📆 Days in Europe
Living in Poland, Dorota has taken numerous trips around Europe to dozens of countries. She loves the diversity of this continent and is always looking for a new adventure.
Europe is beautiful and diverse - despite the fact that countries are small in comparison to other continents, each of them has something special to offer.❞
Hello! What's your name, where are you from, and where have you travelled to in Europe?
Hi! My name is Dorota, I come from Poland. I am based here too, so traveling around Europe is fairly easy and fun for me. I've visited quite a few European countries: Albania, Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Monaco, Montenegro, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, UK, and Vatican City.
In one sentence, why should someone travel to/through Europe?
Europe is beautiful and diverse - despite the fact that countries are small in comparison to other continents, each of them has something special to offer.
What motivated you to take your first trip to Europe?
I was born and I live in Europe so it's always been fairly easy to travel around. When I was little, my parents took me for winter holidays to Austria and summer holidays to Italy or Croatia. When I grew up, I started traveling on my own and I started in Europe before traveling further away.😀
I still have so many places to visit in Europe, and even in my own country, Poland!
What went into planning your first trip to Europe?
I used recommendations from friends, as well as the experience I had from traveling with my parents. My first trip was to Italy that I had visited before with them.
If you had to plan one final, perfect Eurotrip, what would the itinerary look like?
I don't think there is one perfect Eurotrip because it depends on what you're looking for. For one person it could be flying around capital cities, for another, driving along the Mediterranean coast and for others, going to Iceland and Norway and hunting the Northern lights. 😀
In my case, I love mountains and nature, so for me the trip would start in Austrian Alps. Then I would drive down to Italy and stay by lake Como, then Tuscany and a little bit of Italian seaside to have some rest. Then, Dolomites, and perhaps, Venice. After that I would drive to Slovenia, spend a few days in the mountains there. From there, I'd love to continue the trip to Coratia, the Istria peninsula and have some rest there before driving back to Austria.
Another option that I still dream about is a road trip around the Baltic Sea from Poland through Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and back to Poland! 😀
What's your advice for first-time Eurotriprs who are just starting to plan a trip?
Don't try to see too many places during one trip. You could spend weeks in most European countries. Assuming you have a month - choose a maximum of three countries and take your time to enjoy them! If you have more time, that's great - add more places. 😀
What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced when planning your Eurotrip?
In some countries, it was hard to find information online (for example, Georgia or Russia). I found the most information in Facebook groups where I managed to find travelers who have been there before me.
In the case of Western Europe - on the contrary. Too many information, it gets overwhelming! I had to find a couple of reliable sources (e.g. two or three travel blogs) from where I took most of the information.
In your opinion, is Europe an expensive place to travel? Why / why not?
Yes and no. Western Europe is expensive for me and in mostly everything - accommodation, eating out. I sometimes managed to get around this by (for example), sleeping in a hostel in a shared room and not eating out every day but only a couple of times during the whole trip.
Eastern Europe is way more affordable. It's easier to find affordable and comfortable accommodation and it was possible for me to eat out more often.
What are the 3 most important things to consider when packing for a trip to Europe?
1. Check the weather in your destinations and adjust your luggage. You should bring slightly different luggage for Norway than for Greece. 😀
2. Don't overpack. Dragging a heavy suitcase or carrying a heavy backpack is a pain.
3. Check if you need an outlet adapter for your electronics and if so, get the correct one.
How would you pack differently for a 1-week trip to Europe versus a 1-month trip?
Exactly the same. During a monthly trip I would just do laundry. 😉
What is your favorite destination in Europe? Why?
Italy. It has everything - tasty food, fascinating history, friendly people, diversity, mountains, seas, and beautiful cities. It has it all! I have travelled there over 10 times and I think I will never get enough.
What was your first trip to Europe like?
My first independent trip in Europe was a weekend trip to Prague, Czech Republic. It was stressful and challenging - to manage the transportation, maps, accommodation, food... but at the same time amazing. I loved the city and I came back more self-confident.
