerely recommend them to anyone.

Practice your language skills

When visiting a new country I think it’s imperative to do some research about their culture. While knowing the taboos and the dress code is very important, one of the biggest aspects of any culture is language. The utmost compliment you can pay to a local is to try and communicate with them in their native tongue. It was Nelson Mandela who said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” So buy an audio book or use an app and repeat the most useful phrases while you enjoy the passing scenery.

If you have any other suggestions on how to kill time during long journeys feel free to comment below.

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Europe and Terrorism – Tips For Increasing Your Safety

To be harmed from a terrorist attack while traveling abroad is statistically very low but here are some suggestions on how to increase your safety in places that are in…

To be harmed from a terrorist attack while traveling abroad is statistically very low but here are some suggestions on how to increase your safety in places that are in threat of a terrorist attack. This especially applies to Turkey, Paris and other Western European capitals that have suffered recent attacks.

Follow your MFA website

You should always make it your number one resource. On your MFA website you will find the most extensive information before any trip you take. General recommendations, visa information for each country and detailed information about any country in the world. In the country’s profile you will get familiar with transportation, safety and the health situation. If you have never checked your MFA website now is the time to make it an important step in your travel planning phase.

Avoid street protests

If you are traveling to Istanbul for example try to avoid Taksim square . Street protests are the most prevalent around here. The same applies for other big squares or points of demonstrations around the world. Terrorists used Ankara rally in 2015 to kill more than 100 people. When you see a protest avoid it as much as possible. I rarely read news but it’s a good idea to follow the situation when you are in a new country. You’ll find an English speaking newspaper everywhere you go.

#Ohlauer Räumung / Protest 27.06.14 // Ohlauer / Reichenberger Straße

Public Transport Less/Bike and Walk more

Public transport is always a potential target for a terrorist attack in big cities. If possible try to use public transportation as less as you can and instead rent a bike or walk more. Walking is also rewarding as you may come across a pleasant surprise like a museum that sparks your interest or a nice restaurant.

Cycling Belgrade

Use taxi/Rent a car

If you can afford use taxi when traveling to longer distances or rent a car. If you are traveling with kids renting a car can be a good idea.

Bagdat avenue Istanbul

Avoid tourist areas

Of course this won’t be possible if you are visiting a city for the first time. If you’re visiting a place for the 2nd or 3rd time I assume you’ve seen major tourist attractions so you can skip them this time. Instead choose to explore the neighborhood where you’re staying: its food scene, bars, museums etc. By doing this you also won’t need to use public transportation that much.

Register with your embassy

Upon arrival to a destination you should register with your embassy so they can record your presence. This is helpful because the embassy will be able to contact you in case of any life threatening situation and contact your family in case of emergency. You are still responsible for your travel choices, safety, finances etc. Always buy the travel insurance and obey the laws of the country you are visiting.

Avoid sport events

In some places sport events are a great opportunity for friends or families to spend some weekend time and enjoy watching their favorite sport. However, in some countries clashes between hooligans are quite often. Terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015 also saw an attack on a football match between France and Germany meaning that thousands of people were vulnerable to the attack.

Olympic Stadium Barcelona

Save the phone number of your embassy and emergency contact numbers

This is something you should always do. Always keep the phone number of your embassy and the emergency contact numbers of the country you are visiting. In case something bad happens you’ll be able to make calls quickly. This is a great list.

Do you have any good suggestions to share regarding Europe and terrorism situation? Feel free to comment below.

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Tips For Hiking in the Cold Weather

Do you have second thoughts when it comes to hiking in the cold weather? People usually avoid doing this but it’s a mistake to think that hiking in the cold…

Do you have second thoughts when it comes to hiking in the cold weather? People usually avoid doing this but it’s a mistake to think that hiking in the cold weather means hiking during Winter only. Cold weather occurs in any other season and especially in the mountains where weather is  unpredictable and can change quickly. In just fifteen minutes weather can change from sunny to rainy and windy.

It is not that difficult but it requires some planning and good accessories.

Here are some tips for hiking in the cold weather;

If possible don’t go alone

Having a company is always more interesting. And especially if that person has a richer expertise when it comes to hiking in different weather conditions.

Print a map

Tourism boards and national parks have hiking maps that you can download or print from their official websites. I don’t have to mention how useful and important this is.


Check weather forecast

Before starting a hike you should always check the weather conditions. A site I really love is It shows weather conditions for thousands of mountain ski resorts, difficulty and best months to climb. This is a must for your trip-planning process.

Contact the closest tourism board

People from the tourism boards are usually locals or experts who have rich knowledge of the area and who can give you great advice or pointers. For example, on my last hike I chatted with people from a local tourism board and I got a really valuable advice. You can also research internet forums and see what other people have written before.

Let other people know your plans

This is really important, especially if you will be hiking alone. Let your family or friends know where you will be, when you will start your hike and when do you expect to return. If you will go as a group you should make a list with names of the people and their contact number.

Set realistic expectations

If you are planning a difficult hike, it isn’t the best idea to mix an expert and a beginner. If you are going as a group I think it’s very important to set a plan and have the same expectations to avoid any misunderstandings.

Have a good hiking gear

Good hiking gear includes essentials like: map and compass, sun protection, good clothing, first-aid kit, matches, backpack and a tent if you plan longer hike.

Tent catching some rays

Food and water

Staying hydrated is a must, thus you need a good water bottle. If you plan a long hike or in an unfriendly environment you should definitely get a water purifier. You also need a supply of food in case of emergency. Energy bars, drink mix, supplements etc. are some things you can take with you. I recommend Quest protein bars. You can read my review of them here or check their Amazon page.


