After coming off 3 months travelling in Southeast Asia, Europe at times feels like you’re on a whole new planet. In a lot of ways, Europe is easier to travel. It’s similar to North America so you understand customs, where to go for groceries or shampoo, almost everyone has excellent English, and there is a whole lot more information online that allows you to pre-plan. However, it’s not all easier. We are definitely finding ourselves missing Southeast Asia and the different comforts it provided.
- Oh boy, do you get sticker shock after leaving Southeast Asia. What do you mean I have to pay more than $17 a night for a private room? We went to Central and Eastern Europe because we thought it would be a lot cheaper than Western Europe. And while it’s cheaper it’s still not as cheap as we thought it would be.
- Something I won’t miss at all about Asia is bartering. Neither Tom or I are any good at it and I’m sure we paid way too much for most things we bought. I just wanted a listed price! I appreciate that in Europe there isn’t made up prices or tourist prices. You definitely don’t feel like you’re getting ripped off or that people are just off your money all the time the way you often feel in SE Asia.
- In SE Asia we never cooked. Partly because we never really had a kitchen and also because it was so cheap to eat out it didn’t even make sense to try. In Europe, we are primarily staying in Air BnB apartments so we have kitchen facilities. It saves us a ton of money and plus I like being able to make my own food. I really missed cooking.
- I always thought travelling in Southeast Asia would be hard. However, it’s actually very easy. Pretty well every hotel or guesthouse is a one stop shop for everything you need. They all book excursions, hire scooters, book bus tickets and do laundry. So once we arrived in a city we decided how long we wanted to stay and what we wanted to do in the area. The day before we wanted to leave we booked the bus to the next stop. In Europe, there is far more planning required. To be fair, we were also travelling low season in Southeast Asia so availability wasn’t a problem whereas we are traveling high season in Europe so availability is a lot less. I find that all my spare time is spent researching where to go next, where to stay, etc. It takes a lot of work.
- In Southeast Asia there is a backpacker route called the “banana pancake trail” that most tourists take. For the most part, we stayed on that path and saw the highlights. However, Europe is very different. With so many countries in close proximity to each other, everyone is on a different path. It’s nice not having a path to follow but it does make figuring out your destinations a little trickier.
- The time change in Europe is more difficult to cope with. In Asia, we were 13 hours ahead of home, so basically just opposite days and nights. We could communicate with family and friends easily. Now, we are 8 hours ahead and I find it’s way trickier to find time to call home. During our day they’re sleeping and during our night when we can call, they are at work. So weekends tend to work best.
- One of our favourite things to do in Southeast Asia was rent scooters. We took buses from city to city but within a city, we rented a scooter so we could get around and tour on our own. We’ve done some of the same in Europe with rental cars and campervans but it’s nowhere near as cheap or easy as scooter rentals were in Asia. Gone are the days are $4 a day scooters and instead we’re finding car rentals very expensive.
- While you may think the road conditions in Europe are better than Asia, they aren’t always. The roads are equally narrow and windy. The good news, however, is that people actually follow traffic laws. One lane means one lane. Not one car plus four scooters.