Can you tell us about a funny story/situation you've been in when traveling in Europe?
Once in Russia I "stole" someone's taxi 😉 . The owner of the guest house ordered two taxis, one for me, and one for another traveler who lived there too. She said out loud that the taxi is there so I went down. The taxi driver saw me, grabbed my bag, told me to get in and started driving. "Cool", I thought. "She even told him where I'm going."
After 10 minutes I realized that the direction was wrong.... I needed to get to the bus station and we were going to the airport! After a nervous chat with the driver and a quick call to the person who ordered the taxi we realized that I took the taxi of the other traveler. Oops...
I still managed to catch my bus. I hope he didn't miss his flight... 😉
How do you find social connections while traveling around Europe?
Making social connections is easier in some countries than in others. For example, in Spain and Italy everybody is your friend. In Poland on the other hand, it is unlikely to find new friends easily. The best way for me is to find locals via Facebook groups, ask them for special events etc, post an announcement that I'm looking for company for the evening. Many cities have "international meetings" or language exchanges etc - it is the easiest for me to meet people there. I also used Couchsurfing, but the platform is paid now and not as convenient to use.
What advice would you give Eurotriprs for finding great places to sleep/stay?
Finding accommodation in Europe is not different from other places in the world. Find a reputable booking service online, then try to filter by the best price and rating and make sure to read opinions.
If you'd like to try something different, you could try a help exchange - trading a few hours of daily work for accommodation and food 😀 . Check helpstay.com to know more about that option.
If you've travelled through Europe more than once, what has changed in how you plan your trip now from your earlier trips?
I don't overpack anymore. 😀 For my first trip I took a huge suitcase that was hard for me to lift! After that, I limit myself to a 40 liters backpack. If something doesn't fit, it doesn't go. 😀
I also travel slower. I don't try to see as many places as possible. I prefer to enjoy one place for a little longer.
What does travel give you that everyday life doesn’t?
A lot of new experiences, it forces having an open mind at all times.
When you come home from a trip to Europe, has it changed you? How?
Each and every trip changes something in me 😀 . The biggest change was when I left for 6 weeks to Saint Petersburg, Russia. I volunteered there and learned a lot about the culture, I also met people from other countries. It was a life-changing experience! After that I started writing a travel blog, which then led me to opening my own Virtual Assistant buisness (https://dorota.pro/en/home/). 😀
Have you ever been scammed or robbed while travelling in Europe? Can you tell us about your experience?
I have been scammed in Paris. There were people pretending to be deaf and wanted to enourage me to give them a donation. I am a sensitive person so I wanted to give them 1 or 2 euros... They made me sign some papers, putting my name on it etc, and then they started being super pushy claiming that MINIMUM donation is 20 euros and since I already 'signed' there was no way to back out. In the end, I gave them the money and then I realized I had been manipulated. Sigh!
How has COVID-19 impacted your travel plans, if at all?
I had to cancel a trip to Sicily and put on hold many other destinations I wanted to visit in 2020. I stayed in my country, Poland, for 1 year and a half! My first international trip was in July 2021 to Bologna, Italy after I got two doses of the vaccine.
What do you wish you knew before your first trip, that you know now?
I menitoned this before but I'll say it again - do not overpack!
Also, download an offline map - don't assume you'll have internet everywhere!
Where can we stay up-to-date with and learn more about you and your travels? What can we expect from following you?
Personally I write a travel blog about weekend trips in Poland (weekendowka.pl ).
Professionally, I work with HelpStay (helpstay.com) which is a platform for help exchange. Travelers can find opportunities all around the world and exchange a few hours of work for room and board, which is a great way to travel around Europe and further abroad. I am also an admin of a Facebook Group Volunteering Abroad Community https://www.facebook.com/groups/149481095846753 which is a great resource for those who'd like to start traveling this way.