When you are hiking in the cold conditions you generate body heat by moving. You need to stay dry and warm, that’s why it is so important to choose good clothes. You need to be dressed in layers to be able to regulate the amount of warmth you need. Avoid cotton because it keeps the sweat and you will stay wet. The best material is made of synthetic or merino wool. For the outer layer you should have a good breathable and waterproof jacket.


Always be prepared

As previously mentioned, mountain weather is unpredictable and that’s why it’s always good to have an extra clothing and food in case something unexpected happens. Better safe than sorry!

Don’t over pack

If you are just starting with hiking don’t over pack. This can really ruin your trip and make you feel miserable. Instead choose 1-day trails that are suited to your level of fitness. You don’t need so much equipment if you are just starting out.

Hiking the Savage River Loop Trail

Bring a camera!

I love being in the peaceful nature surrounded by beautiful scenery. I also love to capture these moments! If you love photography I’m sure this will be on your list anyway. 😉 I’m currently using a camera from Nikon CoolPix series.

Do you have any tips to share? Feel free to comment below.

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10 Life Lessons Solo Travel Teaches You

Majority of us are accustomed to traveling in groups. Traveling like this allows us not to leave our comfort zone as we are usually surrounded by friends or family. And…

Majority of us are accustomed to traveling in groups. Traveling like this allows us not to leave our comfort zone as we are usually surrounded by friends or family.

And this is not a bad thing at all. Spending time with other people helps us develop our social skills but traveling solo can do the exact same thing and make us gain a boost of confidence.

My first solo trip was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It was also the first time that I’ve used Couchsurfing. Since then Couchsurfing became one of my favorite travel websites. Although my opinion on it has changed a bit (i’ll write more about that in a new post) and I’ve barely used it to stay at someone’s place, I still believe it’s a great tool for meeting new people and exploring hidden sides of destinations.

Here are 10 life lessons solo travel teaches you

You are resourceful

Looking for  a cheap airline ticket or a place to stay? Missed your bus or lost your passport? Planning a trip can improve your organizational skills as you’ll need to handle several things by yourself such as flights, accommodation, budget etc. A great way to plan and organize your trip is with a TripRider app.

If you prefer to do it in a classic way, excel spreadsheet does wonders. Here you can list your flight details, accommodation, tours and activities. It’s  great for pre-planning process as you can add many things at once and access the file from anywhere if you upload it to your online drive.

life lessons solo travel teaches you

You become more patient

Waiting for the flight? In line to get that amazing meal? Hitching a ride? Travel involves a lot of waiting which can make you irritated sometimes but it works great for strengthening your patience. Over time you develop tolerance for it and you can even learn to enjoy this time. How? It becomes a meditative process. You think more and you pay more attention to the sounds and things that are happening around you. In short – you are more present. I also love to fill this time by doing something productive like reading a book.

Airport lounge for the gold card members.

Photo: Airport lounge by MIKI Yoshihito (CC by 2.0)

Plans don’t always work

Sure you can plan your day even if you’re alone but I’ve found that many times plans don’t work out. You may strike a conversation with someone while you’re in the museum or on a tour and decide to have coffee afterwards or be late and then have a sudden shift in your schedule but that’s okay. The key is to stay flexible and don’t plan too much ahead. Sometimes the best moments are the unplanned ones.

Clairefontaine Basic

Photo: Clairefontaine Basic by cireremarc (CC by 2.0)

You learn to trust people

When we travel in a group we have that feeling of security. You’re not wandering around a new town alone and from the psychological perspective you stress less. But traveling solo makes you get out and ask for help which teaches you that in the end most people are genuine and want to help. This is especially true for solo travelers as sometimes the local people will look out for you and even escort you to where you wanna go to make  sure you arrived safely.  You will also befriend people more easily.


Photo: Trust by purplejavatroll (CC by 2.0)

It’s great for introverts

Traveling solo is great for introverts. Sure, for me solo travel is sometimes all about the solitude and learning but when you travel solo you are more open to other people than in general.

Female friends

Photo: Female friends by Hernan Pinera (CC by 2.0)

You will be more confident

This feeling usually comes after the trip. You’ll feel confident after you realize that you have successfully completed all of the tasks on the trip, especially if you thought that you wouldn’t be able.

consumer confidence!

Photo: Consumer Confidence by Chris & Karen Highland (CC by 2.0)

It’s great for creativity

Solo travel is great for learning. You’ll be faced with many decisions daily and you’ll usually have to act quick which in return really boosts your creativity.

On creativity

Photo: On creativity by Linus Bohman (CC by 2.0)


Travel teaches you that ‘grass is not always greener on the other side’. Many times we wish for the better but when you travel you start to feel gratitude for what you already have. The fact that you have the opportunity to travel, meet new people and see and experience amazing things fills you with gratitude and kindness.

Iyanla Vanzant Gratitude is like a magnet, the more grateful you are, the more you will receive to be grateful for

Photo: Gratitude by BK (CC by 2.0)

You become less anxious and scared

Some people are scared of flying, some have social anxiety and so on but to overcome your fears you simply have to push through them. It’s very difficult at first but with continual practice you can end the battle in your favor.

Timothy Ferriss What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do

Photo: Timothy Ferris quote by BK (CC by 2.0)

Teaches You about You

Exactly, travel, especially solo travel can teach you what kind of person you want to be. As mentioned previously, travel teaches you about other people and their way of life and as we are all different, we can learn from one another. Most importantly when you travel alone you don’t have to listen to anybody else. All decisions are your own and it helps you understand yourself better. It can also inspire you to pursue your dreams and goals as you become more open minded and you are willing to take risks.

Sunset skydiving

Photo: Sunset skydiving by Lachlan Rogers (CC by 2.0)

So do yourself a favor and travel solo at least once!


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